Australia's Pacific Role Challenged In Climate Row

(@FahadShabbir)

Australia's Pacific role challenged in climate row

Wellington, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 19th Aug, 2019 ) :Influential Pacific island leaders have called for Australia to be ousted from the region's main regional grouping, criticising Canberra's "neo-colonial" attitudes and refusal to take urgent action on climate change.

It comes after Australia was accused of muzzling leaders who wanted to use last week's Pacific Islands Forum in Tuvalu to issue a global call for action on climate change ahead of UN-sponsored talks in New York next month.

Australia's Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack then added further insult when he dismissed the islanders' concerns and said they could "come here and pick our fruit" to survive.

Tuvalu Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga labelled McCormack's comments "abusive and offensive", challenging Australia's right to a place in the 18-member Pacific Islands Forum.

"The spirit of the Pacific way is not understood by these guys, I don't think they understand anything about (it)," he told Radio New Zealand.

"And if that's the case, what is the point of these guys remaining in the Pacific Island Leaders' Forum? I don't see any merit in that." Sopoaga's views echoed those of Fiji's Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, who over the weekend described his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison as "very insulting" and said China offered a more welcoming brand of diplomacy.

Australia has a complex relationship with its Pacific island neighbours, who receive about Aus$1.4 billion ($950 million) a year in aid from Canberra.

Despite the generous handouts, Pacific islanders often bristle at Australian attitudes to a region that officials in Canberra refer to as "our backyard".

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