Key still tone deaf over Fiji relations

John Key is feeling the chill wind coming from Fiji over his recent ill-informed statements regarding Fiji, in particular his comments over democracy and also letting ratbag lying journalists return to visiting Fiji.

Prime Minister John Key says it’s time for New Zealand to “let bygones be bygones” and normalise the relationship with Fiji, despite ongoing concerns about the country’s transition to democracy.

It’ll be the first time a New Zealand Prime Minister has gone to Fiji in a decade. Then military leader Frank Bainimarama took power in a coup in 2006, the fourth since 1987 for the Pacific island nation.

“Those warm diplomatic relations were broken off by Helen Clark when they had the military coup and we followed up with all of that,” Mr Key told More FM this morning.

“But they’ve had elections now, and I sort of felt I guess as the bigger side of the relationship we should put our best foot forward and go up there.”

Yes you should, and it’s good to hear that you are accepting that the issue lies with New Zealand and not with Fiji.

Some Kiwi reporters are still banned from the country — a touchy subject Mr Key said he’d bring up, but doesn’t expect to be resolved immediately.

“People often don’t want to admit that they’re wrong or don’t want to change immediately.”

Sometimes I really wonder about John Key. He starts off well then ends up making a stupid statement like that, telling the Fijian’s they are wrong and he is right.  

Mr Key will also take a look at New Zealand’s contribution to the post-Cyclone Winston reconstruction effort. Forty-four people were killed and 40,000 homes destroyed in February when Winston made landfall, the strongest tropical cyclone to do so in recorded history.

“We’re the friends they turn to when the going gets tough,” says Mr Key. “We’re not going to condone military coups, but that’s behind us now. We should look forward, not back.”

We should look forward, unfortunately to a large extent there is no way the former relationship can ever be restored. The colonial attitudes of Australia and New Zealand are not wanted, nor is a patronising attitude. Fiji changed under Bainimarama, they were forced to leave an abusive relationship and look for other world partners…they found them and that is the major failing of New Zealand’s and Australia’s foreign policy regarding Fiji.

Prof Ratuva says New Zealand was “very, very quick” to offer help following Winston, unlike China and Russia, which have been trying to extend their influence in the Pacific, perhaps at New Zealand’s expense.

“Russia recently signed a military agreement with Fiji for further military aid in the future, and China has been providing lots of aid, and Fiji is very strategically located and one of the reasons why the two powers have been focusing on Fiji,” he says.

“It’s important for New Zealand to try and balance these out. New Zealand’s influence in the Pacific has been waning in recent years, particularly when Fiji has been trying to mobilise against New Zealand’s membership of the Pacific Islands Forum…this visit is very important in terms of sorting out some of those geopolitical difficulties.”

We can’t match China and Russia or even India, we ceded that influence over petulant foreign policy that had no effect whatsoever on events in Fiji. That is a fail.

Another purpose of Mr Key’s visit could be to win the country’s vote for Ms Clark in her bid to become Secretary-General of the United Nations. Prof Ratuva says with Fiji offering a candidate for President of the General Assembly, it’s in both countries’ interests to get along.

Fiji will never support Helen Clark. She has a worse reputation than Barbara Dreaver in Fiji.

I fear John Key is rocking to Suva thinking he will be treated and welcomed like the rock star he thinks he is. The Fijians will be polite, because they are, but they will be sniggering behind their hands.

My sources in Fiji tell me that they are not happy with Key’s pronouncements over recent days. The visit will be perfunctory and diplomatic but nothing more.


– Newshub

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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.

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