Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search


Report Accuses Australia & NZ Of Bullying Pacific

Report Accuses Australia And NZ Of Bullying Pacific Islands

A report that is highly critical of Australia and New Zealand’s behaviour towards the Pacific Islands, Big Brothers Behaving Badly – The Implications of the PACER Agreement for the Pacific Islands, ( http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO0404/S00030.htm) prepared by Auckland University Law Professor Jane Kelsey for the Pacific Network on Globalisation (PANG), was released today.

Copies are being presented to Trade Ministers from 14 Pacific Island countries who are in Papua New Guinea for talks on a proposed Regional Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union. Australia and New Zealand’s Trade Ministers will join them for a Forum meeting on Thursday.

The report draws on official documents and extensive interviews with politicians, officials and consultants involved in negotiating the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER).

‘This is a story of how Australia and New Zealand bullied the Pacific Islands into an agreement they did not want and the problems that has created”, Professor Kelsey said.

After two years of bruising negotiations, what began as an agreement to achieve free trade among the Pacific Islands over a period of 10 years (PICTA) was subordinated to PACER. Without any assessment of its implications, the Islands promised to negotiate a free trade agreement with Australia and New Zealand in 2011, or earlier if they began similar talks with the EU.

“Just two years on, Australia and New Zealand are insisting that PACER’s trigger has been pulled. They will argue again on Thursday that negotiations should now begin. The Island governments deny this and are vying for time while they work out how to minimise the risk from both sets of negotiations.”

“The events surrounding PACER have left a sour taste in the mouths of many Pacific politicians and officials and deepened existing tensions within the Pacific Forum. No-one should under-estimate the animosity felt towards Australia and New Zealand”, said Professor Kelsey.

“The Islands started down the free trade path in a way they thought was achievable and manageable. That opened a Pandora’s box. Now they face demands for free trade negotiations with Australia, New Zealand and the EU - on top of the Doha Round or WTO accessions for six of them. They simply won’t be able to cope technically, economically, socially or politically.”

Professor Kelsey expressed concern that the proposal for a Pacific Plan, which is expected to be a key recommendation of the Pacific Forum review that Leaders will discuss in Auckland on Tuesday, may become the Trojan horse for Australia and New Zealand to push for even deeper regional integration.

“It is no coincidence that recent parliamentary reports and political statements from both sides of the Tasman have promoted the idea of a neoliberal-style Pacific Economic Community. That has the potential to destroy the Pacific Islands”, she said.

The report suggests a number of strategies that would allow Pacific governments to draw back from the PACER process. It urges them to abandon the secrecy surrounding such negotiations and initiate a regional dialogue about alternative forms of cooperation that can address the serious challenges they face.

Professor Kelsey warns that if Australia and New Zealand continue exploiting their dominant position and imposing their agenda on the Pacific “they risk creating a platform for social and political chaos and chronic instability in what they see as their Pacific backyard”.

© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines


Breed Laws Don’t Work: Vets On New National Dog Control Plan

It is pleasing therefore to see Louise Upston Associate Minister for Local Government calling for a comprehensive solution... However, relying on breed specific laws to manage dog aggression will not work. More>>


Corrections Corrected: Supreme Court Rules On Release Dates

Corrections has always followed the lawful rulings of the Court in its calculation of sentence release dates. On four previous occasions, the Court of Appeal had upheld Corrections’ practices in calculating pre-sentence detention. More>>


Not Waiting On Select Committee: Green Party Releases Medically-Assisted Dying Policy

“Adults with a terminal illness should have the right to choose a medically assisted death,” Green Party health spokesperson Kevin Hague said. “The Green Party does not support extending assisted dying to people who aren't terminally ill because we can’t be confident that this won't further marginalise the lives of people with disabilities." More>>


General Election Review: Changes To Electoral Act Introduced

More effective systems in polling places and earlier counting of advanced votes are on their way through proposed changes to our electoral laws, Justice Minister Amy Adams says. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Our Posturing At The UN

In New York, Key basically took an old May 2 Washington Post article written by Barack Obama, recycled it back to the Americans, and still scored headlines here at home… We’ve had a double serving of this kind of comfort food. More>>


Treaty Settlements: Bills Delayed As NZ First Pulls Support

Ngāruahine, Te Atiawa and Taranaki are reeling today as they learnt that the third and final readings of each Iwi’s Historical Treaty Settlement Bills scheduled for this Friday, have been put in jeopardy by the actions of NZ First. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On The Damage De-Regulation Is Doing To Fisheries And Education, Plus Kate Tempest

Our faith in the benign workings of the market – and of the light-handed regulation that goes with it – has had a body count. Back in 1992, the free market friendly Health Safety and Employment Act gutted the labour inspectorate and turned forestry, mining and other workplace sites into death traps, long before the Pike River disaster. More>>

Get More From Scoop



Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news