23 Sep 2005

Australia and New Zealand challenged in regional report

1:18 pm on 23 September 2005

A report on regional co-operation says the confrontational style of Australia and New Zealand has intruded on the Pacific Islands Forum and grated upon Pacific Island sensibilities.

The report, called Strengthening Regional Management was drawn up by a former Solomon Islands central bank governor Tony Hughes.

It says from time to time, such irritations have led to suggestions for a change of membership status of one or both of the two countries.

The consultative draft report says neither New Zealand nor Australia would welcome such a move.

The Hughes report says the two countries provide more than two thirds of the Forum's budget and in return they get the right to exert influence on regional affairs through the Forum machinery.

It says there is a suspicion that the regional paymasters use their position to call the shots on policy, even though they often fall over backward not to appear to do so.