Publication Details

Hawksley, C. M. 2008, ''Rudd''s Way: The ALP in government and its policies toward the South Pacific'', in R. Devatek (eds), The Third Oceanic Conference on International Studies (OCIS): University of Queensland, 2-4 July 2008, University of Queensland, St Lucia, pp. 1-16.


As Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd made critical statements on the approach of the Howard government to the Pacific Islands. He called for a new approach from Australia, particularly toward the Melanesian states of Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Fiji. Now as Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has the opportunity to put the rhetoric into practice. There is certainly a more positive story about the Pacific being articulated by the Australian government, and this is being well received in the Pacific Islands. There has been a flurry of activity and much talk of "Pacific Development Partnerships", "mutual respect" and a "new era of engagement". The image of a bullying Australia has been to some extent laid to rest as the new dialogues seek to treat these countries with respect, but the key differences appear to be of style rather than substance. Pacific development, it seems, can only come through regional free trade, market liberalisation, increased privatisation and competition. This reification of market forces continues a commitment to neoliberal modernisation where competition creates wealth and reduces poverty, however under the ALP this is presented as a fundamental policy shift. This paper uses speeches and other statements by government members, as well as the May 2008 budget papers, to argue that Rudd's Way, at least so far, is not so different to Howard's Way.