2 Dec 2002

Commentators in PNG says Australia is being near hysterical over terrorism

8:31 am on 2 December 2002

Observers in Papua New Guinea say Australia is being near-hysterical about the threat of terrorism in PNG simply because it shares a border with Indonesia.

This follows a report from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute which recommended Australia strengthen the governments of PNG, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to prevent them becoming bases for terrorist attacks on Australia.

The Australian Associated Press says report identified all three governments as weak, transient and hard to deal with.

The National newspaper described the assessment that they run the risk of becoming havens for terrorists and that they could ultimately collapse as political, social and economic units, as rubbish.

It also stated that the people of PNG would never allow it to become a South Pacific rogue state.

Other commentators felt the country could be at risk, but warned against Australia's "Big Brother" proposals to intervene.

Oseah Philemon, editor of the Post-Courier newspaper, said Australia should instead increase joint operations with the cash-starved PNG Defence Force.

Australia has funded the massive downsizing of the PNG military, which led to recent accusations that it was trying to cripple the force.

Mr Philemon said Australia should help the PNG military to patrol its borders, in particular those with Indonesia in the wake of the Bali bombings because the border isn't guarded at all.