New Aussie PM: Implications for Fiji; Blog Misinformation: Fiji NOT Left Commonwealth

See end for Weekend reading.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK. The deputy general secretary of Fiji's Methodist Church, Reverend Tevita Banivanua, said that in his own personal opinion the best place for the minister who predicted the disaster is a mental hospital. Radio Australia. Bainimarama said something similar before the doomsday date?

The Australian Labor Government's mini-coup that saw 48-year old lawyer Julia Gillard (photo)  become Australia's first woman PM when she replaced 53-year old lawyer Kevin Rudd came out of the blue, but  it is unlikely to produce any more surprises, at least for the Pacific. This is the view of Myer Foundation/Lowy Institute think-tank researcher Lisa Roberts:

“With regard to Australia’s relationship with Pacific Island states, we believe it will be business as usual. Ms Gillard will take on the role of chair of the Pacific Island Forum. Rudd did little in his time as chair, so we hope that Gillard will use the last couple of months that Australia is chairing the Forum more proactively." But she was talking about the stalled Pacific Island guest worker scheme, not about doing some deep thinking about Australia's more deeply stalled policy on Fiji.

Murdoch-owned The Australian Asia-Pacific editor, Rowan Callick, agrees. He said the new PM does not have a great knowledge of Pacific issues (what's new!), but is a bright person who can pick things up as she needs to.

“It’s hard to see any change there. I mean we have got a huge amount of change there. We have got a huge amount tied up into AUSAID and a big commitment to RAMSI in Solomon Islands so there won’t be any change.The commitment will be there. But these things take time to build up political understanding and interest.” He made no mention of Fiji (it probably doesn't qualify receiving so little AUSAid money) and he was unsure whether she will chair the Forum meeting in August. 

He seems to be saying the new broom will do nothing on Fiji until she is properly "groomed."We can but hope that she is not. She's the first woman Australian PM. She is unmarried. And as far as we can tell is so far uninfluenced by prospective "grooms."

PACIFIC CONFRENCE OF CHURCHES WELCOMES GILLARD APPOINTMENT.The Gen.Sec.of the PCC  says Julia Gillard's appointment as Prime Minister of Australia is a great opportunity for the Australian Government to re-engage with the Pacific. He said a lot of damage was done by the previous government to Australia's relationships in the Pacific.

Blog should check facts before publishing mischevious nonsense. 
"The Queen was in a furious passion, and went stamping about, and shouting 'Off with his head!'" --Alice in Wonderland.

The Anti-Government blog Fiji Today has a heading "Fiji Quits Commonwealth? First step towards our own Cuba" that speculates on the implications of Fiji joining the Non-Aligned Movement. It writes:  "This means that Fiji is no longer part of the Commonwealth ... The movement is an intergovernmental organisation of states who are not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc. Fiji cannot be a member of both groups. Fiji Today believes that the majority of Fijians are not ready to lose their Queen and this decision, without consultation, would not happen in a democratic society  ....(and) Fijian soldiers are no longer eligible for recruitment into the British army." What nonsense! My rough count shows NAM to have 32 Commonwealth members, including PNG, Vanuatu and now Fiji from the Pacific. See the member list.

LOYAL ROYALIST has left a new comment on your post "False Prophet, Non-Aligned Fiji, Pacific Hub for ...":  An interesting point has been raised by Fiji Today site. Fiji must quit the Commonwealth to be a member of the Non aligned nations.Fiji cannot belong to both as one of the blocks that are aligned is the Commonwealth block. If Fiji has left the Commonwealth then the citizens of Fiji need to be told. Reply: See above.

CHEQUE FROM CHINESE. The Minister for Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Civil Aviation, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola received a cheque of US$50,000 from the Peoples Republic of China. The cheque was presented by H.E. Han Zhiqiang Ambassador of China.Ambassador Han Zhiqiang of the People’s Republic of China in a show of support to Fiji’s preparation to host the MSG-PLUS  Summit next month handed over the to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola.

WEEKEND READING: Allen Lockington column, FemLinkPacific on Women and Poverty, My interview with Parmesh Chand on Public Sector reforms (Part 1),  Reserve Bank assistance to Small Businesses.


Royal Blue said…
Hapless scaremongering! HM The Queen as Head of the Commonwealth presides over a number of Non-Aligned Nations. What is so odd about that? India is a Member of the Commonwealth, a Republic and Mr Nehru founded the Non-aligned Movement. Further, the Royal Commonwealth Society of Fiji is in existence and held an AGM last year (with a permit). Fiji is suspended from the Councils of the Commonwealth at Government level: a curious but useful device?
Anonymous said…
It appears that Fiji Today has pulled their head in and removed the crap story.
Joe said…
Ms Gillard should take a good look at Fiji under a different light, and address this issue accordingly. I hope that she is mindful of the fact that there is a huge chunk of ex Fijians in Oz who are voters, and each one of those has at least 10 sympathetic friends on an average. I dont expect Julia to support an allegedly illegal military govt outright, but look at realities on the ground. Get rid of Stephen Smith, because he has no bloody idea. Kerry O'Brien's suggestion of Rudd as foreign minister is even worse.
I heard on the news today that Ms Gillard supports the US on the Afghan war. If she can support a country that destroyed Iraq on false pretence, ie WMD, or Pakistan, a breeding ground for terrorists, is Fiji a friend or foe?
The Fijian community is waiting to hear Ms Gillard out before placing a tick in the right box.
Royal Blue said…
The originators of the Fiji Today story were never supporters of the Commonwealth and they were ably assisted by the pro-Republican Fiji Times in their anti-Commonwealth stance. The Fiji Times never failed in the past ten years or so to propagate anti-Commonwealth sentiment through its negative reporting. Even recently (last week)they had the discourtesy to ask: "Is She still gracious"? Referring to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth in a disrespectful manner by using a pronoun in lieu of a noun in a headline. Not something Fowler's Modern English Useage (just revised) would have recommended and a poor example to all for whom English is a second language. This reflects badly on the Fiji Times and the standard of editing applied even under censorship. Editors past will be turning in their graves.
New face, same policy said…
Nothing will change in Australia's attitude to Fiji. And it will be even worse if, as many now expect, Kevin Rudd replaces Stephen Smith as foreign minister. As a foreign policy wonk and control freak, it was Rudd who was the ultimate architect of Australia's policy on Fiji. He doesn't even want to try to analyse the subtleties and never has. So don't expect change now.
Anonymous said…
Funglius Said ...

Guys .. nothing is going to change with regard to Australia's policy to Fiji. It would not be in the top 20 things either party considers. As for voters who are fijian: If they're in Australia they're going to vote for Australian issues not whats going on in Fiji. They did leave the place for a reason.
Joe said…
It only takes a mere 1%-3% swing to unseat a sitting member in Oz. There is no such thing as a safe seat, eg Ind/Fij communal, as in Fiji. For Julia Gillard, every vote counts. If Peter Costello was the Liberal Party leader, she would have no chance whatsoever. Tony Abbot is not an alternative unfortunately.

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