“Queensland plans to send police officers to serve in Papua New Guinea and host officers from the neighbouring country. Premier Campbell Newman, who is in PNG, says up to 150 police officers will be exchanged to improve policing operations and protocols in PNG.” (AAP, 15 May)
GOOD NEWS? BUT WAIT! While this is great in theory, the devil will certainly lurk in the details.
Let me, through the Socratic method, expose some of those skulking details.
1. What arrangements have been made for familiarisation training for those going and those coming?
2. What accommodation will be offered to the PNG police and where?
3. What will their salaries be in Australian dollars and who will pay them?
4. Will there be equal numbers traveling from both countries?
5. How long will each transfer be and will that allow enough time for each officer to be effective?
6. Will the exchanges be reciprocal or just between each service?
7. Will those police working in PNG be supported by the 'system' and allowed to do their work unhindered?
8. Will Queensland police be working outside the cities and actually doing field work? If not, what chance is there for any real impact at the kunai roots?
9. What guarantees will there be that after the QPS staff leave PNG and the PNG police return to their own service there will be any change to the current situation?
10. The RPNGC may be at the point of internal collapse with around half of its numbers either at or near retirement. The majority of members are stationed at hot spots throughout the Highlands and those across the country have very little in the way of resources or logistical support.
11. Have the senior ranks of the RPNGC agreed to this arrangement and will back proposals submitted by the QPS?
12. Has the PNG government accepted it will back and follow through all submissions made under PNG legislation in a timely and non restrictive manner?
13. Has the likelihood of another Constitutional challenge been ruled out?
14. Will the QPS staff merely be in an advisory role without any power or capacity to ensure actual changes occur? If so, then this is simply another window dressing exercise.
There have been previous instances where the Australian Federal Police were offered separate facilities and accommodation, food and conditions while they worked alongside the RPNGC. This sort of dual operating arrangement made for anything other than great inter-service relations.
I know of a few old hands who would be only too happy to offer some assistance, but I suppose you can bet any offers of that nature will be spurned by those who are organising this operation.