SUNBIZ

Feakes Enjoys Fijian Warmth On Arrival

Australian High Commissioner John Feakes has been humbled by the warm reception he has been receiving in the country since his arrival two months ago. He was amazed first by
18 Feb 2018 10:44
Feakes Enjoys Fijian  Warmth On Arrival
Australian High Commissioner John Feakes and Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama. Photo: Australian High Commission.

Australian High Commissioner John Feakes has been humbled by the warm reception he has been receiving in the country since his arrival two months ago.

He was amazed first by the warmth of the reception of the Australian High Commission staff, but also from the President, the Prime Minister and the respective Ministers that he met.

“I love the atmosphere and environment in Fiji,” Mr Feakes said.

Fiji is Mr Feakes seventh diplomatic posting.

After graduating from university with an honours degree in politics, he joined the Australian diplomatic corps and kicked off his global appointments in 1992 with stint in the Philippines.

The 54-year-old then joined missions to Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, United States, Afghanistan, Kenya and now in Fiji for the next three years.

He is married with three children. His eldest 22-year-old son is on a rugby scholarship in the US, while his two daughters, age 16 and 13 are at school in Canberra, Australia.

His wife and children had travelled to Fiji to spend Christmas where they visited resorts in the Western Division.

Mr Feakes had also enjoyed watching the Coral Coast Sevens in Sigatoka and was quite impressed not only with the sevens rugby but Fiji’s economy.

“I am very glad to be in Fiji. Fiji’s economy is doing great and growing.

“We find it very easy to work with the Fijian Government,” Mr Feakes said.

Fiji, Australia ties:

Mr Feakes is impressed with the Fiji, Australian bilateral ties.

“I am very much aware about the great relationship that Fiji and Australia share,” he said.

“We have a lot in common. The people to people links are enormously strong. I had heard a lot about Fiji before I came to Fiji.

“The relationship provides a strong platform for both of the countries.”

He said the sporting connection was very important and strong.

“Both countries love rugby and it binds us together,” he said.

“The economic ties between the two countries are very strong as well. Fiji looks after 450,000 Australian tourists every year making sure that they are safe. We thank the Fijians for hosting them so warmly.”

Defence:

Fiji and Australia have a very strong link between the two military forces and they continue to improve.

Mr Feakes hoped to contribute a little bit more to that.

The Australian military has provided training for the RFMF officers.

Australia had provided some Bushmasters to the Republic of Fiji Military Forces that are being used in the Middle East.

Those are good vehicles and it ensures that RFMF peacekeepers are safer.

Fiji-Australia military relationship is very strong and have done a lot of joint exercises as well that the two countries are looking forward to do them again.

Seasonal workers:

The Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations, Jone Usamate had made a visit to the Fijian seasonal workers working in Australia. It is the scheme that Fiji and Australia are planning to expand into areas such as aged care.

Community developments:

Australia has big Fijian communities particularly in Western Sydney and the Prime Minister had attended the big community gathering during the Fiji Day celebrations last year.

There were thousands of Fijians at the gathering who queued up to take their pictures with him.

The Fijians in Australia have made enormous contributions in sports, economics, medical and corporate businesses as well.

TC Winston:

“Australia was pleased to be able to respond to the Fijian Government’s request for assistance and we were grateful for the New Zealand Governments response as well,” Mr Feakes said.

It was an important demonstration of the goodwill between the countries.

The initial response was an emergency and humanitarian response.

Australia is still rebuilding schools and clinics in Fiji.

That is something that Mr Feakes was proud of and was glad that Fijians thought Australia’s response was worthwhile and said that Fijians should be rest assured that if another cyclone did happen, Australia will be there for first response.

Edited by Rusiate Mataika

Feedback:  ashna.kumar@fijisun.com.fj

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