17 December 2008

Australia continues its visa sanctions for Fiji

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The Federal Government has announced it will continue its travel ban on Fiji, in spite of the current diplomatic situation between the Fijian military and the New Zealand High Commission in Suva, reports ABC News.

Australia's Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said Fiji would continue to have limitations placed on their access to Australian visas until the militant government demonstrates democratic policies. 

Smith also warned that expelling New Zealand's Acting High Commissioner Caroline McDonald would considerably work against the progress to a fair and lawful society.  Ms McDonald is waiting a pending decision from the Fijian military regarding her future, because the New Zealand government has refused a New Zealand visa for the son of the secretary to the Commodore.  The New Zealand government has stood by its decision in spite of the threats.

Yesterday, the Fiji Under-20s touch football team withdrew from the World Championship in New Zealand because of the impositions of the visa sanctions, and earlier this month after some struggle, the Fiji Under-20s soccer team only just managed to get transit visas for New Zealand.  The national netball coach is also considering dropping her star shooter from February's junior team tour because of her connections with the military.

"Australia will continue with its travel bans... until such time as we see the interim Fiji government moving towards and making progress to an election and the restoration of democracy and the rule of law in Fiji," Smith told ABC News.

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with emigrating to Australia.

Article by Jessica Bird, Australian Visa Bureau.

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