Pacific Scoop

Fiji expulsion of Australian, NZ envoys blamed on taped conversation

Fiji Broadcasting's expulsions report on its website today.

Fiji Broadcasting's expulsions report on its website today.

Pacific Scoop
By Pacific Media Centre news desk

UPDATED: The Fiji government’s expulsion order against Australian High Commissioner James Batley and  acting New Zealand High Commissioner Todd Cleaver has been blamed on taped information given by the Chief Justice Anthony Gates to Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, Radio Fiji reports.

Fiji Broadcasting Corporation News reported today that this information was a taped conversation between an Australian High Commission visa officer in Colombo and one Sri Lankan judicial officer applying to take up an appointment in the Fiji judiciary.

This follows a stinging public condemnation of Australia and New Zealand by Chief Justice Gates in which he gave a detailed account of alleged “interference” by both countries – particularly Australia – over Fiji’s judiciary.

The expulsion of Cleaver – he must leave the country by 7pm tonight – is the third such order against a New Zealand envoy by the Fiji regime since the December 2006 coup.

Former NZ High Commissioner Mike Green was expelled in June 2007 while his successor, acting High Commissioner Caroline McDonald, was ordered out of the country last December.

New Zealand responded by declaring Fiji’s Acting Head of Mission in Wellington, Kuliniasi Seru Savou, persona non grata and ordered him to leave New Zealand.

‘Negative campaign’
The regime said its expulsion orders were in retaliation for Australia and New Zealand’s “negative campaign”  against the people and government of Fiji.

Both countries reportedly added Fiji’s newly appointed judges from Sri Lanka to the list of regime people facing travel bans.

New Zealand has also also been severely criticised by Chief Justice Gates over its handling of the case of a Fiji judge trying to bring her daughter to New Zealand for urgent eye surgery.

They were eventually allowed to come to Auckland on humanitarian grounds after a media furore.

Bainimarama during the press conference last night. Photo: Radio Fiji

Bainimarama during the press conference last night. Photo: FBC

Fiji Broadcasting reported that Bainimarama revealed this tape recording at a press conference he called last night:

“I have told the Minister of Foreign Affairs to issue communications to the Australian and New Zealand governments that their respective heads of missions are to be recalled within 24 hours.

“I have also informed them our high commissioner (ambassador) in Australia is to be recalled with immediate effect.They misinform Canberra and Wellington and wage a negative campaign against the government and people of Fiji”.

Commodore Bainimarama also made known, among other reasons, why he has decided to expel the two high commissioners.

“Sri Lankan judges who have been appointed in the judiciary were told that they will not be able to travel through and to Australia because they have taken these positions.

“Again when this matter was highlighted in the media by the Chief Justice there were denials that visas have been refused by the Australian high commissions. However, we know that one of the Sri Lankan judges had the foresight to take the conversation and she was informed by the Australian officials in Colombo that travel sanctions will apply because she has taken a position in the Fiji judiciary.

“The confirmation of this incident displays a consolidated effort to attack Fiji’s independent judiciary. It also shows that the Australian and New Zealand government have been dishonest and untruthful over the matter of travel bans for judges”.

‘Damning evidence’

The “damning piece of evidence” against Australia that regime leader, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama was referring to “has been authenticated by FBC News to be the original conversation or the warnings given by the Australian visa officer to the Sri Lankan judicial officers over accepting appointments in Fiji’s judiciary”, the state-owned radio station has said on its website.

“This phone conversation clearly indicates that the Australian government has been lying and dragging its feet over the issuance of transit visas to the Sri Lankans,” the state-owned radio said.

The recording reportedly said:

“Individuals appointed to the Fiji judiciary regardless of citizenship, become subject to these travel sanctions and that obviously include yourself and individuals affected by travel sanctions cannot be allowed to travel to or through Australia although the travel sanctions policy is applied [inaudible] and visa application is considered on a case by case basis.

“We also understand that New Zealand sanctions apply definitely to people [inaudible] to the Fiji judiciary. As I said this is just a courtesy call just to let you know of the Australian policy towards Fiji in terms of travel sanctions … Australia [inaudible] is that, you know, there are [inaudible] concerns in the state of the Fiji’s judiciary.

“[Inaudible] of accepting judicial appointments, including the International Bar Association is chance that accepting a judicial appointment would be perceived that you’re condoning and supporting the military regime’s action. As I said, this is a decision for yourself as a person but as I have said, this is an advance warning of Australia’s travel sanctions.”

Chief Justices Gates’ condemnation of Australia, NZ
Fiji Broadcasting’s report on the tape recording

New Zealand’s response


  1. FOR FIJI EVER FIJI, 4. November 2009, 11:47

    Please take due note of the words “negative campaign against the People and the Government of FIji”. Yes, we the people of Fiji wish quite appropriately that our Court System should be free from interference both from without Fiji and from within. We have suffered from years of internal interference. Why would we choose to have outsiders interefere in the admfnistration of justice in Fiji? Our individual rights and the rights of our companies and investments in Fiji are to be preserved from undue influence. If it takes “an extraordinary statement” on the part of the Chief Justice to secure this. Then so be it.

  2. Leutele, 4. November 2009, 12:49

    You know from one Pacific Islander to another, these are the types of issues that call for natural respect of cultural boundaries. It is usually extremely difficult and sad when things like this happen from the Pacific Island Point of view because even us Pacific Island neighbours become silent because of being helpless and yet the loving is great. All Pacific Nations suffer from this as well. So I am not going to preach anything to anybody nor attempt to answer why or why not because I do not understand myself. All I know is that all Pacific Islands suffered tremendously from the past wars, colonisations and so forth. The evolution of the past historical events have taken its toll over the native folks. I beleive Fiji’s sufferings and impacts of the pass. People of Fiji and the Government currently have every right to do want they wish because the Fijian folks are the people of the land. But there is a catch unfortunately. As long as Fiji do not depend on international Aids for sustainable social, economic and environmental prosperity to improve your people’s quality life. Then you are okay and the outsiders will not bother you guys again. Its sad but that is the reality of life. Its the truth

    Best wishes and many blessings



  3. suva, 4. November 2009, 13:35

    Fiji is suffering at the hands of this BIAS judiciary. Biased towards a government that puts self interest before that of the ordinary concerns of its people.

    For the sake of our development and YES in fact, also for the sake of our sovereignity – i hope the Australians and the New Zealanders .. stand strong.

  4. Mike, 4. November 2009, 20:58

    4 Fiji, don’t pretend to speak for the nation. Just speak for yourself and your puppet master, the majority of the population do not support the illegal regime. If they want to dispute that point of view then they should go to the polls. How pathetic of the the dictator and his illegal cohorts to be screaming blue murder now. Aust and NZ had been transparent with their view and approach about immigration matters for those involved with the ilegal regime and good on them for doing so. How can Aiyaz and his puppet master claim that the judiciary is independent? Have they forgotten that they sacked the previous independent judiciary when it ruled against them?

  5. namadi, 6. November 2009, 2:11

    Mike there you go again ,where do you see that Aust/NZ being transparent and how do you know where the majority of the Fiji people are. I admit Fiji is not following normal procedure but i also see Aust interfering with Fiji’s internal affairs ,this is outrageous!!
    Fiji needs help from friends not enemies, as i hear a lot about Fiji getting aid but i only know of NGOs getting a few million. Fiji is living on their own industries. Wake up big bullies – this is the 21st century!!!

  6. Mike, 6. November 2009, 16:32

    Namadi, in what way are they interfering? Your puppet master knew very well about the travel ban that NZ & Australia have in place. For someone who is trying to win friends he has a funny way of showing it! What industries are you ranting on about, Fiji has never been an industrial nation? Try and inform yourself about the reality of your puppet masters action on the whole nation. It is the 21st century so please enlighten yourself with what the dictator had been up to, he has been caught yet again with his pants down about the reason for expelling those diplomats from Fiji. You’ve got the biggest bully sitting right next to you so don’t try and point a fingure at Aust & NZ.

  7. ganja, 7. November 2009, 18:47

    mike why dont u do smething den…….if u cant den just shut dat big mouth of yours….

  8. namadi, 7. November 2009, 19:42

    Mike what planet are you on ,did you not hear what the CJ had to say about Aust trying to bully the Sri Lankan so that they do not come to Fiji to work.Tell me who is the bully here???
    I think you have a strange way of looking at reality!
    Maybe it is normal for you to see what you want and make these hypocritical views!!!

  9. Mike, 7. November 2009, 21:35

    Namadi, what did the illegal CJ has to say this time? The Sri Lankan judges were told by Aust that they can travel to Fiji through Aust but once they started working for the illegal regime the travel ban will also apply to them, what is wrong with that? Aust and NZ can do whatever they want according to their immigration policies. At least they are consistent with their stance, unlike your puppet master’s knee jerk reaction to anything that he disagrees’ with. Have you ever asked why Fiji is recruting judges from Sri Lanka in the first place? Don’t bore me with your allegation of hypocracy.

    As for you Ganja, well, what can I say? Chill out my brother but thank you for your contribution.

  10. namadi, 8. November 2009, 17:50

    Mike here you go again,get your facts right the Sri Lankan had to travel via Korea to get to Fiji !Why did they go halfway round the world to get to Fiji and not the direct route to Fiji! Aust wanted to bully the Sri Lankan it is Colonial era thinking you are so brainwashed that you can’t see reality!!!
    Do you think the CJ is illegal that means the former CJ is legal this guy was involve in 2001 vote scam and the election process was a sham!
    The west accepts it so it is right what load of crap!!!
    I have asked you about the Fijian majority and you cannot answer me,
    they had vote on the peoples charter and 64% accepts it,i suppose this is illegal too!!!!!As for Fiji getting help from Sri Lanka it is their right as i told you earlier the legal profession is full of crooks like your friend Mr Sami!

  11. Mike, 8. November 2009, 20:57

    Namadi, please get your facts right before you start accusing others of being brainwashed! You are only legal if you are elected by the majority of the people. Justice Gates is not recognised anywhere else accept Suva, outside of that he is a crook. Someone who took advantage of the current situation to suit his purpose. Go back and read my post about the current majority and your allegation of the support your puppet master has right now. You just don’t get it do you? Do you have any idea how they achieved your claim of 64% about the charter? Was it conducted under a fair voting system or was it taken around to communities by soldiers in uniform? Is a voting scam a good enough excuse to overthrow an elected govt? Don’t waste my time on arguing about facts are already published that go against most of your argument. Enlighten yourself first with current events before you come back.
    Don’t worry about Mr Sami, you will never be half the man that he is.

  12. Mike, 9. November 2009, 22:39

    Please, try and stick to the topic Namadi. This is not a forum for personal attack and gutter politics. IQ level is a matter of opinion, take sometime and look back at your posting. You are begining to sound more and more like a coup apologist. I’m sure that the illegal dictator would be happy to have you as an advisor, you would fit right into the mix by the sound of your idiosyncratic rant.