SYDNEY: Australia is pushing for international action against Fiji after coup leader Voreqe Bainimarama retained power in a fresh bout of constitutional turmoil, the foreign minister said Tuesday.
Australia and New Zealand had been at the forefront of imposing a range of measures against Bainimarama's regime since the 2006 coup, Stephen Smith said, "but other countries haven't gone down that road." "We're certainly talking to our international community partners, members of the Pacific Island Forum, members of the Commonwealth and the United Nations itself, to see what more pressure we can bring to bear on Commodore Bainimarama," Smith told public radio.
The latest upheaval in the Pacific island nation followed a Court of Appeal ruling last Thursday that Bainimarama had been in power illegally since the coup.
In response, the ageing and ailing Fijian President Josefa Iloilo sacked the judiciary, abrogated the constitution and then reappointed Bainimarama and his cabinet for five years.
Australia had already imposed travel sanctions against members of the regime and limited ministerial contacts "but we try to do things which don't impact adversely on the people of Fiji themselves," Smith said.
For that reason, the government was not advising Australians to avoid travelling to Fiji, a popular holiday destination where tourism makes a major contribution to the budget.
However, Australia's Trade Minister Simon Crean on Saturday refused to rule out trade sanctions against Fiji.
And New Zealand warned Suva Tuesday that trade and travel sanctions remained a possibility following the latest political turmoil.
Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said New Zealand would consider its response over the next few days after consulting Pacific Islands Forum nations and the Commonwealth. Smith predicted that unless there was some dramatic development, Fiji would be suspended from the forum, a regional grouping, and the Commonwealth.

SUVA: Meanwhile, Fiji's military tightened its grip on the troubled island nation Tuesday, taking control of the central bank and defying threats of sanctions from Australia and Zealand if democracy is not restored.
"Things have reached an unpredictable stage, some sort of crackdown is underway," New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully told reporters.
"We have a volatile situation on our hands." The Raw Fiji News website said there was a feeling of "uneasiness and insecurity" in the country although the military had backed off from an attempt to disable Internet communication.
Major Neumi Leweni, the permanent secretary for the information department, confirmed central bank governor Savenaca Narube had been dismissed because his appointment was constitutional and Fiji no longer has a constitution.
President Josefa Iloilo scrapped the constitution on Friday to bypass an Appeal Court ruling that prime minister Voreqe Bainimarama had been in power illegally since leading a 2006 coup.
He also sacked all judges and judiciary officials before reappointing military chief Bainimarama and his cabinet for five more years.
Soldiers took over the Reserve Bank of Fiji, which is in the same building as the New Zealand High Commission (embassy) office, and a spokesman for the New Zealand foreign ministry said commission staff were not under any threat.
McCully said soldiers had entered the building and "people coming and going are being checked." Australia and New Zealand, which have been at the forefront of measures against Bainimarama's regime, were pushing Tuesday for wider international action against Fiji.
"We're certainly talking to our international community partners, members of the Pacific Island Forum, members of the Commonwealth and the United Nations itself, to see what more pressure we can bring to bear on Commodore Bainimarama," Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith told public radio.
Australia and New Zealand have both indicated trade sanctions remain a possibility and Smith predicted Fiji would be suspended from the regional Pacific Islands Forum and the Commonwealth.
Sean Dorney, one of three journalists deported from Fiji, said the country was under total military control.
"There is an incredible amount of intimidation going on there at the moment," the veteran Australian Broadcasting Corporation correspondent said on arrival at Sydney airport.
"It's total military control at the moment.
"There's no disturbances in the street, there's no carry on, the military really has the country under the thumb." Under a 30-day state of emergency, the media in Fiji are not allowed to carry stories critical of the government, with police and information ministry officers placed in newsrooms to vet stories.
Local media have been warned they could be shut down if they breach the regulations.
Fiji Law Society president Dorsami Naidu was detained by police after staging a peaceful protest outside a court house, witnesses told AFP on condition of anonymity.
"We've effectively got a self-appointed dictator," McCully said of Bainimarama as he warned New Zealanders to think twice before travelling to Fiji, a popular South Pacific holiday destination.
"Previous coups have seen a relatively stable environment most of the time. This time we are seeing a very ugly side of the regime where they are clamping down on personal freedoms, media freedoms and there (is a) serious sense of a crackdown on the institutions and individuals who are defying the government." In December 2006, Bainimarama toppled the elected government of Laisenia Qarase, accusing it of corruption and of unfairly favouring the indigenous Fijian majority over the minority ethnic Indian population.
The coup -- the fourth in two decades -- was condemned by the international community with the United States, European Union, Australia and New Zealand introducing targeted sanctions against the regime.

Meanwhile, Fiji's military tightened its grip on the troubled island nation Tuesday, taking control of the central bank and defying threats of sanctions from Australia and Zealand if democracy is not restored.
"Things have reached an unpredictable stage, some sort of crackdown is underway," New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully told reporters.
"We have a volatile situation on our hands." The Raw Fiji News website said there was a feeling of "uneasiness and insecurity" in the country although the military had backed off from an attempt to disable Internet communication.
Major Neumi Leweni, the permanent secretary for the information department, confirmed central bank governor Savenaca Narube had been dismissed because his appointment was constitutional and Fiji no longer has a constitution.
President Josefa Iloilo scrapped the constitution on Friday to bypass an Appeal Court ruling that prime minister Voreqe Bainimarama had been in power illegally since leading a 2006 coup.
He also sacked all judges and judiciary officials before reappointing military chief Bainimarama and his cabinet for five more years.
Soldiers took over the Reserve Bank of Fiji, which is in the same building as the New Zealand High Commission (embassy) office, and a spokesman for the New Zealand foreign ministry said commission staff were not under any threat.
McCully said soldiers had entered the building and "people coming and going are being checked." Australia and New Zealand, which have been at the forefront of measures against Bainimarama's regime, were pushing Tuesday for wider international action against Fiji.
"We're certainly talking to our international community partners, members of the Pacific Island Forum, members of the Commonwealth and the United Nations itself, to see what more pressure we can bring to bear on Commodore Bainimarama," Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith told public radio.
Australia and New Zealand have both indicated trade sanctions remain a possibility and Smith predicted Fiji would be suspended from the regional Pacific Islands Forum and the Commonwealth.
Sean Dorney, one of three journalists deported from Fiji, said the country was under total military control.
"There is an incredible amount of intimidation going on there at the moment," the veteran Australian Broadcasting Corporation correspondent said on arrival at Sydney airport.
"It's total military control at the moment.
"There's no disturbances in the street, there's no carry on, the military really has the country under the thumb." Under a 30-day state of emergency, the media in Fiji are not allowed to carry stories critical of the government, with police and information ministry officers placed in newsrooms to vet stories.
Local media have been warned they could be shut down if they breach the regulations.
Fiji Law Society president Dorsami Naidu was detained by police after staging a peaceful protest outside a court house, witnesses told AFP on condition of anonymity.
"We've effectively got a self-appointed dictator," McCully said of Bainimarama as he warned New Zealanders to think twice before travelling to Fiji, a popular South Pacific holiday destination.
"Previous coups have seen a relatively stable environment most of the time. This time we are seeing a very ugly side of the regime where they are clamping down on personal freedoms, media freedoms and there (is a) serious sense of a crackdown on the institutions and individuals who are defying the government." In December 2006, Bainimarama toppled the elected government of Laisenia Qarase, accusing it of corruption and of unfairly favouring the indigenous Fijian majority over the minority ethnic Indian population.
The coup -- the fourth in two decades -- was condemned by the international community with the United States, European Union, Australia and New Zealand introducing targeted sanctions against the regime.