PNG PM claim on Torres Strait access denial rejected

6:38 am on 21 July 2015

A former official involved in negotiating Torres Strait border arrangements between Papua New Guinea and Australia rejects the claim that PNG villagers are denied traditional access rights to the Strait.

Bamfield beach in Torres Strait

Bamfield beach in Torres Strait Photo: Mark Roy

PNG's Prime Minister Peter O'Neill has called for the arrangements to be reviewed, saying traditional hunting and fishing rights of Trans Fly villagers in the Strait have been extinguished, leaving many communities with no income.

Geoffrey Dabb is a former PNG Foreign Affairs official involved in the border negotiations as PNG approached independence in the mid-1970s.

He says there is a great deal of provision for traditional rights.

Mr Dabb says the pressure for this arrangement was mainly coming from the PNG side.

"It was Papua New Guinea who were pressing for an early resolution quite strongly, as soon as possible, even from before independence. And I have no doubt in my mind that it was in the circumstances, quite a fair arrangement."

Geoffrey Dabb.