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CO M M O NW EALTH PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY C. I. s.

P A R L I A M E N T OF A U S T R A L I A

H O U S E OF R E P R E S E N T A T I V E S

PARLIAMENT HOUSE CANBERRA. A C T. 2600 TEL. 72 1211

4-S

MEDIA STATEMENT BY ALEXANDER DOWNER MP ACTING SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Fiji

"The Federal Opposition has called on the Australian Government to endeavour to establish a task force of Commonwelath Foreign Ministers from the Pacific "region to visit Fiji as soon as possible and contribute to a solution

to that country's deep crisis", acting Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs Alexander Downer said today. "

Mr Downer said it was important Australia acted decisively to do what it could to restore democracy in Fiji and not simply sit idly by mouthing diplomatic platitudes.

"Of the practical th.ings Australia could do, the Opposition does not believe economic measures would be either constructive or effective", Mr Downer said.

"Neither trade sanctions nor the abandonement of aid to Fiji would achieve anything. Those sorts of economic measures would only undermine the livelihoods of ordinary Fijians who are already suffering as a result of two illegal coups."

Mr Downer said that a task force of four or five Commonwealth Foreign Ministers from the Pacific region would by contrast be a constructive iniative. .

"The task force would initiate discussions with all parties in Fiji including Colonel Rabuka, political leaders such as Dr Bavadra and Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara as well as the Governor-General."

"We would have very real optimism that this sort of task force could encourage Fijians in general to move towards a democratic solution to their crisis and to recognise that the only lasting solution can be built on the foundations of plural democracy."

"As the Foreign Ministers of regional nations which already have a very real practical influence on the current prosperity of Fiji and on its hopes for the future, we would have every confidence their intervention would be fruitful."

Mr Downer called on the Australian Government to act on the Oppositon's recommendations as soon as possible.

For further enquiries: Alexander Downer (08) 388-9189 27 September 1987