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Tensions rise between Australia and Fiji -

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ELEANOR HALL: Tensions between Australia and Fiji are rising again today with Fiji's military
government refusing to boost security at the Australian High Commission.

The Federal Government had asked Fiji for an increase in protection for its staff in response to
two death threats received by the Australian High Commissioner to Fiji in the last fortnight.

Now that the Fiji Government has refused that request, the families of Australians working at the
Australia High Commission are likely to be brought home.

In Canberra Samantha Hawley reports.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: Last week, the Australian High Commissioner to Fiji, James Batley received his
second death threat in two weeks.

JAMES BATLEY: The Australian government regards these threats as credible.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: So credible that the Federal Government last written to Fiji's military regime
headed by Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama seeking a further deployment of Australian security to
Fiji to provide close personal security to the Australians.

It also sought additional support from Fiji's police force.

The response hasn't pleased the Foreign Affairs Minister, Stephen Smith.

STEPHEN SMITH: Regrettably, the Fiji interim government has advised that it is not prepared to
agree to close, personal protection and as of this morning, I am still awaiting a response on
additional Fiji police measures.

As a consequence to date of the interim Fiji government to agree to close personal protection
provided by Australian Federal Police and to date a failure to respond to further requests for Fiji
police assistance, the Australian Government has today decided to allow the families of Australian
officials in our commission in Fiji to voluntarily return to Australia if that is their wish.

So spouses, partners, dependent children will be able to, if they so decide, to return to Australia
on a voluntary basis.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: It's not known how many Australians will take up the offer, But the Australian
Government is taking the death threats very seriously.

Last week it updated its travel advice saying that credible threats have been made against the
Australian High Commission and its staff in Suva.

STEPHEN SMITH: The Australian High Commission in co-operation with the Australian Government will
be instituting further enhanced security arrangements, both in terms of the premises and in terms
of Australian officials and individuals in the High Commission in Fiji.

I think the best reflection of the fact that they are credible threats is that the Fiji police
immediately upon the threat being drawn to attention instigated an investigation. That
investigation is on-going and I am not proposing to comment on that investigation other than to say
we welcome the co-operation that we have received from the Fiji police and their investigation is
on-going.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: The Foreign Affairs Minister wasn't willing to speculate on some reports that the
threat had come directly from the military regime.

He says he has reminded Fiji that it has an obligation under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic
Relations to fully protect diplomatic staff and their families.

STEPHEN SMITH: In the case of the obligations that Fiji has under the Vienna Convention and the two
threats that have been received so far as our High Commissioner is concerned - everything that
Australia has done so far as its communications from my level down with the interim government of
Fiji has effectively been communicated to our Pacific Island Forum partners.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: Mr Smith says Australia's overarching desire remains for Fiji to return to
democratic rule via elections scheduled for March next year.

ELEANOR HALL: Samantha Hawley reporting.