Australian assistance to Papua New Guinea elections
Yesterday, the Minister for Defence Stephen Smith and the Minister for Foreign Affairs Bob Carr announced the commitment by Australian and New Zealand Defence Forces to assisting Papua New Guinea (PNG) with its election period from June to July 2012.
Australia and New Zealand are providing practical support in response to a request by PNG authorities to assist them with the conduct of a safe, free and fair election.
The Australian Defence Force (ADF) is working with the PNG Government and Defence Force to provide aviation support for the elections, including transporting personnel, ballot boxes and election materials to PNG’s many remote locations.
Approximately 250 Australian and New Zealand personnel will support the PNG authorities over the election period.
The ADF’s assistance to the PNG election is a tangible example of Australia’s close bilateral relationship with PNG.
The Royal Australian Air Force, Australian Army and Royal New Zealand Air Force will support the deployment by providing airlift of personnel and equipment with fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft.
A Royal Australian Navy Landing Craft Heavy will also support the operation through the delivery of bulk materiel and personnel to coastal areas.
The support will conclude shortly after the holding of the 2012 election.
Through our Defence Cooperation Program, Defence has also leased three helicopters for the Papua New Guinea Defence Force to assist in the conduct of the election but in the longer term to form the basis of the PNG Defence Force’s aviation capability.
The assistance provided by the ADF complements support being provided by other Australian Government agencies, including AusAID, the Australian Electoral Commission, the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Civilian Corps.