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PM Clear Message To Aust, NZ: Let’s Move Forward Together To A Greater Level Of Understanding

PM Clear Message To Aust, NZ: Let’s Move Forward Together To A Greater Level Of Understanding
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama while opening the tripartite forum of the Fiji, Australia and New Zealand Business Councils at The Pearl in Pacific Harbour. Photo: VILIMONI VAGANALAU
September 19
08:00 2016

Fiji is open for business with Australia and New Zealand but the two countries need to stop interfering with the country’s internal affairs.

In the tripartite gathering of the Fiji-Australia-New Zealand Business Councils last week, the Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama very clearly in his speech outlined what he expects from the two countries.

He told the two countries bluntly, there should ‘Not’ be double standards practiced by them, calling on New Zealand Prime Minister John Key to stop using words like ‘silly’ and ‘mouthing off’.

These words, according to Mr Bainimarama carry a distinct tone of superiority – and could even be considered patronising and condescending.

However, Mr Bainimarama said: “We are eager to let bygones be bygones and move forward together to a greater level of understanding.

“That requires a greater degree of mutual respect in the conduct of our relationship than we are currently witnessing. In particular, I have been very disappointed over the past week about what I regard as the highhanded manner in which Fiji has again been treated by New Zealand.”

Though the present delegates did not expect a speech as such by Mr Bainimarama, they did listen with a lot of interest.

Mr Bainimarama pointed out to the gathering, such utterances and those by Mr Key don’t show respect for a sovereign nation and a democratically elected leader.

He had always said it and reiterated again at the forum that: “We are neighbours and friends and always will be. But we must work harder to align our sometimes testy political and diplomatic relationship more closely with the warm personal and vibrant commercial ties we share as people.

“There is – to put it bluntly – a great deal of room for improvement in the quality of the relationships between our countries.”

Mr Bainimarama made it very clear that he will not apologise for doing whatever it takes within the law to keep Fijians safe and the economy stable.

He further stressed Fiji had never lectured the two nations on the allegations of human rights abuses in their countries.

“These include the extreme disadvantage suffered by indigenous people in New Zealand and Australia and in the case of Australia, the inhumane treatment of asylum seekers.”

Also attending, Australia’s Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells after Mr Bainimarama’s speech said whatever ups and downs might affect Fiji and Australia in a government to government relationship from time to time, well developed business links should continue to exist and thrive.

“And it is important that we ensure the right framework exists for them to thrive,” she told the conference.

“The good news is that demand for Fiji goods remains strong in Australia and New Zealand and vice versa.”

Despite the differences or hiccups these three countries may tackle at times on the political front, business continues as usual.

The next conference is all geared up to take place in New Zealand next year.

There was a big turnout at the forum and most of the presentations done by the stakeholders outlined a very positive picture for the Fijian economy while some challenges were also brought forward.

Getting Mr Key to treat Fiji with the respect due a sovereign democratic nation is one message the Kiwis hopefully taking home.





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