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Australia Beware

Australia Beware

Thursday 14 Aug 2003 Ken Shirley Press Releases -- Foreign Affairs & Defence

ACT New Zealand Defence Spokesman Ken Shirley today cautioned Australia to use more subtlety in its dealings with our Pacific neighbours, in an address to the Australian Defence College for Defence and Strategic Studies.

"While some countries may regard many Pacific Island nations as non-viable, crass, overt hegemony from a major player will inevitably prove counter-productive," Mr Shirley said.

"Formalising co-operation and mutual support is of importance in our region but balance and subtlety is critical. The Pacific Forum meeting in Auckland this week has long been considered a low-key annual gabfest. This is changing fast, and the Forum's significance is growing.

"The Biketawa Declaration authorises Pacific Forum members to act against member countries that breach accepted standards of governance, human rights, democratic processes and law.

"The failure of democratic processes in Fiji and the lawlessness of the Solomon Islands are two examples underpinning the need for such a Declaration.

"Here in New Zealand we have our own tensions, with a growing division in our society based on the challenge to Crown sovereignty.

"Over the past 20 years we have reinvented tribalism as a means of addressing indigenous claims - but the incompatibility of collective tribalism with a modern market economy, based on individual property rights, is problematic and condemns this pathway to failure.

"Successive New Zealand governments have failed to provided the country with adequate military strategic frameworks, direction and resources.

"This is a responsibility of democratically elected governments. In the absence of a clear directional strategy, New Zealand has tended to indulge in naval gazing. We have indulged ourselves with hardware purchase debates and endless structural reviews, when a lack of a clear vision and direction has meant that those debates occur in a vacuum," Mr Shirley said.

ENDS


For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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