Constitutional and Political Change in Fiji


Research Paper 7 1997-98

Dr Stephen Sherlock
Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Group
11 November 1997

Contents

Map of the Fiji Islands

Major Issues Summary

Introduction

The Origins of Ethnic Division in Fiji

The Politics of Ethnic Division

Economic and Social Change

The Upheavals of 1987

Fiji under the 1990 Constitution: The Politics of Exclusion

The Constitutional Review of 1996

The New Constitution

Fiji's Political Future

Australia and Fiji

Conclusion

Endnotes

Appendices

Table 1: Australia's Trade with Fiji

Table 2: Total Aid Flows to the South Pacific by Country 1995-96 to 1997-98 ($m)

Glossary-Fiji's Main Political Parties

Alliance Party The governing party from independence in 1970 until the elections of 1987. Dominated by leaders from the indigenous Fijian chiefly elite such as Ratu ('paramount chief') Kamisese Mara.

Soqosoqo ni Vakavulewa ni Taukei (SVT) Roughly translates to Fijian Political Party. The successor to the Alliance Party, formed to contest the elections of 1990. Lead by Sitiveni Rabuka (pronounced Rambuka), leader of the coups of 1987. Less cohesive than the Alliance and suffered a split in 1994 when seven of its MPs resigned.

Fijian Association Party Formed in 1994 out of a split in the SVT when Josevata Kamikamica (pronounced Kamikamitha) and six other SVT MPs resigned from the SVT. Remerged with the SVT in 1997.

Taukei MovementExtreme indigenous Fijian nationalist organisation formed to oppose the formation of the government elected in 1987 by mainly Indo-Fijian votes. Continues to operate on the margins of Fiji politics.

National Federation Party (NFP) Formed in 1963 to advance the interests of the mainly Indo-Fijian sugar farmers. Became the main party of the Indo-Fijian community after independence in 1970. Joined with the Fiji Labour Party in the Coalition of 1987, which won the elections of that year but which was overthrown in the coup.

Fiji Labour Party (FLP) Formed in 1985, with a support base in the Indo-Fijian community but also with indigenous Fijian supporters in the west of the country. Led by an indigenous Fijian, Dr Timoci Bavadra (pronounced Timothi Bavandra). Coalition government with the NFP overthrown in the coup of 1987. Now led by Mahendra Chaudry and with the loss of its indigenous Fijian support after 1987, generally seen as the smaller of the two Indo-Fijian parties.

Major Issues Summary

In July 1997 the Parliament of Fiji passed the Constitution Amendment Act to move Fiji away from the discriminatory Constitution of 1990. This move has been important in improving Fiji's international image, but questions remain about how far it will contribute to breaking down the ethnically based divisions which have damaged Fiji economically and politically since the coups of 1987. This paper examines the origins of the conflicts which have divided Fiji in the last decade, the findings of the Constitutional Review Commission and the provisions of the new Constitution.

The social divisions in Fiji originated under British rule, when indigenous Fijians were deliberately kept out of the modern economy and imported labour from India provided the workforce for colonial industries. The 'traditional' chiefly elite supported British rule in return for continued control over indigenous Fijian society, which was itself divided along regional lines. The different ethnic groups lived, were educated and worked separately. As independence drew near in the 1960s, Fiji politics began to coalesce around ethnically-based parties. The Alliance Party was formed by Fijian chiefs and the National Federation Party was supported by Indo-Fijian sugar farmers and workers. The Constitution of 1970 provided for a parliament composed of seats reserved for the various ethnic communities, as well as non-communal 'national' seats.

Economic change in the 1980s created strains in indigenous Fijian society. Young Fijians began to question chiefly authority, at the same time as resenting the perceived wealth and education of the Indo-Fijian community. Other Fijians worked alongside Indo-Fijians and cooperated in the trade union movement. Thus although the Alliance Party dominated post-independence politics it was challenged by Fijian-nationalist parties with anti-Indian ideas and by parties espousing multiracial politics such as the Fiji Labour Party. Both of these tendencies clashed in 1987 with the election of the NFP-Labour Party Coalition and the appearance of the militant Fijian-nationalist Taukei Movement. The perceived threat of a government mainly supported by Indo-Fijians lead to the coups of 1987 and the rewriting of the Constitution in 1990.

The philosophy underlying the Fiji Constitution of 1990 was that the interests of indigenous Fijians could be protected only if Fijian leaders were guaranteed political ascendancy, a formula based on the effective political exclusion of the Indo-Fijians. But the removal of the perceived threat of Indo-Fijian dominance exacerbated divisions within the indigenous Fijian community and made the formation of stable Fijian-dominated governments a difficult task. Splits in the Fijian vote reflected the strains in indigenous Fijian society brought about by rapid social and economic change. Racial discrimination and political instability heightened Fiji's economic problems by limiting foreign investment, continuing the outflow of educated Indo-Fijians and heightening the country's international isolation.

The outcome of the 1996 Constitution Review indicates that the majority of indigenous Fijian leaders concluded that some form of multiracial politics was necessary to secure the country's economic and political future. The Commission concluded that progress towards sharing of executive power among all communities was the only solution to Fiji's constitutional problems and that Fiji had to make a decisive move away from a communally-based electoral system to one which encouraged the emergence of multiracial government. It recommended that two-thirds of parliamentary seats should be open to candidates of all ethnic communities.

The new Constitution is a partial move towards multiracial government, a compromise being necessary because of a negative reaction by many indigenous Fijians. Parliament will have two-thirds communal seats and one-third open and the Cabinet will be made up of representatives of the major parties in Parliament.

The new Constitution brought immediate diplomatic benefits to the Fiji Government, including readmission to the Commonwealth. The effect on internal politics is more difficult to assess, with misgivings remaining amongst some members of both communities. A multiparty Cabinet runs counter to the Westminster tradition and may not be effective when faced with contentious policy issues. The idea is designed to facilitate the formation of coalition governments. The indigenous Fijian community will have to accept Indo-Fijians in government and the Indo-Fijian community will have to be content with a subordinate role. The first major problem will be the land issue, which involves a clash of interests between the two communities in the very important sugar industry.

Australia has a strong interest in a politically stable and economically prosperous Fiji and in seeing Fiji take on a more prominent role in Pacific affairs. Australia is a powerful player in the Fiji economy and in South Pacific politics, but influence is difficult to wield without appearing overbearing. Australia has exerted low-key influence on Fiji politics to reduce the discriminatory aspects of Fiji's political institutions.

The 1990 Constitution was based on a vision of traditional Fijian society that had never really been accepted throughout the islands of Fiji and which politically excluded half the population. This not only violated Indo-Fijians' rights but undermined the economic prosperity to which indigenous Fijians aspired. The new Constitution is a partial step away from racially biased government. The elections of 1999 will be its first real test and a test of the capacity of Fiji's leaders to develop a national rather than a communal vision.

Introduction

In July 1997 the Parliament of Fiji unanimously passed the Constitution Amendment Act with the aim of bringing into effect a new Constitution for Fiji which would move away from the discriminatory provisions of the Constitution of 1990. The passing of the Act was the culmination of a two-year review carried out by the Constitution Review Commission and by a Joint Parliamentary Committee. The review was begun because it was required under the Constitution of 1990, but in a wider sense, it became an assessment of the whole political experiment initiated by Sitiveni Rabuka following the coups of 1987. The coups of 1987 and their institutionalisation in the 1990 Constitution were an attempt to protect indigenous Fijian society from the perceived threat of a government not entirely controlled by indigenous Fijians. It aimed to restore the authority of what were said to be traditional Fijian institutions while at the same time providing prosperity to the modern state of Fiji. The experiment is generally regarded to have failed because it excluded half of Fiji's people (the Indians or Indo-Fijians) and because it was based on a vision of a homogenous indigenous Fijian society which had ceased to exist in an urbanising, developing Fiji, if it had ever existed at all.

The coups of 1987 revealed Fiji to be a country with deep social cleavages, the nature of which are conventionally analysed in racial terms. Race or ethnicity is of course a central part of Fiji politics, but the recent history of the country should not be seen simply as a contest between two ethnic groups. Fiji politics have also been characterised by cooperation and competition across ethnic lines and by regional, class and cultural divisions within the various communities. As their country has changed economically and socially, many people in Fiji have found that they sometimes have much in common with groups outside their own ethnic community. In particular, the events of 1987 were brought about by divisions within indigenous Fijian society and its elites, as well as by interracial tensions.

This paper examines the origins of the political conflict which has divided Fiji in the last decade and the efforts to find a new ethnic accommodation in the amended Constitution passed by Parliament in 1997. The paper outlines the origins of divisions within Fiji society, both ethnic and non-ethnic, and the long-term pressures and trends which induced certain groups within the indigenous Fijian community to attempt to introduce a regime which excluded the Indo-Fijian community from effective political participation. The paper discusses the findings of the Constitution Review Commission, the provisions of the new Constitution and considers the prospects for success for the new political arrangements. It also discusses Australia's relations with Fiji and Australia's economic and political interest in a politically stable and economically prosperous Fiji.

Fiji is a country of over 750 000 people, and as the second largest of the Pacific island countries after Papua New Guinea, has often played a leadership role in the region. The population is composed of over 370 000 indigenous Fijians, about 340 000 people of Indian descent (Indo-Fijians) and about 40 000 people of other races, including Europeans, part-Europeans and Chinese. Compared with most Pacific countries, Fiji is economically developed, with exports of tourism services, sugar, gold, garments, coconut products, timber and fish, but the country still suffers from problems affecting all the Pacific islands, including remoteness, limited resources and small population. Its relatively large size and central location between the islands of Melanesia and Polynesia have made it a hub of transport and communications in the region and the headquarters of important regional institutions such as the South Pacific Forum and the University of the South Pacific.

The Origins of Ethnic Division in Fiji

The social divisions in modern Fiji have their origin partly in the nature of pre-colonial Fijian society, but principally in the reshaping of the economy and society of the country under British colonialism.(1) The British facilitated their rule through accommodating, and partly creating, a Fijian chiefly elite. These policies, almost identical to those followed in Malaya, involved a tacit alliance with the 'traditional' rulers, with the indigenous population kept largely out of the modern economy, with imported labour providing a workforce for colonial industries such as sugar and timber.

Indigenous Fijian society has itself always been divided along regional lines. The Fiji island group was originally settled by people of Melanesian descent, but in recent centuries the eastern part of the group (and the southeast of the largest western island, Viti Levu, where Suva is now located), came under the influence of Polynesian, especially Tongan, culture and politics. In the east, the Polynesian chiefly system came to predominate while the more egalitarian Melanesian traditions remained strong in the west.(2) Division between the eastern and western parts of the country have remained an important feature of Fiji society up to the present day.

By the time of the arrival of British and Australian settlers in Fiji in the first half of the nineteenth century, the eastern chiefs had established tenuous control over most of the islands. With the increasing economic value of Fiji to the British Empire, the British government decided to intervene directly and, in 1874, induced the chiefs to sign the Deed of Cession, giving sovereignty to Britain. In return, the chiefs received guarantees that their position would not be undermined and, in fact, they were given a role in the colonial system which entrenched their power in Fijian society. The former Prime Minister and President of Fiji, Ratu ('Paramount Chief') Sir Kamisese Mara, and the former Deputy Prime Minister, Governor-General and President of Fiji, Ratu Sir Penaia Ganilau, were two prominent eastern chiefly politicians. The first British governor established a Great Council of Chiefs to facilitate the colonial government's control through cooption and strengthening of chiefly authority. Because chiefly power was weaker and based on smaller territories in the western part of the country, the Council was dominated by chiefs from the eastern region.(3) The Great Council of Chiefs has had great informal power in Fijian politics and, under the 1990 Constitution, had the power to appoint the President and 24 indigenous Fijian members to the Senate, the upper house of parliament.

The chiefs also have a strong influence through their control over issues which particularly affect the indigenous Fijian community (especially land), a control granted to them by the British and still in effect. Land rents for sugar farming and revenues from forestry are collected by largely chiefly bodies such as the Native Lands Trust Board and Fiji Forests Commission. After taking a commission, such bodies distribute the revenue to the landowning clans through their chief, who personally retains a large share. This gives the chiefs a strong stake in blocking reforms to the system and the past century has shown continual effort by the Fijian chiefs to inhibit social change in Fijian society.(4)

The British maintained the economic segregation of the races in Fiji by ensuring that the majority of Fijians were engaged in subsistence agriculture, combined with some production of food for urban and plantation consumption. Laws were passed to exclude ethnic Fijians from commerce and to restrict their entry into wage labour to a few industries. These regulations exacerbated a shortage of labour caused by the death of 40 000 Fijians in a measles epidemic in 1875.(5) To meet the European settlers' growing demand for labour, workers were recruited from India to work for the colonial government and for the sugar industry, which was dominated by the Australian Colonial Sugar Refinery Company (CSR). Most of the Indians stayed in the colony permanently. Many have become small sugar farmers leasing land from the Native Lands Trust Board. Just as Fijians were excluded from the sugar industry, so Indo-Fijians were prohibited from living in traditional villages and from certain areas in the eastern part of the colony. Education was segregated and as late as 1960 only 6 per cent of schools were officially described as mixed. The stereotyped association of Indians with business emerged when some former Indian labourers went into trading, with their numbers later increased by migration of small business people, particularly from Gujarat in western India. Although the majority of Fijians were restricted to agriculture, from the 1930s the goldmining and stevedoring industries became an important source of waged employment for ethnic Fijians. In recent decades, economic development has drawn Fijians into the towns in search of employment and has led to the growth of a large urban Fijian population.

The Politics of Ethnic Division

During the 1960s, as decolonisation and independence drew near, Fiji politics began to coalesce around ethnically-based political parties. Fijian chiefly leaders looked towards Malaysia, identified with the social position of the Malay bumiputras ('sons of the soil'), and took Malaysia as a political model. Following the Malaysian example, the Alliance Party was formed out of an arrangement between the Fijian Association (founded in the 1950s), the Indian Alliance, created by Indo-Fijian businessmen, and a General Electors' Party set up by European and Chinese businessmen. Established in 1966, the Alliance Party was led by Ratu Mara and dominated Fiji's politics during the first years after independence in 1970. The Alliance Party's ethnic Fijian supporters saw the party as the protector of their interests and as the natural party of government, but it always needed some support among other ethnic groups in order to stay in office. Sections of the Indo-Fijian community, though divided along economic and cultural lines, came together in 1960 to form the National Federation Party (NFP) and contested the 1963 election. The NFP was mainly supported by Indo-Fijian farmers, workers, professionals and smaller businessmen.

Incidents of small-scale ethnic violence in the 1968 elections overshadowed negotiations for independence. These clashes helped convince leaders on both sides of the ethnic divide that political compromise would be necessary in the post-independence Fiji constitution, with Indo-Fijians reconciling themselves to an ethnically based electoral system with special representation for the indigenous Fijians. The 1970 constitution provided for a 52 member House of Representatives with 22 seats each for the indigenous Fijian and Indo-Fijian communities and 8 for General Electors. Electors were given a vote in both Communal and National seats. The Senate comprised 7 nominees of the Prime Minister, 6 nominees of the Leader of the Opposition, 1 nominee of the island of Rotuma and 8 nominees of the Great Council of Chiefs. Constitutional changes required a two-thirds vote of both Houses. Fiji also inherited from the British a military force which was 98 per cent ethnic Fijian.

The Alliance Party held power from independence until the 1987 election, based on an accommodation between ethnic Fijian, European and Indo-Fijian groups at an elite level. A formula largely inherited from the colonial period, it melded the interests of the eastern chiefs with Indo-Fijian and European business groups and maintained a mass base in the majority of the indigenous Fijian community. Increasingly, however, the Alliance model came under challenge from more extreme expressions of ethnic Fijian nationalism and from attempts to build a multiracial accommodation at a mass rather than an elite level.

In the elections of April 1977 the moderate policies of Ratu Mara's Alliance came under attack from the Fijian Nationalist Party (FNP), led by Sakiasi Butadroka, a Fijian MP expelled from the Alliance because of his racially provocative statements.(6) The FNP won 24.4 per cent of the Fijian communal vote and cost the Alliance control of parliament. The National Federation Party was, however, internally divided over whether to use its two seat majority to form a government which would inevitably be branded Indian-dominated. In a second poll called for September 1977, the Alliance campaigned more effectively and won a majority. The FNP's challenge had tapped into dissatisfaction amongst ethnic Fijians about the slow pace of regional economic development, while pandering to a Fijian tendency to blame the Indians for such problems.(7) The two 1977 elections underscored the potential for militant Fijian nationalism and the reluctance on the part of Indo-Fijian community leaders to inflame these feelings.

In the elections of 1982 resentment in the west of the country against the dominance of eastern chiefs was given expression by the emergence of the Western United Front (WUF). The west was the site for most of Fiji's gold mines and the increasingly important tourist industry and saw itself as making a greater contribution to the economy than the politically dominant east.(8) The WUF formed a coalition with the National Federation Party and was able to win 7.0 per cent of Fijian Communal votes, thus helping to reduce the Alliance's seats by four: 28 to 24. The WUF was to be less important in the 1987 election, but showed again that significant economic and social divisions existed in the indigenous Fijian community. The then President of the Great Council of Chiefs, Ratu Sir Penaia Ganilau, expressed deep sorrow at the apparent loss of chiefly influence and attacked those 'commoners' who criticised their chiefs. Some Fijian landowners threatened their Indo-Fijian tenants with eviction and several Fijian Senators declared that 'blood will flow' if Indians did not 'cling' to Fijians.(9)

Economic and Social Change

The growth of east-west regionalism exemplified the already existing tensions in indigenous Fijian society which were being exacerbated by economic and social change. From the early 1980s, a deterioration in the market for Fiji's exports, mainly sugar, led to economic stagnation, increased unemployment and underemployment and rising urban poverty.(10) Young Fijians began to question chiefly authority and resent their privileges, perceiving that they were becoming wealthy through involvement in government and government-supported business, while neglecting traditional obligations to assist their own people. This resentment was also directed towards the Indo-Fijian community which was seen to be more wealthy and educated. Newly urbanised indigenous Fijians came into direct competition with their Indo-Fijian counterparts for scarce jobs. On the other hand, many Fijians became involved in the trade union movement where they often cooperated with Indo-Fijian fellow workers. Many Fijians in the west saw the possibility of making common cause with sections of the Indian community against eastern chiefly dominance. Therefore, paradoxically, these developments had the effect of increasing some Fijians' resentment against Indians while increasing other Fijians' links with them. Both of these tendencies found expression in the rise of the multiracialist Labour Party from the mid-1980s and in the appearance, in 1987, of the militant nationalist Fijian Taukei movement.

The Upheavals of 1987

The formation of the Labour Party was the result of a confluence of factors. The first was the development of the trade union movement from the end of the 1970s. Post-independence economic development enabled growth and consolidation within the trade union movement, and by the mid-1980s about half the waged labour force was unionised.(11) In 1984 the government responded to Fiji's growing economic difficulties by unilaterally imposing a wage freeze, a move which led to the formation, in July 1985, of the Fiji Labour Party (FLP). The leader of the Labour Party, Dr Timoci Bavadra, was both a chief of a clan from west Viti Levu island and head of the Public Servants' Association, a combination which symbolised the nature of the party's challenge to the eastern chiefly establishment. The Labour Party was a coalition of influential ethnic Fijians from the west, ethnic Fijians involved in the trade union movement and Indian members of trade unions and farmers' organisations. It was influenced by an emerging Fijian intelligentsia which espoused a non-racial social-democratic philosophy.(12) In 1986 the party won 39 per cent of the vote in the Suva City Council elections.(13) Despite growing self-confidence, the FLP leadership realised it needed the support of the NFP in rural areas and formed a Coalition to contest the 1987 election.

The result of the April 1987 election was a narrow victory to the Labour-NFP Coalition, which won 28 seats to the Alliance's 24. Voting generally followed the usual ethnic pattern, but there was a modest flow of ethnic Fijian support away from the Alliance to the Coalition, which received 8.5 per cent of Fijian communal votes. The Alliance also suffered from a low turnout of ethnic Fijians and an increase in support for other Fijian parties and independents. Nevertheless, as provided for under the 1970 constitution, the parliament was still composed of 22 indigenous Fijians, 22 Indo-Fijians and 8 General Electors members, and the chiefs retained their constitutionally-guaranteed dominance in the Senate. The Coalition Ministry was made up of 6 Fijians and 1 part-Fijian and 7 Indo-Fijians, a balance of participation between the two main races never before achieved by a government in Fiji. The government was headed by an indigenous Fijian, and the ministries considered to be essential to Fijian interests, such as Home Affairs, Fijian Affairs, Labour, Land, Forests and Agriculture, were held by indigenous Fijians.(14)

Despite the ethnic balance of the Coalition ministry, there was an immediate backlash amongst radical nationalist Fijians. An organised movement of opposition to the Coalition government, which named itself the Taukei ('Owners of the Land') Movement, soon developed. A wave of rallies and marches in Suva and across Viti Levu declared that Fijians had lost control of their own country. Their numbers were swelled by easterners angry at the toppling of their paramount chief by a minor chief from the west. Many chiefs called on ethnic Fijians to respect the authority of the new government, but on the first day of parliament, only 5 Alliance MPs defied the crowds outside the parliament building and joined the swearing-in ceremony. One week later, on 14 May 1987, twelve masked men, led by Colonel Sitiveni Rabuka, entered parliament and abducted the Coalition members at gunpoint.

Rabuka's stated motivations in the coup of 14 May was to protect traditional chiefly-based society. He was, however, also attempting to balance the radicalism of the Taukei Movement with the authority of the chiefs who supported the coup but who were concerned that the Taukei Movement could lead to violence and undermine the post-independence accommodation between the chiefs and Indo-Fijian and European business interests.(15) The Taukei Movement acted in the name of defence of the chiefly system and the traditional 'paramountcy of Fijian interests', but the Movement was a new form of politics for Fiji, 'commoners on the fringes of the Fijian establishment'(16) and drawing its strength from an ability to mobilise disaffected Fijian youth. The previous Prime Minister, Ratu Mara, joined Rabuka's government and a meeting of the Great Council of Chiefs endorsed the coup. But when Ratu Mara, the Governor-General, Ratu Ganilau, and the ousted Prime Minister, Dr Bavadra, drew up the Deuba Accord, under which a caretaker government drawn from both the Alliance and the Coalition would be formed, an outraged reaction from the Taukei Movement induced Rabuka to stage a second coup on 25 September 1987. When Ratu Ganilau refused to step down as Governor-General, Rabuka dismissed him, revoked the 1970 constitution and declared Fiji a republic.

In June 1990 the Great Council of Chiefs agreed to a Constitution which provided for a House of Representatives with 70 seats, 37 held by indigenous Fijians, 27 by Indo-Fijians, 5 by other races of General Electors and 1 by a representative of the remote island of Rotuma. As well as the racial bias in the Constitution, the regional boundaries of seats were weighted to reinforce traditional patterns of influence. While Indian seats had an average of 5500 voters against 4159 for Fijian seats, there was an even greater weighting given to provincial versus urban Fijian seats - 3457 to 8655 respectively. Urban Fijian voters totalled 13.7 per cent of the voting population but received only 7.1 per cent of seats. In addition, provincial areas which were traditionally most supportive of chiefly candidates received greater representation. Voters per seat in the various provinces ranged from 950 to 5700.(17) The position of the Great Council of Chiefs was further reinforced through its nomination of 24 of the 34 Senate members.

Fiji under the 1990 Constitution: The Politics of Exclusion

The philosophy underlying the Fiji Constitution of 1990 was that previous arrangements were 'inadequate to give protection to the interests of indigenous Fijians'(18) and that such protection could be afforded only if the indigenous Fijian leaders were guaranteed political ascendancy. While the pre-1987 balance allowed for a degree of accommodation with Indian interests, even if only at an elite level, the 1990 Constitution was motivated by the desire to exclude permanently any possibility of Indo-Fijian parties forming a government. Political developments since the introduction of the 1990 Constitution could be seen as the consequence of the problems inherent in this formula which have suggested that Fijian ascendancy is both politically and economically unsustainable.

The first problem was that the heavy electoral weighting given to indigenous Fijian voters still did not make the formation of stable Fijian government an easy task. The removal of the perceived common threat of Indo-Fijian dominance had the effect of exacerbating divisions within the indigenous Fijian community,(19) a tendency worsened by the communal electoral system which set Fijians in political competition with each other. In the 1992 and 1994 elections, the successor to the Alliance Party, the Soqosoqo ni Vakavulewa ni Taukei (SVT) (which roughly translates to Fijian Political Party) was unable to form a government in its own right. In 1992 the Fijian vote was split between independents and two Fijian-nationalist splinter parties. The SVT, with 30 seats in the 70 seat parliament, was short of a majority. This set off a struggle for the Prime Ministership between Rabuka and the former Deputy Prime Minister, Josevata Kamikamica, who was supported by Ratu Mara. Rabuka was only able to become Prime Minister with the help of the Labour Party, which agreed to support Rabuka in parliamentary votes of confidence on condition that Rabuka immediately begin a review of the 1990 Constitution and undertake reform of tax, land and labour laws.(20)

The unlikely alliance between Rabuka and Labour only lasted until June 1993, when Labour withdrew its support and began an indefinite boycott of Parliament following Rabuka's failure to fulfil the terms of their agreement. Rabuka's government collapsed at the end of the year when seven SVT members voted against the Budget. In the subsequent election of February 1994, the indigenous Fijian vote was again split between the SVT, lead by Rabuka, and a breakaway Fijian Association Party, lead by Kamikamica. The SVT survived Kamikamica's challenge and increased its representation to 31 (the Fijian Association Party secured 5 seats), but could only form a government by entering into a coalition with the General Voters' Party, which held 4 seats.

The splits in the Fijian vote evident in the elections of 1992 and 1994 reflected the strains in indigenous Fijian society brought by rapid social and economic change and the growth of new political configurations. The 1987 coups were, in part, an attempt to restore the power and authority of the old chiefly-dominated Fijian order. But the trigger of the coups, the Taukei Movement, represented a new kind of urban mass-based politics of non-chiefly Fijians which also represented a challenge to the primacy of the chiefs, even though its self-declared aims were to defend traditional structures. The coups were led not by a chief, but by a commoner who has had an uneasy relationship with the traditional power-brokers of Fijian politics. Rabuka's second coup of 1987 was, after all, a strike against a compromise formulated by the traditional Fijian leadership. These tensions continued with the contest for the Prime Ministership between Kamikamica and Rabuka, with Kamikamica, supported by Mara, representing a current of thinking which wanted to preserve as much as possible of traditional Fijian political ways. Rabuka's candidacy, on the other hand, depended for its success on seeking support outside established circles of power. Ratu Mara made no secret of his misgivings about Rabuka, calling him an 'angry young man'.(21) For his part, Rabuka made the very revealing accusation that Mara was a:

ruthless politician who has been allowed to get away with a lot. Maybe it's part of the Fijian culture that he is a big chief and because he was groomed well by the colonial government.(22)

The profound sense of uneasiness felt by many ethnic Fijians about the future of their own particular social and political arrangements as well as about the future of Fiji as a modern state were exacerbated by international pressures and economic difficulties experienced after 1987 and when the political exclusion of the Indo-Fijian community was institutionalised in the Constitution of 1990. The coups were very economically damaging to Fiji, with a massive slump in the tourism industry, a flight of educated Indian labour and investment, and a fall in foreign investment and economic and other aid from Western countries.(23) Apart from support from some other Melanesian countries such as Papua New Guinea, the government was diplomatically isolated. In October 1987, Fiji was effectively expelled from the Commonwealth, with its membership being deemed to have ended following Rabuka's revocation of the 1970 Constitution and deposition of the Queen as Head of State.

The economic effects of the coups lessened in the next few years, with tourist arrivals recovering, aid flows gradually recommencing and a series of economic policy reforms allowing the growth of new industries such as garment manufacturing. Nevertheless, the country's discriminatory constitutional arrangements were regarded with opprobrium in much of the international community and tended to limit the extent of financial and technical assistance from international donors and to deter investors who feared racially-based instability. Business investment, government administration and the provision of professional services also continued to suffer from the ongoing exodus of Indo-Fijians and people of other races. Symbolic of Fiji's international isolation was its exclusion from the Commonwealth, a situation which was particularly distressing to members of the chiefly elite, who placed high value on links with the British Crown. Although Fiji had declared itself a republic, its flag retained the Union Jack and Queen Elizabeth's image continued to appear on the country's coins.

The Constitutional Review of 1996

During his terms as Prime Minister, Rabuka has made contradictory moves which have, on the one hand, alienated the Indo-Fijian community while, on the other, indicating that he is willing to move Fiji away from the politics of exclusion towards a new multiracial accommodation. In October 1992, for example, in an Australian television interview he made remarks that suggested he supported the repatriation of Indo-Fijians to India. Yet on a number of occasions he has made offers to the opposition parties to form an all-party government of national unity or to include representatives of these parties in Cabinet. In general, however, most observers have concluded that Rabuka has been moving towards a conciliatory position, despite the often strident criticism of Fijian nationalist groups.(24) Developments in the last year have encouraged the view that, notwithstanding the deep divisions in Fiji society, the majority of indigenous Fijian leaders have come to the conclusion that some form of multiracial politics is necessary to secure the country's economic and political future.

Such an interpretation has been strengthened by the outcome of the 1996 Constitutional Review and the subsequent amendments to the Constitution. The genesis of the Review was the 1990 Constitution, which was regarded by its authors as a transitional document and which included a provision that it had to be reviewed by July 1997. Despite initial controversy about the composition of a Constitutional Review Commission to carry out the review, the Commission's terms of reference were, in the opinion of one of its members, 'themselves an historic achievement of consensus and compromise'.(25) The Commission was directed to 'recommend constitutional arrangements' promoting 'racial harmony and national unity and the economic and social advancement of all communities and bearing in mind internationally recognised principles and standards of individual and group rights'. Constitutional recommendations should guarantee the protection of indigenous Fijian interests as well as those of 'all ethnic groups of people in Fiji'.(26)

The Chair of the Commission was Sir Paul Reeves, a former Archbishop and Governor-General of New Zealand with a Maori background. The other Commissioners were Mr Tomasi Vakatora, an indigenous Fijian businessman and former Cabinet member, and Dr Brij Lal, an Indo-Fijian historian at the Australian National University. The Commission held five months of public hearings throughout Fiji and received some 800 written and oral submissions. The Commission commissioned papers from local and overseas researchers on issues concerning economic and social conditions in Fiji and on international constitutional arrangements. It also visited Malaysia, Mauritius and South Africa to examine those countries' approach to political representation in multi-ethnic societies.

The Report of the Commission reviewed the history of constitutional developments in Fiji since independence and argued that conflict in the recent past had been based on differing interpretations of the meaning of indigenous Fijian 'paramountcy'. Most Indo-Fijians had regarded the concept as a protective one designed to ensure that the special social and economic needs of the Fijian community were promoted, while many indigenous Fijians interpreted paramountcy to mean 'keeping a predominantly Fijian government in office' on a permanent basis to balance the economic predominance of Indo-Fijians and other races. Many indigenous Fijians therefore saw the pre-coup Coalition government of 1987 as a breach of trust by Indo-Fijians, while Coalition voters considered that the democratic process guaranteed them the right to representatives who could participate directly in executive government.(27) The 'remedy' to this impasse embodied in the 1990 Constitution was based on the assumption that if indigenous Fijians were guaranteed a majority in parliament they would be able to hold on to political power. In the view of the Commissioners, this idea was found to be faulty because, like any ethnic group, indigenous Fijians did not vote as a bloc but supported parties which reflected regional, social and ideological divisions in their community. The 1990 Constitution did not achieve Fijian unity but tended to accentuate divisions, as well as undermining the traditional role of Fijian institutions such as provincial councils and the Great Council of Chiefs by turning them into mouthpieces of a particular political party.(28)

To overcome the problems of the 1990 Constitution, the Commissioners concluded that:

progress towards the sharing of executive power among all ethnic communities is the only solution to Fiji's constitutional problems. Constitutional arrangements which will encourage the emergence of multi-ethnic governments should be the primary goal.(29)

The principal obstacle to the emergence of multi-ethnic governments had been the system of communal representation in parliament which made it difficult or impossible for people of one community to vote for candidates from other communities. This system provided no incentive for party leaders to formulate policies which would appeal to the people of Fiji as a whole, regardless of their ethnic background, but, on the contrary, encouraged parties 'to take a narrow, communal view of their best interests'.(30) The identification between each party and one particular ethnic group had become almost total, with the electoral system making the growth of multi-ethnic parties virtually impossible.

The Commissioners therefore recommended that Fiji move away from a system of communally-based elections and towards 'open' non-communal seats where all Fiji citizens would be eligible to stand for election and to vote for candidates regardless of race. As a transitional measure, the Commission proposed that there be some 'reserved' seats for each community. This was proposed because the Commission thought that many people in Fiji might be 'unwilling to move to a totally open system in a single step', but it cautioned that too great a proportion of 'reserved' seats would frustrate the whole purpose of open seats.

The people of Fiji have to make a conscious choice about whether they wish to take a decisive step away from the communal system that has made ethnic politics inevitable since before independence.(31)

The Commission recommended that the Bose Lawa (House of Representatives) should be constituted in the following way:

Reserved Seats

 

Fijians (including Pacific Islanders)

12

Indo-Fijians

10

General Voters

2

Rotumans

1

Open seats

45

TOTAL

70

The 45 open seats would be filled by voting in 15 three-member constituencies, with boundaries drawn in such a way as to ensure, as far as possible, that the constituencies have a heterogeneous, multi-ethnic composition. The Commission also recommended that the Senate (renamed as the Bose e Cake) should be composed of 35 members, two elected from each of Fiji's 14 provinces, one from Rotuma and 6 appointed by the President to represent groups unrepresented in parliament (religious and cultural groups, women, youth). Elections to both Houses should be held under the proportional representation system.(32) In accordance with the Westminster tradition, executive power should rest with the Cabinet formed from Members of the Lower House. There should be no provision in the Constitution about the ethnicity of the Prime Minister. The President, as titular Head of State, should be an indigenous Fijian and the Vice-President from another community.(33) The role of the Great Council of Chiefs should be to provide advice to the government on 'any matter relating to the well-being of the Fijian people but also matters affecting the nation as a whole', as well as to nominate candidates for the office of President and to approve Bills affecting the special rights of the indigenous Fijian community relating to land and customary rights.(34)

The New Constitution

In September 1996, the Report of the Constitution Review Commission was tabled in Fiji's Parliament. Responses to the Commission's findings followed fairly predictable lines, with the NFP and the Labour Party generally supporting the recommendations and indigenous Fijian parties and other representatives divided in their views. Kamikamica's Fijian Association Party reacted favourably to the Report, but the ranks of the ruling SVT were split. Rabuka was reported to have come under pressure from within Cabinet to oppose what were seen as anti-Fijian aspects of the Report.(35) The more militantly Fijian nationalist organisations, as well as a number of provincial Fijian leaders, condemned the Report as disregarding the views and interests of the indigenous Fijian people. The General Voters' Party was critical of the proposed reduction in parliamentary representation for the 'other races' group. (36)

After presenting the Report to Parliament, Prime Minister Rabuka appointed a Joint Parliamentary Select Committee to examine the Commission's findings and to make final recommendations which would be incorporated into a new Constitution to be passed by Parliament by July 1997. Attention shifted away from the Parliamentary Committee, however, when the negative response to the Report amongst many indigenous Fijian representative raised the prospect that Rabuka might feel pressured into rejecting most of its recommendations. In a counter move, the leader of the Opposition, the NFP's Jai Ram Reddy, indicated to Rabuka that his party would be willing to settle for a compromise over the crucial question of the ethnic composition of Parliament in return for concessions over the make up of the Cabinet.

The negotiations between Rabuka and Reddy were eventually reflected in the findings of the Parliamentary Committee and in the Constitution Amendment Bill (1997) which was passed by both Houses of Parliament in July 1997. The motion in the House of Representatives was seconded by Reddy as Leader of the Opposition. Under the new Constitution, the 71 member House of Representatives will be composed as follows:

Reserved seats

 

Fijians (including Pacific Islanders)

23

Indo-Fijians

19

General Voters

3

Rotumans

1

Open seats

25

TOTAL

71

Thus although the new Constitution reflects the major recommendation of the Constitution Review Commission that Fiji should move away from totally communal elections, the new arrangements represent a much less decisive move than was proposed. The suggested two-thirds to one-third balance between open and reserved seats has been reversed, with only one-third of seats to be elected on an open basis.

The other important modification to the Commission's proposals, which flowed from the negotiations between Reddy and Rabuka, is the provision that the Prime Minister will establish a Cabinet whose members 'as far as possible' proportionally reflect the parties represented in the House of Representatives. The Prime Minister's first obligation will be to the parties of any formal coalition, but the Cabinet may also include other parties with at least 10 per cent of the seats in the House. The new Constitution also embraces the idea of an appointed Senate rather than the elected body proposed by the Commission. The 32 member Senate will comprise 14 members appointed by the Great Council of Chiefs, 9 appointed by the Prime Minister, 8 by the Leader of the Opposition and 1 by the Council of Rotuma. The President will be appointed by the Great Council of Chiefs, but, in another significant move away from the 1990 Constitution, neither the President nor the Prime Minister are required to be of a particular ethnic background.

Special provision for protecting the interests of the indigenous Fijian community has also been made in a clause which states that any legislation impinging on the affairs of Fijians or Rotumans, or that seeks to alter the Agricultural Landlord and Tenant Act, must be approved by 9 of the 14 Senators appointed by the Great Council of Chiefs. With the passing of the Constitution Amendment Act, the new Constitution will come into effect in July 1998. This is to allow amendments to be made to a range of legislation which will be affected by the new Constitution. A clause in the Act also allows a two-year grace period for the removal of all discriminatory legislation.

Fiji's Political Future

The new Constitution brought immediate political benefits to the Fiji Government in the international arena. The move away from a racially constituted parliament, despite its limited scope, was widely welcomed by powers such as Australia, New Zealand, Britain and the US.(37) Fiji's readmission to the Commonwealth at the CHOGM of September 1997 in Edinburgh was also a major dividend brought by the change. Although, in Australia, the Commonwealth is often regarded as anachronistic or rather quaint, Commonwealth membership was held in high esteem by many indigenous Fijian leaders, and readmission will assist in Rabuka's efforts to rebuild his relationship with the chiefly elite. The development was also significant because it was achieved with the support of India, which had previously opposed any suggestion of Fiji's re-entry to the Commonwealth while a discriminatory Constitution was in effect.

The effect of the new arrangements on internal political developments in Fiji is, however, more difficult to assess. Immediately after the passing of the new Constitution there was a general feeling of relief that a period of tension within the country and of ill-repute internationally might be drawing to a close. The idea that reconciliation between the communities in Fiji might be possible was symbolised by the unanimous vote in favour of the new Constitution in the House of Representatives and by the speech to the Great Council of Chiefs by the NFP leader, Jai Ram Reddy, the first time an Indo-Fijian had addressed the Council. Later developments have indicated, however, that misgivings remain amongst some members of both communities. The leader of the Labour Party, Mahendra Chaudry has been especially sceptical about the new arrangements, although he appears to have had little support for his criticism from other leading figures in the Party.(38) The resounding by-election defeat of the SVT by a nationalist candidate in a rural Fijian seat in mid-October suggests that the Government has yet to convince some Fijians that the new arrangements do not threaten their interests.

There are also questions about the practicality of the idea of a multiparty Cabinet. The prospect of opposition parties being represented within executive government runs counter to the Westminster tradition and raises questions about how effective decision-making will be when faced with contentious policy issues. The proposal has, however, been designed to encourage the formation of coalition governments and may lead to arrangements under which the parties in a coalition agree not to stand against each other in the open seats. This would give people of both the major communities the opportunity to vote for a candidate from outside their own community with the reassurance that the candidate would not be in a position to act on narrow communal lines. A likely outcome of such a scenario would be a SVT-NFP coalition government under a SVT Prime Minister. The possibility of such developments occurring will depend crucially upon how well the major parties are able to convince their respective constituencies of the merits of multiracial government. Within the indigenous Fijian community there would have to be acceptance that the presence of significant numbers of Indo-Fijians in government is not a threat to indigenous interests and the Indo-Fijian community would have to be willing to have their representatives take on a subordinate or non-leading role in government for the indefinite future. Elections under the new Constitution are due in February 1999.

One of the most crucial issues which will confront any Fiji government in the near future is the question of land tenure in the sugar industry. Sugar is Fiji's largest merchandise export and the industry is the country's largest employer. Production is carried out on land owned by indigenous Fijians but leased by mainly Indo-Fijian farmers, most of whose 30 year leases are due to run out in the next few years. Many lease holders have threatened to abandon the industry if they do not receive the security of new long-term leases, but many landowners have expressed reluctance to grant such terms, an impasse which is holding up investment in an industry which urgently needs modernisation to maintain international competitiveness. The issue thus touches on some of the most sensitive questions facing Fiji today, involving a conflict of interests between the two main ethnic groups over an industry at the heart of the Fiji economy and centring on the question of land, a matter of key symbolic importance for indigenous Fijians. The Rabuka government has established a Parliamentary Committee, with Opposition participation, to examine proposals for long-term solutions to the land issue, including ideas to diversify land use away from dependence on sugar production. Resolution of this issue will be critical to both the economic and political future of Fiji.

In the longer term, transcendence of ethnically-based political tensions in Fiji will depend upon whether the country can achieve the sustained economic development necessary to provide a material basis for prosperity amongst all communities. In Malaysia, the country whose colonial history and post-independence racial policies most closely resemble Fiji's, rapid economic growth has been crucially important in easing ethnic tensions and encouraging the Malay led government to move gradually away from some of its discriminatory policies towards the ethnic Chinese and Indian communities. The economic future of Fiji is, however, more uncertain than Malaysia's since Fiji does not have the size, resource base and proximity to a growing region which have underpinned Malaysia's economic success. On the political side, Malaysia never introduced communal representation in parliament and has had a stronger tradition of cross-ethnic voting. The limited nature of the recent move away from communal politics in Fiji may be insufficient to encourage multiracial politics and a wider political accommodation.

Australia and Fiji

Australia, as one of the two 'great powers' in the South Pacific (with New Zealand), has long had an important role in developments in Fiji. Australians were amongst the first European settlers in the country and the Australian Colonial Sugar Refinery Company dominated the economy of Fiji through control of the sugar industry until selling out to the newly independent government of Fiji in 1973. Australia is Fiji's most important trading partner, accounting for 39 per cent of Fiji's imports and 24 per cent of its exports (1995 figures) and, until recently overtaken by Japan, Australia was for many years Fiji's largest aid donor.(39) (See Appendix for figures on Fiji-Australia trade and aid.) Australia is also Fiji's most important source of tourists and a major source of investment in tourism developments and the garment manufacturing industry. Australia provides duty-free access to its domestic market for goods from Pacific countries under the South Pacific Regional Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement (SPARTECA), an arrangement which has been important for facilitating the development of Fiji's garment export industry.

Economic and historical connections, however, do not necessarily translate into diplomatic leverage, as the Australian government found when it attempted to influence events in Fiji in the aftermath of the 1987 coups.(40) The Australian government condemned the May coup, suspended the provision of new aid to Fiji, suspended the defence cooperation program and cancelled a round of bilateral economic talks. The imposition of economic sanctions was discussed in Cabinet but publicly ruled out by the government.(41) Although Australia's stand was joined by New Zealand, it attracted little support amongst other Pacific countries. At a South Pacific Forum meeting just two weeks after the first coup, representatives from the deposed Bavadra government were not allowed to speak and the meeting adopted a resolution which merely expressed 'concern' at events in Fiji. That many Pacific leaders identified with the aims of the coup leaders was made clear from a strongly-worded statement against foreign interference in Fijian affairs by the Melanesian Spearhead Group (Papua New Guinea, Solomons and Vanuatu).(42)

As the Rabuka government consolidated its external and internal support, the Australian and New Zealand governments softened their stance. Australia's reaction to the second coup was muted and by 1988 a number of new aid projects had been resumed. This reflected the Australian government's desire to maintain support for the return of elected government while not jeopardising its influence in Fiji and the region. Normalisation in relations moved a step closer when the Australian government welcomed the 1990 constitution as 'restor[ing] a degree of representative government to Fiji by providing for an early return to elected government'.(43) Following the 1992 elections complete normalisation of the Australia-Fiji relationship was signalled by restoration of Australia's Defence Co-operation Program with Fiji to coincide with the visit of the newly elected Prime Minister Rabuka to Australia in September 1992. Shortly before the visit Rabuka also made gestures of conciliation by announcing that his government would commence a review of the 1990 Constitution.(44)

From the beginning of the Constitutional review process until its culmination with the passing of the Constitution Amendment Act in July 1997, Australia has exerted consistent but low-key influence on all relevant players in Fiji politics to eliminate the most obviously discriminatory aspects of Fiji's political institutions. This approach was based on the assessment that overt pressure would not only be counterproductive within Fiji, but would be badly received in other South Pacific countries. Australian Government representatives argued that it was in Fiji's own interests to work towards multiracial government, both for reasons of domestic harmony and because of the damage to the country's already fragile economy from an unstable investment climate and a continuing exodus of skilled labour and capital.

Australia has a considerable interest in political stability and economic development in Fiji. Fiji provides one of the few examples of a Pacific island country with the human and physical resources to develop a range of export industries and sustainable economic growth without reliance on foreign assistance. This not only provides the potential for the development of Australia's already significant trade and investment links with Fiji, but would also open up the possibility of Fiji taking on a more prominent role in Pacific affairs. There is a huge asymmetry in the power relationship between Australia and the Pacific island countries, an imbalance which makes it very difficult for Australian policy-makers to avoid being seen as overbearing.(45) The emergence of Fiji as a small but significant regional economic and political power would provide a model for other Pacific countries and help foster a more equal relationship between the Pacific islands and the larger littoral states.

Conclusion

Fiji is a society marked by deep social divisions which follow regional and economic as well as ethnic lines, cleavages which have been complicated by the country's transition from an isolated colonial territory to an independent state in a competitive world economy. Conventional explanations of Fiji politics which suggest that there is a simple division between two ethnic groups with broadly homogenous interests ignore the social and regional diversity within the various communities and, in particular, the transforming pressures on the indigenous Fijian community as it is brought into the market economy and the urban environment. The political experiment played out by Sitiveni Rabuka and his supporters in the Fijian community, from the coups of 1987 until the recent Constitutional changes, were a largely unsuccessful attempt to shield indigenous Fijians from the effect of this transformation and to restore the Fijian chiefly elite to what was seen as its traditional leading role. The political institutions which emerged from the experiment not only deepened hostility between the indigenous Fijian and Indo-Fijian communities but also highlighted the growing divisions within indigenous Fijian society. The crucial weaknesses of the experiment were that it was based on an idealised vision of traditional Fijian society that had never really been accepted throughout the islands of Fiji and which necessitated the political exclusion of half the country's population. The result was not only a violation of Indo-Fijians' rights but an undermining of the economic growth and prosperity to which indigenous Fijians have aspired.

The actions of Prime Minister Rabuka and the mainstream of the indigenous Fijian leadership in recent years have indicated an awareness that the politics of exclusion implicit in the 1990 Constitution was unsustainable. The appointment of the Constitution Review Commission with members respected in all Fiji's communities provided the opportunity to make a clean break from the conflicts and divisions of the recent past and to move towards a multiracial accommodation. That opportunity was taken up only in a partial way in the amended Constitution to take effect in 1998 and it remains to be seen how well the new arrangements will provide incentives for Fiji's leaders to campaign and to govern in a non-communal way for the benefit of all the country's communities. The encouragement given to coalition politics by the provision for a multiparty Cabinet may succeed in allowing an evolution to multiracial politics, but on the other hand, it may only lead to coalitions of entrenched communal leaders. The elections of 1999 will be the first real test of the new Constitution and the intervening period will be a test for the capacity of Fiji's political leaders to develop a national rather than a communal vision.

Endnotes

  1. Bill Standish, 'The End of "A New Era" in Fiji: Towards an Interpretation', Parliamentary Research Service Background Paper, 1987.
  2. Robert Norton, Race and Politics in Fiji. University of Queensland Press, St. Lucia, 1990, pp.18-20.
  3. William Sutherland, Beyond the Politics of Race. ANU, Canberra, 1992, pp. 27, 46, 46.
  4. Standish, op. cit. p. 5.
  5. Sutherland, op. cit. p. 29.
  6. Brij Lal, Broken Waves: A History of the Fiji Islands in the Twentieth Century, Honolulu, 1992, p. 235.
  7. Michael Howard, Fiji: Race and Politics in an Island State, Vancouver, 1991, pp. 94-95.
  8. Nicholas Thomas, 'Regional Politics, Ethnicity, and Custom in Fiji'. Contemporary Pacific, vol.2 no.1, Spring 1990, pp. 132-136.
  9. Brij Lal, 'Politics Since Independence: Continuity and Change, 1970-1982', in B. Lal, ed., Politics in Fiji: Studies in Contemporary History. Sydney, 1986, p.79.
  10. Norton, op. cit., pp.122-125. See Bill Emmott, 'Fiji: Islands in the Wind', The Economist. 27 July 1985, pp. 23-30, for a good and often quite prescient survey of economic and political conditions in Fiji in the early 1980s.
  11. Alexander Mamak, Colour, Culture and Conflict: A Study of Pluralism in Fiji. Sydney, 1978, pp. 67-77. Craig Skehan, 'From Colonialism to Unionism', Pacific Islands Monthly, April 1992, pp. 6-8.
  12. For a highly critical discussion of the influence of University of South Pacific academics on the Labour Party and on the party's political program, see Deryck Scarr, Fiji: The Politics of Illusion. The Military Coups in Fiji, Sydney, 1988, pp. 28-36.
  13. Lal, Broken Waves, p. 259.
  14. ibid., 269-270.
  15. 'All Power to the Fijians'. Islands Business Pacific, January/February 1993: pp. 19-23. Norton, op. cit., pp. 140-148.
  16. Robert Robertson and Akosita Tamanisau, Fiji: Shattered Coups. Sydney, 1988, p. 99.
  17. Sutherland, op. cit., pp. 201-202.
  18. Preamble to the 1990 Constitution, quoted by Peter Larmour, 'Introduction', in Brij Lal & Peter Larmour, Electoral Systems in Divided Societies: The Fiji Constitution Review, Canberra, 1997, p. 1.
  19. Sutherland, op. cit., p. 9.
  20. Pacific Islands Monthly, June 1992, pp.7-10.
  21. Rowan Callick, 'Chiefs, Indians and the Colonel', Modern Times. July 1992, p. 14.
  22. Daily Post, 11 Dec. 1991. Cited by Brij Lal, 'Chiefs and Indians: Elections and Politics in Contemporary Fiji', text of article for Contemporary Pacific, vol. 5, no. 2, p. 7.
  23. Howard, op. cit., pp. 279-286.
  24. The proposal for a government of national unity was attacked by the Taukei Movement which branded Rabuka as a traitor who had 'sold Fijian interests and aspirations to the Indian leaders for his own political security'. Sydney Morning Herald, 8 April 1993, p. 11.
  25. Brij Lal, 'Towards a United Future: Report of the Fiji Constitution Review Commission', Journal of Pacific History, vol. 32, no. 1, 1997, p. 72.
  26. Fiji Constitution Review Commission, The Fiji Islands: Towards a United Future. Report of the Fiji Constitution Review Commission 1996, Suva, 1996, Appendix B.
  27. ibid., pp. 9-11.
  28. ibid., pp. 14-16.
  29. ibid., p.18.
  30. ibid., p. 20.
  31. ibid., p. 293.
  32. ibid., pp. 300-302.
  33. ibid., pp. 273-275.
  34. ibid., pp. 261-262.
  35. Fiji Times, 1 February 1997, p. 1.
  36. Fiji Times, 11 September 1996, pp.1,2&3; 1 February 1997, pp.1&3.
  37. Fiji Times, 10 September 1997, p. 44.
  38. Fiji Times, 11 September 1997, p. 1.
  39. Economist Intelligence Unit, Pacific Islands Country Report, 3rd Quarter 1997, p.11.
  40. Gareth Evans and Bruce Grant. Australia's Foreign Relations in the World of the 1990s. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1991, p. 177.
  41. Howard, op. cit., p. 280.
  42. ibid., p. 281.
  43. Dr. Neal Blewett, then Minister for Trade and Overseas Development, to Fiji-Australia Business Council meeting, Suva, 5 September 1991, 'Australia and Fiji: Pacific Partners'. The Monthly Record, Sep. 1991, pp. 571.
  44. 'Rabuka Wins Over Australia'. Pacific Islands Monthly, Oct. 1992, p. 10.
  45. See Richard Herr, 'Australia and the Pacific Islands', in F.A. Mediansky, Australian Foreign Policy into the New Millenium, Melbourne, 1997, pp. 231-250 for a discussion of these problems.

Appendices

Table 1: Australia's Trade with Fiji

A$'000

1991-92

1992-93

1993-94

1994-95

1995-96

Total Exports

245 918

327 200

324 753

378 169

474 525

Total Imports

101 418

130 146

163 439

184 540

235 110

Balance of Merchandise Trade

144 499

197 053

161 314

193 630

239 415

Source: Department of Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, Composition of Trade 1995-96.

Table 2: Total Aid Flows to the South Pacific by Country

1995-96 to 1997-98 ($m)

 

Expenditure Estimate

1995-96

1996-97

1997-98

Fiji

21.8

19.7

19.7

Vanuatu

14.3

12.9

12.9

Solomon Islands

11.6

11.1

11.1

Western Samoa

11.5

11.0

11.0

Tonga

10.7

10.0

10.0

Kiribati

6.5

6.0

6.0

Nauru

2.9

2.9

2.9

Tuvalu

3.9

2.4

2.4

Federated States of Micronesia

1.6

1.3

1.3

Cook Islands

1.9

1.7

1.7

New Caledonia

1.2

1.4

1.4

Palau

0.3

0.3

0.3

Marshall Islands

0.6

0.6

0.6

Niue and Tokelau

0.8

0.9

0.9

French Polynesia

0.5

0.4

0.4

Policy & Management Reform (PMR)

4.6

9.0

11.0

Regional/Multicountry Programs

36.0

33.8

31.1

Total

130.7

125.4

124.7

Source: Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), 1997-98.

 

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