Senate calls for EU-style 'Pacific Community'by NWNews Weekly
, August 23, 2003
In Quadrant magazine (Summer 1962), B.A. Santamaria called for the establishment of a Pacific Community, modelled on the European Common Market, embracing Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, India and the ASEAN bloc. It was proposed as an economic and political bloc to counter communist expansion.
Last week the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee recommended a more limited concept embracing 16 regional states, including New Guinea and the micro-states of the region, the more localised Pacific Community.
The proposal focuses on sustainable economic growth for the region, shared defence and security arrangements, common legal provision to fight crime, and priority health, welfare and educational goals. Over time, the aim would be to develop a common currency based on the Australian dollar, a common labor market and common budgetary and fiscal standards.
The proposal has been driven largely by security issues and the fear that the economies of many of these states have been going backwards and their societies into lawlessness. These conditions readily provide a breeding ground for terrorist groups, for international criminal organisations, for money laundering and people smugglers.
The report said that many submissions made to the inquiry argued that many regional states were confronting a worse economic and social outlook than at the time they gained independence.
The report says that "if the region continues to decline, the costs to Australia of dealing with the consequences will be much greater than the costs to Australia of moving to establish a community that can increase regional prosperity."