27 Jun 2003

Solomons academic questions planned Australian intervention

10:50 am on 27 June 2003

Hawaii based Solomon Islands academic, Dr Tarcisius Tara, says Australia's planned intervention is for Australia rather than the Solomons.

But Dr Tara, who was also the chief negotiator for the Guadalcanal militants during the ethnic unrest, says it will still benefit the Solomons.

Australia has said the Solomons is in danger of becoming a failed state and a haven for drug running, money laundering, and terrorism.

Dr Tara says many of these are perceived threats and there is no proof that they will occur.

He says, while he has always advocated overseas help for police, Australia's latest plans amount to a pre-emptive action.

But he says while the intervention would be for Australia, it would be good for the Solomons.

"Had it not been for September 11th and had it not been for what happened in Iraq recently and the change in US policy, I don't think that Howard would have made a change in his policy. So for the Solomons I think despite negatives and scepticism that I have in the Howard/Bush policies about the world, its good for the Solomons at least."

Australia's contribution to any mission to Solomon Islands is likely to include a naval ship and hospital unit.

Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, says up to 2-thousand Australian personnel could be sent --- including soldiers, police and military backup.

The Australian government, which will meet representatives of South Pacific nations on Monday to discuss the issue further, expects New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Fiji to contribute to any international force.

Meanwhile, a Sydney newspaper says the intervention force's mission will include the disarming of rebel warlord Harold Keke and his followers.