Saturday 20th May 2023
The Defence Corporation Agreement (DCA) will be beneficial for development in the country, both in PNG Defence Force infrastructures and its capability.
The Australian Media and the Papua New Guinean public have been up in arms on the so-called leaked document.
The DCA should not be an issue unless it stipulates undertakings that are contrary to section 206 of the Constitution or the Defence (Visiting Forces) Act 1975.
The law is unequivocally clear, and the much-discussed DCA is an Agreement contemplated by section 7 of that Act; and is therefore dictated and guided by that Act.
There is again too much misinformation and disinformation on the topic of interest intended for only one purpose other than that which they appear to be.
As for the matter with the Australian media, let us not forget the ACP Agreement they shoved into our jurisdiction, claiming immunity for their personnel which Agreement was declared unconstitutional and that program shelved thereafter.
Let us not be fooled by a media frenzy but be guided by sound legal advice and allow our Attorney General and his team to guide the process.
The document leaked to the Australian media is false.
For 48 years ,no serious effort has been made to jump start our defence force into a strong modern force and contrary to that since year 2000 there was a deliberate push to down size and weaken our defence force.
For the record, Papua New Guinea has always had its relationship with USA military, just like it has with Australia, New Zealand, France and the United Kingdom, but all under an umbrella agreement called status of force agreement of 1989 (SOFA).
But PNG has now moved ahead with a specific DCA with Australia just like it has with Indonesia, however this US – DCA is similar to what PNG has with Australia and Indonesia at present.
For further noting, US – DCA does not breach any of the country’s law as it is provided for through Section 206 of the National Constitution.
It was developed with provisions of the Visiting Forces Act 1975 and it is elevated from the SOFA agreement of 1989 and also no laws will be amended to implement this DCA.
It will not have immunity for criminal conduct of visiting USA forces personnel and assets developed under DCA will be owned by PNG Government and for military installation of the PNG Defence Force.
The DCA is for 15 years and can be terminated if not satisfied with. All operations under the agreement must be agreed upon by PNGDF. Also, it will improve PNGDF capabilities.
DCA does not stop Papua New Guinea from working with other nations including China.
Next phases of this DCA especially work matters including development of infrastructures and all other operation matters would still require legal clearances for subsidiary agreements and NEC clearance.
The country’s state lawyers have perused these documents with USA officials for over a year. Australia wanted PNG to sign their Treaty over USA, but PNG is going with the USA first for the first time since 1975 over Australia.
Papua New Guinea does not have enemies but it pays to be prepared. Territorial dispute is eminent, as in the case of Ukraine -Russia.
This agreement is not about Geo politics but rather recognizes the country’s need to build its Defence capabilities because border disputes are inevitable in the future.
US has offered to do that.
In the last 15 years Papua New Guinea has seen a serious erosion of its military under all agreements it has, till this day and the USA, the most modern military in the world, wants to come in a big way.
Does PNG have to wait another 15 years of no action or advance 15 years of infrastructures development and capacity building for its national defence?
Papua New Guinea has done the right thing by China (example it closed down Taipei office preferring Beijing, the US objected but it was in the national interest to enforce the one China policy that it has held since 1975) This is consistent with the country’s key foreign policy of ‘friends to all enemies to none.’
Papua New Guinea has its individual trade and defence agreements with all of them so no one should and must show concern with stepping up directly with the White House, Pentagon and Washington with Waigani and Murray Barracks.
Papua New Guinea is in safe hands.