21 Feb 2006

Moving to a Fiji island not the priority says Tuvalu Prime Minister

4:02 pm on 21 February 2006

The Tuvaluan prime minister, Maatia Toafa, says the government does not regard rising sea levels as such a threat that the entire population would need to be evacuated.

This comes after a Melbourne-based campaigner, Don Kennedy, called for all the people on Tuvalu to be moved to the Fiji island of Kioa.

He says this is needed because within 30 years Tuvalu may become uninhabitable due to climate change and rising sea levels.

Mr Toafa says his government is considering the idea of moving the Tuvaluans to Kioa, but does not regard this as a priority.

"The thinking behind it is we might buy some land or try to own land maybe in Australia or New Zealand. I think these are the kind of issues at the moment, because we do not believe that Tuvalu will submerge, eventually, but, I think we're fighting our case on the impact of climate change."

The prime minister says if Tuvaluans were to move to Kioa, they would need funding to develop the island.