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Dysfunction & waste allegations against AFP ‘colonial masters’

Chris-HawkinsRORY CALLINAN | The Australian | Extracts

ALLEGATIONS of dysfunction, harassment and waste have been levelled at the multi-million dollar Australian Federal Police (AFP) mission overseeing the 2018 APEC summit in Papua New Guinea.

The claims which have raised questions about the capability of PNG to host the forum, range from a breakdown in relations with top level local police and the purchase of unnecessary equipment and futile training to bullying and vicious internal feuding amongst the AFP.

Among the bullying and harassment claims are that an AFP civilian was flying a camera drone around windows of a female AFP member’s high rise apartment in Port Moresby, that a pornographic movie was aired during a function and an AFP officer physically assaulted another colleague.

A dossier of the allegations, which had been made by several AFP officers who served on the mission, was yesterday emailed to key ministers and politicians in Canberra in the hope they would spark an official inquiry.

An AFP officer who was on the mission but is now on stress leave compiled the dossier and is seeking protection as a whistleblower.

One of the most concerning claims is that an Australian Defence Force representative in Port Moresby stated at a Joint Security Task Force meeting earlier this year that there had been no progress in APEC planning and that situation had become critical.

APEC Papua New Guinea 2018 CEO, Christopher Hawkins (pictured) rejected the concerns saying the claims seemed like sour grapes from a member who has experienced difficulties in their posting.

“I have always seen a very positive and strong working relationship between Commissioner Baki and the head of the AFP mission,’’ he said..

“In some planning areas we are not as advanced as we would like to be and in other areas we are ahead of schedule.

“This is the case for every APEC year in every country where APEC is held. Where there are gaps these are closed through increased attention to specific areas.”

APEC is due to be held in November next year and involves a forum between leaders from the 21 Pacific Rim countries including Australia, the United States, China, Russia, Canada and New Zealand.

Australia is spending more than $48 million in taking a lead role to help Papua New Guinea plan and host the meeting.

A contingent of about 70 Australian Federal Police is deployed to PNG with 56 having special roles related to APEC including training and assisting with planning.

The dossier suggests there has been a breakdown in relationships with some top level PNG police and that large amounts of money are being wasted buying equipment that PNG police did not have the training or staff to operate.

The dossier also raised questions about procedures surrounding major contracts being awarded including one which was initially supposed to be given to the Queensland Police but then later given to a private provider from New South Wales.

Relationships between some PNG officers and the AFP were reported to be difficult with tensions over the fact Australians had been seen as the “colonial masters” to PNG police.

Allegations of inappropriate behaviour had also surfaced with a female officer complaining that a drone was hovering outside her apartment in Port Moresby earlier this year. It later emerged the drone was being operated by a civilian AFP officer in a room above hers, alleges the dossier.

The Australian understands the civilian has been told he is only to fly the drone in front of the building not near the windows at the back

In September last year, a complaint was made that an AFP officer assaulted a co-worker by squeezing him and dragging him into an office.

On another occasion a pornographic movie appeared on a screen at a function attended by staff from Foreign Affairs, the Australian Defence Force and the AFP says the dossier

A spokesman for the AFP said the allegations were “extremely concerning” and due to their nature they needed time to assess them individually.

The spokesman said the AFP was aware of a number of matters “such as” the incident relating to the pornographic film being aired.

He said a report about the incident was lodged by the AFP mission commander and as a result of the investigation it was deemed “a corrupted file” was to blame.

“While this was an accident the AFP apologises for any offence that was caused,’’ he said.

The spokesman said due to the nature of the allegations the AFP would need to assess them individually.

“Additional time would be required to ensure the integrity of each assessment,’’ he said.

Senator Nick Xenophon last night confirmed he had received a copy of the dossier yesterday and was “urgently reviewing the matter” and “is highly concerned”.

An ADF spokesman said they would need more time to respond to the allegations.


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William Dunlop

Philip, the plot thickens. We might have to call on the old bard himself. Mind you there's quite a lot of Joyce's around these days.

Philip Fitzpatrick

The 'death stare' thing might be worth following up - it could be she's a dual citizen from Mars.

Dame Edna will know.

William Dunlop

Peter - pansies, eh.

Perhaps I ought to seek Dame Edna's opinion.

Philip Fitzpatrick

That's flower-ism William - discrimination against flowers. Not to mention the idea of inflicting her on rural people. The only upside I can see is a possible surge in the sale of boutique gum boots.

William Dunlop

Good one Peter. The blind leading the blind, All paid for by our tax dollars.

I am still of the opinion, in fact, moreso, that the Hon Julie Bishop, the present foreign minister, would be best relegated to a role as a flower judge. Preferably at rural shows.

Fellow country people, no pun or insult implied or intended.

Peter Kranz

Seems to be part of a broader problem where Australia is losing skills and experience and passing the buck to private contractors.

A handful of companies are cashing in on Australia's dwindling foreign aid budget, securing billions of dollars to do some of the work the Government used to do itself.

Government contracts show four companies have been paid close to $4 billion from the aid budget to manage long-term projects since 2014, when the Abbott government merged Foreign Affairs (DFAT) and AusAid.

Australia's aid community believes the merger left the Government without the skills and ability to manage major aid projects — something DFAT denies.

Ten companies now receive close to 20 per cent of the aid budget each year — up from 14 per cent in 2012. They have earned $712 million in the last 12 months alone.

DFAT's top four choices — Cardno Emerging Markets, Palladium International, Coffey International Development and ABT Associates — pocketed $461.8 million last financial year.


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