Fiji's Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama and Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong (Frank Bainimarama/Twitter)
Fiji's Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama and Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong (Frank Bainimarama/Twitter)

Fiji's Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama put it bluntly at the weekend when he tweeted that “Fiji is not anyone’s backyard”, a direct reference to the lazy and colonialist shorthand too often used by Australian leaders, including former prime minister Scott Morrison, to describe the Asia-Pacific region.

He was speaking after a "wonderful" meeting with Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong, and added: "Our greatest concern isn’t geopolitics -- it’s climate change."

For decades, Australia’s attitude to the Asia-Pacific has been far too much about us and what we want. Paternalistic in nature, it has largely overlooked countries' differing needs, views and wants. This has been exacerbated by problematic and outmoded bureaucratic structures and practices in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.