16 Jun 2005

PNG's Morobe province sets up task force to fight crime in Lae

4:43 pm on 16 June 2005

The Morobe Provincial Government in Papua New Guinea says a task force set up to help police could do some of the work of the Australian police who were deployed under the Enhanced Co-operation Programme.

The governor of the province, Luther Wenge, has launched a unit made up of 60 clan leaders who will act as middlemen between the public and police to help fight crime in Lae.

However, Mr Wenge says the unit is not an alternative to the Australian force, who left the province after the Supreme Court ruled last month that immunity granted to them in PNG under the ECP was unconstitutional.

He says the provincial government plans to fund the unit to the tune of 160 thousand US dollars in recognition of voluntary work the leaders have already been doing.

"The Australians were here to assist, they have left and we must do it our way. I'm not saying the Australians should be here to help, I think we should be the ones to come up with the initiative. We're intelligent human beings like any Australians or whoever."

Mr Wenge says he's confident of obtaining financial backing for the unit from the provincial assembly.