Talks with Mor­ri­son ‘In­sult­ing’, says PM

Aus­tralian ap­proach called con­de­scend­ing

Fiji Sun - - Front Page - ROSI DOVIVERATA

Prime Min­is­ter Voreqe Bain­i­marama has hit out at his Aus­tralian coun­ter­part, Scott Mor­ri­son and Mr Mor­ri­son’s deputy Michael McCor­mack for making “in­sult­ing and con­de­scend­ing” re­marks.

This is af­ter the lead­ers’ re­treat when dis­cus­sions broke down sev­eral times and lasted al­most 12

hours.

Mr Bain­i­marama de­scribed Mr Mor­ri­son’s ap­proach dur­ing the re­treat as frus­trat­ing.

Aus­tralia main­tained their stance re­gard­ing coal - nor did they com­mit to any target of below 1.5 de­grees.

On his Twit­ter han­dle, Mr Bain­i­marama said: “We came to­gether in a nation that risks dis­ap­pear­ing to the seas, but un­for­tu­nately, we set­tled for the sta­tus quo in our com­mu­nique.

“Wa­tered down cli­mate lan­guage has real con­se­quences – like wa­ter-logged homes, schools, communitie­s and an­ces­tral burial grounds.”

He told The Guardian’s Kate Lyons that Mr Mor­ri­son was only in Tu­valu to make sure that the Aus­tralian poli­cies were up­held by the Pa­cific is­land na­tions. “I thought Mor­ri­son was a good friend of mine; ap­par­ently not.

“The prime min­is­ter at one stage, because he was ap­par­ently [backed] into a corner by the lead­ers, came up with how much money Aus­tralia have been giv­ing to the Pa­cific. He said: ‘I want that stated. I want that on the record.’ Very in­sult­ing.” De­spite the re­cently inked Vu­vale Part­ner­ship be­tween Fiji and Aus­tralia, Mr Bain­i­marama said Mr Mor­ri­son’s be­hav­iour would push Fiji and other Pa­cific Is­lands to China.

“Af­ter what we went through with Mor­ri­son, noth­ing can be worse than him. China never in­sults the Pa­cific. You say it as if there’s a com­pe­ti­tion be­tween Aus­tralia and China. There’s no com­pe­ti­tion, ex­cept to say the Chi­nese don’t in­sult us. They don’t go down and tell the world that we’ve given this much money to the Pa­cific is­lands. They don’t do that. They’re good peo­ple, definitely bet­ter than Mor­ri­son, I can tell you that.

“The prime min­is­ter was very in­sult­ing, very con­de­scend­ing, not good for the re­la­tion­ship … They [Aus­tralians] keep say­ing the Chi­nese are go­ing to take over. Guess why? You don’t have to be a high­school grad­u­ate to know that,” Mr Bain­i­marama told The Guardian.

“That’s what was in our of­fi­cial drafts, but your prime min­is­ter didn’t want that because it means the Aus­tralians will have to come up with a lot of sac­ri­fices. But we’re supposed to be here for the Pa­cific Is­lands, not only for Aus­tralia.” On his Twit­ter han­dle, Mr Bain­i­marama re­torted the re­marks made by Mr Mor­ri­son’s deputy.

Mr McCor­mack, while at­tend­ing a busi­ness func­tion in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, had said that de­spite cli­mate change peo­ple liv­ing in Pa­cific is­land coun­tries would sur­vive.

“They will con­tinue to sur­vive, there’s no question they’ll con­tinue to sur­vive and they’ll con­tinue to sur­vive on large aid as­sis­tance from Aus­tralia,” Mr McCor­mack said.

“They’ll con­tinue to sur­vive because many of their work­ers come here and pick our fruit, pick our fruit grown with hard Aus­tralian enterprise and en­deav­our and we wel­come them and we al­ways will.” Mr Bain­i­marama said: “If this is the Aus­tralian gov­ern­ment’s idea of a ‘step up’ in its re­la­tions with the Pa­cific, it’s cer­tainly not a step for­ward. It’s a big step back­wards.”

He also told The Guardian: “It’s very in­sult­ing, but I get the im­pres­sion that that’s the sen­ti­ment brought across by the Prime Min­is­ter.”

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