By RNZ Pacific
Pro-independence advocates in New Caledonia say a vote for full sovereignty next month would allow the country to step up onto the international stage.
The next referendum on independence from France will be held on October 4 and determine whether New Caledonia will obtain the powers still held by Paris – such as control over its foreign affairs.
Speakers at a webinar of Australia’s Griffith University yesterday said an independent Kanaky-New Caledonia would set policies to reflect its own economic and national interests.
The French president Emmanuel Macron described New Caledonia as part of an Indo-Pacific axis to counter China’s influence in the region.
While export markets for New Caledonia’s mining output are mainly in Asia, a member of New Caledonia’s Congress Patricia Goa said independence would offer a choice.
“What’s wrong with having co-operation with China and others?
“What we are saying is that the difference is that we will choose how we want to put and the level we want to put into that relationship. We choose as a free state, as a state. That’s all the difference.”
Patricia Goa, an elected member of New Caledonia’s Congress, representing the pro-independence Union Nationale Pour l’Indépendance (UNI). She lives in Baco tribe in New Caledonia’s Northern Province and works as an adviser to provincial president Paul Neaoutyine.
Charles Wea is the FLNKS representative to Australia and has represented New Caledonia’s independence movement at the Melanesian Spearhead Group.
Magalie Tingal is a former journalist and serves in the New Caledonia’s Northern Provincial Assembly. As a member of the Union Calédonienne party, she is a co-ordinator of the Yes campaign for the independence movement Front de Libération Nationale Kanak et Socialiste (FLNKS).
Facilitator: Nic Maclellan is a correspondent for Islands Business magazine and other Pacific media.