16 May 2005

Australian foreign minister hopes PNG deal will get back on track

9:02 pm on 16 May 2005

The Australian foreign minister, Alexander Downer, says the multi-million dollar aid package for Papua New Guinea will get back on track despite the withdrawal of 161 Australian police.

The police are to return to Australia after PNG supreme court ruled that their provisions for immunity from prosecution were unconstitutional.

But Mr Downer says he hopes talks, possibly as soon as this week between the two governments, will find a way to deal with the legal problems.

He says the PNG government is keen to see the package reconstituted.

The minister also says the nearly 50 Australian public servants also in PNG under the aid package won't be affected by the legal ruling.