AFP-Funded Patrol Vessel Enhances Cross-Border Cooperation with PNG: Commissioning of PPV Minigulai

By: Roselyn Erehe June 24, 2024

(left to right) PNG Police Commissioner Manning, Attorney General Mark Dreyfus and Australian Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw APM Infront of PPV Milingulai. Port Moresby. -image provided by AHC

The collaborative efforts between Australia and Papua New Guinea have continued with the presentation of the Police Patrol Vessel Minigulai to the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary (RPNGC). The vessel, procured by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) from the Tasmanian Police Force, was formally handed over during the 30th Australia-PNG ministerial forum in Port Moresby.

The presentation of the PPV Minigulai eventuated on June 18th at the Yatch Club Port Moresby and was witnessed by dignitaries and officials from both Australia and PNG. The event, graced by esteemed dignitaries including, the Prime Minister of PNG, Hon. James Marape MP, The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hon. Justin Tkatchenko, MP, The Commissioner of the RPNGC David Manning, The Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police, Reece Kershaw APM; Australian High Commissioner to PNG, Mr John Feakes and Australian Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus, marked a pivotal moment in bilateral cooperation.

The PPV Minigulai is set to support and strengthen cross-border patrols in the Torres Strait region, facilitating joint operations between PNG and Australia to combat transnational crime. This initiative underscores Australia's steadfast commitment to supporting the RPNGC in enhancing its maritime security capabilities.

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus, who presided over the vessel's commissioning, highlighted the strategic importance of the partnership between the AFP and RPNGC.

Hon Dreyfus spoke at the ceremony, emphasized the historical ties and ongoing collaboration between the two nations. He acknowledged the presence of key figures such as Prime Minister Marape, Minister for Foreign Affairs Justin Tkatchenko, and top police officials from both countries. Highlighting the occasion's significance, Hon. Dreyfus recalled the words of former Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam in 1973, affirming the enduring friendship and mutual benefits shared by Australia and Papua New Guinea: “In Australia you have an assured friend and I believe we shall forge a true partnership to the great advantage of both our countries and for the welfare of both our peoples.”

The commissioning of the PPV Minigulai, a state-of-the-art vessel provided by the Australian Federal Police (AFP), signifies Australia's commitment to enhancing Papua New Guinea's law enforcement capabilities. This initiative, part of the Bilateral Security Agreement signed last year, aims to strengthen joint efforts in combating transnational crime and supporting cross-border operations.

Hon Dreyfus said, “The links that we share, and our nations’ steadfast friendship, are embodied today in our work to strengthen our economies, and forge greater opportunities for our peoples. In our shared experience as vast countries rich in national resources – and rich in challenging and rugged terrain.”

“In our desire to share our cultural heritage with each other. In our peoples’ love of sport. And in our efforts to mutually support the security of our countries, and our region. Our links, our friendship, and our steadfast work together are embodied in the Bilateral Security Agreement signed by our Prime Ministers last year.”

He added, “Through the Bilateral Security Agreement, Australia and Papua New Guinea committed to deepening our security cooperation right across the spectrum, from traditional areas such as policing and national security, right through to climate change, cyber security, gender-based violence and critical infrastructure.”

Hon. Dreyfus praised ongoing collaborations such as the RPNGC Officer Cadet Program and the provision of less-than-lethal use of force training, demonstrating Australia's comprehensive support in law enforcement capacity building.

Moreover, the AFP's commitment extends beyond vessel provision and training. Over the next four months, more than 60 RPNGC cadets are scheduled to undergo intensive training in Australia under the guidance of the Queensland Police Service and the Australian Institute of Police Management. This program aims to cultivate leadership skills among cadets, preparing them for future roles within the RPNGC.

“Over the next four months, more than 60 RPNGC cadets will travel to Australia to undertake training with the Queensland Police Service and attend the Australian Institute of Police Management where they will have the opportunity to develop their leadership capabilities.”

Addressing broader regional implications, Dreyfus highlighted Australia's investment in infrastructure projects like police housing and the Bomana Police Training College. These initiatives aim not only to strengthen PNG's internal security but also to support regional policing efforts across the Pacific.

Attorney-General Dreyfus reiterated Australia's commitment to working hand-in-hand with PNG towards shared goals of peace, prosperity, and resilience.

In conjunction with the vessel's handover, the AFP will provide comprehensive training to the RPNGC's water police department, ensuring proficiency in vessel operations and maritime law enforcement. This training initiative is part of the expanded PNG - Australia Policing Partnership, recently renewed until 2026, marking it as the AFP's largest bilateral partnership worldwide.

Together with training efforts, the AFP has launched initiatives under the PNG-Australia Policing Partnership Program to enhance the RPNGC's operational capabilities.

Furthermore, recognizing the need for enhanced infrastructure support, the AFP has committed to constructing police barracks-style housing in priority provinces such as Port Moresby, Kokopo, and Mount Hagen. This initiative will provide RPNGC recruits with suitable accommodations upon their graduation, contributing to the overall enhancement of policing standards across PNG.

The ongoing investment in the Bomana Police Training College further underscores Australia's long-term commitment to building institutional capacity within the RPNGC and supporting broader regional policing efforts.

Attorney-General Dreyfus emphasized that today's commissioning of the PPV Minigulai and the collaborative efforts with the RPNGC reflect the enduring strength of the Australia-PNG partnership.

The ceremony concluded with a shared vision for the future, summarized in Prime Minister Marape's words: "Let us never doubt what we can achieve together in our future."

The commissioning of PPV Minigulai is a pathway with enduring ties and collaboration between Australia and PNG, paving the way for continued growth and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region.

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