Australia should "eliminate some of the negatives" in its bilateral relationship with Fiji's military regime, a new study suggests.
A paper released by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), says the Fiji government's attitude had hardened in the face of international condemnation.
Author Professor Richard Herr of the University of Fiji said there was no guarantee Fiji would respond in a manner that would satisfy the Australian government.
The current approach had produced an impasse with no suggestion that Fiji was about to back down.
Professor Herr said short of a regime change in Fiji, Australia could either wait for events to take their course or re-engage at a political level.
"...it is time for a fresh approach by Australia to prepare the grounds for a more effective re-engagement with the government of Fiji," he said.
"For this to occur, there's a need to eliminate some of the more important irritants that have festered for three years and have intensified feelings of distrust within the Fiji Government."
Fiji has experienced four military coups since 1987 - the most recent in December 2006 put Commodore Frank Bainimarama in power.
Last year he abrogated Fiji's constitution, subsequently announcing a timetable for constitutional change but no elections before 2014.
Australia responded strongly, expelling diplomats and imposing travel bans.
Fiji is suspended from the Pacific islands Forum.
The result has been an increasingly rancorous relationship.
Professor Herr said Australia could seek to improve the relationship in a number of ways.
They included amending Fiji's suspension from the Pacific Islands Forum so that it was only barred from forum-only events.
Both the former and present Australia governments have expressed their disapproval of Fiji's actions in the strongest terms.
But Professor Herr said the diplomatic temperature could be reduced if Australia eased back on provocative rhetoric.
Australia could also make its sanctions smarter by easing travel bans on Fijian officials and their families. The consequences of these bans have included banning some Fijian students from coming to Australia and stopping a Fijian footballer from joining the Australian Football League.
The defence relationship was an early casualty.
Professor Herr said it made no sense for Australia to refuse to have any connection with the one Fijian institution that holds effective power.
He suggested tensions could also be eased by working cooperatively on matters such as search and rescue and disaster relief.
"Hopefully, the Bainimarama government will respond in a positive fashion," he said.
"The process of re-engagement has to begin somewhere, sometime by someone to produce a more productive relationship for the peoples of both Australia and Fiji.
"Eliminating some of the negatives in the current bilateral relationship is a necessary first step toward re-engaging positively." AAP