Fiji is reportedly angered that Australia has continued to deny senior Fijian public servants visas.
02 January 2013
Fijian anger over Australia visa snub
Tensions between Australia and Fiji are growing after senior Fijian public servants continue to be denied an Australia visa, contrary to agreements between the two Pacific nations.
Australia, Fiji and New Zealand are party to trilateral agreements signed by the countries' respective foreign ministers in 2012 but Fijian public servants are reportedly still having difficulty in securing an Australian visa.
The agreement specifically included a decision to consider more flexible travel sanctions on Fijian passport holders, particularly those in public service. While the agreement also included the restoration of respective high commissioners, the continued denial of visas to senior servants looks set to jeopardise recently-named Australian High Commissioner to Fiji Margaret Twomey's instatement.
Ms Twomey, a career diplomat currently serving as Australia's ambassador to Russia, was set to replace James Batley as high commissioner after the latter was expelled from Fiji for 'unfriendly acts'.
However, Fijian displeasure at the visa denials is reportedly growing, particularly after the sanctions placed the Pacific Island nation alongside other nations such as war-torn Syria on sanctions lists.
Australia has previously refused visas for Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority and Fiji National Provident Fund directors to travel to Australia to promote and improve corporate governance.
The Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship, which is responsible for issuing visas to international diplomats, is yet to comment on the situation, although with Fiji such an important and close neighbour, it is likely Australia would prefer the situation solved quickly and amicably.
The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people lodge applications with the Australian Embassy.