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Torres Strait visitors roam streets with machetes, knives

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, June 17, 2010) – Community leaders in the far north of the Australian state of Queensland say large numbers of Papua New Guineans are roaming the streets with knives and machetes.

A Senate inquiry is looking into the Torres Strait treaty which gives PNG residents from Western Province traditional visiting rights to Australia.

But Torres Strait community leaders have told a hearing in Canberra that it's putting excessive demand on local health services.

The Mayor of the Torres Strait Island council, Frank Gela, says there are other problems with law and order.

"Sly grog and drugs and other contraband find its way easily across the border and into our communities. There is no recognition for law and order on the PNG side compared to the Australian side. It is not uncommon for large groups of PNG nationals to be walking the streets in our communities brandishing machetes and knives."

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