19 May 2005

PNG academic says ECP needs rewriting

1:41 pm on 19 May 2005

A university professor in Papua New Guinea says the multi-million dollar Australian aid package for PNG is in tatters and will need to be renegotiated.

Talks are under way between Australia and PNG in an attempt to resolve legal doubts surrounding the presence of 161 Australian police and 46 Australian civil servants in PNG under the less-than-year-old Enhanced Cooperation Programme.

Australia has withdrawn its police, but left the civil servants there, while the issue is resolved.

But University of Papua New Guinea political science professor, Allan Patience, says the ECP was not well arranged in the first place, by either party, and it should be completely rewritten.

"It's in absolute tatters now, the old ECP. It's fallen apart disastrously, I think for reasons that were entirely predictable, and it's a great pity that it had to happen like this, that a much better ECP deal wasn't devised in the first place. Australia rushed the whole deal, for all sorts of silly reasons, and now it's been effectively told to sit down and negotiate a partnership with Papua New Guinea, not something that comes in and intervenes and tells Papua New Guinea what to do."

Professor Allan Patience.