15 Sep 2007

PNG government has concerns over Australian officials under ECP

9:54 am on 15 September 2007

The Papua New Guinea government says it is concerned about the placement of Australian officials in PNG government departments under the Enhanced Cooperation Program.

The Australian government has welcomed plans for a joint review of the three-year-old programme, saying it could lead to better cooperation to further improve governance and capacity in PNG's public sector.

PNG's new Public Services Minister, Peter O'Neill, says a review is needed into the effectiveness of the 43 Australian ECP officials and whether they are the best way to improve management in the public service.

Mr O'Neill says he is concerned about the ECP's impact on public service morale and confidence and would recommend to cabinet that a review be undertaken as a matter of priority.

Negotiations between the two countries over the return of a small number of Australian police advisers to PNG have stalled.