Fiji poll findings scorned
October 3, 2011
A POLL by a leading Australian research outfit claiming people in Fiji back the military regime of Frank Bainimarama has been ridiculed as ''frankly absurd'' by the Gillard government.
The Lowy Institute poll was released last month to coincide with a meeting of Pacific island leaders in New Zealand, including Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
The poll found the Fijian leader, who seized power in a 2006 coup, is more popular than Ms Gillard. But Labor's Richard Marles - who has responsibility in the government for Pacific ties - used a speech at the Lowy Institute in Sydney to condemn the poll's methodology.
'Commissioning a poll of this kind in Fiji is frankly absurd,'' Mr Marles said.
''In a country where there is a repressive regime, where people do get taken off to the barracks, if you are sitting at home and somebody knocks on the door and asks you what you think of the government, what do you think you'd say?''
The poll found a majority said Fiji should be left alone to sort out the return to democracy and opposed international pressure on the Fijian government. Australia was the country most favoured by Fijians, but more than four in five people said Canberra should lift sanctions on the Bainimarama regime.
Lowy Institute executive director Michael Wesley yesterday defended the survey, asking if such a climate of fear existed in Fiji why Commodore Frank Bainimarama only achieved around 60 per cent popularity, not the 99 per cent seen under the likes of Saddam Hussein. ''People who claim you can't poll in Fiji are essentially denying the Fijians a voice,'' Dr Wesley said.
But Mr Marles said the poll had no credibility. ''The people of Fiji deserve the right to elect their own government,'' he said.
October 03, 2011
Australia Govt slams sham Lowy poll
Adding their voice to the choral of voices slamming the Lowy Institute's sham poll, the Australian Parliamentary Secretary on things Pacific adds Australia's scorn to the mix.