2 Sep 2015

Bainimarama accuses Canberra of undermining PIDF

2:37 pm on 2 September 2015

Fiji's Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama has accused Australia of undermining the Pacific Islands Development Forum.

The Pacific Islands Development Forum  Summit in Suva. Sep 2015

The Pacific Islands Development Forum Summit in Suva Photo: PIDF

He was speaking to delegates gathered for the opening of the Forum in Suva on Wednesday.

The Forum was set up by Fiji three years ago for discussions on sustainable development among Pacific leaders, civil society and business.

It has been seen as a response to Fiji's suspension from the more established regional agency, the Pacific Islands Forum.

Mr Bainimarama told the gathering it is time for the Australian Government to stop undermining the PIDF by actively lobbying regional governments and regional leaders not to attend.

He reiterated the PIDF is a complementary grouping and because of its inclusiveness has influenced reform at the older agency whose members meet in Port Moresby next month.

Fiji has been reinstated but Mr Bainimarama is refusing to attend because of the membership of Australia and New Zealand.

"Fiji has long maintained the need for that reform to go a stage further. For those members of the PIF who are not Small Island Developing States to step back from the table and allow us to determine our own agenda and chart our own course. Free from the undue influence of larger powers who are not Pacific Small Island Developing States and whose interests are not always our own, as in the case of Australia in the battle against climate change," he said.

Fiji's Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama speaking at the Opening Ceremony of the 3rd PIDF Summit.Sep 2015

Fiji's Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama speaking at the Opening Ceremony of the 3rd PIDF Summit. Photo: PIDF

PIDF to sign Suva Declaration on climate change

Mr Bainimarama says Pacific island countries are gearing up for their biggest struggle yet in convincing industrial nations to set deep and binding cuts in carbon emissions at the upcoming climate change summit in Paris.

He says he had hoped Australia would have done better in its target of reducing emissions by between 26 and 28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

"I have a simple message today for the Australian Prime Minister: Mr Abbott, it is time to put the welfare and survival of your Pacific Island neighbours before the expansion of your existing coal industry and your continuing reliance on this dirtiest of energy sources. The other day, the President of Kiribati, His Excellency Anote Tong, described Australia's loyalty to coalmines as selfish and I couldn't agree more."

Mr Bainimarama says the PIDF has never been stronger and would this week sign the Suva Declaration which he described as a common position on climate change to take to Paris.

He also said it was high time for a global debate on how to deal with climate refugees.

He announced an offer by Fiji to host a separate section within the Attorney General's Department to evaluate the legal challenges around climate migration.

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