THE Australian government says the appointment of Professor Yash Ghai as the chair of the Constitution Commission was a positive move by Fiji.
Acting Australian High Commissioner Glenn Miles made the comment during his opening address at the University of Fiji's Faculty of Business and Economics Fiji Update 2012. Mr Miles told the Nadi meeting that Australia was impressed with the work being done in preparation for elections in 2014. "Australia welcomes the Fiji government's March announcement on a process for constitutional consultations in preparation for elections in 2014. And we also welcome the government's commitment that those consultations will be open and fully inclusive," he said.
"What we also thought was a very positive move was the appointment of Professor Yash Ghai as the chair of the Constitution Commission. We have worked with Professor Yash Ghai before in other countries and we have a lot of respect for his work and his independence.
"We also supported the commencement of the commission's work. It's been quite impressive the amount of work that's been done."
Mr Miles said his government was pleased with other signs of progress including the visit by the United Nations Needs Assessment Commission earlier this year and the electronic voter registration program.
"The fact that over 500,000 people registered demonstrates that Fijians are keen to participate in the march towards democratic elections in 2014 — that is an impressive number," he said. He said Australia, along with other international donors, stood ready to support Fiji's return to democracy.
"On June 1, Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr announced we would provide $2.65million to support Fiji's constitutional and elections preparations.
"This assistance has gone through the Fiji Elections Office where we've provided technical support and with the EVR process where we've paid for most of the salaries for those involved in the process."