Pacific needs Australia to stop obfuscating on climate change
‘I'm glad we took a chance on Papua New Guinea’

‘Aussies keep saying China will take over. Guess why?’ - Fiji PM

New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern with Frank Bainimarama
New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern with Frank Bainimarama (Mick Tsikas)

KATE LYONS | Guardian Australia | Extract

FUNAFUTI - Scott Morrison has been accused of causing an extraordinary rift between Australia and Pacific countries by the prime minister of Fiji, who said the Australian prime minister’s insulting behaviour while at the Pacific Islands Forum in Tuvalu would push nations closer to China.

In an exclusive interview with Guardian Australia after the conclusion of the forum, Frank Bainimarama, the prime minister of Fiji and a political heavyweight in the region, said Morrison’s approach during the leaders’ retreat on Thursday was “very insulting and condescending”.

“Yesterday was probably one of the most frustrating days I have ever had,” he said of the leaders’ retreat, which lasted for nearly 12 hours and almost broke down over Australia’s red lines on the climate crisis.

“After yesterday’s meeting I gathered [Morrison] was here only to make sure that the Australian policies were upheld by the Pacific island nations,” said Bainimarama.

“I thought Morrison was a good friend of mine; apparently not.

“The prime minister at one stage, because he was apparently [backed] into a corner by the leaders, came up with how much money Australia have been giving to the Pacific. He said: ‘I want that stated. I want that on the record.’ Very insulting.”

Bainimarama said the interaction with Morrison had made him so angry that when he watched rugby union’s Bledisloe Cup match on Saturday, he would be cheering for the All Blacks, despite being “a Wallabies fan from a long way back”.

Asked if Morrison’s approach might cause some Pacific leaders to look to China, which is locked in a battle for influence in the region with Australia, Bainimarama said: “After what we went through with Morrison, nothing can be worse than him.

“China never insults the Pacific. You say it as if there’s a competition between Australia and China. There’s no competition, except to say the Chinese don’t insult us.

“They don’t go down and tell the world that we’ve given this much money to the Pacific islands. They don’t do that. They’re good people, definitely better than Morrison, I can tell you that.

“The prime minister was very insulting, very condescending, not good for the relationship… They [Australians] keep saying the Chinese are going to take over. Guess why?” said Bainimarama, laughing. “You don’t have to be a high-school graduate to know that.”

Bainimarama said Morrison’s approach to negotiating was heavy-handed, with the Australian prime minister trying to force all the other leaders to sign on to Australia’s views.


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Ed Brumby

Scomo's patronising, paternal, pathetic attitudes towards our Pacific poros make me want to puke and make me feel ashamed to be an Australian.

Daniel Doyle

Well said, Corney. Morrison deserves all the odium being heaped upon him for his performance at the forum. However, it will be important to beware of the stench around yuan-coated diplomacy.

Diane Bohlen

To make things even worse the deputy prime minister further insulted the islanders by saying they can come here and pick fruit when their islands have gone under water.

Philip Fitzpatrick

Well said Corney.

Corney Korokan Alone

These are very strong words from the Fijian prime minister, Frank Bainimarama. The sentiments from the rest of the Pacific Islands leaders are also captured in his views from news read so far.

My own prime minister, James Marape, upon returning from Tuvalu acknowledged that "there is a climate change crisis in the region". He further stated that he "will be vocal about it when he attends the United Nations General Assembly meeting in September this year".

Australia or any other so-called leader of the free world must know that Pacific Islands people value relationships.

We are also observant. With the advent of Internet service, all the information is readily available. We can see what is fluff and what is genuine.

The days of corporate media controlled messaging soundbites are over. Unadulterated news are coming from individuals everywhere who are fulfilling their global citizenship responsibilities.

Like everyone else, we pay more attention to actions than any fluff around "this is our turf" dogma.

That patch dogma must match your kangaroo pouch for Pacific Islands people to feel more accommodated and genuinely cared for.

In this meeting, it's crystal clear that, your views and attempted bullying are sponsored expressions from the pouch of the coal and fossil industry. Period.

Your expressed clear disdain for the legitimate views of the Pacific Islands leaders (equally doubled down by your ill-informed and shameful shallow views from your deputy prime minister In Australia) whose people are sinking and dying were painful and heart wrenching to watch and read.

Thinking, intelligence and value judgement abilities are not the exclusive commodity for the Atlantic alliance, OECD or any so-called made it already camp.

Human beings, irrespective of their social, economic standing in the sea or the stratosphere are endowed by this inalienable right to think and react accordingly.

Klannisation and colonisation will not cut it any more in the beloved Pacific Islands.

Some re-thinking and real Pacific Islands embrace is in order. Otherwise, the stench around dollar-coated diplomacy will no longer wash on the 21st century Pacific Islands turf.

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