4 Feb 2004

PCRC says Australia shuns dialogue on regional police policy

6:16 am on 4 February 2004

The Pacific Concerns Resource Centre in Fiji says Australia continues to have little dialogue with Pacific Island countries in planning interventions in the region.

This week, Canberra announced that a 500-strong flying police squad would be set up to take part in international efforts to stabilise what it calls nations at risk, especially in the Pacific.

This follows last year's deployment of police to Solomon Islands and plans to send a force to Papua New Guinea.

Hilda Lini of the PCRC says Australia has been acting along its own agenda and the latest announcement may be linked to the start of the election campaign in Australia.

"We sort of used to call Australia big brother and now we seem to be calling Australia big bully. It's really about the approach that is taken."

Meanwhile, the Pacific Islands Forum secretariat says it has not been advised of the Australian decision.

It has declined comment on the formation of the new police squad that could be sent to member countries.