Weather Fiji, Suva   Max 30°C, Min 23°C

Fiji Sun

FIJI NEWS

Anger over visas

December 31
12:54 2012

Australian refusals could see their high commissioner here kept out

Fiji National Provident Fund chief executive Aisake Taito

By RACHNA LAL

Anger is growing over Australia’s continuing refusal to issue visas to some senior Fijians involved in public service.
In the latest refusal, Fiji National Provident Fund chief executive Aisake Taito has been stopped from making a business trip to Australia.
Mr Taito was to meet with Australian consultancy companies about possible assistance helping the provident fund’s reforms.
Continuing Australian visa refusals like this are seen as contrary to the agreements from this year’s trilateral meetings between Fijian, Australian and New Zealand foreign ministers.
These included a decision to restore links at high commissioner level. Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr and New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully in turn agreed to consider more flexible implementation of travel sanctions on Fijians, with a special emphasis on helping public service and governance.

HIGH COMMISSION

Canberra’s latest actions could now put in jeopardy the restoration of an Australian high commissioner in Suva.
Permission for newly-named Australian high commissioner Margaret Twomey to come to Suva might be postponed by the Fijian Government.
Ms Twomey is due to arrive in February, ending more than three years that Australia has had no high commissioner in Suva.
The last high commissioner, James Batley, was expelled for what were seen as unfriendly acts.
Ms Twomey, a career diplomat, is currently Australia’s ambassador in Russia.
The anger is not only that Canberra is refusing visas to those in Fijian public service. But it is also putting Fiji alongside countries like Syria in its sanctions lists.
The refusal of Mr Taito’s visa is believed to be despite previous briefings given to Australian high commission officials in Suva about the Fiji National Provident Fund reform process. During these the Fiji National Provident Fund stressed the important role the fund played as an institution for all Fijians.

DIRECTORS

Earlier, the Australians refused visas for Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority and Fiji National Provident Fund directors to go to Australia as part of a programme to improve corporate governance.
They were to take part in directors’ course conducted by the Australian Institute of Directors.
Such a move is seen as hypocritical, with Australia preaching better governance but then blocking efforts to implement this.

Related Articles