BEN PACKHAM | The Australian
PAPUA NEW GUINEA HAS DELIVERED an apparent diplomatic slap to Australian opposition leader Tony Abbott, warning Australian politicians not to "impugn" its leaders over the PNG solution.
In a statement sent to the media today, Charles Lepani, PNG High Commissioner, said PNG leaders should not be criticised when they were trying to help Australia deal with its asylum-seeker problem.
“The High Commissioner of Papua New Guinea to Australia today warned Australian politicians to observe international protocols and courtesies when discussing relations with other friendly sovereign nations and not impugn the dignity of our leaders who are attempting to assist Australia in this very complex regional and international issue of asylum-seekers,” Mr Lepani said.
It's understood the criticism relates to Mr Abbott's suggestion yesterday that Australian aid would be wasted under new rules giving PNG a greater say in spending priorities.
Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Julie Bishop said the Coalition's argument was with Mr Rudd, not Papua New Guinea.
“I can understand PNG may feel uncomfortable about Kevin Rudd dragging them into the middle of a deeply contentious domestic political debate,” she told The Australian.
“However our concerns are with Kevin Rudd, who failed to mention any change to Australia's $500 million PNG aid program (when he made the PNG solution announcement) last Friday.
“Nor is there any mention of the change in the agreement.”
Ms Bishop said Mr Rudd must reveal the full details of his agreement with PNG, including new oversight arrangements for foreign aid, the full list of infrastructure projects to be funded, and details of additional aid funding.