Monday, January 07, 2008

Visit Down Under, ex-rocker minister says - The Fiji Times - 7th January 2008

AXED interim Minister for Labour and Industrial Relations Bernadette Rounds-Ganilau has been invited to visit Australia.

The invitation was made by her Australian counterpart, Peter Garrett, during the United Nations climate change conference in Bali, Indonesia.

Mrs Rounds-Ganilau had invited Mr Garrett, the pop star turned politician and Cabinet member in the Kevin Rudd Government, to Fiji and he reciprocated with an invitation for her to visit Australia.

Mrs Rounds-Ganilau said the former Midnight Oil frontman had been an advocate for the environment for many years and used to sing about the environment and make contentious comments about Australia's treatment of the environment as well as human rights abuses.

"It was very uncommon and unfashionable to do this going back 25 - 30 years, but he did it because he could see the way we were all going," she said.

"That's commitment and advocacy for you — so I have respect for him in that area," she said. "We talked about building bridges between our countries as we both felt that the environmental issue was very important to us all. Then at the end of the lunch I invited him to Fiji, and he responded by inviting us to Australia."

Mrs Rounds-Ganilau said spoke about looking forward to the future and where the two countries were going.

"Adaptation and mitigation measures were high on the agenda and he felt that adaptation had to be the way to go," she said. "In my statement at the plenary, I charged industrialised countries with the crime of climate change devastation demanded reparation financially and technically.

"The fact that Australia signed the Kyoto Protocol was a huge step forward for not only Australians but for the Pacific region as there can be commonalties in our stand against industrialised countries," she said.