28 February, 2015
Allow me to respond to your front page article “Aussies Snubbed? ” of 28 February 2015 and specifically to references to me on Page 3.
It is my firm belief that newspapers not only serve to inform the public but also act as a “Reference” for historical research.
It, therefore, is incumbent on me to set the facts straight rather than let lie what, to me, is becoming slewed and agenda-driven reporting.
Fact One: During my tenure with the Australian High Commission, I held the position of Public Affairs Officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). That, for those like the article’s author who may not be able to fathom the difference, is quite separate to the position of “Communications Specialist” which was how the author of the article described me.
Fact Two: Ms Merewalesi Nailatikau was not my successor. She was Senior Communications Manager for the then AusAID and continued in that capacity when the two Australian departments merged into a single entity. Let me assure the author concerned that Ms Nailatikau is an intelligent and professionally trained individual with the relevant accompanying tertiary qualifications. To insinuate that her personal life might influence her professional status is, if I may offer an opinion, both demeaning of a very intelligent young woman and degrading to professional women and women in general.
Fact Three: I did not “retire” as your author suggests. I opted to take a redundancy package for personal reasons one of which was to re-enter mainstream media reporting in an attempt to bring back some respect and credibility to the profession. In that regard that is the only “agenda” some might wish to accuse me of.
Fact Four: Opinions I expressed (and continue to express) on social media have been both “negative’, and where relevant “positive”, of the Bainimarama Government. Those postings, while employed by the High Commission, were duly prefaced with constant reminders that I was commenting in my capacity as a citizen of Fiji and not as an employee of the Australian Government. Might I say that I am grateful to my former employer for being able to distinguish between my job description and duty statement and my right, as a Fiji citizen, to free speech. It is abundantly clear that some media personnel are obsessed with the childish notion that anyone who offers an opinion that may be critical of the Bainimarama Government is “anti-Bainimarama Government” and even “anti-Fiji”. I make no apologies for pointing out government shortcomings and I am of the opinion that professional journalists, by the very “nature” of their work, are expected to do likewise.
By way of further explanation, my postings on social media questioned the implications and functionality of the Media Industry Development Decree and the Television (Cross Carriage of Designated Events) Decree. Should your author be brave enough to distance himself from what I perceive to be an agenda-driven comfort zone he might admit that both Decrees are now being questioned with suggestions they may be amended or “fine-tuned” to better meet the “realities” of the media profession. And should he have a memory lapse, it’s worth mentioning that the whole of Fiji was, a couple of months back, made painfully aware of the shortcoming in the Media (Cross Carriage) Decree.