5 Jul 2005

PNG political scientist says RAMSI immunity ruling will be decisive for PNG/Australian aid programme

8:57 pm on 5 July 2005

A political scientist in Papua New Guinea says negotiations with Australia over the Enhanced Cooperation Programme will depend partly on a case of alleged abuse in Solomon Islands by Australian police.

University of PNG political science professor, Allan Patience made the comment in relation to the apparent deadlock with Australia over the multi-million dollar aid programme.

The ECP saw the arrival of Australian police officers to bolster security in PNG but they were pulled out by Australia after the Supreme Court in PNG ruled that their immunity provisions were unconstitutional.

Professor Patience says much depends on whether the case against police officers with the Regional Assistance Mission, which centres on the immunity question, succeeds.

"If that happens, any kind of intervention in the South Pacific is going to be highly problematic as far as Australia is concerned. It's failed badly, so far, if RAMSI fails then we're in real trouble."

He says if RAMSI stays intact, the most likely outcome is that another ECP-type agreement will be formed.