AUSTRALIAN Border Force Commissioner Roman Quaedvlieg has signed an historic Memorandum of Understanding between the ABF and the Papua New Guinea Customs Service.

The agreement enables the two agencies to conduct joint operational activities, such as joint maritime patrols in the Torres Strait, the deployment of detector dogs to Papua New Guinea, and increased information sharing arrangements.

The MOU will also enhance the capabilities of both agencies through partnership arrangements, where officers are embedded within the partner agency to assist in the development of specialist skills and expertise.

The agreement was signed when ABF Commissioner Quaedvlieg welcomed the Chief Commissioner of the Papua New Guinea Customs Service, Ray Paul OBE, to the Australia-Papua New Guinea Customs Service Bilateral Meeting in Canberra.

The annual meeting is the principal bilateral engagement between the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection and the Papua New Guinea Customs Service.

Important discussions occurred on a broad range of matters of mutual interest, including cooperation on APEC 2018, trade facilitation, maritime security and transnational crime.

The Ngunnawal People, the traditional owners of the land, were acknowledged and a traditional smoking ceremony, an ancient custom practised by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, was performed to welcome the Papua New Guinean delegation.

Commissioner Quaedvlieg presented Chief Commissioner Paul with an Aboriginal didgeridoo and clap sticks at the ceremony and said the relationship with the Papua New Guinea Customs Service was one of the agency’s most significant regional relationships.

“This latest agreement covers a five-year period until 2021 and is further evidence of the long-term commitment to cooperation between the Australian Border Force and the Papua New Guinea Customs Service,” Commissioner Quaedvlieg said.

“Australia has strong historical ties with Papua New Guinea on customs matters, dating back to 1888 when the Colony of Queensland assisted in the establishment of customs posts in Port Moresby and on Samarai Island.”