18 May 2016

Academic notes path to authoritarianism on Nauru

5:19 am on 18 May 2016

Political stability in Nauru over recent years has enabled an authoritarian approach to governance, according to an Australian academic.

The comment from Stewart Firth, a State, Society and Governance research fellow at the Australian National University, comes as concerns remain over the Nauru government's commitment to democracy and the rule of law.

Dr Firth said changes to the shape of Nauru's parliament in 2012 effectively ended decades of political instability.

But he said that, combined with a sort of symbiosis with Australia over the asylum seeker centre on Nauru, this had given the local government a freedom it would not otherwise have had.

"Whereby Australia is loathe to criticise what happens on Nauru or as Julie Bishop, the Australian foreign minister tends to do, she tends to say well this is all a sovereign, domestic matter for Nauru," he said.

"And the Nauruans know that of course, and the present government is making the most of it."

Nauru President Baron Waqa.

Nauru President Baron Waqa. Photo: RNZI / Koro Vaka'uta

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