12 May 2004

Political scientist calls for further regional integration in the Pacific

10:15 am on 12 May 2004

A call is being made for a regional Pacific confederation to be formed.

Professor Allan Patience, who is the chair of political science at the University of PNG, says Australia has been intervening in the region in a manner to protect its own security interests, especially in Solomon Islands.

He says Australia and New Zealand need to act as considerate middle powers and not take over.

He says the decision by the Pacific Islands Forum to be more pro-active in the face of crises, is an encouraging move.

But, he says further regional integration is needed and a loose confederation could be an answer.

"Australia has to rethink its whole attitude to this region and encourage a degree of regionalism, regional integration, and be prepared to step back from that - support but not intrude. I don't think either Australia or New Zealand should be, at least initially, part of any regional integration process. They should be the supporters, backers and sponsors of it but not the determiners of it."