26 Jul 2006

Pacific Plan needs political backing says academic

3:40 pm on 26 July 2006

There's a prediction that the Pacific Plan on regional integration will not survive if political leaders don't fully embrace it.

Associate Professor at Canterbury University, Dr John Henderson, says it's clear a lot of work has been done on the Plan but this is at the officials' level and has not had the blessing of political leaders.

Dr Henderson says the island countries' leaders have yet to fully accept the concerns New Zealand Prime Minister had over the Pacific Islands Forum's ineffectiveness.

"Her concerns were certainly shared by the Australians and they got involved too, but it didn't really come from the Pacific leaders. They went along with it certainly, and contributed to it but it didn't and still hasn't got true Pacific ownership and, I think, that is the next key stage."

Dr Henderson says the Plan's advance could also be helped by New Zealand and Australia listening to Pacific concerns on long-standing issues such as labour mobility.