Nauru faces foreign aid cuts

  • 05/08/2015
Prime Minister John Key (Simon Wong)
Prime Minister John Key (Simon Wong)

By Peter Wilson

The threat of a foreign aid cut is still hanging over Nauru as the Government waits for evidence of an improvement in the island nation's democratic rights and the rule of law.

Prime Minister John Key says a blunt message is being sent.

"We're deeply concerned by what we see taking place in Nauru and we want a resolution," he told reporters today as he wrapped up a visit to the Cook Islands.

"We expect change... this is about whether we think democracy is being applied fairly and lawfully."

Foreign Minister Murray McCully last month met Nauru's president, Baron Waqa, on the sidelines of Pacific Island Forum talks in Sydney and voiced his concerns about lawlessness and deteriorating democratic rights.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop also met Mr Waqa to discuss the same concerns.

Mr McCully later said in a statement the next tranche of funding for Nauru's justice system would depend on the successful outcome of further discussions.

New Zealand provides about $1.2 million a year to keep the system going, and the next tranche is due this month.

Mr Key says Mr McCully is involved in ongoing discussions and will make the decision.

"Obviously, there are pretty big implications if we were to cease to do that," he said.

Mr Key says there are particular concerns about the plight of Nauruan opposition MP Roland Kun, who was arrested and pulled off a New Zealand-bound plane on June 17.

His family has lived in New Zealand since his partner, Katy Le Roy, was last year fired as Nauru's parliamentary counsel and had her residence status revoked.

She lives in Wellington with the couple's three young children and is prevented from travelling to Nauru.

Mr Kun was accused of having taken part in a protest, which he denies, but he hasn't been formally charged.

He last month lodged an appeal in Nauru's Supreme Court against the cancellation of his passport.

The Nauruan government's response was to ask for the appeal to be struck out, and a decision is still to be made.