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01 August 2015

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Chris Overland you covered this well.

I have this feeling Australian "spies" have been hard at work behind the scenes with Task Force Sweep and the National Fraud Unit in trying to get O'Neill and other politicians prosecuted.

They have done well so far. Thus the PM's "decree" to expel AFP from PNG. Tingting tasol.

If followed through it might make a large dent in the local economy especially the real estate market which is very, very profitable for some in the government.

I do not doubt that there is at least some validity in Peter O'Neill's concerns about the role of advisers, but the government response is, to my mind, both disproportionate and misconceived.

The decision to effectively expel all foreign advisers is fraught with risk for PNG, especially as it relates to the Police.

First, it will deny PNG access to levels of expertise that, in some areas, it simply does not possess.

Second, it will cause aid providers to re-evaluate both their ability and willingness to provide financial support if doubts emerge as to whether proper transparency and accountability can be achieved for the funds deployed.

Third, it seems likely to degrade the performance of government departments and instrumentalities, at least in the first instance.

Fourth, in relation to policing, recent performance indicates that the RPNGC needs more and better foreign support rather than less.

Fifth, the PNG government is simply delusional if it imagines that foreign intelligence agencies are not spying on PNG.

They spy on everyone else, so why not PNG, especially as its intelligence agency, given its limited experience, size and resources, is and will remain easy to penetrate and influence.

Sixth, the PNG government should not assume that the current advisers will be easily replaceable by direct recruiting or that it will somehow be cheaper. It won't.

Having experienced and capable foreign advisers from friendly countries like Australia is, on balance, a significant net benefit for PNG.

Sure, there will be a carpetbagger element amongst them and some will be more capable than others, but the overall impact will be positive.

Just how positive will rapidly become apparent once they are gone.

Better by far for PNG to work with its major aid donors to identify where it can sensibly reduce advisory input in a planned way.

This may be a more tedious way to do it, but the history of "big bang" political solutions to what often turn out to be largely imagined problems, is littered with disastrous unintended outcomes.

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