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Torres Strait possible flashpoint in relations


AN AUSTRALIAN Senate committee has begun to investigate illegal activities across the permeable Torres Strait border between Australia and PNG.

PNG Attitude recently focussed on this issue in articles by Phil Fitzpatrick and other correspondents. The matter was subsequently brought to the attention of Australian politicians.

Amongst sensational evidence, the committee was told that traditional Torres Strait border crossers from PNG had recently abducted an Australian woman from Sabai island at gunpoint.

PNG nationals were accused of crossing into Australia at will: “any time they like, any time of the day, and stay as long as they like”.

They were accused of being involved in gun-running and drug smuggling – mostly cannabis.

And, to add insult to injury, it was alleged they unlawfully occupied 30 of 100 new homes just built on Badu Island.

The claims were made before the Senate inquiry session on Thursday Island last week.

Torres Strait regional authority chairman, John Kris, told Senators that islanders lack an adequate police presence, which allows border crossers to move around at will.

Torres Shire mayor, Pedero Stephen, told the inquiry that police response was too slow because of travel times from their base on Thursday Island.

Source: ‘Abduction claim surfaces at inquiry’ by Yehiura Hriehwazi, The National. Spotter: Paul Oates


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Reginald Renagi

The sooner PNG and Australian authorities come up with an effective monitoring, surveillance and enforcement program fully activated and consistently operated in a joint cooperative way the better. This is a potential risk to future good relations between our two countries and their DFAT, and its law enforcement agencies better get cracking by working well together now and in future.

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