Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document

Download PDFDownload PDF

Fiji Kim Beazley - Leader of the Opposition

Media Statement - 23 May 2000

Reports overnight that the elected government of Fiji may be removed, or forced to accept political conditions as a result of the coup attempt last Friday, are deeply disturbing.

The Australian Government must make clear that any outcome must recognise the rights and views of the democratically elected government of Fiji.

Coup leader, George Speight, has perpetrated a criminal act through his armed seizure of power. His so-called interim government is totally illegal and unconstitutional. Any political concessions to Speight and the other coup instigators would be completely unacceptable.

Any move to validate Speight's actions - in part or whole - would be a breach of the most fundamental democratic principle - that executive power flows from the ballot box and not from the gun. Any such outcome would be a tragic setback to democracy and pluralism in Fiji.

In the event that the President and the Great Council of Chiefs take actions which do not support the constitutional rights of the democratically elected government of Fiji, the Australian Government would be duty bound to review and downgrade our ties with Fiji.

Major elements of Australia's bilateral relationship with Fiji include a substantial aid program, with $22.3 million allocated for 2000-2001, an extensive defence cooperation program, and the Import Credit Scheme that was extended only last week.

The safety of Prime Minister Chaudhry and his ministerial colleagues continues to be a matter of grave concern. The Prime Minister and his colleagues must be freed immediately, and the perpetrators of their unlawful detention must be brought to justice.

Authorised by Geoff Walsh, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.