TONY EASTLEY: Australia's Foreign Minister Senator Bob Carr says the "difficult" developments in Papua New Guinea are "very disturbing".
But he's been telling AM's Michael Vincent that Australia is not proposing any actions except to urge the Government of Peter O'Neill to leave the country's judges alone.
BOB CARR: I think the important message for all involved in actions around the Chief Justice is to act with restraint and focus on the more important matter for the country's political future and that is the mid-year elections.
MICHAEL VINCENT: You've had the Deputy Prime Minister out directing police and soldiers, telling them to arrest the Chief Justice. Is that not a worrying sign?
BOB CARR: Well for all friends of Papua New Guinea this is very disturbing. We want Papua New Guinea to have the advantages of stable democratic government.
When I spoke to the Foreign Minister I pressed this case very strongly — that it's not good for the image that Papua New Guinea sends to the world, to its diplomatic partners, or to its investors to see action of this type.
MICHAEL VINCENT: What action is Australia going to take if these actions continue?
BOB CARR: We are not proposing actions. We are just urging the country to focus on the big thing, which is the election for which the writs have been issued. One way or other the election should determine outcomes.
MICHAEL VINCENT: The police have come out and said that they are planning to charge each of these justices one at a time. What does Australia have to say then if two more justices of the High Court of Papua New Guinea are charged with sedition?
BOB CARR: Well as I said to the Foreign Minister, we would advise that in the interests of the country's reputation, its reputation as a democracy in a community of democracies, the Pacific Island community, that action around the Chief Justice should cease and all sides should act with restraint.
And the focus should be on the one route by which authority and legitimacy are conferred in a democracy and that is the elections.
The date has been settled, the writs have been issued, campaigning is underway and there is Australian aid on the ground to see that those elections can proceed as we'd all want them to proceed.
MICHAEL VINCENT: Are you worried the elections could be called off?
BOB CARR: No, I haven't seen evidence that that is a prospect. And the Foreign Minister confirmed to me that nothing threatens those elections. And that's consistent with everything Prime Minister Peter O'Neill has said.
But because the Government has committed to the elections, all the more irrelevant and damaging is the action around the Chief Justice and other judges.
MICHAEL VINCENT: What's your advice to Australians in Port Moresby when they see these police and soldiers taking on the Chief Justice of the High Court there?
BOB CARR: No, I've got no advice for Australians there. I've seen no evidence, no evidence has reached me of anything that threatens the wellbeing, the safety of Australians who happen to find themselves in Port Moresby during a difficult political time.
TONY EASTLEY: The Foreign Minister Bob Carr speaking with Michael Vincent.
- Minister's office: (02) 6277 7500
- DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555