Fiji, Oz, bury the hatchet

AUSTRALIA and Fiji are 'family' again after Scott Morrison's visit to the Pacific, ending a diplomatic freeze in place since a 2006 military coup.
Fiji, Oz, bury the hatchet Fiji, Oz, bury the hatchet Fiji, Oz, bury the hatchet Fiji, Oz, bury the hatchet Fiji, Oz, bury the hatchet

Prime Minister Charlot Salwai

Staff Reporter

Even a row over the citizenship of terrorist Neil Prakash could not derail Morrison's meeting with Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, Nine News and AAP report.
The pair announced a "vuvale" agreement - named after the Fijian word for family - covering economic, security, cultural and sporting support.
"It's clear now more than ever that we can put this behind us in the past, letting bygones be bygones," Bainimarama told reporters in Suva yesterday.
A key plank of the agreement is allowing Fijian workers to access Australia's Pacific Labour Scheme, which brings workers into rural areas for up to three years.
"We believe these programs can really provide support to both skill Fijian workers, who will have the opportunity to work in Australia, but also share those skills when they come back and work in Fiji," Morrison said.
Australia will also spend $84 million training Fijian teachers, and $17 million sending 1000 hours of new Australian television programming each year to Pacific TV networks.
Melbourne-born Prakash has a Fijian father but Fiji says he is not a citizen.
"This matter had already been dealt with before our meetings today," Morrison told reporters.
Morrison also brushed off former Pacific minister Concetta Fierravanti-Wells' questions about why Australia would saddle Pacific nations with more debt.
Australia has announced a $2 billion Pacific infrastructure loan fund, but Fierravanti-Wells said Island nations already owed $5.5 billion to banks and China.
"I don't agree with the perspective that she's offered," Morrison said.
"That facility is made up of two components - $A500 million in grants, not loans and $1.5 billion in concessional finance."
Senator Fierravanti-Wells said overseas aid funding should be used instead of loans. Australian aid funding has dropped to its lowest level ever under the coalition government.
As part of the vuvale agreement, Australia will contribute to the travel costs of a Fijian team in a NSW rugby league competition in 2020, and the Fijian netball team's travel to the July World Cup in the United Kingdom.
Earlier in the week, Morrison ministerial assistant for the Pacific, Anne Rushton,  visited Vanuatu which the first time an Australian prime minister has been to the country since Bob Hawke attended the Pacific Islands Forum meeting in 1990.
Morrison said his first international engagements of the year reflect the depth of Australia's commitment to their Pacific neighbours, Radio New Zealand International reported.
He said Australia enjoyed a close relationship with Vanuatu and he looked forward to working with Prime Minister Charlot Salwai to reinforce Australia as Vanuatu's economic, development and security partner of choice.


  • NEW: Digital version of PNG Report magazine - View here
  • Porgera: Barrick-PNG talks go on - Read more
  • Follow the companies investing in the PNG market - Read more

Most read Regions