26 Sep 2005

Fiji rates Australia and New Zealand as equal partners

3:28 pm on 26 September 2005

Fiji has come out in support of Australia and New Zealand after a report criticised their dominance in the Pacific Islands Forum and their confrontational style of management.

The chief executive officer of the prime minister's office, Jioji Kotobalavu, says the perception may have arisen because of the push to see the Pacific plan for closer integration, adopted by the region.

He says Australia and New Zealand do have security and stability at the top of their agenda while Pacific Island countries see development issues as their first priority.

But, Mr Kotobalavu says a balance can be achieved.

"It is not fair to Australia and New Zealand to be categorised that way. We in Fiji have always regarded Australia and New Zealand as equal partners and very available partners in their membership of the Forum, and their contribution in terms of providing the necessary resources to enable the Forum Secretariat to effectively implement their programmes."

Jioji Kotobalavu.

The report, which was commissioned by the Forum, stated that Pacific Island countries found Australia and New Zealand to be dominant and that there is a confrontational style of political management in operation.