PNG TREASURER: AID PROGRAM IN AUSTRALIA’S INTEREST

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post Courier, October 28) – Australia will have to consider its interests in Papua New Guinea before it decides to unplug the PGK600 million [US$213.4 million] aid that it provides.

Treasurer Sir Rabbie Namaliu on Wednesday made this comment in the light of Australia threatening to pull the plug on its aid from Papua New Guinea after relationships between the two countries became sour over the escape of the Australian lawyer and Solomon Island intending Attorney-General Julian Moti.

"At the moment they are saying that if things got worse that’s what they’ll do but I don’t think a decision has been done yet to that effect," he said. He said Australia would obviously have to assess the situation first.

"Aid, as you have to remember, is not a one way street. It is in their national interest that they continue to provide development assistance not just to us but to any country in the Pacific," he said. Sir Rabbie said the relationship between PNG and Australia had was for mutual benefit and Australia would have to consider this seriously.

He said since PNG was right next door, Australia would have to consider its security interest before making any decision on the developmental aid to the country. He said for this reason and others, it was in their national interest to provide assistance where it was necessary to PNG or other Pacific Island neighbour country. "But it’s a decision (that is) up to them and it’s a decision only they can make," he said.

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