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An undemocratic Press Conference

Nuku'alofa, Tonga


Thank you for your report on Australian Foreign Minister’s (Julie Bishop) media conference (April 2, 2015). However, on important questions such as (a) Australian immigration policies to Tonga, and the (b) Kava issue, the Madam Minister brushed aside the questions and repeated her country’s prohibitive policies.

But worst than that, the Tongan Government’s restriction to allow only “four” media questions from the entire floor of journalists was a non-transparent decision. Where is the “good governance” and so-called leader of “democracy,” and “transparent” leadership that was promised by this government?

By whose authority to protect government leaders from media representatives in a press conference? We were advised by Kalafi Moala, before the press conference, and the master of ceremony repeated this restriction during the conference. This is undemocratic!

Madam Minister’s disappointing answers to two important issues to Tongans at home, and those living in Australia, were typical bureaucratic hogwash, and a waste of my time. She should have distributed the regular bureaucratic notice: Australia has no new answers to your questions.

Australian discriminatory immigration policies

As you recall, I asked the Madam Minister: What can Tonga expect from Australia in the future possibly allowing more Tongans to immigrate to Australia? Since there are 70,000 Tongans living in New Zealand; 65,000 living in the USA; but there are only 20,000 Tongans living in Australia does show how more restrictive Australia’s immigration laws than New Zealand and the U.S.

She claimed that the disparity is not Australia’s fault, but it’s people’s preference if they want to live in America or New Zealand. She is either ignorant of immigration trends as a bureaucrat, or she must think she was talking to 12-year-olds.

Australian immigration laws have been accused of being “racist” in the past because of their “white” preference nature. It does not seem to me that the accusation is far off target.

Australia’s “Kava” sad excuse

Despite the fact that Australia is the only major power, which restricts the importation of kava, Madam Minister replied that Australia is doing it to protect their indigenous people. When will Australia stop treating their Aborigines peoples as if they were inferior species?

But I wanted to ask the Madam Minister if they have similar importation laws against alcoholic beverages like they do Kava. Because Canada and America have indigenous peoples of their own, doesn’t it seem ridiculous that Australia can use their Aborigines for an excuse to restrict the importation of Kava?

Alcoholic beverages are more dangerous than Kava.

Sione A. Mokofisi
Director: English, Journalism & Languages
Tonga International Academy


Why is Australia doing this? That's what I want to know. It'll only make the pacific people in Australia and overseas angry. Look at America and N.Z, they don't care. Banning Kava from importing to Australia should be their last option, if there is no alternative policy. Because to me, I want to know who causes the problem? Kava is part of the pacific tradition and culture not just the Tongans. And obviously this Minister doesn't like or drink Kava. May be she drinks alcohol, I don't know. But the problem is not about the Kava, is the User - whatever they are doing with the Kava has causing them to act weird is the problem. Australia should have a program that allows pacific people to go out to the aboriginal communities and socialize and then teach and educate them about drinking and using Kava. Whoever is advising the Minister needs to do their homework and not giving this lazy policy for banning Kava from imported to Australia because the pacific people, scientists, researchers and politicians who understands the significance of Kava very well will challenge his lazy policy making Australia the only nation that passes "Kava Ban" in its immigration department in the world. Why? for thought!

'Oku fili 'ehe kakai 'o e fonua kotoape honau kau taki, mei he kakai poto 'o e fonua koia. Kau taki 'oku lava ke nau 'ilo 'a e ngaahi me'a 'e tu'utamaki ai honau fonua, pea nau feinga ke ta'ofi. Kau taki 'oku nau 'ilo ngaahi me'a 'e lelei ai honau fonua, pea nau feinga ke fai ia. 'Oku ngaue'aki 'ehe kakai toko lahi 'a e fakakaukau 'o e laulanu ke fakaanga'i 'aki 'a e ngaahi kaveinga ngaue mo e fa'u lao 'a e ngaahi fonua lahi ke malu'i honau fonua. Kuo a'u ia kiha tu'unga kuo feinga 'a e fa'ahinga ia ke maumau'i 'a e lao 'aha fonua kehe, ko e 'uhinga tokua kuo nau lau lanu. Na'e toki ta'ofi 'e Tonga 'a e humai 'a e fo'i'akau mei NZ he vakapuna ke malu'i 'a Tonga, he 'oku 'i ai fanga ki'i manu kovi ai. Kapau 'oku tau sai'ia kitautolu he kava Tonga, he 'ikai ke tau hanga 'etautolu 'o fakamalohi'i ai 'a Australia ke nau sai'ia ai. Tukuange ia ki Australia ke nau fakakaukau'i pe tenau fakangofua ke 'oange ki honau fonua pe 'ikai, 'aki 'enau ngaahi 'uhinga.'Oku 'i ai 'a e fu'u palopalema fakamamani lahi 'i he lao faka 'immigration', tautefito ki he ngaahi fonua 'o e uesite 'west'. US, UK, Aust., Europe etc. koe'uhi ko e ngaue'aki 'ehe kakai maumaulao 'a e fo'i lea laulanu fekau'aki pea mo 'enau ngaahi lao faka 'immigration'. Kuo fakahu mai ha kakai ta'e fakalao 'o laka hake he nima miliona he vaha'a mo Mexico, 'o pehe tokua 'oku laulanu hono ta'ofi kinautolu. 'Ikai 'ilo hingoa, 'ikai 'ilo mahaki, 'ikai 'ilo polisi lekooti etc. Kuo tu'u hake homau taki ke 'aofi fu'u kakai ta'efakalao ko'eni, pea mo fakamole 'a e laui piliona 'o e pa'anga tukuhau 'a e kakai ki hono tauhi fu'u kakai ta'e fakalao ko'eni. 'Unfair', ta'efakapotopoto ki he kakai failelei, kakai tauhilao, mo e kakai ngaue mo faitotonu 'o e fonua, kakai na'anau tohi kole nofo fonua he founga totonu etc. 'Oku kau 'a 'Isileli mo Australia 'i he ngaahi fonua lao 'immigration' lelei taha 'i mamani, pea 'oku ou ako au mei ai.....SAIA.