RAMSI Special Coordinator, Tim George, recently expressed disappointment that RAMSI's presentations to this week's Premiers Conference could not go ahead as planned.Mr George, who took a party of six to the conference on Wednesday, said he was also equally dismayed that a statement from the Office of the Prime Minister appeared to be misleading the general public as to the reasons for this.
Mr George said it had not been possible to go ahead with the RAMSI presentations as planned because the relevant morning session of the conference had been cancelled at the last minute.
"My office had worked for a number of weeks with the Ministry of Provincial Government to make sure that a good number of senior RAMSI personnel could attend the conference and spend a substantial amount of time in discussion with the premiers."
"I had personally prepared a presentation with time for questions and discussion as did RAMSI's Development Coordinator and the acting head of RAMSI's Participating Police Force," Mr George said.
Mr George said that they were keen to engage in discussion with the premiers for as long as they wished but found that the section of the program allocated to RAMSI that morning had been cancelled to enable the Premiers to attend a local trade show.
"Rather surprisingly, no one had informed us of this change," Mr George said.
"While we were disappointed at the loss of time with premiers, we did not take offence but instead joined the tour of the trade show." "We also offered to at least give the premiers a shortened version of our presentations, this we did as best we could in the time allocated to us. In fact we delayed our departure for long as could to do this," Mr George said.
"RAMSI places a lot of importance on its relationship with the government and people in each of the country's provinces," Mr George said. "I had been looking forward to visiting Rennell for the first time and spending a considerable amount of time with the Premiers."
"To suggest that somehow we flew in and out without much time on the ground is quite misleading," he said. "We actually came early and left late, spending six hours on Rennell for what we had been told should be a very short presentation."
Mr George said it was very disappointing to see such dis-information posted in the form of an official government press release on the Prime Minister and Cabinet's website.
"This would not seem to be in the spirit of the SIG-RAMSI partnership," he said.