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Visa refusals will hurt the Australians

December 31
12:09 2012

MAIKA BOLATIKI
Deputy Editor/News

The Australian Government just cannot seem to get it right when it comes to Fiji.
On the one hand Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr takes part in a successful trilateral meeting about restoring diplomatic ties at High Commissioner level.
There is positive talk of an easing of Canberra’s so-called smart sanctions which have affected visas for so many of our people. There is positive Australian assistance after Cyclone Evan.
Mr Carr himself undoubtedly wants to advance Australia-Fiji relations.
But on the other hand there is Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, a weak leader beholden to the trade unionists who helped her into power and are keeping her there.
The unionists from the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) still demand a continuation of Canberra’s failed and discredited hard-lined stance against Fiji and Fijians.
They are doing this in so-called “support” for some of their trade union friends here. These are the so-called “Fat Cats” unionists. They ran crying to their Australian comrades because under the Bainimarama Government they lost all those privileges and powers they once took for granted.
So because of these union self-interests we now end up with a ridiculous situation. The Fiji National Provident Fund (FNPF) chief executive officer Aisake Taito is again refused a visa to visit Australia.
Mr Taito wanted to go to Australia to employ Australian consultancy expertise in bettering the way the fund – which provides vital social security for our people – carries out its reforms.
The Australians have similarly earlier refused visas for Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority and Fiji National Provident Fund directors to go to Australia. This was for an Australian Institute of Directors course designed to help build good corporate governance.
So much for all the talk from Canberra of rebuilding relations and helping develop governance. It’s pure hypocrisy.
The repercussions from the Gillard Government’s actions are now likely to be very simple.
Australia’s recently appointed High Commissioner to Fiji is unlikely to be allowed into Suva any time soon.
And we will continue to look past Australia to our growing number of friends around the world. Especially in growing economic superpowers such as China and India.
When will the Gillard Government ever learn?

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