Natadola Waves Roll On

PHILIPPA MACDONALD REPORTS ON NATADOLA.  Listen to the ABC interview on what she said.

.  The PM says NZ will do "whatever it takes" to help Fiji towards elections in 2014 but doesn't expect the Forum to readmit Fiji until there's signs of movement towards elections. With an oblique reference to Australia, he said our Embassy staff did nothing to undermine the MSG Plus meeting that should have taken place in Fiji last week, and for which the Engage with Fij meeting was a replacement.  I'm all with you, Prime Minister.  Your first step could be to relax the Travel Ban so that it only applies to the upper levels of the executive and military. This would be one up against the Wallabies before we meet them at the weekend.

. This is how Australian seasoned media commentator Keith Jackson, whose website seeks to stengthen Aust-PNG relations,  views the scene following Natadola.

Australia's benign neglect of its own backyard – the island states of the south-west Pacific – has come back to bite it. That neglect is all the more noticeable given the initial enthusiasm with which the Rudd government approached the job of rebuilding bridges with the region after its election in 2007.

Why the commitment waned is debatable. Perhaps there were bigger items on the diplomatic agenda. Perhaps it was a way of Australia expressing distaste for various developments in the region – like corruption and misgovernance. Perhaps it was a sign of Australia rethinking a failing approach. Perhaps it was sheer incompetence.

Whatever, this cooling of enthusiasm was seen tangibly in the government’s failure to appoint a new Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs. In 2007 this had been an innovative and creative move. By 2009 it was dead.

Duncan Kerr had been a committed and energetic appointee. When he announced his retirement from the job, for reasons that are now unclear, no replacement was announced.

At the weekend, Fiji’s illegal military regime for the first time won international support for its coup. Late Friday, at the conclusion of Frank Bainimarama's summit in Suva, the heads of the governments of PNG, the Solomons, Kiribati, Tuvalu, East Timor and five other Pacific states signed a communique which endorsed Bainimarama's eight-year ‘road map’ for a return to democracy. The communique, issued late on Friday, agreed that the road map was a credible home-grown process for positioning Fiji as a modern nation and to hold "true democratic elections".

Rowan Callick reports in today’s The Australian that this raises the prospect that next week’s Pacific Islands Forum leaders' summit will be asked to lift the suspension of Fiji from the Forum. Along with Samoa, Australia and New Zealand have been the most consistent supporters of the suspension.Australia has not yet decided whether it will attend the Forum meeting. Foreign Minister Stephen Smith – who’s making a real mess of his regional diplomacy - said he would decide whether to attend "in the context of the [Australian election] campaign". Meanwhile, Fiji is making hay of its diplomatic outmanoeuvring of Australia and New Zealand.[abbreviated]

MAY VISITOR ARRIVALS SET NEW RECORD.  The latest figures released show the country hosted
more than 45,000 visitors in May, and international visitors for the five months to May totalled over 216,000, a 22% increase on the same period last year. The results were bouyed by an especially  strong performance from the Australian market.


Is tourism booming? said…
I'm confused. You report that tourism figures are boomin? Why then is Air Pacific going broke, resorts are closing and no one is making money? Doesn't sound like a successful business plan to me?
My son and his family just came back from a holiday in Fiji. I cannot believe how cheap it was. He almost got paid to go there? He demanded discounts on everything and got it.
Anonymous said…
...actually no. They didn't endorse the coup. What they said was the plan from today to 2014 is credible. By which they implied nothing much has happened in the first four years of military power.

In 12 months time it will be interesting to see how they work out what has been acheived, what milestones have been met ?

The military have finally got what they want - someone to give then a tick. Even if they had to go to all efforts to get it and it is given in Pacific Speak - eg you don't offend your neighbours especially when you are in there their house.
Anonymous said…
More tourism propaganda

If anyone is interested in looking at Tourism in Fiji look at the numbers over a longer period. The coup in 2006 set the industry back 5 years. Forget these selected figures.
. said…
@ More tourism propaganda ... I suggest you provide the figures and your interpretation of what they mean? Leaving readers to look them up, leaves them reliant on your innuendo: the Bainimarama government is responsible for all Fiji's economic woes.
Proud Fijian said…
Most comments here are propaganda.

Air Pacific broke
Resorts are closing
Noone is making money
the coup set the tourism indusrty back 5 years

Imagine if this people are allowed to broadcast on Waqatairewas proposed radio transmitter funded by Murdoch.

Remember how almost a million Tutsi were massacred by the Hutus with radio broadcasted propaganda.
snoopy said…
Air Pacific is struggling because of increased levls o competition. Although margins might not be as high as the hotels would like the tourism industry in Fiji is doing well.
Cicero said…
@ is tourism booming ?.....

I am not too sure that "my son and his family" are quite the tourists we would wish to have in Fiji: now or ever. "Demand" is not a word that goes down well in Fiji and builds resistance and consequences. Quite understandably. My own sons would never have been permitted to "demand a discount" and they were born in Fiji and respect our culture. It is this 'cultural disconnect' that is so disturbing between ourselves and our near neighbours. Try the Costa del Sol in Spain: see how that kind of insensitive and excessive behaviour has rendered the Spanish economy,
including tourism and investment, in difficulty and 20% unemployment.

Fiji does not need "pushy" visitors nor "pushy" erstwhile friends. We will do nicely with our own kind within and without the Pacific. The Japanese, Koreans, Indonesians and Chinese are inclined towards courtesy and cultural empathy as part of their upbringing. "When in Rome, do as the Romans do". A good maxim for what the people of Abhu Dabi are wont to call 'Travellers'. Yes, I think Fiji would do well in future with 'travellers'.
Anonymous said…
@ snoopy

Air Pacific is struggling because of a lot more than increased levels of competition: come clean! For years, Air Pacific has suffered from second-rate, second-class management, impeded in the main by politics which dictated that certain people were guaranteed advancement which was not on merit. This is known by all and sundry. Now that these people are being weeded out, the global economic downturn is dictating the pace and direction of Air Pacific. Fiji badly needs a dose of "ETIHAD" and an infusion of UAE standards and processes. Indeed, the entire Fiji Tourism Enterprise should be lifted up a notch or five and brought to a level at which "Travellers are Welcome" again. That is how Fiji was once perceived. We have so dumbed ourselves down to accommodate all manner of low-profit, lower case visitors. We do not need or want "tourists at any cost". Time to "Lift the Act", get rid of tainted money and tainted people associated with it. Air Pacific must find its own way in a total re-positioning. And never again, do we wish to accommodate visitors who "DEMAND DISCOUNTS".
sara'ssista said…
i don't accept any figures from this regime' as even they accept that there is no oversight by anyone, is this a bit like famine in north korea claiming to be a bountiful harvest??? No doubt there are tourists and no doubt they will still come, but the idea that we just accept whatever figures are plucked from the sky to reflect the actual position is highly amusing. This regime would not allow the reporting or anything else would it???

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