After decades of assuming a “backyard status,” the Pacific Islands region now finds itself in Australia’s geopolitical front yard. Pacific leaders, have consistently expressed the urgent need for climate action and have criticised Australian reliance on coal.
Coal, however, is Australia’s red line in the sand, and this stance led to a long and tense meeting at the recent Pacific Islands Forum gathering with no unanimous endorsement of the climate focused Tuvalu Declaration.
The Pacific is now more visible in Australian media and policy discussions in ways it hasn’t been for decades. This intense and renewed interest, regularly described by Morrison and Minister for the Pacific Alex Hawke as a matter of being part of the “Pacific family,” isn’t matched by widespread Pacific literacy domestically. Many Australians think Pacific countries are only interested in a cash grab and most “Pacific experts” are non Pacific Islander international relations, security and development analysts, or economics and foreign affairs journalists, and former diplomats who have not spent in depth time in the region or, if they have, view the islands from an expatriate or Australian centred perspective. That perspective puts Australian economic, political and strategic values and priorities well above those of Pacific peoples.
Continue reading via link.