2 Dec 2004

Australian academic says Pacific economies can prosper

11:20 am on 2 December 2004

An Australian think tank says Pacific Island nations would have high standards of living within a generation if they adopted policies that promote growth.

Professor Helen Hughes, a frequent critic of Pacific aid spending and the way it is used by governments, has produced a report called "the Pacific is Viable," for the Sydney based Centre for Independent Studies.

Professor Hughes says unless the countries become viable there is a risk of a flood of illegal migrants into Australia.

She says to be viable Pacific nations need to start to work and to earn an income.

"And they can all do that. I mean there is tourism, for the larger islands there are agricultural exports, there are many ways of earning a living, but you just can't sit and not earn a living."

Professor Hughes says there is no reason why the Pacific cannot be dotted with islands as successful as Norfolk, which she says earns a higher standard of living mainly through its tourism.