Greens call for Pacific relief coordination

Green Foreign Affairs spokesperson Keith Locke says the dilly-dallying over aid to the cyclone ravaged Solomons shows the urgent need for coordination among Pacific countries in emergencies.

“It is not acceptable for Australia and New Zealand to wait days to send a surveillance plane,” said Mr Locke.

“The Solomons are closer to Australia, but this does not absolve New Zealand of responsibility.

“Weather experts can track cyclones. A plane should have been over Tikopia soon after the storm moved on. It was also possible to drop a radio and medical kit.

“It’s absurd that nearly a week after the cyclone we still don’t know what casualties there are, or the needs of the people

“In this day and age there is no excuse for dilly-dallying over disaster. In this case, we seem to have responded with less urgency than we would for a stricken yacht.

“The Green Party agrees with Australian Labor foreign affairs spokesperson Kevin Rudd that the South Pacific Forum should have a disaster relief coordinating centre.

“Our government should take the initiative in establishing an emergency response system, so that the resources of Australia and New Zealand are mobilised immediately a typhoon hits any South Pacific island.

“Of course, we respect any Pacific nation’s sovereignty. But we should have support systems should be all ready to go in the event of a natural disaster,” said Mr Locke.