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Tuesday, March 29, 2005

New Guinea Prime Minister Protesting Shoe Incident

(Don't look now but it may be an international incident!)

PAPUA New Guinea Prime Minister Michael Somare is to make a formal complaint to the Australian Government after being asked to remove his shoes during a Brisbane Airport security check.

The incident occurred while the Prime Minister was in transit through Brisbane to Port Moresby after attending a meeting of regional leaders in New Zealand on Thursday.

Mr Somare told PNG's EM TV News last night he considered his treatment by airport security in Brisbane an insult and such action had never been afforded to Australian leaders visiting PNG.

During a security check at the airport, Mr Somare was asked to remove his shoes as he and his delegation passed through.

"I said there was nothing in the shoes," Mr Somare told EM TV.

He said he returned to the lounge and the issue was later resolved and he boarded his flight.

"I thought it was an insult to the leadership in our region."

Mr Somare said he had never received such treatment from other countries in the region.

PNG gave preference to leaders when they visited his country and though their baggage might be searched, the leaders themselves were not checked, he said.

Mr Somare said if Australia did not change its policy, the same treatment should be given to them.

"I'm going to take it up with the Foreign Minister (Rabbie Namaliu) and when they come here they'll be subject to the same kind of treatment that I have been subjected to."

The Prime Minister said a protest letter would be going to the Australian Government over his treatment at Brisbane.

Brisbane Airport Corporation spokesman Jim Carden said last night he did not know the details of the incident but no complaint had been received from Mr Somare's office.

Airport security procedures were applied to everybody equally regardless of their status, he said.

"There are no exceptions for those security procedures. Ministers of the Crown still have to go through the processes."

People could be screened less publicly in cases such as passengers with prosthetic knees or in diplomatic cases, Mr Carden said.

Brisbane Airport handled more than a million passengers a month but only had one or two complaints a month about screening procedures, he said.

"On the whole, people understand they have to go through those processes."

Occasionally celebrities or other high-profile people objected when they thought some sort of waiver should apply, Mr Carden said.

"Those situations are unfortunate, but we have to do it even-handedly."

Mr Somare attended a meeting of regional leaders in Auckland on Thursday hosted by New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark to discuss the Pacific plan for strengthening regional cooperation and integration.

What I do is kick them in the pants with a diamond buckled shoe!
~~Aileen Mehle~~

0 Broken Heels: