Friday, February 27, 2009

Aust maintains stand on Fiji coup - 27/02/2009

The Australian government’s perspective on the December 2006 coup has not changed despite continuous flow of aid to the country, said Australian High Commissioner James Batley.

He made the comment as he handed a cheque of FJ$756,000 to the interim Education Minister Filipe Bole for the rehabilitation of schools ravaged by recent floods.

“…………this assistance does not mark a change in Australia’s policy towards Fiji. As I said in January, Australians expect their government to lend a hand to a neighbour when it suffers a natural disaster.”

He said it is important to underline that Australia’s commitment to Fiji’s development remains, and it remains substantial.

“That does not in any way change Australia’s position on the events of December 2006, and on Fiji’s return to democracy. That position is well known and it has not changed.

“But this handover today serves as a reminder of the indissoluble ties of geography and of history that bind us together,” Batley said.

“This assistance comes out of the A$3 million that was committed by Australia after the January floods.”

Batley added, “out of the total, around FJ$390,000 is being provided to assist with repairs, and with equipment such as water tanks, furniture, library resources and stationery for 25 schools which suffered damage or served as evacuation centres during the floods”.

Fourteen of these schools are located in the West, seven in the North and four are in the Central Division.

Twenty one are primary schools and four are secondary schools.

“The remaining funds of approximately FJ$370,000 will be used to cover annual school levies for students from the same 25 schools. Based on the 2008 school rolls, there are approximately 6000 students at these 25 schools.

“Our aim is to directly help families who suffered financial hardship in the floods, by ensuring that their children can continue to attend school.”

Bole while accepting the cheque said he hoped that relations between the two nations would continue due to our historic and geographic significance.

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