26 Feb 2013

Rabuka warns of Australia's waning role in Fiji

6:14 pm on 26 February 2013

A former Fiji prime minister, Sitiveni Rabuka, has told a Sydney conference that Australia will lose its political and strategic influence in Fiji if it doesn't restore diplomatic relations as soon as possible.

Mr Rabuka says Asian powers, such as China, are building new relationships with Fiji while Australia hid behind a wall of political correctness.

He says while the past 25 years of the Australia-Fiji relationship has been strained and dominated by isolationism and a diplomatic feud, Australia must realise that the longer the isolation, the more difficult the restoration.

Links have been strained since the 2006 military coup in Fiji, after which Australia imposed travel sanctions.

Professor Richard Herr, from the Centre for International and Regional Affairs at the University of Fiji, has told the conference that Australia has lost the plot about regional security.