Sunvoice

So Where Are Tony Abbott And John Key Now?

Busy leaders of some of the world’s most populous and powerful nations are coming to Fiji to meet our Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama. This again raises the question of the
24 Oct 2014 09:39
So Where Are Tony Abbott And John Key Now?
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key (left) and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott in a recent meeting

Busy leaders of some of the world’s most populous and powerful nations are coming to Fiji to meet our Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama. This again raises the question of the Australian and New Zealand governments and leaders and their attitudes towards Fiji.

Example: The then Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono – the leader of a massive nation of more than 250 million people – recently took time to come here and meet with Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama. He was willingly part of our Pacific Islands Development Forum. This is a leader the Australian PM had to go to Indonesia to see.

Example: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi – the leader of the world’s biggest democracy – will be here next month. This is a leader who is striding the world stage, most recently warmly greeted by Barack Obama. This is a leader the Australian PM had to go to India to see.

These leaders of true standing on the world stage will not be the last to visit here soon.

Yet the best our supposed near neighbours Australia and New Zealand – just a few hours away by plane – can do is to work through their foreign ministers.

Julie Bishop is a big success internationally as Australian Foreign Minister. Her attitude towards Fiji is a ray of sunshine after the darkness of the former Australian Labor Government era. No doubt about that. But she is not Tony Abbott. There can be no true re-engagement until our leaders meet. The onus is on Mr Abbott to make the first gesture, given Australia’s years of shameful treatment of Fiji and Prime Minister Bainimarama.

New Zealand’s Murray McCully has a strong rapport with our own highly successful Foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola. They obviously talk about much more than rugby. But Mr McCully is not John Key. There can be no true re-engagement until our leaders meet. The onus is on John Key to make the first gesture, given New Zealand’s years of shameful treatment of Fiji and Prime Minister Bainimarama.

The failure of the Australian and New Zealand Prime Ministers to re-engage with our Prime Minister smacks of the patronising attitude Canberra and Wellington still seem to have. This despite our holding fair and credible elections, and them being rated as such by leading international observers. This despite Mr Bainimarama being elected Fiji’s first Prime Minister to have a true national mandate from our people.

Fiji is proudly and truly independent now. Canberra and Wellington need to understand this. The old way of Australia and New Zealand calling the tune and Fiji dancing to it went out the window the day Mr Bainimarama and his team began building a new and better Fiji. Canberra and Wellington can no longer dictate to Fiji the way they can to some in the Pacific Islands.

Some in Canberra and Wellington still just don’t seem to get it. As a consequence they are now being left wallowing in the wake of far bigger nations and leaders who treat Fiji and our Prime Minister as equals.

Feedback:  maikab@fijisun.com.fj        

 

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