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Predictable & predicted: the troubled Pacific

On the eve of this week’s Pacific Forum, ROWAN CALLICK reflects on a 1993 project, aborted by AusAID, that forecast many of the region’s current problems

The Pacific has failed live up to its people's reasonable -- and mostly modest -- expectations. The blame must largely be sheeted home to its political elites.

The Pacific 2010 project of 1993 involved a "doomsday scenario" painted by myself -- "a vivid bad dream that can yet be avoided". This included:

"By 2010, population growth in the Pacific islands is careering beyond control. It has doubled to 9 million. Malnutrition is spreading. Levels of unemployment are high. Deaths from AIDS, heart disease and cancers have greatly increased.

"Government services have been privatised or in many cases have lapsed. Crime has increased. Pollution and land degradation has spiralled. Much of the surviving rainforest has been logged. Coastal fisheries have been placed under threat from overfishing. Skills shortages in the labour market yawn wide."

The predecessor of AusAID called a halt to the 2010 project before it had been completed, apparently because it was provoking too much criticism from regional politicians reluctant to face the consequences of continued indecision and poor policies. Yet many of those deliberately exaggerated "doomsday" projections have sadly become reality in 2010.

Of the 182 countries in the UN's human development index, no island nation is in the top half.

The Asian Development Bank expects Asian developing countries to grow by 7.9 per cent this year, Pacific island countries by 0.5 per cent.

Can the forum's leaders start, at their meeting this week, the long haul back from doomsday? Caring would make a start.

You can read the full article here.

Source: ‘Peering into Pacific's perilous future’ by Rowan Callick, The Australian, 4 August 2010


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Somare has raised the possibility of a RAMSI-style operation for PNG. The government does not have the security resources if, for example, Southern Highlanders swarm Port Moresby.

The bill for that style of operation for six million people in 900 clans with 1,200 dialects would dwarf the billions already spent on RAMSI.


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