11 Apr 2005

New Zealand MP says independence for Indonesian province of Papua should be discussed

3:57 pm on 11 April 2005

A New Zealand MP is calling for the country to support the issue of independence for the Indonesian province of Papua.

Keith Locke, who's the Green Party's foreign affairs spokesman, is visiting Papua and he says the MPs he has spoken to, are frustrated that the special autonomy package is not working properly.

He says people clearly want independence but are afraid to speak out because of the military presence in the province.

Mr Locke says the issue of independence for Papua should go back on the agenda at the Pacific Islands Forum and New Zealand should offer support.

"We have a duty as a Pacific country to not abandon the West Papuan people, so I'm hopeful, you know, people talked about the East Timor cause as being a lost cause in the 80's, early 90's, but look what happened there. So, hopeful that we can achieve something for the West Papuan people."

Mr Locke says MPs in Papua are still negotiating the divvying up of money for the special autonomy package and want it to be distributed more equitably towards health and education rather than infrastructure.