20 Mar 2007

PNG/Australia business links confident of surviving Moti fallout

7:01 pm on 20 March 2007

The Australia/Papua New Guinea Business Council says that so far bilateral business hasn't been affected by the Julian Moti issue.

The issue was raised by Australia's Foreign Minister Alexander Downer in his keynote speech at the annual Australia/PNG Business Forum this week in Queensland.

Mr Downer warned that this year's joint ministerial forum with PNG would be cancelled if action is not taken on recommendations from the PNG Defence Force inquiry into Moti's escape to Solomon Islands last year.

The President of the Council Alan Walter admits that the cancellation of last year's joint ministerial forum was disappointing for the business community.

But he says Mr Downer was optimistic that ministerial contact between the two countries has moved on, even though Canberra is eagerly awaiting the outcome of the Defence Force inquiry.

"They still seem to want to have an answer to that but we in the business community... that's not a major focus of ours. And it's not a topic that has come up in the forum apart from Mr Downer giving some reasons as to why the situation arose at the end of last year."