Calls to address PNG corruption concerns

A GLOBAL coalition fighting against corruption has called on the Australian government to take action to support authorities in Papua New Guinea.

Transparency International said there were deficiencies in the way Australian agencies worked to tackle issues such as bribes and corrupt payments offshore to officials.

It follows an investigation by the ABC's Four Corners program that claimed Australia was not doing enough to stop high-profile Papua New Guineans laundering their dirty money in Australia and obstructing authorities.

Transparency International Australia executive director Michael Ahrens told ABC Radio Australia that it was clear the former Labor-led government had not acted fast enough to help PNG.

He was commenting on a joint statement provided to the ABC by the Australian Federal Police, the Attorney-General's Department and Austrac.

"There are quite a number of large questions that need to be answered about the lack of action," Ahrens said.

"There is much more that I think they can do. There is no doubt they have great weapons at their disposal - proceeds of crime legislation and such like, and the ability to seize property.

"It ties in with the general program that the government has or should re-activate about dealing with bribes and corrupt payments offshore to officials and I think that is the sort of issue we should tackle."

Ahrens said authorities seemed to be "waiting on the new government," through the Attorney-General's Department to activate a response program.

"I think that the issue at the moment though, is the role of the Canberra authorities," he added.

"I think the new government should sit down immediately with the Attorney General's Department and plot out a priority program for this.

"It is just far too close to us. It shows that these issues are not just bribery and corruption abroad but how close this is to our shores and relationships with property investments in Queensland.

"I think it has got to come from the leadership, the new government to press the buttons and not worry about sensitivities with PNG. The PNG Prime Minister has made strong statements about all this, and Sam Koim, his anti-corruption chief, has made very strong statements.

"So now it is just a matter of getting into action."

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