4 Apr 2013

Academic predicts greater Pacific focus from Australia if government changes this year

7:38 pm on 4 April 2013

An academic says he expects Australia's aid programme to focus more on the Pacific region, especially Papua New Guinea, if the coalition comes to power later this year.

Professor Stephen Howes of the Australian National University's Crawford School of Public Policy says it is unclear whether the opposition would cut the aid programme as many pundits have tipped.

But he says the opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman has signalled a desire for more efficient aid programmes.

He says Julia Bishop, who has made a number of vists to the Pacific islands, feels that the Labor government has lost its regional focus and been too bound up in global issues.

"So I think the first thing is that there's going to be more focus on PNG and the Pacific, and then the second thing that Julie Bishop and others have made clear is that they think there needs to be more emphasis in the aid programme on economic growth and on private sector development. Perhaps that's something we've seen coming out of the New Zealand aid programme in the last few years."

Professor Stephen Howes