5 Jul 2007

Australian opposition presents Pacific policy

6:51 pm on 5 July 2007

The Australian opposition has promised a big increase in Australian aid to Pacific island nations to end instability in the region.

The Australian Labor Party leader, Kevin Rudd, says a radical rethink of Australia's role in the Pacific would focus on economic improvement to avoid costly military interventions and a flow of refugees to Australia.

He said a Labor government in its first term would undertake auditing and planning with each Pacific neighbour and, if re-elected, it would commit to

a significant investment programme over time.

Labor would seek to reach an overall overseas aid target of 0.5 per cent of GDP by 2015-16.

Mr Rudd also says he is concerned about other nations supplanting Australia as the principal power in the region.