12 Dec 2003

Solomons MP fears Australia changes focus to PNG

4:45 pm on 12 December 2003

A Solomon Islands MP, Alfred Sasako, says he fears progress toward stability in Solomon Islands may be jeopardised by the ambitious 2.4 billion dollar Australian rescue plan for Papua New Guinea.

Australia and PNG have announced that armed Australian police will spearhead a five-year aid and assistance package for troubled PNG.

Mr Sasako says it's a matter for Australia and PNG to decide, but he is concerned that progress made in the Solomons toward restoring law and order and a viable economy may stall.

"I certainly hope that the new focus does not take away all the resources that we need under the auspices of RAMSI from the Solomons because there is a lot more to be done in the Solomons, for example corruption - the term that is used widely in the Solomons - is the big fish and everyone in the Solomons knows who are the big fish are but RAMSI does not seem to be touching them."

Alfred Sasako says the plan follows the much-vaunted success of the Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission, or RAMSI, in the Solomons.

And he says no-one in the region will be surprised at the rescue plan, but many will wonder which Pacific country is next in line for similar attention from Australia.