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ECP at root of Australia PNG problems

Media Release:
May 6th 2005

Implementation of ECP at root of Australia PNG problems!

Leading aid watchdog AID/WATCH, has hit back at suggestions it is fomenting dissent between PNG and Australia, suggesting that the implementation of the $800 000 Enhanced Cooperation Program (ECP) was ill-conceived, reactive and a mere band aid for the problems of law and justice in PNG.

The real problem according to AID/WATCH is the politically expedient nature of the Australian aid program, which is being used to implement its own national interest at the expense of a focus on poverty alleviation.

AID/WATCH has long been critical of the ‘national interest’ lens through which Australian aid is delivered. This has been evident in the Australian aid program through such ventures as the Pacific Solution, RAMSI and now the ECP, and indicative of a shift towards funding so-called ‘governance’ projects and away from traditional aid areas such as health, education and infrastructure. AID/Watch does not wish to undermine such projects but is critical nonetheless because they detract focus/attention from pressing human welfare concerns.

AID/WATCH received prominent attention in the PNG media recently when it highlighted figures from the Australian Government that stated that just $55 million of the $790 million dedicated to strengthening the institutional capacity of the Royal Papua New Guinean Constabulary, was actually going to the PNG police. The remainder was nominated to go to the Australian Federal Police for salaries, accommodation and logistical costs.

Tim O’Connor from AID/WATCH said today “Pointing out this disparity in how much aid is actually staying in PNG is hardly undermining the relationship between PNG and Australia. The Australian Government has made a decent fist of that by imposing the ECP on PNG instead of engaging in extensive consultations and building consensus. It has yet to focus on a long-term sustainable solution through creating a more bottom up model of implementation”, said O’Connor.

The issue of resources for PNG police has been at the forefront of the issues relating to the effectiveness of the PNG police force. In the PNG Post Courier this week there were reports of PNG Police seeking funds for petrol from local businessman. An Australian Senate report in 2003 found that issues of resources were the prime factor restricting the impact of the local police in PNG.

AID/WATCH has harboured concerns around the top down model of the ECP and written several reports and fact sheets stipulating these concerns. The last one was published in February 2005 3 months prior to this current media interest.

ENDS

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