18 Apr 2013

Merits of a Pacific Parliament raised during Wellington forum

7:28 pm on 18 April 2013

The New Zealand Opposition Labour Party's foreign affairs spokesperson, Phil Goff, says there would be real benefits from a Pacific parliament.

He says it could confront issues, such as climate change, which cross national boundaries.

Mr Goff, speaking during the Pacific Parliamentary Forum in Wellington, says the idea of a Pacific parliament was first mooted by former New Zealand prime minister Mike Moore about 20 years ago.

He says people are saying there is a need to come together and co-operate in solving problems affecting the region.

"Who knows what the model of a Pacific parliament would be, but we know that it doesn't make sense for 22 relatively small countries to work separately rather than collectively to address the problems the Pacific faces. And there needs to be a democratic element in that, and getting elected parliamentarians together is an important part of the solution."

Phil Goff.

The Speaker of Papua New Guinea's parliament, Theo Zurenuoc, says interaction with the parliaments of other regional countries helps his work to reform PNG's diverse legislature.

Mr Zurenuoc is one of the more than 60 delegates to the Wellington forum.

He says it provides opportunities for significant regional co-operation that hasn't always been available until now.

It is a great opportunity to bring to a particular or single venue leaders from throughout the Pacific. Unlike maybe the (Pacific Islands) Forum, this is more like an informal forum but it gives an opportunity for ordinary members of parliament or leaders in the Pacific to be able to share ideas on some issues that are common to all the Pacific nations.

Theo Zurenuoc says PNG's government believes strongly in regional co-operation, and has already engaged the help of Solomon Islands and the Queensland parliament to review the state of PNG's parliament.