16 Aug 2003

Australian PM says pooling Pacific resources not threat to sovereignty

8:24 am on 16 August 2003

The Australian Prime Minister John Howard says his proposal for greater pooling of resources in the Pacific is not a threat to the sovereignty of island states.

Leaders at the Pacific Islands Forum in Auckland have agreed to a wide-ranging study of ways to increase co-operation and partnership.

Australia will fund a study of regional aviation and shipping services, and the forum has already agreed to a regional police training programme.

Mr Howard says the notion of combining resources has strong support.

"It is not an attempt to rob countries of their sovereignty. It is an attempt to invigorate their sovereignty through pool arrangements, giving them capacity they would not have on their own."

The Australian Prime Minister John Howard also says he makes no apology for linking the future provision of Australian aid to Pacific Islands' efforts to stamp out corruption, and he believes his position is understood by forum leaders.