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08 August 2014

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Well Dave, I reckon that's what they call 'shooting the messenger'.

I am not inclined to adopt a position on the very valid questions posed regarding measurement of results of the AFP deployment and whether it's 'value for money', because,although I have been working with the AFP dudes during my couple of shifts a week as an RPNGC Reservist, my observations are, being a dimdim and not the object of their attentions, from the sideline, so to speak.

I have gotten to know about a dozen of the 30 odd who work in Port Moresby, either at PHQ, Boroko Divisional HQ, around the suburban stations and at Bomana Police College and can testify as to the quality and commitment of the individuals and their acceptance by Constabulary rank and file.

'They advise, influence and provide material support where they can.' Yes this is true and I have seen the benefits of this approach, on the ground.

It is true that the AFP personnel drive around in their own distinctively marked vehicles and do not accompany RPNGC personnel in Constabulary vehicles, but this is the only area where the two 'tribes' do not mix.

Foot patrols, manning the counter, responding to public complaints, are all carried out by 'mixed' groups. not to mention the training and mentoring that is part and parcel of the job of AFP personnel who are assigned to Prosecutions, CID, Fraud Squad, Logistics, etc, back room stuff that the public do not see.

The AFP even fall in 'on parade' with their National counterparts and made a good showing at the Dawn Service at Bomana on Anzac day.

I guess the proof of the pudding, will be in the eating, but I was present at Sir John Guise Stadium, a few years back, when practically every Copper in the NCD attended a meeting where they unanimously voted to cease working with the 'foreign police', a month before the PNG Judiciary ruled that their 'immunity' from prosecution before the PNG Courts was unconstitutional, leading to the closing down of the entire 'previous' program. The program was 'dead in the water' before the Court ruling. It was just not working.

The present AFP contingent do not have 'police powers' or immunity from anything, and perhaps that is why they they have to 'pussyfoot' around a bit. It hasn't made any difference, they appear to be very welcome by the troops, and there is no sign of any dissatisfaction from within the Constabulary and a great deal of overt satisfaction expressed by the general public.

The only criticism that I have heard comes from some of the 'Expat' community, who seem to think that Coppers are not entitled to have lunch or a coffee break.

There was an armed robbery opposite the Boroko Police Station a few months back. The response was immediate and included several AFP guys who quickly disarmed and captured the 'perps'. I believe that they were told by their Boss that they shouldn't have gotten involved, but 'when needs must'? The Boss may not have been happy, but it certainly went down well with the PNG Coppers, I can tell you.

I put this two bob's worth in because, as an Australian, I must admit, I am proud of those boys and girls. They are putting in a bloody good effort and it is appreciated. Every Town in PNG want's some AFP bods,and for good reason. They are not just good Coppers, they are excellent Ambassadors.

Given their limited duration of assignment, earth shaking results cannot be expected. The long term will require the recruitment of 'Contract Officers' who can put in 3-6 years, learn the language and be part of the Constabulary chain of command.

While I'm at it, I may as well give the Australian Government's 'Strongim Gavman' Program, where Federal Public Servants are deployed into 'line' positions within PNG Departments, a pat on the back. Again, very acceptable by PNG counterparts. Good results.

As Barbara says, there seems to be a real spirit of acceptance by many Nationals grateful for the 'helping hand', not previously evident.

Thanks John, you back up what I think is going on.

I apologise for these Aussie blokes who can't imagine how just having an Aussie around putting in the tuppence worth can have any effect.

I feel my contribution to the Sepik Forum is to offer a positive attitude to everything, every little problem, and suggest ways problems can be solved. If the AFP could just do something like that I'm sure they would be a great help.

PNG seems to get overcome with its many problems at times and I realize that they cannot be solved overnight but by having a positive attitude to them progress often happens, slowly, but it happens.

There is a well known Public Service technique that when you need a favourable opinion to help promote/support your unsuccessful pet project, you hire a tame academic 'consultant' to write a favourable report that can then be quoted 'ad infinitum ad nauseum'.

That this report has emerged now tends to indicate to some that there are irritating questions being asked about what exactly is this deployment actually achieving. There are no publically announced objectives that can measured. If you can't measure a project, how can you manage it or demonstrably prove it has been successful?

The churlish amongst us might however suggest that this deployment does allow some to be paid large, tax free amounts to stay in PNG in a non operational capacity without any form of transparent accountability or responsibility.

On the flip side, I think AFP officers who are in the country try their very best to work with their PNG counterparts.

The problems that plague our police force are due to long standing inherent issues.

I suggest that our own PNG policeman and women work with the AFP Officers for skills, attitude and sense of purpose and direction to rub off onto them, and vice versa.

The will and leadership to turn the police force around for the better will have to come from the rank and file in the force itself.

But sometimes, just the presence of the AFP officers at Gordons or Waigani police stations sometimes make a difference...you can feel it in the air.

Oh Dear!

Another fluffy teddy bear full of sawdust.

Best to drop it in the Vinnie's bin.

The report is crap and not what we observe on the ground. Wasted Taxpayers dollars for "nothing". They are not at Eriku or main market bus stops apart from on a fine day do a group walk through the market or attempting any type of education to pmv drivers re road rules or parking. Crowd control at the fires earlier in the year they watched from the safety of their ten seaters while the fire department had their hoses chopped off with bush knives. The report is rubbish

Agree with Paul O. This sounds awfully like a "lets continue this" application. The post is full of hope, a commodity not in short supply in PNG.

Connery's post here is peppered with consultant platitudes and has the ring of "we're here to help, and you will need us for a very long time".

The only people who can improve the lot of the RPNGC are Papua New Guineans. They know their people best of all.

Thee have been numerous attempts by Australia to "make sustainable improvements" to law and order, but improvements seem fairly thin on the ground, and even those not long lasting.

Just a comment. Over the past few months I've been "embedded" with the Sepiks on their Facebook Forum. I placed this article on the Forum this morning. Someone had placed another article on from The Loop -on comments by the head of Police at Wewak commenting on the problems in the squatter settlements.

Someone has commented on Connery's article - "RPNGC personnel have attitude problems and need to address and control these in their working relations with the public in addressing issues/problems in the communities and towns/cities. Temper is the most obvious which makes the public fear the police force.

Wewak really need AFP's presence to influence our local police because Wewak is infested with minor crimes but police attitude in addressing these problems is very poor."

There have been some serious problems in Wewak concerning the police over the past year. I think Australian police would have a lot to offer just by being there working alongside these police officers, teaching by example.

During my time with my Sepik wantoks on their blog I have realized that I have often been able to explain things to them. There is so much they don't know about life in the world today. They thank me profusely so often.

We often say "they got their independence too soon" but now I think they are receptive to our help. They wanted their independence and we gave it to them and left them to it. Now they are willing to accept our help. They are still in charge of their own destiny, but they are willing to listen to those of us who are still concerned for them.

Further to my last post on this article, who actually commissioned this report and paid for Dr Connery to stay a short time in PNG?

It is noted that the organisation Dr Connery joined last year is funded by 'funded by the Department of Defence with other sources of revenue include sponsorship, commissioned tasks, a membership scheme, sale of publications, advertising and event registration fees.'

David, you say:

'The early indicators of the AFP’s impact are positive, although definitive metrics are hard to provide, and there are several areas where modest additional effort appear likely to yield large benefits.'

and

'meeting that challenge and returning PNG’s situation to a positive long-term trend will require a sustained commitment and constant reassessment of the mission and its resources.'

The above 'report' sounds awfully like an apology for any real factual assessment of the deployment that has been in operation for nearly a year and cost many millions of dollars. It also sounds like a plea for the deployment to continue in its present form as this clearly suits those who are taking part but provides no real justification for the Australian taxpayer to agree there is any real value to PNG or Australia for the millions being spent.

Are you able to say clearly how you arrived at this view and who or what helped arrive there? Events occurring daily at the kunai roots with the RPNGC would appear to be in direct conflict to the situation you seem to be trying to portray.

Its probably a good thing that no one is cynical enough to come out a say that your report seems to be written from the perspective of the current AFP being deployed in PNG rather than from any real and independent factual assessment.

It almost seems like there may be a vague uneasiness and concern creeping in that the current deployment might have to be reconsidered in the light of any real and actual achievements.

Is it that the current arrangement needs to be bolstered and supported in order that it doesn't suffer too great a scrutiny or receive too much close assessment? If so, your 'report' is amazingly timely in its appearance.

For some reason the expession 'Maus wara' comes to mind.

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