Diro supports asylum deal

National, Normal

The National, Thursday August 1st, 2013

 A FORMER military chief has supported the deal between Australia and Papua New Guinea on resettling refugees in PNG.

Brigadier-General (retired) Ted Diro, the first commander of the PNG Defence Force, said the old military adage the “best form of defence is to attack” was relevant in this case.

“Australia and Indonesia are already attacking the problem, it is best for PNG to join its friends in the attack rather than wait until it is attacked,” Diro said.

The retired military officer said he fully supported the Government’s agreement with Australia to develop a major regional detention and processing centre on Manus and resettle genuine refugees in the country.

“It’s simple. Both Australia and Indonesia need assistance and PNG is in a position to provide it,” he said.

“Our value in deterrence could be a crucial factor.”

He urged people to ignore the scare campaign conducted by some groups opposing the deal.

Diro said PNG had excellent relationships with Australia and Indonesia. 

“These relationships need to be protected,” he said.

“The fears expressed by others that the asylum seekers will pose a threat to our national security are both unfounded and amateurish. 

“It shows a lack of understanding of the plight of the people who are homeless, desperately in search of a new life. 

“I’m sure we can manage this issue as a caring Christian nation.”

He also welcomed the shift in policy regarding Australian aid to Papua New Guinea. 

“If the aid programmes are consistent with the national government’s policies, then Australia and its taxpayers will get the best value for their aid support for Papua New Guinea,” he said.

He said it was important for Papua New Guineans to support this policy and make it work.