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PM Sees Room To Improve Relationship With Australia And New Zealand

  Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama believes there is a great deal of room for improvement in the quality of the relationships with Australia and New Zealand. He made these comments
16 Sep 2016 11:05
PM Sees Room To Improve Relationship With Australia And New Zealand

 

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama believes there is a great deal of room for improvement in the quality of the relationships with Australia and New Zealand.

He made these comments as he formally opened a tripartite forum of the Fiji, Australia and New Zealand Business Councils at The Pearl in Pacific Harbour yesterday.

“We all know that New Zealand and Australia did a great deal after the events of 2006 to damage Fiji,” he said.

“From our perspective, we believe both countries fundamentally failed to grasp the reasons why we needed radical intervention to finally produce a level playing field for all Fijians and create a strong foundation for our economy.

“But as I told the New Zealand Prime Minister to his face when he came to visit us in June, we have delivered on our promise to return Fiji to parliamentary rule with our first genuine democracy of equal votes of equal value.

“And 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.”

 

The comments made

Mr Bainimarama quoted New Zealand Prime Minister John Key saying he hoped the Fijian Government wasn’t going to be “silly” about enforcing the provisions of Fiji’s Public Order Act.

“With due respect to my Honourable Friend, I don’t think “silly” was the appropriate word to use in the circumstances,” he said.

“Just as I don’t think it was appropriate for him to say last year that I was, quote, “mouthing off” about the Pacific Islands Forum.

“Being “silly” or “mouthing off” is what a parent might say about a wayward child or a teacher might say about a problem student.

“It doesn’t suggest a relationship of equals. On the contrary, it carries a distinct tone of superiority. Some might even call it patronising or condescending.

“But I certainly don’t think it shows appropriate respect for a sovereign nation and a democratically elected leader who is acting in the best interests of the Fijian people and Fijian economy.”

 

No apologies for action

Mr Bainimarama said: “I will not apologise for doing whatever it takes within the law to keep our people safe and our economy stable.

“We have had a record seven years of economic growth, with all that entails for the prosperity of our people.

“And nothing must be allowed to get in the way of providing them with the opportunities they deserve.

“I promised the Fijian people that the nightmare many suffered in the past arising from the successive breakdowns of law and order will never be repeated. And I intend to keep that promise.”

He stressed the rule of law must be upheld.

“And while any law remains on the statute books, the Police have a solemn duty to enforce it,” he said.

“It is only the democratically elected representatives of the people in Parliament who can change it now that we have returned to parliamentary rule.

“My message to the New Zealand and other governments and to our other domestic and international critics is this: Let the Parliament do its work and please respect the law as it stands.

“Until now, we haven’t lectured you about the allegations of human rights abuses in your own 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.

“We also refrain from commenting on the stark double standards of nations that preach to us yet fail to criticise the flagrant human rights abuses of their larger and more powerful allies.

“So please do us the courtesy of respecting our own processes and allow our elected representatives to do what is necessary in the interests of the Fijian people and Fijian economy as a whole.”

Edited by: Rachna Lal

Feedback:  farzana.nisha@fijisun.com.fj

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