5 Oct 2011

Lowy Institute academic hits back at critic of Fiji poll

4:23 pm on 5 October 2011

An academic at the Lowy Institute has hit back at the Australian government's criticism that its recent poll in Fiji is flawed.

The Sydney-based think tank's Jenny Hayward-Jones says unless there is clear evidence that the more than one thousand people surveyed felt intimidated and lied about their true feelings, there is no reason to dismiss the poll.

The poll found the leader of the Fiji regime Commodore Frank Bainimarama has good support from two thirds of those surveyed.

Australia's Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs, Richard Marles, says it was absurd to commission the poll, given Fiji's circumstances.

"We're talking about a situation where there is a repressive regime where there are human rights being removed and in these circumstances you're sitting at home, a stranger comes and knocks on the door and asks you about your opinion about the government . I think it's pretty hard to imagine people are going to be able to express that opinion freely so I think the science underpinning the poll is ridiculous."

Australia's Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs, Richard Marles.

Jenny Hayward-Jones says people could have refused to take part in the poll but the refusal rate was less than five per cent.