14 Jul 2004

Australian trade unionist questions use of aid funds in Fiji

10:25 am on 14 July 2004

The Australian government is facing questions on whether its aid funds to Fiji are being used to fund education policies criticised as racist.

Fiji TV reports that the questions have been asked by the president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Sharan Burrow, in a letter to the foreign minister, Alexander Downer.

Ms Burrow has asked Mr Downer to explain the involvement of Australian aid-funded consultants in a programme to provide free Form 7 education only to indigenous Fijian students but not to those of other races.

She wants to know why public finds are being used in a way that will bring Australia into disrepute in relation to human rights in the Pacific.

Ms Burrow has called on Mr Downer to give an assurance that Canberra will not support measures favouring racial discrimination in Fiji's education system.