It’s been a rocky road for Australia’s neighbours this year. Talk of a coup in Fiji, rioting in the Solomon Islands and now Tonga. Not to mention political unrest and more violence in East Timor.

And tougher times could be ahead. Overall the Pacific region has performed poorly in terms of economic growth in recent years with the emerging HIV/AIDS epidemic in PNG, demographic pressures and environmental stresses threatening future prosperity, writes Rob Stewart in a Treasury Department review published this month.

But more money’s not necessarily the answer – it’s estimated that Fiji, Nauru and Papua New Guinea have lost US$75 billion in income due to poor governance since independence, according to Asian Development Bank and Commonwealth Secretariat figures.

Australian government involvement with the developing countries of the Pacific region has “increased substantially as development challenges and threats to stability in some countries in the region have intensified”, notes Stewart. 

What exactly is the extent of this involvement? Crikey has pieced together a table of Australia’s police, defence and aid commitments in East Timor and the Pacific. In 2006-07, Australia will provide an estimated $766.6 million in Organisation Development Assistance to PNG and the Pacific:

 

Country

Australian Police Personnel¹

Australian Defence Force Personnel²

AusAID program expenditure (2006-07 Budget Estimate)

Official Development Assistance (2006-07 Budget Estimate)

East Timor

200

949**

$30.3m

$43.6m

Palau

3

$1.9m†

$6.6m†

Papua New Guinea

25

$313.6m

$332.2m

Solomon Islands

320*

146***

$99.5m

$223.0m

Fiji

10

$22.5m

$33.8m

Vanuatu

6

$25.0m

$34.7m

Samoa

2

$13.2m

$22.0m

Tonga

60

52

$9.2m

$13.4m

Niue & Tokelau

0

$1.2m

$2.5m

Tuvalu

3

$3.4m

$5.4m

Marshall Islands

3

$1.9m†

$6.6m†

Nauru

0

$0.6m

$4.8m

Cook Islands

1

$1.7m

$3.6m

Kiribati

3

$9.1m

$13.0m

Federated States of Micronesia

$1.9m†

$6.6m†

 

1. AFP figures are approximate. They relate to commitments via the International Deployment Group(IDG) which is made up of federal and state/territory police. Does not include liaison officerswho are part of an international network.
2. ADF figures are approximate, and include operational deployments, as well as ADF postings to the Pacific in attaché or Defence Cooperation capacities (non-operational). Figures as at 8/11/06 except for Tonga which is correct as at 21/11/06.
*Figure includes personnel from
 New Zealand and Pacific Island countries
** 925 as part of
Operation Astute, 4 as part of Operation Tower. (Operational service)
*** 140 as part of
Operation Anode. (Operational service)
†Money allocated to Micronesia, which for the purposed of this table includes the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau and the Republic of the Marshall Islands.
 

Peter Fray

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