I read this in the Fiji Business news on-line but it mainly comes from a radio australia program. Are people from Fiji really doing this, or is this a beat-up story? As more boatloads of asylum seekers enter Australian waters from the west, I wonder how many Pacific Islanders are thinking of building a bilibili (bamboo raft) to try and sail into the sunset! Of course probably 95% of asylum seekers come by plane. There's still a fuss about what to do about Afghan and Sri Lankan boat people. With an election being hyped up, the candidates don't want to rock the boat. Ha ha. Playing on people's ignorance and fear of 'strangers'. There's talk of a detention centre in East Timor, or even Nauru (once again, and good for the economy of that scarred island) and even a small Oz country town, Edenhope, has put its hand up, hoping for a boost of a billion dollars into the waning community of farmers.
Claims Fijian tourists are applying for Australian protection visas
Sources in Australia's Fijian and Indo-Fijian communities claim more and more people from Fiji are arriving in Australia as tourists and then applying for protection visas. The department of immigration says actual figures on this are unavailable, but all cases are decided on a case by case basis, and there's no blanket policy covering Fiji citizens.
Tue, 27 Jul 2010
SYDNEY, Australia (RADIO AUSTRALIA) ----- Sources in Australia's Fijian and Indo-Fijian communities claim more and more people from Fiji are arriving in Australia as tourists and then applying for protection visas. The department of immigration says actual figures on this are unavailable, but all cases are decided on a case by case basis, and there's no blanket policy covering Fiji citizens. But leaders in both communities spoken to by Pacific Beat says there is anecdotal evidence that it is occurring. Sanjay Ramesh, political editor of the Fiji Times, an Indo-Fijian community newspaper in Sydney, says the traditional kind of migration from Fiji involving mainly Indo-Fijians seems to be changing as Fiji's economy and political climate deteriorate.
Radio Australiaâ€™s Presenter Bruce Hill speaks with Sanjay Ramesh, political editor of the Fiji Times, an Indo-Fijian community newspaper in Sydney.
RAMESH: There has been some shift in the way which ethnic group is coming to Australia. There has been in recent times a more indigenous Fijians are coming to Australia and I believe the Indo-Fijian migration has stayed very much the same. HILL: It's difficult to get actual numbers from the Department of Immigration. Do you have any idea of what size this kind of immigration is from? Are people coming in on tourist visas, and then asking for protection visas, not wanting to go back to Fiji?
RAMESH: Yes, that is pretty much my feeling of what's happening. I believe let's say if indigenous Fijian migration was pretty much steady as well previously and it was pretty low, so you may think there would be a spike of about 20 per cent of that group coming into Australia and probably seeking protection visa because they are not very pleased with what the events that have transpired in Fiji.
HILL: What's happening to people who come to Fiji on tourist visas and then apply for protection visas, are they getting them?
RAMESH: Hmm, I believe there is no general trend that has been established and it has been case by case basis, but there have not been a bulk processing of visas for people seeking protection visa that come from Fiji at this stage, so it is very much a case by case basis at the moment.
HILL: Why are people leaving Fiji, is it because of the politics, is it because of the coup-installed government or is it because the economy is in a bad state in Fiji?
RAMESH; I think Bruce it's a combination of all the factors. I think there are indigenous Fijians that are pretty much concerned about the direction Fiji has taken. There is land reform that is happening at this stage and that has caused quite a number of nervousness among indigenous Fijians. The economy has not been doing very well since the coup and that is another one of the reasons and there is additional reasons like the indigenous Fijians largely had preferential access to public services and various access to loan facilities and these seem to have been curbed under the current regime. So there is a reason as to, there is a very significant concern amongst certain segment of the indigenous Fijian population about this.
HILL: What affect is all this increased immigration having on the Fijian and Indo-Fijian communities here in Australia? Are the two getting much larger and do they cooperate?
RAMESH: There is some cooperation Bruce, but there has not been very much cooperation in this respect, because I mean there is still large segments of the Indo-Fijian population in Australia that still believes that Bainimarama should be given the opportunity to complete his reforms before making any judgement and I think that is still the prevalent mood even until this day, but definitely I do not think the indigenous Fijian community has quite the same outlook.
HILL: Do you have any idea what the numbers involved are? I mean this must be swelling the ranks of the Fijian communities here in Australia?
RAMESH: Yes, I think the numbers would be around hundreds. There would be a large proportion of the community who has decided to move out of Fiji and seek protection in Australia.