26 Jul 2006

Lack of ownerhsip by Pacific political leaders is stalling Pacific Plan - academic

7:55 pm on 26 July 2006

A New Zealand political scientist says if the Pacific Plan for regional integration has stalled because leaders in the island countries have not fully owned it.

The Plan was endorsed by the region's leaders last October and work has been underway implementing some aspects of it.

But Associate Professor at Canterbury University, Dr John Henderson, says this is work purely at the officials level and it lacks political visibility.

He says one of the problems is the Plan has not had a Pacific champion.

"It has been associated with New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and Australian Prime Minister John Howard, but not with a Pacific leader. And it needs a Pacific champion to get it onto the Pacific agenda in a wider sense."

Dr Henderson says it is vital the Plan is relaunched at the next Forum meeting in Tonga.