15 Sep 2005

Pacific leaders will want quick trade and labour benefits from Pacific Plan

8:15 pm on 15 September 2005

A New Zealand academic says regional leaders will want a better deal on trade and labour market access in the Pacific Plan for greater co-operation.

The Plan has come under attack from the Papua New Guinea Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare, who says it is more about Australia taking control of the region.

A political scientist, Dr John Henderson, says other Pacific leaders have worries but are unlikely to express them as bluntly as Sir Michael.

He says they want to see gains quickly and with the emphasis on other issues besides governance.

"The issues they look for that it is taking their concerns into account is that they have greater economic co-operation with Australia and New Zealand, in the sense of greater trade and especially the freeing up of the labour market - they see that as a litmus test. Those are the sorts of signs they are looking for with the Pacific Plan that will show it's to enhance the overall region rather than have the region form the image of Australia and to a lesser extent New Zealand."