SUNBIZ

PM Tells Aussies It’s Time Now To Reach Out Fully Again

It is now time for Fiji and Australia to reach out fully to each other again at an official level, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama stated yesterday. Mr Bainimarama has highlighted
17 Oct 2015 10:06
PM Tells Aussies It’s Time Now To Reach Out Fully Again
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama (middle) with Australia Fiji Business Council President, Greg Pawson (left) and Fiji Australia Business Council President Viliame Leqa during the Australia Fiji Business Forum Reception at the Novotel Manly Pacific Hotel in Sydney on Thursday evening.

It is now time for Fiji and Australia to reach out fully to each other again at an official level, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama stated yesterday.
Mr Bainimarama has highlighted that Fiji seeks a new relationship with Australia – a reinvigorated partnership based on mutual respect and friendship.
This follows the period of estrangement post-2006 during which Fiji developed other relationships.
The Prime Minister made these comments yesterday as he gave the keynote address at the 22nd Australia Fiji Business Forum at the Novotel Manly Pacific Hotel in Sydney, Australia.
Mr Bainimarama said it was time for the two governments to: “Rekindle the warmth of our old relationship and match the unshakeable relationship between our peoples.” His words: “Letting bygones be bygones.”
He has called upon Australia to now build an atmosphere of confidence, cooperation and trust with Fiji.
“And working more closely together than ever before on both our bilateral relationship and our cooperation across a broad front in the region and the world,” he said.
In addition to this, Mr Bainimarama also appealed to the business communities of both countries to ramp up their activities as part of this wider engagement.

Regional architecture
The re-engagement is seen as an important aspect for the Fijian Government.
But, Mr Bainimarama has stressed that Fiji will continue to press for Australia and New Zealand to step back from the main table at the Pacific Islands Forum and allow the island nations to determine their own agendas.
“We also have a fundamentally opposing view of what needs to be done to reduce the carbon emissions that are causing global warming, rise in sea levels and extreme weather events that pose such a serious threat to Pacific island nations,” he said.
“We still aren’t satisfied with the PACER Plus Agreement.
“One cannot negotiate such an agreement let alone sign it when the fundamental premise of the proposed agreement fails to take into account the ground realities of the economies of small island developing states.
“Such an agreement must recognise the power differentials and the economic capacities between countries such as Australia and New Zealand on the one hand and on the other Pacific Island states that lack comparatively the economic sophistication and economic strength.
“There must be this understanding if any such agreement is to have success.”
Mr Bainimarama said Fiji was still irritated by certain impediments to trade such as the Australian ban on imports of Fijian kava.
“Yet none of this should be an impediment to a higher and more friendly level of engagement between us and better relations generally,” he said.

New appointment
Mr Bainimarama also met and acknowledged the newly-appointed Australian Minister for the Pacific, Steve Ciobo, who has specific responsibility for the Pacific.
The appointment has been seen as a clear sign of a renewed commitment by the Turnbull Government to give the island nations a higher priority.
Mr Bainimarama also met the Australian Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, describing the transformation in the tenor of the relationship to a much more positive note.
“And from my perspective and that of the Fijian Government as a whole, you can be sure that we will match that commitment to a better relationship with sincerity and good faith,” he said.

Appeal to business community
Mr Bainimarama noted that Australia is also the biggest foreign investor in Fiji and the biggest aid donor – some FJ$88 million in 2015-16.
In addition, there is a flow of goods and services worth more than FJ$3 billion a year between the two countries.
Mr Bainimarama told the business communities of both countries of their important role as principal economic drivers of the relationship between Fiji and Australia.
“Australian business people trading and investing in Fiji are of course making handsome profits,” he said.
He noted were Fijian business people trading and investing in Australia as well and the dual citizenship Fiji now offers was helping with further investment.
“The climate to do so has never been better – the longest running period of economic growth in Fijian history,” he said.
“And an annual growth rate of 5.3 per cent last year that eclipses that of Australia and New Zealand and many other developed countries.”

Fiji Sun Instagram
Fiji Plus
Subscribe-to-Newspaper