7 Oct 2003

Vanuatu opposition leader says Australia pushing own agenda on others

5:10 pm on 7 October 2003

There is a call for the relationship between Vanuatu and Australia to be based on mutual respect rather than Canberra providing tied aid and its own agenda.

The opposition leader, Willie Jimmy, says aid is now being tied so that leaders in Pacific island countries cannot decide what they consider to be priorities or determine their own destiny.

Mr Jimmy says Australia has also attempted to push its own agenda by funding positions within Vanuatu's civil service.

"Two of the most high constitutional officers in Vanuatu, has now been taken up by foreigners from other Pacific Islands, funded by AUSAID, that is the office of the Public Prosecutor, and the office of the State Law Office. My question is, why can't Australia fund that position to a ni-Vanuatu?"

Mr Jimmy says Australia must respect the sovereignty of others.

But, a reliable source says it was the Vanuatu government which appointed the selection panel for the attorney general and the public prosecutor.