26 Jan 2007

New Zealand urged to be more supportive of troubled Pacific countries

10:43 am on 26 January 2007

New Zealand has been urged to be more supportive and less critical of problems faced by Pacific island countries such as Fiji.

The Fiji Times says the call has come from a board member of the New Zealand - Pacific Business Council, Mike Flanagan.

Mr Flanagan says New Zealand and Australia should reconsider their uncompromising stand on Fiji as the victims of any censure are the general population.

He has also urged the New Zealand media to take a more active role in reporting on a broader range of issues in the Pacific and not just bad news.

Mr Flanagan says commentators can safely sit in "democratic New Zealand" and criticize the constitutional issues developing Pacific countries have to grapple with and expect them to rigidly abide by the Westminster model of democracy.

He says the economic realities of low incomes are at the heart of their civil unrest rather than constitutional niceties.

Mr Flanagan says "the latest developments in Fiji indicate a welcome step back to a constitutional government."

He says it appears that in Fiji, as in Tonga, the Pacific Way is the preferable way to resolve disputes.