17 Oct 2006

PNG opposition seeks answer from PM about stoush with Australia

4:05 pm on 17 October 2006

Papua New Guinea's opposition says the country deserves an explanation from the government over its sudden diplomatic stoush with Australia.

Parliament is getting underway now and prime minister, Sir Michael Somare, is expected to field questions over government involvement in the escape of wanted Australian lawyer Julian Moti to Solomon Islands last week.

Mr Moti, wanted for extradition by Australia, escaped on a PNG Defence Force aircraft, prompting Australia to suspend all ministerial relations with PNG.

The PNG opposition leader, Peter O'Neill, says Sir Michael's statement last week that Mr Moti should be allowed to travel to the Solomons has worsened diplomatic relations with Australia.

"The country deserves to know on what basis did the Prime Minister act in a manner in which he did whereby his outbursts and subsequent use of state properties and assets to enable the departure of a gentleman called Moti."

Peter O'Neill says there are claims that people were paid to carry out the escape.