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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (RNZI, Jan. 6) – The Australian government says there is no evidence to suggest the populations Pacific Islands are in any imminent danger of being displaced by rising sea levels.

The Federal Labor Party released a policy paper this week, calling on the government to help internal relocation efforts in affected countries, and also accept so-called climate change refugees. But the environment minister, Ian Campbell, says the suggestion is absurd.

Labor said a number of island states, including Tuvalu, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu were losing land, fresh water supplies and food sources, as a result of rising sea levels.

But a spokesman for the foreign minister, Alexander Downer, says it’s too early to provide an accurate assessment of regional trends.

The spokesman says it’s important to recognise that islands, as he puts it, "rise and fall in height as a result of geological pressure".

January 9, 2006

‘Radio New Zealand International:

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