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Australia has ‘too much invested’

Tuesday 8 September 2015 | Published in Regional


CHRISTCHURCH – While the New Zealand government has suspended aid to Nauru’s justice sector, Australia is saying they have no concerns with the law and order situation there.

Nauru meanwhile has attacked New Zealand for interfering in its domestic affairs.

The director of the MacMillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies at the University of Canterbury, Steven Ratuva, said Australia has too much invested in Nauru to criticise the actions of its government.

“I think they probably recognise there are some issues of law and order and political governance which have been taking place in Nauru, but at the same time it has its own interests in terms of the refugee processing centre.

“So it doesn’t want to jeopardise that. So New Zealand, if you like, is an independent party, so its critical assessment of what is happening in Nauru, is I think the same as what the other members of the Forum have been observing in relation to the rule of law, in relation to the authoritarian style of government.

“I think over time you won’t see much change in Australia’s position because it has to remained unchanged for some time now.

“Certainly Australia doesn’t want instability on the island. At the same time it doesn’t want any change to the government which might threaten their interests on the islands.

“For them, as long as their interest in the processing centre remains, that’s okay.

“So I don’t really think they are interested in the authoritarian style of government or imprisonment of outspoken politicians and so on, because for them, it is really their political interests in terms of sustaining the processing centre.

“Even the politicians who have spoken against the government wouldn’t want to see the processing centre taken away. So they are in a sort of Catch 22 that they cannot get out of, and one would feel sorry for that situation and Australia is taking advantage of the vulnerability of that Catch 22 situation as a means of sustaining that centre there.

“That is one of the ironies, one of the paradoxes of the situation on Nauru, because if Australia withdraws the money, if there is no processing centre on the island, then the economy will virtually collapse.”