GOLD COAST, QLD - One part of the answer to the big problems of the Pacific – like climate change, Chinese expansionism or greater prosperity - would be better co-operation between residents of our region.
Anyone like Australia trying to be ‘Big Brother’ will only enhance feelings of subdued resentment.
A better approach is be to have the Pacific Islands Forum consider climate change as part of the whole Pacific picture. ‘Together we stand, divided we fall’ seems to have morphed into ‘divide and conquer’.
While ever climate change is hived off from the other important issues affecting the lives of Pacific peoples, it will always provide leverage against Australia, due to its reserves of energy and export revenues based on extracted resources.
That the Pacific islands have not been blessed with such great resources and Australia has should not be a matter of contest.
After all, looking at the region in a more lateral way, if Australia wasn’t able to export raw materials, it wouldn’t have the resources to help Pacific nations.
Climate change will occur whether we like it or not. If Australia, which only produces a small carbon signature on a world scale, stopped using coal and exporting coal, nations that still use oil, gas and coal wouldn’t stop using their own or another’s resources.
Would Papua New Guinea stop producing and selling its oil and gas and stand together in solidarity with Australia against climate change?
Some significant problems continually being swept under a tapa are the dramatic population increases in some nations and the subsequent impact on available fresh water and food resources.
Fish stocks that small nations depend on could be better protected from outsiders who are guilty of plundering these vital resources without any significant recompense – or none at all in most cases.
Valuable timber forests could be better protected from foreign loggers.
The health of Pacific peoples could be better organised on a regional basis rather than the current slap dash approach.
And developing regional preparedness for future natural disasters like tsunamis and cyclones could be a common responsibility.
A Pacific regional corruption watchdog with real teeth and resources could be a useful initiative.
Collective responsibility, leadership and accountability for these and other matters affecting our region as a whole would benefit if a Pacific regional government along the lines of the European Community was established. It would have far more clout to deal with such critical issues.
Has anyone actually thought laterally about raising these concerns in addition to the present media frenzy over climate change?
Is there anyone out there listening and actually thinking outside the square?