SPEECH - FIJI DAY - 17 OCTOBER 2016

As a proud Australian of Fijian heritage, it has been my pleasure over the past week to join in two events celebrating Fiji Day.

I firstly thank the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association, who hosted their celebrations at the Marsden Park Mosque and whose congregation has a significant Fijian component. I am always impressed with the young people who contribute to these events—particularly, on this occasion, young Master Ramzin, who drew the analogy between Fiji being a tiny country at the corner of the globe and the Ahmadiyya teachings to spread their message of faith and peace to every corner of the world.

I acknowledge the High Commissioner, His Excellency Mr Yogesh Punja and the New South Wales Consul-General and Trade Commissioner, Mr Zarak Khan, for their generous interaction with the Fiji-Australia diaspora at this event and the Fiji Day celebrations held at Liverpool on Saturday. It was an honour for me to once again be received on this occasion by the Prime Minister of Fiji, the honourable Rear Admiral JV Bainimarama. The Prime Minister's address was thoughtful and extremely well received, ranging from the international role of Fijian peacekeeping forces to an apology for what he called the lost years in Fiji, when racism and division drove so many from their homeland. To hear him proclaim his desire to progress one Fiji in both Fijian and Hindi rightfully drew spontaneous applause.

As we normalise the relationship between our countries, I look forward to focusing on increasing the economic and trade links between us. I also acknowledge the great exports from Fiji in the form of the human capital that is so influential in Australia, especially in my local community. In the words of the Fijian national anthem, may God bless Fiji. Ni sa bula. Vinaka vaka levu.