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PNG asks Australia for helicopter after deadly unrest

Dominic Giannini -

Papua New Guinea has requested from Australia a contracted helicopter and accommodation for police as rioting and civil unrest abate.

The Australian government remains in constant contact with PNG counterparts and had received "some small requests for assistance", Defence Minister Richard Marles said.

"We will continue to work with PNG and to meet any requests for assistance as a close friend," he told reporters in Geelong on Friday.

The circumstances had improved and the government continued to closely monitor the situation, he said.

There are no reports of Australians being caught up in the violence.

James Marape declared a state of emergency in PNG after riots and unrest left 16 people dead. (Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS)

A security pact between the two nations signed in December put policing as a priority, area as an under-resourced PNG force only has one officer for every 3000 citizens.

The $200 million investment from Australia will help the PNG government in its aim to almost double policing number to 10,000 by 2027.

Each nation can ask for key security-related information and developments that are likely to affect the other.

The agreement made it easier for Australia to help PNG address internal security needs, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said at the time.

PNG Prime Minister James Marape declared a state of emergency for 14 days on Thursday following riots and civil unrest that resulted in 16 people dead.

More than 1000 defence personnel are on standby to help restore law and order.

The riots began after a peaceful protest over a public service pay cut, which the government described as a glitch, deteriorated when police stood down.

Tensions had started to subside after police returned to duty, Mr Marape said.

The unrest is unlikely to affect broader regional security if it remains localised, Pacific affairs expert Anthony Regan said.

But the extent of rioting and looting shutting down businesses and markets could lead to a struggle to find food, he said.

Several PNG MPs have resigned from government and called for the prime minister to step down.

It coincides with the grace period for a no-confidence motion being able to be moved against the prime minister in the nation's parliament following an election ending in the coming weeks.

Mr Marape is set to address the Australian parliament on February 8.

Dominic Giannini - AAP

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