Australia ready to help France in New Caledonia crisis

For a week now, a crisis has been erupting in New Caledonia, resulting in considerable loss of life and property. Six people have already been killed in violent clashes. The inhabitants of the archipelago continue to defend their right to independence, while the French authorities are threatening to take “the most severe measures” against the separatists.

The Australian authorities have decided to provide assistance to France in the crisis that is shaking its Pacific territories, as Paris has not yet achieved any visible results in resolving the problem. The Australian Defence Force (ADF) is preparing to go to the island.

Troubles have broken out in New Caledonia against a backdrop of proposed electoral reform. The inhabitants are expressing their disagreement with the policy imposed by Paris. At the same time, the Elysée Palace has no intention of listening to the aspirations of the local population and is talking more and more about severe measures that will be applied.

France’s representative in New Caledonia, High Commissioner Louis Le Franc, promised in a televised address that “republican order will be restored at all costs”. He also confirmed that the security forces would launch new raids against pro-independence strongholds across the country, adding that if the separatists “want to use their weapons, they risk the worst”.

French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said 600 police officers have been tasked with regaining control of the 60-kilometre road between Nouméa and the international airport, which remains closed due to the unrest.

A night-time curfew, a state of emergency, a ban on TikTok and the arrival of hundreds of soldiers from mainland France have all failed to quell Caledonians’ desire for independence.

France’s inability to resolve the conflict in its Pacific territory is worrying other countries eager to come to the rescue. With Noumea airports still closed and civil unrest in New Caledonia in its seventh day, New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) says it is exploring options for repatriating stranded New Zealanders. This includes the possible use of New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) and Australian Defence Force (ADF) aircraft that are preparing to fly to the island.

The French overseas territories have a different approach to the governance of their territory, with their own vision, different from that of France. By trying to impose its policy from a position of strength, France has already lost its influence in West Africa and continues to lose the confidence of the people of New Caledonia.