Monday 4 November 2013
Arrival of the first AFP officers deployed under
Phase IV of the PNG-Australian Policing Partnership
Jacksons International Airport
Address by Australia’s High Commissioner to PNG
Ms Deborah Stokes
• Hon Rimbink Pato OBE MP – Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration
• Police Commissioner Kulunga
• Members of the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary
• Australian Police Commissioner Tony Negus and other members of the senior executive
• Australian Federal Police Deployees
It is an honour to be here for this important occasion, which is a milestone in Australia-PNG relations.
Today, we welcome the arrival of the first 30 AFP officers to be deployed to PNG under the expanded police arrangement between our two countries.
Prime Minister O’Neill and former Prime Minister Rudd agreed in July that Australia would provide 50 AFP officers to provide frontline advisory support to the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary. This additional assistance has been confirmed by the new Australian Government led by Prime Minister Abbott.
The aim is to work with the RPNGC to help it strengthen its capacity to deliver effective and visible policing services.
At the heart of the new deployment is partnership. And I wish to acknowledge the leadership role of Commissioner Kulunga in providing invaluable guidance and support to for the partnership.
Under the PNG-Australia Policing Partnership which dates back to 2008 many Australian AFP personnel served in PNG.
Those of you who have just arrived from Australia will see the familiar faces of 17 of your colleagues who are here already, helping the RPNGC to meet its Modernisation Program goals of a reformed police service, capable and equipped to meet the needs of a rapidly growing economy and a fast-growing population.
And you will be joined by more officers from Australia. In December, two further deployments of AFP officers will arrive, bringing the total number deployed under this arrangement to 50.
37 will be based in Port Moresby and 13 will be based in Lae. All officers will be on the ground before Christmas.
The deployment of 50 additional AFP officers represents a four-fold increase in Australia’s funding for policing assistance to PNG.
As part of the agreement between our two governments in July, the PNG Government also committed to increase its funding for the RPNGC. We look forward to seeing this in the forthcoming PNG budget.
PNG will host the 2015 Pacific Games. It will also play host to world’s leaders during the APEC Summit in 2018.
An adequately resourced and professional police force will have a critical role to play in ensuring the success of these events.
Today we are here to witness the start of an exciting new phase in the PNG-Australia policing partnership.
This expansion takes place in the context of wide-ranging cooperation between Australia and PNG in the law and justice sector.
Working together, PNG and Australia have already achieved some results in the law and justice sector.
The village courts system has been revitalised. The number of women appointed as Village Court Magistrates has increased from just 10 in 2004, to over 900 today.
There has also been a strong program of infrastructure development, funded by the aid program, including the construction of courts, police and prison facilities.
Australia has worked with PNG to establish a number of family and sexual violence units at police stations throughout the country.
Over the past three years, more than 20,000 victims have accessed specialist police support in this way. I am pleased that the expanded policing partnership will reinforce this work, with its dedicated support assisting the Sexual Offences Squad to investigate and prosecute these crimes.
In closing, I wish to underline the close relationship between Australia and PNG. Our histories are intertwined as are our futures.
The expanded police partnership between our two nations is a demonstration of the closeness of our two nations and our shared commitment to the rule of law and democratic values and institutions.
I wish to say to all of the police here today – from PNG and Australia – you have many challenges ahead.
But your work could not be more important to building a stronger and fairer country for all citizens in PNG.