"YOU'RE BETTER OFF WITHOUT SKATE," SAYS AUSTRALIAN DEFENSE MINISTER MOORE

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By Peter Cole-Adams

CANBERRA, Australia (July 5, 1999 - Seven Network/Sydney Morning Herald/Pasifik Nius/Niuswire)---Australia Defense Minister John Moore suggested yesterday that it might be better for Papua New Guinea if Prime Minister Bill Skate and his government fell as a result of a no-confidence motion expected this month.

Moore said the PNG economy had deteriorated and that current reports pointed to "some instability" in the Government.

"We have to wait and see what happens when the Parliament meets July 13, as to whether the no-confidence motion is carried or not," he told the Seven Network's "Face to Face" program.

"If it is carried, that leads to a new government, and that might well lead to a better outcome than currently," said Moore.

He also said the PNG Government should "rethink" its reported offer to grant diplomatic recognition to Taiwan in return for "soft" loans.

Moore said Australia was monitoring the changing security situation in PNG and stood ready to help if necessary.

Asked about reports that Australian Defense strategists had plans for the evacuation of up to 10,000 Australians from Port Moresby if violence broke out, Moore said there were "national" contingency plans for many situations, but he was not aware of any that went to that extent.

He said he would be talking to United Nations special envoy Jamsheed Marker this week about his wish to have Darwin as an emergency evacuation base for East Timor if it became necessary.

"I'll be interested to hear what he has in mind, but certainly we are in a position to meet any contingencies in the north," said Moore.

But, he emphasized that Australia would only act at the UN's request and with the full knowledge of Jakarta.

"(It) has to be endorsed by the Indonesian Government . . . otherwise we'd be seen to be invading a neighboring country, and that we would not do."

Moore said he did not think Australian police in East Timor were in immediate danger and defended the Defense Department's advice that they would be less of a target unarmed than armed.

Title -- 2199 POLITICS: Australian minister slates Skate Date -- 5 July 1999 Byline -- None Origin -- Pasifik Nius Source -- Sydney Morning Herald, 5/7/99 Copyright -- SMH Status -- Unabridged This document is for educational and research use only. Recipients should seek permission from the copyright source before reprinting. PASIFIK NIUS service is provided by the niusedita via the Journalism Program, University of the South Pacific. Please acknowledge Pasifik Nius: E-mail: niusedita@pactok.net.au Website: http://www.usp.ac.fj/journ/nius/index.html

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