31 Oct 2011

Vanuatu compensation claim for blackbirding deemed inappropriate

9:09 am on 31 October 2011

The president of a group representing Ni-Vanuatu in Australia says planned claims of compensation from Australia for so-called blackbirding are ludicrous.

A Vanuatu delegation recently visited historical sites in Queensland connected to the 19th century trade, which involved mostly young Vanuatu men being enticed to work in Australia and was paramount to slavery.

The Vanuatu Australia Connections president, Daniel Awiyawi, says a delegation member, Vanuatu's justice minister Ralph Regenvanu, made claims for reparations.

"He's barking up the wrong tree. He's got his head in the sand. He said we should get more aid and all the rest of it. What does he think Australia has been doing for the last 20, 30 years? Also New Zealand. These guys are treading a very dangerous line and they're making it bad for everyone. They really need to take stock of what they're saying."

The Vanuatu Australia Connections president, Daniel Awiyawi.

He says the trip was marred by threats made by one of the organisers of the trip, Vanuatu opposition MP, David Abel, to a young woman in the delegation.

Mr Awiyawi says Mr Abel threatened that if the woman, his secretary, didn't marry him he would burn down her church in Vanuatu with her family in it.