14 Aug 2003

PNG leader says Forum to reject Australia's call for regional approach to governance

11:07 am on 14 August 2003

The Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Sir Michael Somare, says Forum leaders will not back an Australian call for a more regional approach to policing and governance.

The call has come from the Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, who says a number of countries are close to collapse and some are so small they are not viable.

He says he will ask the Forum leaders to discuss a co-operative approach to strengthening governance including regional policing.

Sir Michael says there may be merit in the idea, but he says Pacific countries would have concerns about distances, culture and the loss of sovereignty.

He uses Solomon Islands as an example.

"I am sure that the people of Solomon Islands do not want to be part of,..... they like to see good relationships, good diplomatic relations, knowing each other, sharing the common border, but when it comes to the administration of the islands, putting big Federation of Melanesia together, it may not work, ....it's a good idea, ...let the Forum people discuss it, but I know the Forum thinking and the leadership of the Forum would not buy into this."