7 Feb 2012

Australia has "little to gain" from getting involved in PNG crisis

8:12 pm on 7 February 2012

An emeritus professor at the Australian National University says Australia has nothing to gain from becoming involved in Papua New Guinea's ongoing political crisis.

There have been calls, most notably from former foreign minister Alexander Downer, for Australia to step up its involvement to ensure the stability of its nearest neighbour, where two factions are claiming to be the legitimate government.

But Dr Ron May, a senior associate in the ANU's State, Society and Governance in Melanesia Programme, says Australia should stay clear of a messy situation that PNG must resolve on its own.

He says any involvement by Australia would be seen as interference.

"I don't think there is much it can do. It can make statements about upholding the rule of law maybe but to try and do any more than that would be counterproductive. Papua New Guinea is heading for elections fairly soon and I think we have just got to hold off and see how the situation resolves itself and hope that with new elections we can start again and get the political system sorted out again."

Dr Ron May