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September 27 4 Corners Programme On Nauru

September 27 4 Corners Program On Nauru

Just twenty years ago, the residents of the tiny island nation of Nauru were the second wealthiest people on earth, living out a Pacific idyll. The country had been blessed with natural wealth, in the form of organic phosphate. When it gained its independence in 1968, Nauru also gained control of its great natural asset at strong world prices.

Like collective lottery winners, Nauru went on a shopping spree: the President bought a fleet of ships and aircraft; while the island owners of land being mined became used to the luxuries that the enormous royalties could buy. By the end of the 90s, the bankrupt government had begun selling passports and handing out banking licenses, turning the country into the Russian mafia’s money launderer.

In this climate of desperation, the Howard Government’s ‘Pacific Solution’ provided a much needed cash injection and a constant electricity supply…but made Nauru’s residents ever more conscious of their own decline.

Today, Nauru is worse than broke with its people suffering the highest rate of diabetes in the world. This week, Chris Masters reports on where the money has gone.

“Island Raiders” - Four Corners”, 8.30pm Monday 27 September, ABC television

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