Our story yesterday (PNG allows Australia to use Manus; Oz will still lecture) provided a taste of how this works when Julia Gillard announced the opening of an asylum seeker centre in Manus.
And than added, with almost studied gratuitousness, that Australia will continue to feel free to comment on domestic political events in PNG.
To understand the offence this causes PNG, with its concomitant relational damage, just ask yourself: would Julia make the same comment about the USA, or Indonesia or even New Zealand?
PNG's distinguished high commissioner to Australia, Charles Lepani, has told today’s The Australian newspaper (PNG wants to see the finances before giving go-ahead) that Gillard acted prematurely when announcing the Manus facility, warning that PNG did not want to be seen as "a little brother of Australia".
I think the high commissioner was too kind – Australia’s mankimasta would be my expression.
Mr Lepani told The Australian PNG was a "sovereign" country and that Gillard's calls for early action were "a little premature".
"We need official formalities to be entered into - discussions for what it is they want to have put in place," he said.
Asked about PNG's expectations regarding compensation, Mr Lepani said: "The national government and the Manus provincial government will then enter into discussions about what is required (compensation) before anything is agreed to."
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is sending two senior diplomats to Port Moresby this weekend to discuss a framework agreement for reopening Manus.
Let’s hope PNG drives a hard bargain – and insists that future declarations by the Australian government pay the due courtesies to PNG as an independent, not a vassal, state.