News World PNG police storm parliament over lack of payment for APEC summit, ABC understands

PNG police storm parliament over lack of payment for APEC summit, ABC understands

Holes were smashed in the glass windows and a glass door at PNG Parliament. Photo: Facebook/Allan Bird
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Members of Papua New Guinea’s police and armed forces – understood by the ABC to be angry about not receiving allowances owed to them from working at APEC – have blocked streets around the nation’s parliament and appear to have barricaded the building.

Vehicles are being turned around in the street and media attempting to film have been threatened by police and army officers.

There are approximately 10 police and army vehicles outside parliament, and about five are visible in front of the building.

Police cars outside the Parliament building after the APEC summit. Photo: Facebook/Allan Bird

Papua New Guinea hosted world leaders for the APEC summit, which concluded at the weekend.

“What I know is that members of the disciplinary force have congregated and are at parliament, some of them, not all of them,” acting commissioner for PNG’s correctional service Stephen Pokanis said.

“It’s to do with complaints over their allowance.”

When he spoke to the ABC by phone, Mr Pokanis said he was not at parliament, but was travelling there to assess the situation.

“They are demanding to be paid now. That’s why they are at Parliament House,” he said.

The ABC has spoken to several MPs inside the building, some of whom said they were locked in their offices.

The Opposition was scheduled to give its budget reply speech in Parliament at 2pm local time, and it was unclear whether that would still go ahead.

“We heard from outside that there was a commotion, and glasses were being broken, furniture smashed,” Opposition MP Bryan Kramer told the ABC from inside parliament.

Mr Kramer said he did not know the specific details of what the police officers wanted to be compensated for, but that he had received reports in the lead up to APEC that a “significant amount of the police force were raising concerns over the manner in which the government had organised APEC”.

He said security forces were flown around the country to work at the summit, but sufficient accommodation was not provided, and, without allowances, they were struggling to sustain themselves in Port Moresby.

“It appears that this isn’t just an issue today. This is something that has built up way before this incident, before APEC and during APEC,” Mr Kramer said.

“I can only assume that they allowed APEC to go past without expressing their frustrations, and once APEC has concluded, this is the basis of their frustrations.”

Art and shattered glass strewn about a hallway at PNG parliament. Photo: Facebook/Allan Bird

Gary Juffa, an Opposition MP and Governor for the Northern Province, said the Discipline Forces demanded the police minister and prime minister address them and tell them what’s going on.

A meeting is currently under way inside parliament between Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, Police Commissioner Gari Baki, APEC Minister Justin Tkatchenko, the Attorney-General and others.

Some members of the media were escorted in the building and told to wait outside the meeting room and not film anything.

APEC CEO Chris Hawkins responded in a statement.

“The payment of allowances for police, CS and defence normally take a week to process at the end of a major event,” he said.

“The meeting ended two days ago and the security operation is now winding down.

“The payment of individual allowances has already commenced and individual security force members should check with their banks as payments are made.”