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Senator Brett Mason

Australian Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Foreign Affairs firms up relations with Fiji

After her first meeting with Fiji’s leader Frank Bainimarama in Suva in February, Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is following up on what she had described as a very warm and engaging meeting by sending her Assistant Minister this month. Australia’s Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Foreign Affairs Senator Brett Mason says he will meet Bainimarama’s Foreign Minister while in Suva, as well as Fiji’s Electoral Commissioners. In Q&A, Senator Mason spoke about his government’s commitment to restoring relations between the two countries after seven years of non-engagement since the 2006 coup. Q&A also asked Senator Mason about his government’s position on Fiji’s participation in the PACER Plus negotiations, the much talked about Pacific Seasonal Workers’ Scheme, its controversial Pacific Solution, the new Colombo Plan and this year’s Pacific Islands Forum Summit in Palau in late July.

What’s the message that you bring Mr Bainimarama from your Prime Minister Tony Abbott? The message is that the Australian Government is committed to normalising relations with Fiji and developing stronger ties ahead of the Fiji elections in September this year. This is the message that Foreign Minister Julie Bishop brought with her in February and which my visit will build upon. In particular the lifting of travel sanctions on 31 March has helped lay the framework for closer cooperation with Fiji on bilateral and regional issues and I look forward to discussing these during my visit.

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