INCREASED AUSTRALIAN PRESENCE IN PACIFIC PREDICTED

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MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, May 20) - An Australian government think-tank has called for Canberra to ask tough questions about the long-term viability of some South Pacific states.

A new annual assessment by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute finds growing support in the South Pacific for the idea that island governments should share and integrate their resources.

The author of the assessment, Peter Jennings, says after last year’s intervention in the Solomon Islands, Australia has decided to take a stronger approach in dealing with South Pacific governments.

"It's going to mean, I think, Australian civil servants in line positions in public services through the region," Mr Jennings said. "It's going to mean a much more demanding and expectant Australian government rather than one which will say: 'Well things must be resolved by the Pacific way, and we can leave it to the islands to essentially manage their own affairs'."

The report also says Canberra will have to boost its commitment to Papua New Guinea and other South Pacific countries to prevent a series of failed states.

Jennings, says rhetoric from some Pacific countries about Australian interference in their affairs, has masked the incompetence of their own governments.

He's called for Australia to re-engage with Papua New Guinea because the relationship has slipped in importance.

May 21, 2004

Radio Australia: www.abc.net.au/ra

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