3 Apr 2012

Australian praise for New Caledonia's Noumea Accord

12:49 pm on 3 April 2012

Australia's Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs, Richard Marles, has praised New Caledonia's Noumea Accord as one of the most significant political processes in the Pacific.

Mr Marles made the comment in Noumea during the first ever visit of an Australian governor-general to New Caledonia.

He says he considers the Accord to be a global model for other places where there are questions of sovereignty.

The 1998 Noumea Accord on greater autonomy provides for a phased and irreversible transfer of power from Paris to New Caledonia, with a possible referendum on independence to be held between 2014 and 2018.

It also provides for a collegial government which reflects the relative strength of the parties in the territory's Congress.

Last year, dissent over the choice of a flag led to the collapse of the government four times and prompted France to change the electoral law which now gives a new administration an 18-month grace period.