NEW ZEALAND’S WINNING LABOUR PARTY GOOD FOR PACIFIC: CLARK

admin's picture

NEW ZEALAND’S WINNING LABOUR PARTY GOOD FOR PACIFIC: CLARK

By Craig DeSilva

HONOLULU, Hawai‘i (December 20, 1999 - PIDP/CPIS)---An expert in Asia-Pacific politics said ties between New Zealand and the Pacific Islands will be closer following the Labour Party’s win during the New Zealand general election in November.

Paul Clark, professor of Chinese and head of the Asian Languages and Literature department at the University of Auckland, said the new Labour Party is more associated with Pacific Island countries and Pacific Islanders now living in New Zealand.

"There’s more of a presence in the government than there was in the National Party, which has never really had support for the Pacific Island community," Clark said. "So I think there will be more attention paid to the Pacific Islands."

Clark made his comments during a recent talk at the Hawai‘i-based East-West Center entitled "Greens, F16s and the APEC Factor: The New Zealand General Elections."

Clark noted that the Ministry of Pacific Affairs, which has been absent during the last five years, is now headed by a Pacific Islander. He also expects New Zealand troops to remain in Bougainville.

"I think the prospects are good," he said.

Clark said one of the first proposals by the controlling Labour Party is to improve the housing situation for low-income Pacific Island communities living in New Zealand. Currently, government-owned housing units are priced at market rates. The Labour Party has proposed to lower that rate to 25 percent of the occupants’ take-home pay.

"It will increase the quality of living for major communities in places like South Auckland, where most of the people are Pacific Islanders," Clark said. "If you improve their living conditions, they will be much more able to flourish."

Although Pacific Island nations probably won’t receive increased funding under the new government, Clark said, "there’s more of an awareness of New Zealander’s responsibility toward Pacific Islanders."

Clark added that resentment toward Pacific Island immigrants in New Zealand has somewhat lessened during the last 10 years. Negative attention is now being placed on Asian immigrants, he said.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment