Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
Australians attacked trekking in Papua New Gu -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

ELEANOR HALL: Seven Australians who were attacked while they were trekking in Papua New Guinea are due to fly back into Port Moresby today.

Two of their porters were killed in the assault late yesterday on the Black Cat Track in Morobe province.

Australia's acting Foreign Minister, Tanya Plibersek, says the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby is providing consular support to all those Australians affected by what she described as a tragic event.

Our Papua New Guinea correspondent Liam Fox joins us now.

Liam, what's the latest information that you have on the condition of those trekkers injured in this attack?

LIAM FOX: Well it appears that it was the porters who bore the brunt of the attack. They have some very serious injuries. As you said, two porters were killed. The Australians and one, also one New Zealander trekker was there as well. They were injured. We've been told that it was in the nature of lacerations, cuts and bruises and things like that.

The Foreign Affairs Department says that their injuries are not life threatening. After the attack they were taken to the town of Wau which is one end of the Black Cat, where they were given treatment at a camp run by the Morobe Mining Joint Venture.

I was able to speak to Stanley Komunt from the Morobe Mining Joint Venture who was there when the Australians and the New Zealanders were brought into Wau yesterday afternoon. He says they appeared to be traumatised but they were ok after some treatment.

STANLEY KOMUNT: Obviously traumatised and a few injuries. And once they were done we looked they were all ok, they were talking, they were walking, they were having a tea. So they were all good. From what I heard a couple got injured. They were treated and they all retired back to the house.

LIAM FOX: And what have you been able to hear, or what did they say about what happened with the attack?

STANLEY KOMUNT: About three or four in the darkness, they were attacked by this group. And obviously bush knives, there was a pop gun and a rifle, they couldn't tell. And yeah, they just took their stuff and chopped up these porters and it was all happening so fast and they were confused as well.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Stanley Komunt from the Mining Joint Venture where the trekkers were brought after that attack.

Liam, what do you know about who was responsible for this and any suggestion about a motive for the attack?

LIAM FOX: Those details are unclear at this stage. Local police have declined to comment and directed our inquiries to the police commissioner here in Port Moresby, who's also been unavailable for comment.

You'd have to imagine though, given the isolated area where these people were, that it was locals, people from that area. And there have been some different theories floating around this morning for the motivation.

One of those is that there has been some tension between the locals along the Black Cat Track and trekkers, sorry, porters, who come from other areas of Morobe province. Locals feel that those sorts of jobs should be given to them because it's their area.

And the other theory is that it was simply a crime of opportunity. And that some local bandits, thugs or criminals have seen this party trekking and decided they'd attack and rob them.

ELEANOR HALL: Have there been any recent similar incidents?

LIAM FOX: No, not that we're aware of. We had heard of tension between local along the lines of what I mentioned before. Tensions between locals who are on track, on popular walking tracks. And workers who come from other areas.

We have heard in the last few years that sometimes it's led to some minor conflicts. But no expatriates, no tourists have been involved.

ELEANOR HALL: Liam Fox, our Papua New Guinea correspondent, thank you.