26 Sep 2005

Fiji says report critical of Australia and New Zealand is unfair

1:06 pm on 26 September 2005

A high ranking Fiji official says a report calling Australia and New Zealand as dominant at the Pacific Islands Forum and confrontational, is unfair.

The chief executive officer of the prime minister's office, Jioji Kotobalavu, says Fiji sees the two countries as equal partners with other Forum countries and that they have always been very available with their contributions to the organisation.

His comments follow a report, commissioned by the Forum, and written by former Solomon Islands Central Bank governor, Tony Hughes, that Canberra and Wellington have a confrontational style of political management.

Mr Kotobalavu says the perception comes from the push for the Pacific Plan for closer integration in the region.

He says there are simply different priorities at work.

"Australia and New Zealand will tend to accord higher priority to security and stability concerns. They want to make sure that the Pacific Islands region is stable, it is free from threats of international terrorism, from drug trafficking. On their part, the Pacific Island countries tend to give first importance to their development concerns."

Mr Kotobalavu says all Forum member countries can voice their concerns about the Pacific Plan.