4 Oct 2011

Vanuatu townhall meetings precede 2012 elections

1:48 pm on 4 October 2011

Vanuatu's Pacific Institute of Public Policy is launching a series of townhall meetings across the country in the lead up to next year's election.

The Institute says it hopes to extend the project to other parts of the Pacific, like Papua New Guinea, which also goes to the polls next year.

Its director, Derek Brien says at the first meeting, on Tanna, more than 600 people came to talk about policy issues - which he says was a real eye-opener.

"A lot of the questions and a lot of the conversation from the public was centred around the effectiveness of government, and when, particularly isolated rural communities aren't seeing any evidence of government service delivery, there's very little incentive for them to engage in a debate about health policy or education policy."

Derek Brien says the uptake of mobile phones and better internet across the Pacific mean people have better access to information and are more willing to engage in debate.