11 May 2011

Think tank says Australia's Fiji policy fails in democracy drive

3:06 pm on 11 May 2011

A report by an Australian policy think tank says the country's policy towards Fiji has failed to promote democracy and could be undermining Canberra's role in the region.

The Lowy Institute report says Australia needs to focus more on building relationships and supporting democracy rather than what it calls increasingly hollow demands for early elections.

It says Fiji has started to look towards other diplomatic partners, like China, Indonesia and the Non-Aligned Movement.

The report's author, Jenny Hayward-Jones, says Australia and New Zealand should join up with those countries.

"The likes of Indonesia and Malaysia, India, South Korea, who are interested in Fiji, to offer a package of assistance to Fiji to help it meet its 2014 agenda and put the pressure back on Bainimarama to live up to that promise. We've not seen any indication that those elections are going to be held in 2014, no preparations have been made, there's very few signposts evident that those elections will happen."

Jenny Hayward-Jones says Australia should also stop blocking Fiji from the PACER-Plus trade negotiations to allow some regional cooperation with Fiji.