The Permanent Secretary for Information, Ms Sharon Smith-Johns, accuses New Ltd of continuing to wage a hostlie media campaign against Fiji, saysing this time it directly targets the nation's tourism industry and economy."
The statement is as follows:
“In recent weeks, News Ltd newspapers have published numerous articles on Fiji, all of which perpetrate negativity about Fiji.”
Ms Smith-Johns said, “It begs the question that most in Fiji are asking. Is the Australian Government using News Limited as a tool to punish Fiji and cripple our economy? These stories are so unbalanced it boils down to nothing but propaganda”.
“They have embarked on a campaign to manipulate the facts and news to hurt the people of Fiji but we are also taking action through the proper channels and using whatever means is at our disposal.”
In response to these, the Ministry has written formal letters of complaint about these inaccurate reports, which have been copied to the relevant bodies for their necessary action.
In one article titled ‘Australian tourists turn a blind eye as Fiji’s best people are persecuted’, the Courier Mail which is a News Ltd paper reported “It should be a source of profound shame to our country that Australians are going on holidays to Fiji in record numbers”.
The article was penned by Rory Gibson, a former editor-in-chief of the Fiji Times.
In an article published in The Independent Newspaper titled ‘Pirate radio tries to beat repression in paradise’, the writer Roger Maynard reports that “In recent years, faced with eviction from their Fijian-owned farms after their leases expired, thousands of Indians have sought refuge overseas while many of those unable to leave have ended up in squatter camps and that many thousands of Fijians are forced to live in the squatter camps around the capital, Suva”.
Says Ms Smith-Johns, “I have little doubt Roger Maynard has never been to Suva or Fiji as his perception of events is divorced from the realities on the ground.
“News Ltd is advising Australians not to come to Fiji. Well here is a message for Australians - don’t read News Ltd newspapers!
I certainly wouldn’t want to subscribe to a paper that openly supports and encourages the practice of racial discrimination and one which is trying to cripple the people of Fiji financially”.
Rory Gibson’s article goes on to say “It is appalling, that we are directing our dollars to the coffers of a nation that is run by a military dictatorship little better than any apartheid regime operating in South Africa’s dark ages.”
The Permanent Secretary for Information, who is an Australian, challenged the media company to provide evidence that what is currently happening in Fiji is comparable to “South Africa’s dark ages”.
More than 45,000 Australians visited Fiji in May alone and over the last 12 months an average 10,000 Australians have been visiting Fiji.
“In fact, visitor arrivals from throughout the world continue to increase and the Tourism Industry is expecting to hit 600,000 visitors by the end of the year – a figure which is set to rewrite the record books” Ms Smith-Johns said.
“Fiji has also been ranked alongside Bali and Malaysia as among the most popular destinations for Australians looking to buy international properties as investments and vacation getaways,” she added.
“It’s a pity as many people in Australia depend on news media for a balanced view of what's going on. They certainly don’t get that from these inaccurate stories on Fiji published by News Ltd and others,” she said.