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Assistance to PNG Defence Force

Wednesday, 18 October 2000

The Minister for Defence, John Moore, today said he was pleased that Australia was proceeding with a package of assistance to the Papua New Guinea Government aimed at helping with its reform measures for the PNG Defence Force (PNGDF).

Prime Minister John Howard, announced the assistance measures today. Defence will provide direct help to the PNGDF with rationing, base services, and financial management. Australia also will assist with the discharge and repatriation of PNGDF members made redundant as a result of reform initiatives.

"Assistance will be provided that will provide stability and certainty within the PNG Defence Force," Mr Moore said. "It will help the PNGDF successfully implement the PNG Government's public sector reform agenda.

"In talks I had during the visit of my counterpart, PNG Defence Minister Muki Taranupi, in May this year, it was evident that the PNG Government wanted to get serious about its own Defence reform program.

"As I outlined to Mr Taranupi, Australia remains committed to considering requests for appropriate assistance to the PNG Government to implement its reform initiatives.

"Implementation of the assistance package is likely to result in a short-term increase in the numbers of Australian Defence Force and public service personnel advising the PNG Government on defence issues.

"We may increase the number of personnel permanently posted to PNG should the PNGDF request greater longer-term assistance. Currently, there are 30 Australian Defence personnel working in PNG," said Mr Moore.

"Australia wants to help the PNG Government reform the PNGDF to ensure that it can respond appropriately to PNG's security challenges.

Australia also has offered the PNG Government assistance to conduct a comprehensive Review of National Security, which will examine PNG's strategic circumstances, and make recommendations on the size and structure of the PNGDF appropriate for PNG's strategic situation.

This assistance is expected to take the form of financial aid, and the participation of a prominent Australian who has appropriate PNG experience.

The total cost of the assistance package, which will be funded through Australia's Defence Cooperation Program, will be finalised over the next few weeks.


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