Fiji

For some reason that’s beyond me, this government doesn’t care for Fijians

The death toll in Fiji is now thought to be as high as 10, after Cyclone Winston struck the country over the weekend.

The director of Fiji’s National Disaster Management Office, Akapusi Tuifagalele, says people are in desperate need of assistance, especially in remote areas of the country.

“[They need help to] rebuild their houses if needed and also to vacate the schools, especially the schools that are being used because after one week from tomorrow they will be needed again for our children,” says Mr Tuifagalele.

The island nation declared a state of emergency and a curfew as the Category 5 storm hit made landfall on Saturday.

Wind gusts of high as 325km/h battered the country, in the worst tropical storm in Fiji’s history.

Damage from the cyclone is estimated to be around NZ$154 million.

Prime Minister John Key says New Zealand has given a “small amount of money” as an emergency gesture and will help the country to rebuild.

“Fundamentally there’ll be a clean-up and look, New Zealand will help because we always help in these situations,”

We will help because we always do.  Heartwarming stuff. Read more »

Who cares where Fiji buys its weapons from

The Media party is all upset over Fiji buying some new weapons…despite the news being more than a month old.

A shipment of 20 containers arrived in Suva last month that contained weapons worth about $10 million, and the country’s defence minister said his government was negotiating for a second shipment.

Both Suva and Moscow said the weapons were for Fiji’s UN peacekeepers who were operating in volatile areas like the Golan Heights and Sinai.

Mr Key said he was not particularly worried about the arms shipment.

“It depends on what that weaponry is going to be used for. Our main point really when it comes to Fiji and any other Pacific countries is that whatever they do with anybody else is a matter for them.

“As long as they understand that the responsibility rests with them, and that certainly includes soft loans as that they can get, not so much from Russia, but from other countries.”   Read more »

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National Government snub of pacific neighbours has perpetual fallout

New Zealand isn’t that important any more.  

We screwed them over one too many times, and they’ve now built much more rewarding relationships.   

Another excellent foreign policy win for John Key’s dream team.  

Foreign Minister Murray McCully had hoped to meet with Nauru’s justice minister David Adeang to discuss suspended aid while in Port Moresby this week, but with only hours left Mr Adeang was playing hard to get.

Just before Mr McCully and Prime Minister John Key travelled to Port Moresby for the Pacific Islands Forum, New Zealand suspended about $1.2 million in aid to Nauru’s justice department after ongoing concern about the rule of law.

Prime Minister John Key said he had briefly spoken to Nauru’s President Baron Waqa but the aid funding did not come up.

Mr McCully said he had hoped to meet with Mr Adeang in Port Moresby and had sent messages and a text but with just a few hours left his overtures had been ignored. He was still hopeful of a last minute talk before leaving.

“I’m prioritising the opportunity to meet. Whether he wants to prioritise it is a matter for him. I think its well known he has strong views about this topic but I’ve tried to convey New Zealand’s position in a careful and moderate manner.”

He said the justice funding would remain on hold until the situation in Nauru improved.

“I’m sad to say that the steps taken not just in respect to Roland Kun but in relation to other matters, have not helped the international reputation of Nauru.”

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John Key wags his finger at Fiji again

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John Key never seems to learn when it comes to Fiji.

After all the years of sanctions and finger-wagging Fiji actually produced a new constitution, and held democratic elections, all without the aid or assistance of New Zealand or Australia.

At the same time as all that was going on the Pacific Islands Forum also boycotted and sanctioned Fiji.

Little wonder then that PM Frank Bainimarama never showed up to the latest meeting….and boy has that ripped the undies of John Key.

Prime Minister John Key has called Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama out on his absence at the Pacific Islands Forum in Papua New Guinea.

The pair were scheduled to both attend PIF in Port Moresby this week but Bainimarama is a no-show and Key said “it would have been nice” if he had turned up.

Key acknowledged it was Bainimarama’s decision saying, “if he doesn’t want to come he doesn’t have to come”.

There are indications Bainimarama has been stirring up trouble by encouraging smaller Pacific states to thumb their noses at New Zealand and Australia this week.    Read more »

Another way to escape Wellington

Wellington is a cold, miserable hole. I know, I lived there for 10 years, suffered more like. I ended up with pleurisy the first winter I was there.

Well, now there is a new way to escape from Wellington…Fiji Airways.

Central New Zealanders can now say “Bula!” to Fiji Airways as their inaugural flight between Nadi and Wellington touched down at midday today.

The launch sees the beginning of a year round flight to one of New Zealand’s most popular holiday destinations with onwards connections to North America.

“A very warm welcome for Fiji Airways,” said Mayor Celia Wade-Brown. “This service provides direct links with the Pacific and offers a delightful opportunity for Fiji to be a stopover between Wellington and Los Angeles in either direction.”   Read more »

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Blunt talk by Bainimarama

I have long said that Fiji won’t take an active part in the Pacific Islands Forum.

After the way the Forum, at the behest of Australia and New Zealand, treated Fiji it isn’t surprising.

Murray McCully and John Key though think otherwise.

Well a speech yesterday at the Novotel at Lami by Fiji PM Frank Bainimarama should disabuse them of that notion.

Firstly he makes a comment about bureaucracies.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again: we are not in the business of creating fat cat bureaucracies that waste our precious tax dollars. That is not the Pacific way. Our mantra must always be to do more for less, to create an organisation that is lean and efficient and that because of its integrity, enjoys the confidence and support of our development partners.

I know I don’t have to lecture you on this point. Because so many of you have always operated with scarce resources and know that this is no impediment to being effective. My own mantra in Fiji is that Government exists to deliver and to serve. And I urge you all to embrace the same values in the PIDF.

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Fiji’s push back continues

After years of being treated like recalcitrant children Fiji has finally started pushing back against Australia and New Zealand.

The Prime Minister of Fiji, Frank Bainimarama, has repeated his call for New Zealand to be kicked out of the Pacific region’s main decision-making body.

Mr Bainimarama’s foreign affairs minister told Australian officials on the weekend that either New Zealand or Australia should cease to be full members of the Pacific Islands Forum, the Australian reported.

If this did not occur, the Fijian Prime Minister wanted close ally China to be brought into the 16-member forum.

China is currently an observer and Bainimarama makes a fair point. Australia and New Zealand behaved appallingly in the past decade towards Fiji, we turned out backs on them, and it is little wonder they found new friends.

It is our fault that they are now very close with China.

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Is spying wrong?

Is spying wrong?

Well not when it is the left-wing doing it to political opponents, and using criminals to enable it.

But widely, no it is not. I almost never agree with Michael Field, especially over Fiji, but this may well be a watershed moment for both of us because I happen to agree with his column the other day about the spying revelation of Nicky Hager.

It is not paradise out there in the South Pacific and while our friendly neighbourhood might be democratic and understand rugby’s off-side rule, corruption, self-interest and idiocy stalks their capitals.

And dangerously surprising things like coups, civil war and mutinies happen, and they have a real and direct impact on New Zealand.

The Snowden Papers suggest spying in the South Pacific is something new, but the reality is that we have been spying on Pacific countries for decades.

Back in 1914 London asked New Zealand soldiers to invade German Samoa. We said yes, but asked if they could give us some details of German defences. London replied we would look it up in an encyclopaedia.

These days acting like that is not on.

Time-shift to today and pick a Pacific country that suddenly finds itself with people being killed, buildings on fire and assorted bad people breaking into police armouries – as happened in the Solomon Islands.

New Zealand’s Special Air Service was on the way to save lives – what are they expected to do for useful intelligence, Google it?

As open as Pacific states can seem to be, it takes specialist knowledge and focus to know who the real players are.

Mobile phone metadata does not provide that.

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The delusions of the left

Greg Presland writes at The Standard:

 I wondered about this because I have spent time in Western Samoa and Rarotonga since 2009 and I used local telecommunications to keep up with work and politics in Aotearoa.  The thought that this information has been sent to the Americans is somewhat scary.

What planet are these morons on?

He is scared that his innocuous communications as the trustee of David Cunliffe secret donation laundering fund might have been sent to the Americans? Or ringing his flea law office to see if another divorce case has walked in the door?

The man, if you can call him that is deluded.

No one, let alone the Americans are interested in his communciations.

Hells teeth, everyone knows I supported Frank Bainimarama and that I went to Fiji three times in two years to meet and understand the political situation in the land of my birth.

Did I communicate with people on the phone or internet about it?  Of course I did.

Am I worried the GCSB might have listened in and passed my brilliant political analysis of the situation in Fiji onto the Americans or shock horror to John Key? No I am not. I doubt anyone cares.   Read more »

Why are the Aussies surprised at their snubbing in Fiji?

It seems the Aussies are still up to their old tricks.

This morning’s Fiji Sun has a story which may give us an insight as to what awaits NZ and how we will handle what is likely to be the same treatment at  the Waitangi Day celebrations next week in Suva.

Top Government and Judiciary members conspicuously stayed away from the Australia Day celebrations in Suva last night.

It underscored continuing concerns in Suva over attitudes of Australian diplomats here, including High Commissioner Margaret Twomey, well informed sources said.

Among those not at the high commission’s function were Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum and Chief Justice Anthony Gates.

All were invited and all were in town.

It came at the end of a day when Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop had warmly praised Fiji in a message published only by the Fiji Sun. But in marked contrast High Commissioner Twomey same time barely mentioned Fiji in a message published by both daily newspapers.

This reemphasised concerns of a chasm in attitude towards Fiji. This is between the warmth of Ms Bishop – potentially Australia’s next Prime Minister – and hardline bureaucrats and diplomats working in the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

These are the people who drove the now widely discredited failed Australian policy of trying to isolate Fiji.   Read more »