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So far so good. Now for implementation

By Jeffrey Wall - posted Friday, 20 January 2023


By any measure the prime minister's visit to PNG last week was a success. He was very well received and the proposals he outlined to strengthen the big-lateral relationship manageable.

Effectively we have been given a second chance to get our relations right. We must learn from past mistakes and focus on implementation.

Readers may recall in my first column here two years ago I urged Australia to offer to rebuild the PNG defence force.

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It has long been the poor relation of PNG's uniformed forces - underfunded, poorly managed and largely ineffective. It just hasn't been a priority.

The danger was that indiscipline might cause attempts at coups and a serious war between the army and the police. There have been difficulties for as long as I can remember.

The problem is that the breakdown in law and order has inevitably meant funding and priority has gone to the police force.

The assurance at independence that a balance would be maintained between the army and the police broke down years ago.

We have a very good history when it comes to our army in pre-independence PNG. Among those who served in PNG was Senator Jim Molan who died this week.

But we can't rely on history.

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We need practical programs that help rebuild the PNGDF.

If we don't, China will!

The announcement by the PM of wide-ranging capacity support for the PNGDF is timely, and overdue.

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About the Author

Jeffrey Wall CSM CBE is a Brisbane Political Consultant and has served as Advisor to the PNG Foreign Minister, Sir Rabbie Namaliu Prime Minister 1988-1992 and Speaker 1994-1997.

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