19 Jul 2005

Sir Michael Somare calls for a revised ECP to be drawn up

8:22 pm on 19 July 2005

The Papua New Government says it wants Australia's stalled Enhanced Co-operation Programme to be revised and for PNG to have more say in its design.

The ECP, under which Canberra was providing millions to help restore basic government services to PNG, has been stalled for 2 months after a court ruled that Australian police did not have immunity under PNG law.

Don Wiseman reports.

Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare says his government wants the Australians back but it will not budge from its position that the constitution not be amended to suit Australia's demand for immunity.

The Prime Minister says the Australian police's concerns about vexatious claims can be covered by section 16 of the Police Act.

He says a revised ECP might focus more on police training and building the logistics capacity, but he would still envisage Australia police working in in-line supervisory positions.

Sir Michael says he would also like to see a new trade relationship develop, freeing PNG from the traditional umbilical cord of aid dependence.

He says trade and investment restrictions should be relaxed.

The Prime Minister says if the ECP stalemate is not resolved PNG will look to the north, including to Europe, to find other aid donors.