26 Nov 2007

Fiji's interim administration hopes for better relations with Australia following Rudd win

6:14 am on 26 November 2007

Fiji's interim administration is hoping for better relations with Australia and an easing of travel bans

following the election of the Australian Labour Party .

The sentiment has been expressed both by Fiji's interim prime minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, and the interim finance minister and Fiji Labour Party leader, Mahendra Chaudhry.

Mr Chaudhry has congratulated the incoming prime minister, Kevin Rudd, and says he hopes the new Labour government will move away from isolation to constructive engagement with Fiji.

Mr Chaudhry says the Fiji Labour Party has had a warm relationship with its Australian counterpart and is counting on that for a change of heart.

The Australian Labour Party spokesman for foreign affairs, Robert McClelland, had said before the election that a Labour government would take a less confrontational approach with Pacific island countries.

But Fiji's deposed prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, says he does not believe Australia's approach to the interim administration would change.