17 Mar 2004

New Zealand opposition in favour of Pacific union

6:29 am on 17 March 2004

New Zealand's opposition National Party says it supports the idea of a European-style Pacific Union.

The Melbourne Age has reported that a meeting next month of the Pacific Islands Forum will endorse a radical move towards a Pacific Union, with states pooling resources and administration along the lines of the European Union.

National's Foreign Affairs spokesman, Lockwood Smith, says apart from the issue of agricultural subsidies, there's no question the European Union has been a tremendous success.

"There is no question that we understand much more these days the importance of economic integration of nations and freer trade and economic exchange between nations. And if a union could, or some similar concept, could help our Pacific nations that way it would be sensible. It's no question they find it pretty tough going right now."

National's Foreign Affairs spokesman Lockwood Smith.

The New Zealand government says the Age report is speculative and goes well beyond where the Pacific is at at the moment.

But Foreign Minister, Phil Goff, says Pacific countries may eventually consider ceding sovereignty to a stronger Pacific Union.