Thursday, 26 July 2007 9:23 AM

Lilo Accuses Australia of Playing Dirty Politics

The Finance Minister, Gordon Darcy Lilo, is calling on Australia to play fair when it comes to the granting of landing rights to the National Carrier, Solomon Airlines.

Mr. Lilo said the National Carrier has been badly affected by the refusal of Australia to grant to Solomon Airlines landings rights on the proposed Santo Brisbane route.

The Minister told Journalists that the plane size was never a problem because the airline management was banking on going to Brisbane from Santo. However, the refusal of Australia to grant the right to Solomon Islands has now affected this potentially lucrative route. The Minister is now calling on Australia to rethink its position.

Mr. Lilo said that although there has been an impasse between Australia and the Solomon Islands, it never prevented Solomon Islands from voting the Australian Candidate to an executive position within the World Bank.

Mr. Lilo said he could have used that voting right as bargaining chip but did not want to involve in such politics. He is asking Australia to reverse their decision in the interest of the Solomon Islands people. Mr. Lilo said he had spoken to Australia's Finance Minister Peter Costello on two occasions but Australia still turned down the request.

The Opposition Spokesman for Finance and Treasury however, said that Australia's actions not to grant the rights to Solomon Airlines for the Santo/Brisbane route is connected to the poor bilateral relations between Australia and Solomon Islands. The relationships further deepened when fugitive lawyer, Julian Moti, was appointed Attorney General of Solomon Islands.

Mr. Huni'ehu said that the refusal could be the beginning of a number embargoes instituted against the Solomon Islands for its unacceptable behavior towards the international community, particularly Australia.