Catholics In Coalition for Justice and Peace

Blog Post

Australia is not listening in the Pacific

Posted 17 Apr 2018 01:00PM

This article first appeared in the Vanuatu Daily Post on April 16 2018


DAN MCGARRY. Want to lead in the Pacific? Try listening first

The average Australian’s conception of Pacific island nations is so limited it makes some of us wonder if they even want to understand. Our voices—and our reality—have been pointedly and repeatedly ignored in the media, and in the corridors of power.

An Australian news service breathlessly proclaims Chinese plans to build a military base only a short flight away from Brisbane, and the Canberra commentariat has kittens.

Vanuatu insiders say ‘it was never in the cards’.

‘Yes, but it was discussed!’ insist defence analysts.

‘A base was never discussed and it would never happen,’ says Vanuatu’s Foreign Minister.

‘Yes, but a Chinese military presence is in the works!’ insist the same analysts.

‘Vanuatu would never agree to this and anyone who says otherwise is indulging in malicious speculation,’ says Vanuatu’s Prime Minister.

‘Here’s the wharf where it’s going to happen!’ announce Australian media, and a chorus of cold-warriors claim that Australia is forsaking its God-given leadership role in the Pacific.

‘We, uh, have our own leaders,’ say Pacific islanders.

‘Yes, but they’re drowning your countries in debt!’ cry the politicos.

‘Well, we’re not perfect, but there’s no crisis,’ say our analysts. ‘Our debt to GDP ratio is less than half of Australia’s.’