16 Sep 2005

Pacific Islands Forum defends blueprint for greater co-operation after PNG attack

10:16 am on 16 September 2005

The Pacific Islands Forum has reiterated that a consultation process over the Pacific Plan for greater co-operation will be ongoing.

Greg Urwin's comment comes amid calls for more discussion before the plan is implemented.

The Papua New Guinea Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare, who will become chairman of the Forum next month, says Australia is promoting the Plan to extend its control over the region.

NGOs in the region have since called for more consultation but Mr Urwin says the process of developing the plan is all about people having their say.

Mr Urwin is unfazed by Sir Michael's comments and he defends the consultative process.

"What we're committed to is an ongoing process of consultation which we developed, and it's intrinsic to the process that people, stakeholders, members make known what they want included in this. That's what it's all about. I would be worried if people weren't expressing their views."

The New Zealand political scientist, Dr John Henderson, says the Pacific Plan on greater regional co-operation could be delayed given the scathing criticism of it.

Supposedly it'll be Somare who'll see it through and to see its development over the next year, now if he's got these critical views which he clearly has, he may want to see a lot more work done on the plan before it can go forward as a Pacific-wide agreement.