By HELEN TARAWA
POLICE have clarified that an ammunition stockpile awaiting clearance in Australia for Papua New Guinea has nothing to do with security arrangements for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in November.
Police Commissioner Gari Baki, who heads the joint security forces for the Apec meetings, rubbished a newspaper report in Australia that claimed PNG needed the ammunition to protect world leaders who will be in Port Moresby for the summit.
Baki said the ammunition stockpile had been ordered for the Pacific Games in 2015 through the Central Supply Tenders Board.
“There is no problem with the Apec security operations and world leaders bringing their own assets and personnel,” a statement from Baki said.
“The stockpile of ammunition will not affect the security operations for the Apec summit in November.”
Australian newspaper The Daily Telegraph had reported that an ammunition stockpile “the height of a house” which was sent to Australia to protect world leaders including US President Donald Trump, was sitting unclaimed in a Geelong region warehouse. The report said it was waiting for the PNG Government to pay for it before it could be shipped to Port Moresby.
The huge ammunition order, which required United States State Department approval to send to Australia for forwarding to PNG was, according to exporters, made specifically to arm officially-designated police and security forces preparing for the Apec leaders’ forum in Port Moresby.
But for more than eight months, it has sat abandoned in an undisclosed secure warehouse believed to be in Geelong, with the PNG Government yet to pay for it.
The stockpile includes 250,000 9mm pistol rounds, 200,000 5.56mm assault rifle rounds, and 20,000 40mm rounds.
The report said the order from America’s Winchester Ammunition Inc was worth about A$800,000 (K2.02mil) with the purchase order signed in February last year by Baki.
But Baki said the ammunitions were ordered through a tender process with the contractor and the police were now being told to pay for them.
Winchester confirmed a consignment of 200,000 Australian-made shotgun shells had been shipped to PNG police in October last year. But the bulk of the order was being stored outside Melbourne.
World leaders invited to the summit in Port Moresby include US President Donald Trump, China’s Xi Jinping, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
By HELEN TARAWA