“Significant progress but could do a lot better”. That’s the overall conclusion of one of Fiji’s most prominent social activists – Father Kevin Barr – in a review of the country’s performance over the past two years. Father Barr is an Australian-born Roman Catholic priest and the Chair of Fiji’s Wages Council, which determines minimum standards of pay. He’s a respected advocate for the poor, the scourge of some of Fiji’s more parsimonious employers and, in many ways, the country’s national conscience. While he’s been supportive of some aspects of government policy – like its multiracial agenda and efforts to alleviate poverty – he’s been critical of others and is never reluctant to speak his mind.
Grubsheet is providing this link to a piece Father Barr has written for the website of the New Zealand academic blogger, Crosbie Walsh. It’s a valuable snapshot of the country’s progress because it’s from someone with few, if any, political axes to grind. He’s especially critical of what he sees as the growing social and economic gap in Fiji and has some pungent things to say about Chinese influence in the country. Father Barr sees his sole responsibility to speak for the disadvantaged and highlight injustice wherever he sees it. His views deserve the widest exposure.