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Thursday, 31 August 2000
Page: 19962

Dr Theophanous asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 22 June 2000:

(1) What positive outcomes were achieved from Mr Downer's visits to Solomon Islands and Fiji.

(2) What role will Australia take in the resolution of these crises.

(3) Were there any undertakings as to Australia's role made as a consequence of these visits.

(4) Will Mr Downer make a comprehensive statement to the House in relation to his visits to Solomon Islands and Fiji.

(5) Will Mr Downer arrange for the House to have a full debate on the crisis in the Solomon Islands and Fiji.

Mr Downer (Minister for Foreign Affairs) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) My visits to Solomon Islands and Fiji, as a member of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group delegation, enabled me to convey to leaders in the respective countries the need for democratic and constitutional settlements to both crises.

(2) Australia has consistently urged all the parties, in both Fiji and Solomon Islands, to identify peaceful and constitutional means of addressing their respective concerns. I have made Australia's abhorrence of unconstitutional actions plain to all concerned, and have warned the various parties of the risk of international disapprobation, including smart sanctions, if they persisted in operating outside the rule of law.

(3) Yes, in the case of Solomon Islands I advised that Australia would provide further generous assistance to underpin a peace process, if a democratic resolution of the political crisis was achieved and if a ceasefire between the militant factions was negotiated. I made it clear to those I met in Solomon Islands and Fiji that, without a swift return to democratic government and the rule of law, Australia's support and friendship could not be taken for granted.

(4) The Government's policy on both crises has been stated in detail to the House by the Prime Minister, the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr Moore, and by myself, in comprehensive responses to a range of questions and in statements on 29, 30 and 31 May, and on 6, 7 and 8 June. To date, and for the supplementary information of Parliamentarians, I have also issued 8 media releases on the situation in Fiji in recent weeks and another 8 on the situation in Solomon Islands.

(5) A full debate in the House on the crisis in Solomon Islands and Fiji has already taken place. It began on 19 June and concluded on 26 June 2000.