Monday, 29 December 2008 8:29 AM

NZ Envoy Arrives Home Following Expulsion

New Zealand Acting High Commissioner to Fiji, Caroline McDonald, has arrived in Auckland following her expulsion from Fiji by the interim government.

According to Fijilive, on arrival at Auckland Airport yesterday afternoon, 'McDonald told NZ media that she was extremely disappointed at her axing' and 'that her expulsion was an "arbitrary and unwarranted action by the Fiji Interim Government"'.

According to Fiji Times Online, Ms. McDonald left Fiji's capital, Suva, on Saturday and in 'a show of solidarity, Ms McDonald was given an escort of honour by diplomatic vehicles of the British and American embassies as she exited the capital city'.

'She did not call a press conference nor was there any fanfare involved with her departure apart from the silent convoy of vehicles leaving Suva'.
'Her departure has led the Pacific Forum, New Zealand and Australia to issue strong condemnation of the regime's treatment of the NZ envoy'.

As reported by Fijilive, Ms. McDonald said, "As McCully has explained, there's really no basis and no justification for my expulsion and the interim Government has really not been able to substantiate why they've taken this action."

"I think that it is really simply retaliation for the New Zealand Government's long-standing and consistent approach of denying visas to supporters of the Fiji interim regime and their close family members in the absence of course of any concrete moves back to democracy."

'McDonald said her expulsion was particularly disappointing given what she described as "a determined effort on the part of successive New Zealand governments to reach out to the regime"'.

Meanwhile, the Australian government has 'branded as unhelpful and destructive a decision by Fiji's interim Government to expel Canberra's South Pacific Defence Adviser'.

According to Fijilive, 'unnamed official had been in Suva on a visitor visa awaiting a decision by the interim Government on his long-term visa status' and 'Australian Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon told The Australian newspaper: "The interim (Fiji) Government has indicated that no visa will be granted'.

'"This is an important position, not only in relation to Fiji but also to the four other Pacific island countries, Vanuatu, Tuvalu, Kiribati and Nauru, all close neighbours of Fiji, to which the defence adviser position is credited," he said'.

"This is unhelpful and destructive behaviour by the Fiji interim Government, which should instead be focusing all of its efforts on returning Fiji to democracy - as it had promised to do."

By SECRETARIAT OF THE PACIFIC COMMUNITY