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Australian Senate study finds years of aid down drain

By Linda Mottram MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Feb. 26, 2010) –An Australian Senate committee has reported on its inquiry into security in the Pacific, finding the core problem is the Pacific states' own failure to do more to build their economies.

The report identifies a litany of security issues in the Pacific - from the breakdown of domestic law and order to transnational crime and illegal fishing. It also finds limited, overstretched or under-developed capacity to deal with the issues.

It is the second volume of the committee's findings. The first, released last November, dealt with economic challenges, finding Pacific states themselves have fallen well short of what is needed to enhance their prospects.

The committee says if its economic recommendations were implemented, Pacific security would be greatly enhanced.

It also calls for a new Regional Maritime Coordination Centre and a broadening of the Pacific Patrol Boat Scheme with a more regional focus.

The committee has found that despite years of aid, Pacific states have failed to invest in human capital and to build their own economic opportunities.

Tabling the security report in the Australian Senate, committee chair and Liberal Senator Russell Trood says it found a strong link between development and security.

"Indeed Mr Acting Deputy President, the committee is strongly of the view that were all of the recommendations in Volume One of its report to be implemented, it would greatly enhance their security and improve their capacity to meet security challenges that they face into the future," he said.

Security partnerships, with greater coordination between Australia's security-related initiatives and the expansion of programs to bring in other donors, were also tabled in the report.

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