5 Apr 2005

Australia says there is strong backing for Australian aid assistance from Vanuatu government

8:26 pm on 5 April 2005

The Australian Government says it has solid backing from the Vanuatu Government for its new aid strategy.

Australia is offering Vanuatu up to 25 million US dollars annually for improving governance, assisting basic services like health and education, and providing work opportunities.

But just months ago Australia had threatened to withdraw its aid because of what it saw as the then government's lack of commitment to good governance and law and order.

There had also been attempts to remove Australian advisors from the country.

But the parliamentary under secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bruce Billson, says a platform for cooperation was created when the new Vanuatu Government signed a statement of principles committing to good governance.

"Importantly that cooperation strategy has been signed off by the Council of Ministers - that involves ten political parties in Vanuatu and there is no sign that Australia's willingness to assist the people in Vanuatu is anything but welcome."