Red Tracy says the Fiji trip was a diplomatic disaster

John Key is definitely not going to be pleased with his Fiji trip.

Sadly it was all too predictable. The government has been misled for the better part of a decade over Fiji. National had a chance to distance themselves from the petulance of Helen Clark’s sanctions and rudeness but Murray McCully kept everything in place and the government lectured and hectored and made ultimatums to Fiji.

The Fijians ignored it all and set themselves on a path to true freedom, creating a new constitution, abandoning colonial institutions and systemic racism to create one Fiji for all Fijians irrespective of race.

The Media party and our government insisted a corrupt government elected by a corrupt electoral process be re-installed…because democracy. They keep on calling Bainimarama’s actions a coup, but in reality it was a revolution…not unlike that which England went through, or the United States…except without the bloodshed.

Don’t be fooled by the polite smiles shared by John Key and Frank Bainimarama as they greeted each other on Friday morning.

Keys delegation would have been seething over the Fijian prime minister’s extraordinary diplomatic slapdown at an official state dinner in Suva on Thursday evening.

Bainimarama used the speech – and the rare presence of New Zealand media – to rehash 10 years worth of personal grievances against New Zealand and Australia and deliberately embarrassed Key by publicly demolishing some of his talking points for their Friday meeting, including restrictions on the press.

It didn’t go unnoticed either that Bainimarama was hardly effusive in his acknowledgement of New Zealand’s assistance during Cyclone Winston, our biggest ever post World War II deployment.

If a picture can speak a thousand words it was visible on the blank faces of those seated at the top table with Key, a group which included some of his closest advisors and Foreign Minister Murray McCully.

Key and McCully have only themselves to blame. No one in the government has ever bothered to actually find out what is going on in Fiji. I’ve been warning them for years, hell’s teeth I even told Tim Groser once over dinner that the way they were handling Fiji would backfire. The arrogance of his reply has stayed with me ever since.

They could already see the headlines about Key’s trip turning into a diplomatic disaster.

If that has been averted it is solely down to Key, rather than his Fijian counterpart.

Key restrained himself from retaliating in his response and kept things deliberately light, focusing on the close ties between the two countries.

But there was none of the previous evening’s kava cheer when the two met up Friday morning for their formal meeting at the Fiji parliament. The atmosphere seemed cool when they later delivered brief statements to media.

The atmospherics inside the cabinet room where they met is said to have been decidedly warmer. So maybe Bainimarama’s stony face was due to the presence of New Zealand media.

Things only lightened up when the pair exchanged sporting memorabilia as gifts.

But if hopes were high ahead of Key’s visit for some diplomatic wins, maybe agreement from Bainimarama to re-engage with the Pacific Forum, those hopes were dashed.

Bainimarama, a fanatical rugby fan, clearly favours the offensive play book for his diplomatic moves.

New Zealand has hamstrung and blocked progress in Fiji for decades, they are now free of that and so John Key should have gone to Fiji in the spirit of true reconciliation, instead he went continuing the lectures.

He got one in return for his efforts. And Fiji has stated loud and clear that they won’t be pushed around any longer by New Zealand, and unless they are treated on the same footing as any other country then don’t expect the official relations between both countries to be anything other than frosty.

The realpolitik of McCully and successive governments just got pwnd.


– Fairfax

Do you want:

  • Ad-free access?
  • Access to our very popular daily crossword?
  • Access to daily sudoku?
  • Access to Incite Politics magazine articles?
  • Access to podcasts?
  • Access to political polls?

Our subscribers’ financial support is the reason why we have been able to offer our latest service; Audio blogs. 

Click Here  to support us and watch the number of services grow.

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.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.