1 May 2007

Australia refuses to ease Fiji post-coup bans

1:37 pm on 1 May 2007

The Australian government says it will not relax the travel bans placed on people from Fiji despite concerns from business groups that they are hampering economic recovery and a return to democracy.

Radio Legend quotes the Australian foreign minister, Alexander Downer, as saying the travel bans were put in place to make a point to those who wished to support what he describes as an illegal regime.

Mr Downer says if the Fiji - Australia Business Council wants the travel bans removed, it should be pressuring the interim prime minister to return Fiji to democratic rule.

Mr Downer says the sooner Fiji gets back on the road to democracy, the sooner the punitive measures will finish.

But, he says, they are not going to finish until there is a sense of responsibility and commitment to democracy in Fiji's interim administration.

The president of the Fiji - Australia Business Council, Caz Tebbutt-Dennis, has called on the Australian government to remove its sanctions which are hindering trade between the two countries.

She said she could not understand what the Australian leaders hope to achieve by placing sanctions on people who want to help Fiji recover.