30 Apr 2007

PNG PM accuses Australia of orchestrating Moti affair

3:33 pm on 30 April 2007

Papua New Guinea's prime minister, Sir Michael Somare, has accused Australia of orchestrating the Julian Moti affair to discredit him and remove his National Alliance Party from office.

He has also signalled a reversal of an Australian-backed program to downsize the PNG Defence Force, saying Australia should not dictate to PNG how to run its affairs.

Mr Moti evaded extradition from PNG to Australia to face child sex charges by skipping bail, hiding in the Solomon Islands High Commission then taking a clandestine PNG military flight to the Solomons last October.

Sir Michael asked why Australian authorities did not have Mr Moti arrested in Singapore before he flew to PNG or at his final destination of Honiara where he was headed to take up his post.

He said a PNGDF inquiry report into the Moti affair would not be tabled in parliament because it contained untrue information about him.

Before handing in their report, inquiry members said the information gathered pointed to Sir Michael knowing about the flight.

He said certain PNG politicians were using the Moti affair to try to discredit him but he described them as dry coconuts who were brown outside and white inside and being used by the Australians.

The prime minister said if his party led the government after the election, it would double the size of the PNGDF to 4,000 personnel.