17 Apr 2012

Australia and NZ aid neglect agriculture in Melanesia, says academic

6:29 pm on 17 April 2012

An Australian academic has criticised Australia and New Zealand aid programmes in the Pacific, saying they are chiefly responsible for appalling social outcomes, in particular in Melanesia.

A senior fellow at Australia's Centre for Independent Studies, Helen Hughes, says the huge amounts of aid Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji receive have not helped accelerate development.

She says aid from Australia and New Zealand has not been used to foster economic development, critically neglecting agricultural development in countries which have huge agricultural potential.

"The first thing is to stop propping up these corrupt elites who swallow up any aid or tourist income or mineral income, it gets swallowed up in good living and educating children abroad and so on. So, you have to go back to square one and say, without agricultural development, you have nothing."

Helen Hughes