A visit by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to Fiji has caused much speculation about the future of Australian's relations with that Pacific islands nation. On 15 February 2014, she met with Prime Minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama who has been in charge of the military-backed government since a coup in late 2006.
Many have been left wondering what secrets their pleasant exchange might be hiding:
Her visit received a mixed reception on twitter. Ron Cato seems content with developments:
Hmm. Ice Queen Julie Bishop seems to have a warm glow in Fiji. Must agree with her. #auspol
— ron chato (@paddo_ron) February 15, 2014
Martin John Carter definitely favours the change:
Julie Bishop move – Good move! Fiji has a unique situation not of it's making. And they seem happy with things. http://t.co/7oB8wKE7EA
— martin john carter (@martinjohncart1) February 15, 2014
But others are antagonistic:
Julie Bishop first ignores the abuses of power in Nauru and now legitimises the military government of Fiji. We really are going backwards.
— DHKM (@KarlGlogauer) February 15, 2014
Greg Ross suspects a connection with Australia’s asylum seekers policies:
So did Bishop fly to Fiji as part of a plan to send boat people to Fiji? Watch for future loans & grants to Fiji from the Abbott government.
— Greg Ross (@GregWRoss) February 15, 2014
Keith Jackson who blogs at PNG Attitude has his own ideas about Australia’s motives:
Australia needs all the regional friends it can get MT "@dfat: FM Bishop & Fiji PM Bainimarama in historic meeting pic.twitter.com/ulgMIB62zg”
— Keith Jackson (@PNGAttitude) February 16, 2014
Keith also retweeted this addition to the asylum seeker theorizing:
Julie Bishop is normalising relations with Fiji because we now love autocratic Pacific dictatorships. Maybe they'll take some boats? #auspol
— George Brandishes QC (@GeorgeBrandisQC) February 15, 2014
At Pacific Scoop, Scott MacWilliam wonders about how easily old foes might be reconciled if there are democratic elections in Fiji:
Despite all their previous rhetoric about the need for Fiji to return to democracy, would Australia (and New Zealand) accept an electoral victory by their erstwhile enemy, no matter how this is achieved?
In the event of Commodore Bainimarama making a successful transition to elected prime minister, could he make a trip to Australia, and be photographed alongside Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Bishop and Immigration Minister Scott Morrison? Would the picture be attached to an account of how Fiji has now agreed to establish a detention centre, paid for by Australia with employment for surplus to requirements Fiji military personnel?
The Fiji Labour Party opposition has election concerns as well:
Labour leader says no level playing field in Fiji elections http://t.co/lgf2Y4WvZ8
— NewsHitterTeam (@N_H_Australia) February 15, 2014
As might be expected from the name, Fijileaks is very unimpressed by the thaw in relations:
Spineless Bunch: Voters and not Bishop will decide dictator's fate if and when Fiji goes to the polls! So ignor… http://t.co/KT3VDgCIna
— fijileaks (@fijileaks) February 16, 2014
At their link, they have some advice based on the foreign minister’s reported remarks:
The Gullible Her Holiness “Bishop”: “At the meeting, Commodore Bainimarama discussed the election process, and indicated he was prepared for whatever role resulted, even if he were to lose the prime ministership”.
Fijileaks Editor to Bishop: “Oh, Yeah, Dream On!”
Fijian lawyer Richard Naidu has a dream of his own:
One day I would really like, while overseas, to be able to say "I am a Fiji lawyer" without cringing: http://t.co/u8zUM54iZW
— Richard Naidu (@RichardKNaidu) February 11, 2014