22 Aug 2003

IAustralia to send observers to PNG to monitor use of Ausaid funds

10:19 am on 22 August 2003

Australia is to send a foreign aid `flying squad' to Papua New Guinea to ensure its 250 million US dollar aid program is not abused by corrupt government officials.

The Australian newspaper says the Federal cabinet has signed off on the deal which risks straining relations with its nearest neighbour as Australia moves to lock in a more interventionist policy in the Pacific.

The newspaper says that following the successes at last week's Pacific Islands Forum meetinng, Prime Minister John Howard plans to ensure Australian aid is not used to prop up corrupt governments.

It reported Cabinet's National Security Committee had endorsed the plan and that Australian officials would visit PNG on a regular basis to ensure the new approach is implemented.