16 Aug 2002

PCRC opposes Australian Forum head

11:26 am on 16 August 2002

The Pacific Concerns Resource Centre in Suva says the appointment of an Australian as Forum Secretary General is not in the interests of Pacific nations.

Former Australian diplomat Greg Urwin is Australia's nominee to head the organisation which has traditionally been led by a Pacific Islander.

The head of the PCRC, Hilda Lini, says it is opposed to his candidacy because Australia and New Zealand have other interests than island nations.

"We find that Australia and New Zealand, they have one foot in the Pacific and one foot in Europe and they not able to identify themselves where they actaully belong to. And as long as the play the double standard with the Pacific we don't see the commitment for Pacific issues."

Meanwhile, the New Zealand prime minister, Helen Clark has declined to say whether her government endorses Mr Urwin's candidacy.

What I'm saying there has traditionally been an understanding that it not be held by a national of one of the three above countries and I suspect that understanding will prevail.

Helen Clark