10 Mar 2004

Questions raised over effectiveness of Australian deployment to Papua New Guinea

4:16 pm on 10 March 2004

There are questions over how successful the deployment of Australian officials and police officers to PNG could be.

Dr Ben Reilly, a senior lecturer at the Asia Pacific School of Economics and government at the Australian National University, says the situation is quite different to Solomon Islands where a military-like operation took place.

He says the crime rate in Port Moresby is one of the worst in the world and the deployment of a couple of hundred police officers may not change that.

Dr Reilly says putting advisers into ministries may also not have much impact.

"Even the most capable and well intentioned official, will I think, have a great deal of difficulty for example bringing law and order to Papua New Guinea because it's not just a question of the capacity of the officials. In many cases the officials themselves in these countries are quite competent but they're facing overwhelming, deep-rooted social, historical, cultural difficulties."

Dr Reilly says, however, that people in Port Moresby would welcome any improvement in the crime rate so the deployment shouldn't be viewed as hopeless.