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No More Excuses: The Pacific Is Viable

The Centre for Independent Studies
Media Release

Thursday 2 December 2004

No More Excuses: The Pacific Is Viable

Whilst all is relatively quiet in the Pacific, there is still no growth. With aid runing at more than $1.5 billion a year to cushion the effects of stagnation, Pacific governments continue to opt for inaction.

In a new report to be released on Thursday 2 December by The Centre for Independent Studies, Professor Helen Hughes argues that all Pacific islands could be viable at high standards of living within a generation if they adopted policies that match their endowments.

'Stagnation, poverty and descent into crime and conflict are not inevitable but the result of Pacific governments' policy choices and the implicit support of aid for those choices.'

The Pacific Is Viable! provides a road map for rapid growth and development in the Pacific and dismisses the litany of excuses have been used by both Pacific states and aid agencies to support the view that the Pacific is not viable.

'The policy measures needed to make every Pacific island viable are well known: abandoning communal land ownership for individual property rights; deregulating counterproductive rules that prevent the growth of an informal sector, eliminating protectionist measures, freeing up labour markets and downsizing and privatizing the public sector.'

Hughes emphasises that economic reform is not enough. 'The Pacific needs radical reforms of government as well as the economy before policing and law can bring a new morality to public and civil life.'

Reform can often be difficult. It is therefore important that aid and trade partners help them by supporting agricultural productivity and job creation.

'The best way to support the Pacific is through continuing trade liberalization to reward the necessary steps to increase exports from the Pacific and thus create incomes and growth.'

Hughes identifies the failure of international organisations to contribute to Pacific development. She maintains that 'aid should cease to be a prop for the governments unwilling to choose growth and development, but focus on assisting choices for growth.'

'The danger that Australia faces if the Pacific does not grow and develop is a flood of illegal immigrants fleeing dysfunctional homelands.'

Helen Hughes is Professor Emeritus at the Australian National University, and a Senior Fellow at CIS.

She is available for comment.

Embargoed copies of the report The Pacific Is Viable! are available on request or from the CIS website:

http://www.cis.org.au/IssueAnalysis/ia53/IA53.pdf


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