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Thursday, 14 May 1987
Page: 3204

Mr HOWARD (Leader of the Opposition) —by leave-The Opposition condemns unreservedly this apparent overturn of the democratic process in Fiji. Fiji is a country that has very close links with Australia, its being a fellow member of the Commonwealth and a tourist destination for many Australians. Indeed many Fijian citizens have been educated in this country, particularly on the eastern seaboard. Therefore, it is rather different from a military coup in Latin America or other parts of the world. It brings the overthrow of the democratic process rather closer to home and reminds us of just how few countries in the world there are which hold the democratic process completely and invulnerably dear. I share the hope expressed by the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) that the democratic process in Fiji will be restored as soon as possible.

I had hoped that the change of government, although unexpected and although bringing an untried group of people into government in Fiji, might have been achieved without any interruption of the democratic process. I know that all honourable members on this side of the House will want to see democracy restored in Fiji. Naturally we will support and co-operate with any efforts the Government wishes to take to ensure the safety and security of Australian citizens. I am very pleased, both on the basis of what the Prime Minister has said and from separate information from people who have been in contact with my colleague the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, the honourable member for Menzies (Mr N.A. Brown), that there is certainly no suggestion at this stage of any breakdown in law and order.

The only other point that I would make is the rather obvious and salutary one, and that is, this development underlines the supreme insecurity and instability of this part of the world. It underlines the simplicity of some doctrines that were contained in the report of the Dibb Review of Australia's Defence Capabilities.

Mr Hawke —Oh, come on. Keep the politics out of it.

Mr HOWARD —The Prime Minister says: `Keep the politics out of it'. I repeat what I said and that is that it does underline that. As to all matters of direct concern to our country and the citizens of our country arising out of this incident, whilst the Opposition shares in everything that the Prime Minister has said, nonetheless the incident does underline to this House the very great inherent instability in our part of the world and is, therefore, a cause of considerable concern and ought to be a cause of considerable concern to honourable members on both sides of the House.