Alf applauds Murray McCully for promptly giving the lie to a silly Sunday Star-Times high up-and-under on the prospect of Fiji’s dictator being wined and dined in New Zealand at the taxpayer’s expense.
The increasingly tatty rag said New Zealand would be obliged to host the dictator and his thuggish brother-in-law at the Rugby World Cup if – as can’t be ruled out – they become top dogs at the Fiji Rugby Union.
But as everyone knows, Fiji’s, military leaders are not welcome in this country.
And as the Herald reports today, that position is being maintained by the admirable McCully.
Soon after the SST had delivered its bilge to its readers, our Foreign Minister was laying down the law on the matter of Frank Barmy-Banana.
He made plain that the Government will refuse a visa for Fiji’s unelected leader and military commander during the Rugby World Cup.
He pointed out that members of the Fiji military regime are covered by sanctions and any request for a visitor’s visa would be denied.
“New Zealand is a sovereign nation. The Government determines who is able to enter this country,” Mr McCully said.
Mind you, it seems the bellicose Barmy-Banana has every good chance of becoming president of the Fiji Rugby Union, because – when you think about it – as Fiji’s strongman he can appoint himself to whatever position he chooses.
He happens to be a great rugby buff.
This is an admirable quality, in Alf’s book.
The trouble with blokes like Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini is that they were not rugby buffs, and hence were thoroughly disagreeable bastards.
Frank’s fondness for rugby is one of his redeeming features – probably the only one.
And he is dead keen to get to the Rugby World Cup.
Thanks to some curious carry-on that culminated in the sacking of Fiji’s rugby union board, the commodore may have paved his way to becoming the union’s new president. His brother-in-law and a senior naval officer, a Francis Kean, may be in line to become the new chairman.
Commander Kean happens to be a highly disagreeable tosser who did a bit of jail time – but not nearly enough – for manslaughter after killing a bloke during a fight at the wedding of Frank’s daughter in 2007.
The International Rugby Board gets twitchy about governments meddling with the game’s administration and has despatched its chief executive, a feller called Mike Miller, to hold discussions in Fiji today about the resignation of the board there.
He will have talks with McCully in New Zealand later this week.
But McCully has said –
“There has been no pressure from the IRB for New Zealand to host any representatives from Fiji.
“There has been a dialogue about the fact that there are visa issues that we will have to confront but the IRB have shown a very realistic approach to the difficulties that Fiji presents and we have had a good working relationship with them on that question.”
Mind you, Alf does discern the hint of a way through the visa barriers for the troublesome Fijiian twosome.
McCully said anyone denied a visa could apply for an exemption from the sanctions and that decision would be made by the Immigration Minister on advice from the Foreign Minister.
“Under current circumstances, any such request will be denied,” he said.
Mr McCully said he had made that position clear to the International Rugby Board.
But he has hinted that the sanctions could be relaxed if enough progress were made on a return to democracy between now and September, when the tournament begins, but the chances of that happening are remote.
The chances of that happening?
The commodore hasn’t buckled to the other pressure applied to him by New Zealand and other countries.
But rugby is big deal for most Fijians.
“Rugby World Cup is very important to people in Fiji as it is to many of the people around the Pacific.
“I think we should have as much discussion as we can to try and find a way through these challenges before we have to exclude people.”
While he’s at it, Alf would like McCully to have a chat with the commodore about how to conduct a democratic coup.
Our Minister of Foreign Affairs is a dab hand at it, having been involved in more than one National Party leadership coup over the years (in which capacity he has approached Alf to try to get support).
The difference is that it is done by mustering votes, not muskets and military muscle.