25 Jul 2016

Academic urges caution over Fiji defence links

3:18 pm on 25 July 2016

A specialist in international defence relations Paul Sinclair says Australia and New Zealand should be wary of stepping up defence assistance to Fiji.

Last week a new Lowy Institute report which urges the two larger countries to rebuild defence ties particularly in light of Russia's arms deal with Fiji was released.

Mr Sinclair ran the New Zealand Defence Force's Mutual Assistance Programme at the time of coups in Fiji and said it was unwise for New Zealand to establish a defence relationship with Fiji so quickly after the 2014 election.

"I feel until we can be absolutely certain that the coup culture has disappeared out of Fiji, and I'm not that certain of that at the moment, I think we should step quite carefully in that regard."

Paul Sinclair said New Zealand should concentrate its efforts on humanitarian support rather than defence assistance and should also look at bolstering the Fiji police.

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