5 Mar 2013

Australia's and NZ's Fiji policy weakened Forum, says academic

3:13 pm on 5 March 2013

An academic says New Zealand and Australia's relationship with Fiji has split the Pacific Islands Forum into less effective sub-regional groups.

Fiji has been suspended from the Forum since 2009, and at the last Forum meeting, leaders held firm on their stance that it wouldn't be allowed back in until elections have been held.

The University of Fiji's Dr Richard Herr says the Forum has failed to deal with the Fiji situation.

"It should have come back at the last meeting, and it was very unwise of the leadership not to include it. I don't believe that at this stage that it's necessarily the case that Fiji will re-enter the Forum even if asked. It's probably slightly better than 50-50 that it would accept. But there are grievances there, and they show up in terms of attitudes towards the Forum, and new relationships."

Richard Herr says while groups have emerged throughout the region, like a Polynesian leaders group, only the Melanesian Spearhead Group has the resources to be viable without outside support.