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Tuesday, 20 August 1996
Page: 2724

(Question No. 112)


Senator Margetts asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 27 June 1996:

(1) With reference to the decision of 24 July 1989 when the Hon. Lionel Bowen permitted Australian forces to act as mercenaries against the Bougainville people: (a) do Australian servicemen or ex-servicemen continue to play this role in the Bougainville conflict; (b) if so, does Australia sanction this behaviour and under which international or domestic laws or principles.

(2) With reference to the current renewed offensive by the Papua New Guinea (PNG) Government against Bougainville which has resulted in many deaths and injuries: (a) how is this new offensive being financed by PNG; (b) is the Australian government providing any funding towards the PNG offensive; if so, how much funding and under what programs; (c) has the Government provided funding in the past which the PNG Government could now be using to fund its offensive in Bougainville; (d) if so, what action can the Australian government take to stop this from happening; (e) can an absolute guarantee be made that no Australian money is being used to fund the current offensive in Bougainville; (f) is it the case that PNG would be using its World Bank loan to fund the offensive in Bougainville; if so, how is this possible; and (g) can the PNG Government afford the $10 million budget for the Bougainville offensive; if not, can details be provided of any outside involvement, and who is funding the offensive and to what extent.


Senator Newman —The Minister for Defence has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) I am aware of a declaration made on 20 July 1989 by the then Attorney-General which permitted the recruitment in Australia by the Papua New Guinea (PNG) Government of persons to serve with the PNG Defence Force (PNGDF) in any capacity to facilitate the use of four Iroquois helicopters supplied to the PNG Government by the Australian Government. In respect of this decision:

(a) Currently serving Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel are specifically excluded from the terms of that decision. With regard to

ex-ADF personnel, the Department of Defence does not hold records of the employment of individual Australian civilians, whether ex-ADF or otherwise, by civilian companies which contract to the PNGDF or by the PNGDF itself.

(b) Employment of Australian civilians, whether by the PNGDF or by contractors to it, is permitted under the Crimes (Foreign Incursions and Recruitment) Act 1978.

(2) (a) I am informed that Operation HIGH SPEED II was financed by the PNG Government through a one-off, A$10M supplement to its defence budget.

(b),(c) and (d)

Australia does not provide direct support to, or funding towards, PNGDF operations on Bougainville, including HIGH SPEED II.

(e) Australia provides significant budget support to the PNG Government, which is currently being phased out and replaced by specifically-targeted program assistance. The allocation and expenditure of the direct budget support Australia provides is a matter for the PNG Government to decide.

(f) The PNG Government's allocation and expenditure of World Bank loan monies is a matter between the World Bank and the PNG Government.

(g) It is up to the PNG Government to decide how it allocates and spends its own resources.