29 Nov 2004

Transparency International Vanuatu welcomes Australia warning over aid

3:17 pm on 29 November 2004

The president of Transparency International Vanuatu has welcomed the warning issued to Port Vila by Australia to crack down on corruption and improve governance.

Marie Noelle Ferrieux Patterson says the warning delivered by a team of Australian diplomats visiting Port Vila last weekend is a welcome reminder that Vanuatu cannot afford to alienate itself from key donors.

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said because democracy and accountability are weakening in Vanuatu, Canberra is prepared to cut all but the humanitarian element from its 24 million US dollar aid package.

Ms Ferrieux Patterson says such a direct warning comes as a shock but is timely given a recent raft of undemocratic actions by government..,

"The deportation of a French national basically against the rules of immigration and we have seen constitutional amendments that basically aim at giving more powers to the Prime Minister. We have seen the four amendments to the constitution, they thought were going to go through referendum, and the Prime Minister and the Attorney general have decided that only two will go to referendum and the other two will be applicable right away, which is to increase the number of parliamentarians."

Marie Noelle Ferrieux Patterson