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.  

Questions are being asked about whether these attitudes have changed at the high commission and the role Ms Twomey is playing in this since her arrival from Canberra.

An example is Chief Justice Gates, whose judiciary was a major victim of the isolate Fiji policy. He is believed to have been sent an invitation which addressed him as “Mr Gates”. That is without the honorifics of his position. In terms of protocol that is regarded as a significant slap in the face.

The high commission also continues to snub such senior figures as Director of Public Prosecutions Christopher Pryde, a New Zealander, and prominent Australians who have worked for the Bainimarama Government. These include Sharon Smith-Johns, the former Permanent Secretary for Information.

Such a continuing generally high handed attitude from the high commission is said to be causing growing offence.

There are also questions over the high commission’s local media strategies.

Local media were told last night’s event was closed to the media. But Fiji Times general manager/publisher Hank Arts was seen driving into the walled high commission compound on Princes Road to attend.

The former local communications specialist at the high commission, the now retired Dennis Rounds, has been negative about the Bainimarama Government on social media.

His successor, Mere Nailatikau, is the daughter-in-law of Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) leader Ro Teimumu Kepa.

[..]

Ms Bishop, gave a glowing account of Fiji’s progress in her Australia Day Message in the Fiji Sun.

She said: “Fijian people have much to celebrate – the successful recent elections, their nation’s impressive economic growth and its expanding regional and international presence.”

She said Australia and Fiji “are natural partners.”

“Our histories and people are intertwined,” she said. Ms Bishop said Australia was committed to being a partner in Fiji’s economic growth.

Her statement was in stark contrast to the low-key message by Ms Twomey, the Australian High Commissioner to Fiji. She said the celebrations were a time “when we reflect on the past couple of centuries of our recorded history. And it is about confidence: about the strength of our nationhood will carry us there, as it has through other challenging times.”

The new Aussie High Commissioner Margaret Twomey is deeply unpopular with the Fijian government as a result of a number of incidents.

It appears that the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is conducting its own foreign policy with respect to Fiji.

Australia shouldn’t really be surprised about the snubbing after the way they have treated Fiji in recent years and with the ongoing meddling of the their High Commissioner in domestic politics.

Let’s hope NZ is not going to follow suit.

To add insult to injury Fijian PM Frank Bainimarama attended India’s 66th Republic Day celebrations…I guess Fiji has finally learned who their international friends are.

fijisun

– Fiji Sun

 


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

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