Fiji’s Prime Minster last week announced that a consultation process will take place on Fiji’s constitution between July and September. There has been speculation that this announcement would give an opportunity for a change in policy towards Fiji in Australia and New Zealand.
New Zealand Foreign Minister, Murray McCully, has already broken ranks and begun to engage with Fiji. While New Zealand has maintained its travel sanctions on members of Frank Bainimarama’s regime, McCully has, in a personal capacity, resumed direct contact with Fiji’s foreign minister, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola.
Some thought that there may now be some softening on Australia’s part as well. It was suggested that such a change in policy towards Fiji may have been announced after the newly appointed Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr and McCully met in Auckland last week. However after the meeting Carr said it was premature to flag any change in policy towards Fiji and he was seeking more information about the situation there.
“All I can say at this stage is that I am talking to colleagues about Fiji but at this stage, the statement from the Fiji government is something we will look at, it’s interesting, but we wouldn’t go beyond that at this time.”
In his blog GrubSheet, Fiji Watcher Graham Davis, who was predicting a change in policy, say he thought that Carr has had to deal with a backlash to any suggestion of a change in policy towards Fiji on the part of the regime’s critics in Australia, especially the trade unions.
“It’s now clear that the ACTU has both the will and the power to maintain Australia’s hard line stance on Fiji. Never mind the decision by the United States to re-engage with Fiji.”
News category: Pacific.