7 May 2003

Australasian aid spending in Pacific must change says academic

4:34 pm on 7 May 2003

An Australian academic says Australian and New Zealand aid spending in the Pacific is a key factor in the disintegration of Solomon Islands and parts of Papua New Guinea.

Professor Helen Hughes, in a report commissioned by the Centre for Independent Studies, says Australasian aid has failed the Pacific.

She says the region has received the equivalent of 50 billion US dollars aid in 25 years, but while populations have soared, economic growth has not kept pace.

She says this has led to unemployment, underemployment, crime and corruption, particularly in PNG and Solomon Islands.

Professor Hughes says the aid spending has contributed to this economic failure.

She says the countries have no incentive to change because the aid donors pay for the politicians and public servants to live.

"why should they change policy, be uncomfortable, if they can get away with it....So in that way,.. Aid from New Zealand and Australia, has supported the lack of change, which means that most people in the Pacific, have no higher a standard of living than they had 25 years ago."

Professor Hughes says the same sorts of conditionalities applied to welfare need to be applied to aid to ensure it is spent on development.