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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.


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.


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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