Hon Duncan Kerr SC MP
Parliamentary Secretary for
Pacific Island Affairs
CANBERRA ACT 2600
Dear Mr Kerr,
Thank you for you response to my letter about the concept of an Australian-based institution designed to address critical issues and build relationships within our region.
While the working title I gave this institution - ‘School of the Pacific’ – was designed to pay tribute to what, in its time, was a place that provided a significant contribution to Australia’s administration of Papua New Guinea, I was not thinking of the former Australian School of Pacific Administration as a model.
ASOPA was a training establishment for ‘colonial officials’ and, of course, such an archetype would lack any current relevance.
ASOPA’s successor organisation, the International Training Institute, which flourished in the 1970s and 1980s, provides a more appropriate model. Although ITI had its institutional and systemic weaknesses, it contained more than the germ of an excellent idea.
The ‘School of the Pacific’, as I conceive it, would not be primarily, or even at all, a training establishment – but a high level institute for the joint consideration of major regional issues. It would both seek solutions through dialogue and expertise but, just as importantly, seek to build lasting relationships between the people who participated in its programs. In doing this, it would hope to link Australian professionals in continuing contact with their Asia-Pacific counterparts.
I hope that you and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade will give earnest consideration to this proposal, whether within the Pacific Partnerships or some other program, and that you will be able to keep me and my colleagues informed of developments.
Keith Jackson AM