Torres Strait border arrangements described as fair

8:50 am on 21 July 2015

A former official involved in negotiating Torres Strait border arrangements between Papua New Guinea and Australia says there was a great deal of provision for traditional access rights.

Thursday Island in Torres Strait, Papua New Guinea

Thursday Island in Torres Strait Photo: Feral Arts

PNG's Prime Minister Peter O'Neill wants the arrangements reviewed, saying traditional hunting and fishing rights of Trans Fly villagers in the Strait have been extinguished, leaving many communities with no income

Geoffrey Dabb is a former PNG Foreign Affairs official involved in the border negotiations as PNG approached independence in the mid-1970s.

He says the arrangements didn't exclude traditional access rights.

"Super-imposed on the jurisdiction lines governing the sea and sea-bed jurisdiction were arrangements that guaranteed access for traditional purposes for the traditional inhabitants over the whole area; and when it came to commercial access, there was an arrangement for a charing of them which I think was fairly equitable from both points of view."

Geoffrey Dabb.