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Foreign Minister discusses PNG; Julian Moti; Solomon Islands; aid; and North Korea.



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MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS HON ALEXANDER DOWNER, MP

TRANSCRIPTION: PROOF COPY E & OE

DATE: 17 October 2006

TITLE: 2GB Sydney Drivetime with Phillip Clarke

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PHILIP CLARK: Mr Downer good afternoon to you.

ALEXANDER DOWNER: Good afternoon.

CLARK: I know you’re cranky about this too.

DOWNER: Well I am and you put it very well - we give them 300 million a year, it doesn’t matter - we’ve given Papua New Guinea, that is the listeners have through their taxes, 10 billion dollars in aid since independence in 1975. I make no apology for being very upset

about this - I think child sex is the most appalling of crimes - I am a father of four children -

CLARK: It’s disgusting. I know you are. I’m a parent too. You don’t have to be a parent to be revolted by this…

DOWNER: You don’t.

CLARK: So what do we know about this bloke Julian Moti? He’s a Fijian born isn’t he?

DOWNER: He is Fijian born and then, I’m not sure when he did, but he migrated to Australia and he went to Sydney University.

CLARK: And did his law degree here?

DOWNER: Yes, in Australia. He travels around a good deal - he spent a lot of time in India and he’s obviously spent a good deal of time in Solomon Islands.

CLARK: Has he got some sort of bolt hole in the Solomon Islands does he?

DOWNER: Well at the moment he’s in a prison there because he’s facing immigration charges, though there’s a debate about that as well, but that’s a matter for the Solomon Islands. We, when I say we I mean the Federal Police, have been trying to get him for a little while. They’ve been investigating his case and they’ve been trying to get him. He ended up

in, through one means or another, in Papua New Guinea and so there was an attempt to extradite him. If the attempt had failed in the Courts as a result of some interpretation of the law by a judge that would be one thing, but he was whisked out of Papua New Guinea on a Papuan New Guinea defence force plane in the early hours of the morning - between three and five in the morning - to Solomon Islands. This coming on the back of the Papua New

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Guinea Prime Minister saying a few days earlier that he would facilitate Mr Moti’s departure to the Solomon Islands.

CLARK: What’s it all about? I mean Moti is wanted by Australian Federal Police isn’t he for allegedly having sexual intercourse with a 13 year old girl?

DOWNER: Well I’m not going into the details of the charges, I think that’s wrong. But he is wanted yes for child sex offences. I would have thought that the Papua New Guinea Government would just leave it to Papua New Guinea law.

CLARK: So what are they on about?

DOWNER: Well Mr Sogavare, who’s the Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands - he’s the man who kicked our High Commissioner out and who wants to make Mr Moti his attorney general - was in touch with the Papua New Guinea Government and urged them to let Mr Moti go from Papua New Guinea to Solomon Islands. Now, who ultimately is responsible for this and how the decisions were made, well, the Papuan New Guinea Government has set up an internal investigation into this. But in the end, this is a clear breach of Papua New Guinea law, I mean, there was a warrant for…

CLARK: Hang on. The Papua New Guinea Government set up an inquiry into how Moti was flown out on a Papua New Guinea military aircraft?

DOWNER: Yes.

CLARK: What do they need an inquiry for? I mean they did it.

DOWNER: Well they want to know who’s ultimately responsible for it - who actually made the decision - were the politicians involved…

CLARK: That’s just a lot of time wasting rubbish. Isn’t it. I mean, you can’t say that but I can. It’s a lot of time wasting rubbish. Why do they have it in for us? We’re the ones giving them the money.

DOWNER: I think there are all sots of issues here. I have to be careful what I say here, but I think there’s obviously some sort of a bond there between Mr Sogavare and some people in Papua New Guinea. I’m not going to go into who they might be but there clearly is some sort of a bond there. But I can’t interpret exactly detail, but, the point I’m always making is - it’s about the rule of law. We’re putting a lot of money into these countries to try to get them on their feet and try to help the ordinary people …..

CLARK: That’s right. After Papua, the Solomon’s is our next biggest recipient of overseas aid.

DOWNER: Actually Indonesia in the context of the tsunami aid is the largest, then…

CLARK: Very closely followed by the Solomon’s….

DOWNER: Very - then Papua New Guinea, then Solomon’s. But the point is that it’s good to give aid to help poor people in poor countries, but if the quality of governance is bad, then all the aid in the world isn’t going to solve the problem.

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CLARK: Well PNG’s a basket case anyway. If it wasn’t for the fact that we were concerned that these countries might fall under the sway of some other country, we’d pull our money out wouldn’t we?

DOWNER: There are humanitarian reasons why we want to look after them. I think there’s a lot of affection between the Australian people and the Papuan New Guinean people, for example. But, having said that, I mean between the mainstreams of our society, I think when it comes to politicians and the governing elite in Papua New Guinea they’re a mixed pack - some of them are absolutely fantastic people and very honourable and decent. But the honest truth is, this won’t be a great revelation to your listeners, I have a suspicion there may be a little bit of corruption going on up there as well.

CLARK: Yes, exactly. Look, alright, just before you go, North Korea. Now it’s been confirmed now that it was a nuclear bomb they let off. There were some suggestions that it might just be a very large conventional explosions, but it was a nuclear bomb. There’s some suggestion they are going to explode another one according to some satellite evidence - the

UN has passed resolutions against them which seem pretty pathetic I must say. Where do we go from here?

DOWNER: Well I think the UN Resolutions were as good as I’d hoped for I suppose, bearing in mind the diversity of views and in particular the fact that China has traditionally been a strong supporter of North Korea and doesn’t want to see the regime

collapse. But they’ve gone along with the sanctions regime so that’s not a bad outcome. But of course the sanctions have to be enforced and how that is going to happen, it’s a bit of a work in progress.

CLARK: China is North Korea’s biggest sponsor and most of Korea’s goods and services, including its energy comes from China, so the regime’s not really going to be affected by the fact that they can’t have French perfume is it?

DOWNER: I don’t think the French perfume so much, but the fact is that if the Chinese are as rigorous in enforcing the sanctions…

CLARKE: Which they won’t be…

DOWNER: Well we hope they will be and that’s a role for diplomacy to make sure that everybody, all parties are equally determined to enforce the sanctions and that could have a bit of an effect on them.

CLARK: Let’s hope so. Good to talk to you.

DOWNER: It’s a pleasure.

ENDS