NEWS (Melanesian/Pacific) 31/7/12

1)Greenpeace Report Reveals ‘Theft’ Of Customary Lands In PNG
Land investigations allegedly ‘botched at every step’

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, July 30, 2012) – Greenpeace says millions of hectares of customary land in Papua New Guinea (PNG) have been stolen as a result of controversial Special Agricultural and Business Leases.

The report, titled Up For Grabs, is a detailed analysis of evidence presented to the PNG government’s commission of inquiry into how more than five million hectares of land was lost to Special Agricultural and Business Leases, often without the permission of landowners.

The commission has finished its report but it won’t be made public until it is tabled in parliament by the newly-elected government.

The report’s author, Paul Winn, says the commission was told of a “litany” of problems.

“The land investigation process, which was supposed to be undertaken by the department of Lands and Physical Planning, was botched at every step of the way,” he said.

“In some instances, the so-called developer company, who gained access to these sub-leases, actually paid the public servants to do their job and in some cases actually overtook the process altogether.”

Australian interests

About 11 percent of PNG’s landmass is subject to the leases, and 75 percent of the leases are foreign owned.

Australian and Malaysian logging companies are some of the biggest beneficiaries.

“In one case… an Australian company, Independent Timber and Stevedoring, has control of two million hectares – the largest single area [leased] in Western Province,” Mr. Winn said.

“They actually undertook the [leasing] process themselves, at every step of the way they manipulated the whole process.

“They now have most of the government approvals necessary to log 600,000 hectares of forest, which would be the largest logging operation in PNG’s history.”

Rich environment

Special Agricultural and Business Leases allow clear felling of forests, whereas logging concessions require less damaging selective harvesting.

Greenpeace says leases have been granted for some of PNG’s most pristine environments and take in 130,000 hectares of protected areas.

James Cook University Professor William Laurance says the logging is threatening tropical protected areas.

He says Papua New Guinea has some of the richest and most varied biological real estate on the globe.

“What it means if you effectively nuke an area, which is what can happen with some of these Special Agricultural and Business Leases, you can have very serious impacts,” said Professor Laurance.

“In some cases you can completely wipe out an entire species. The Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation … has already had a major international resolution on this issue, so that is really an indicator of the kind of level of international concern that is being focused on this already.”

No permission

Special Agricultural and Business Leases are not supposed to be granted without the permission of landowners.

However, Norbett Pames says his land in the East New Britain Province was cleared two years ago, without his permission.

“When they start clearing the forest… the effect on our environment and the effect on our water, now it is hard for people to get water,” Mr. Pames said.

“Also, there are other social problems happening in the affected area, people are drinking and fighting, ladies are having unexpected pregnancies.

“They used to make gardens and survive on the land, now it is very hard because all the land is taken up by the logging operations.”

Take action

Paul Winn has called on PNG’s new government to legislate to nullify leases that don’t have the consent of landowners.

“What we would also like to see… is legislation introduced that overturns and nullifies any leases that are found to have significant objections by land owners or are found to have been granted fraudulently.”

“There is a great opportunity for Australia to improve its relationship with Papua New Guinea.

“[Australia can help] develop a proper land use plan, where landowners have agreed to areas of their land being used for agricultural development.

“Also, [a plan] where there are opportunities given for those landowners to not only pursue logging and agriculture but to have options apart from those developments, such as tourism.”

He says the companies involved should also be blacklisted, and stopped from claiming compensation.

Radio Australia:

2)Nepotism corrupts PNG

By Online Editor
12:48 pm GMT+12, 31/07/2012, Papua New Guinea

The wantok system and “big man” syndrome have been singled out as the main contributors to corruption in the public and private sectors.

The monthly Economic and Public Sector Programme seminar in Port Moresby was told that corrupt attitudes prevalent in PNG were responsible for the ongoing activities undermining development.

Speakers from the Institute of National Affairs, the PNG-Australia Law and Justice Partnership, Transparency International, and the Internal Revenue Commission addressed the seminar.

John ToGuata, although a member of the PNG-Australia Law and Justice Partnership development practitioner, said he was speaking as a private citizen as he was passionate about corruption and its effects on the country.

He said corruption in PNG was the most serious threat to the country’s national security and development and, if not addressed, it would bring the country down in the near future.

As well as the wantok system, which undermined all acceptable formal practices and the Big Man Syndrome, which defied leadership principles and structure in work place, non-compliance with laws and regulations also helped break down all formal system processes and procedures.

Other factors included unethical behaviour which eroded the moral fibres of the society, poor standard of living and greed, which was the motivating factor for corruption and a could not care less attitude.

Institute of National Affairs director Paul Barker said corruption would continue to break the system in the government and will also undermine the nation’s integrity if not addressed.

Efforts have already been started to tackle corruption through the National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS) which was approved by parliament last year.

What needed to be done and what was needed for the NACS in order to fight corruption effectively, was to develop an implementation strategy, the political will to implement the strategy, agencies to be included in the corporate plans, inculcate ethics, values and integrity in all institutions’ curriculum, and a wide education and awareness programme in all sectors of society, he said.

EPSP is a joint programme between the Australian and the PNG governments to assist the government deliver improved services.

In a related development, Weak leadership in public and private institutions breed corruption, a seminar has been told.

During a monthly seminar organised by the Economic and Public Sector Programme at the Holiday Inn in Port Moresby, speakers from the public and private sectors told of the risks corruption could cause and how it should be addressed.

The speakers on the panel pointed out that strong leadership and attitude change were needed to eradicate corruption in communities and the nation.

International Revenue Commission Commissioner-General Betty Palaso said the organisation had a zero tolerance policy on corruption in its workplace.

She said it conducted educational programmes for its staff to educate them on this serious issue.

Palaso said the commission collected taxes from organisations and individuals so its staff had to be very careful when dealing with those funds.

“People could lose trust and confidence in the IRC if corruption creeps into this important institution,” she said.

“Consequences of corruption can be great and as an agency, if we fall victim, the consequences could be great as it could lead to revenue collection, loss of confidence in the agency and reduce staff confidence in the integrity of the organisation,” she said.

Transparency International PNG chairman Lawrence Stephens said every year billions of kina were misused through corrupt practices.

Stephens said corruption was a serious threat to the political and socio-economic security of every community.

He said millions of kina meant for service delivery were misused and people were left to suffer.

He said everyone, from the top level to the bottom, in any institution needed to change their attitude.

“Corruption can be described as abuse of power and position for self-gain and enrichment,” he said.


3)Local companies oppose Bougainville Copper Ltd return

By Online Editor
3:49 pm GMT+12, 31/07/2012, Papua New Guinea

Talks of Bougainville Copper Ltd (BCL)’s return to the civil war-torn Autonomous Region of Bougainville to reopen the Panguna mine has received stiff resistance from the Bougainville landowner companies from the mine area.

Joe Birunoim, mandated spokesperson for five major landowner companies from the Panguna mine area, a former politician and former rebel commander yesterday said the talk of BCL returning to Panguna is ‘a joke’.

Biruniom who represents Avaipa Resources Ltd, Pakasianpa Resources Ltd, Baunapa Resources Ltd, Erupia Resources Ltd and Karato Resources Ltd said BCL is not welcomed in Bougainville.

“It has more than enough outstanding issues on its plate. If BCL is stalking about returning to the Panguna mine pit is fine but not accepted at the 7 sisters (the seven mining lease areas). We have had enough damaged accumulated from BCL. Knowing the fact that BCL is out of the region, we have already established ourselves as exploration and mining companies to explore and mine our own mineral resources. We have joint partnership with major internationally reputable mining and exploration companies who have agreed to our model of shareholdings and benefiting sharing arrangement which is a unique and different from any other developers could afford to offer,” Birunoim said.

Vice Chairman and a director of umbrella company Isina Resources Holdings Ltd Sam Kauna said if there is any negotiation for reopening of Panguna, it has to be a wide consultation and not for ABG President John Momis to decide whether BCL is to come or not as it’s a private political deal.

“The very people who fought for their land and resources have to be consulted. But in this case, the landowners have decided their own destiny and said no to BCL.

“I am working on as model to give back mineral and oil ownership back to the landowners and any talk to BCL coming back will defeat the purpose of setting up and landowner’s companies to locally explore and mine our own resources.

If we can do exploration and mine own our own with other companies through joint venture, there is no need for BCL as it does not have any place in the region,” the former Bougainville Revolutionary Army General told the Post Courier yesterday.

A former senior politician from the region who requested unanimous when asked to comment after learning of BCL interest to return said, “the general feelings in Bougainville is that there is an ill feeling about the news of BCL return. General, Bougainvillians don’t want to see BCL coming back.”

Also it must be made clear that under Section 23 of the Bougainville Constitution, all mineral and oil resources are owned and belong to the landowners or resource owners of Bougainville and not ABG, the National Government or any foreigner for that matter,” the former politician said.

Two weeks ago, BCL chairman Peter Taylor was in the region to talk to the Panguna landowners including ABG President John Momis. Mr Momis later told Radio Australia that the meeting with BCL was very significant. “It was the first time that all the landowners were represented in the group that talked with us. In the past we had other big meetings but not all landowner groups were represented. But this time it was good. I was not completely surprised.

“I was very happy because we had been doing a lot of work, the administration has been doing a lot of work liaising and talking with the landowner groups and insisting that landowners must come to an agreement to work together,” Momis reportedly said.


4)Solomons PM Rejects Claims Of Interfering In Logging Licensing
Attorney general allegedly pressured to act on licenses

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, July 31, 2012) – Solomon Islands Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo has strongly rejected suggestions that he was involved in attempts to push for the granting of logging licenses to the Earth Movers company.

Mr. Lilo made the strong rebuff in reply to allegations by the Editor of the Sunday Star, Ofani Eremae, who claimed that Lilo had tried unsuccessfully to force Attorney General (AG) Billy Titiulu to bend the law to suit his purposes.

Mr. Lilo said Eremae’s question is irrelevant, as at no time that Mr. Tititulu had given any advice to him on the issue.

The Prime Minister said the report was also never meant for him, and the AG at no time advised him, as claimed by Mr. Eremae. “This accusation is a fallacy,” Mr. Lilo said in rejecting the claims by the editor.

On Mr. Eremae’s claim that Earth Movers had decided to go straight to Mr. Lilo and not the Court when Titiulu advised against them, Mr. Lilo said this is yet again another unsubstantiated claim. “Earth Movers never came to me. They went to the Minister responsible for forest, not me,” Mr. Lilo explained.

[PIR editor’s note: The Malaita Ma’asina Forum has also laid criticism on Lilo for allegedly intervening in the responsibilities of government ministers. The Forum purportedly received information that Lilo pressured forest minister Dickson Mua to issue the logging license in question, but the prime minister has told the Forum’s president, Charles Dausabea, “to get his facts right.”]

He said it would have been fair if people who make public comments draw conclusions that are based on facts, not assumptions to strengthen their arguments.

Mr. Lilo said responsible journalism is all about giving two sides to a story and drawing a fair conclusion, based on literature and sound analysis, not merely a touch of the keyboard from an air-conditioned room somewhere.

On the text-message, Mr. Lilo said only the AG and Minister of Forest knew its content, which “I can say was more on ethnical issue and nothing else.”

Solomon Star

5)Vanuatu Harbor Raid On Yacht Yields Controversial Findings 
‘Honorary consul’ disavowed, government officials implicated

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, July 30, 2012) – Vanuatu’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement yesterday to clarify some of the issues raised on yesterday’s front page of the Daily Post about the status of Mr. Anh Quan Saken, alleged owner of the mega yacht “Phocea,” stating that he is not an Honorary Consul of Vanuatu to Singapore.

In regards to reports that the yacht was registered as a diplomatic yacht of Vanuatu, the ministry also confirmed that there are no records within its system that shows that the yacht was registered here for diplomatic purposes. However, the Foreign Affairs Ministry confirmed that Mr. Saken has been nominated to be the Vanuatu Honorary Consul to Vietnam, although his appointment has not been made yet officially according to the process of such diplomatic positions.

The ministry informed Daily Post that this nomination is yet to be officially confirmed through appropriate diplomatic channels in accordance with 1963 Vienna Conventions on Consular Relations.

Anh Quan Saken’s nomination had already been endorsed by the Council of Ministers of the government led by Prime Minister, Sato Kilman, however the official appointment has not been made yet by Foreign Affairs.

While the appointment has not been made yet through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Saken was already exercising diplomatic privileges and functions overseas in Singapore as reported yesterday by Daily Post.

But the Ministry of Foreign Affairs advised: “The Ministry wishes to advice that any use of the official designation ad Honorary Consul without the official recognition of the receiving state is deemed diplomatically inappropriate and this will not be entertained by the Government.

“Honorary Consuls can only fully discharge their consular functions within their designation district in the receiving countries when an official confirmation is reciprocated through diplomatic channels,” the ministry of foreign affairs advised through a statement.

Meanwhile, reliable sources have informed Daily Post that at least two senior government ministers boarded the mega yacht ‘Phocea’ because their photographs were found on board and confiscated by the police.

Three other members of parliament were reportedly seen jumping onto the yacht’s dinghy at Pango to get to the yacht moored outside Pango Point, even before the yacht was cleared by customs and immigration.

The police reportedly found papers of the Vanuatu Maritime Authority with the signature of a former VMA Commissioner still intact.

These VMA papers were allegedly used to create false shipping registrations for Vanuatu and false call names.

Daily Post sources said the police raid also found that one of the senior government ministers went on board the yacht because he was allegedly conned into believing that the owner of the yacht had connections to a university being set up in Vanuatu.

These photographs are currently with the police Trans-National Crime Unit.

In court yesterday the Prosecution team made an application to remand in custody the Tongan and Samoan arrested during the raid on the yacht and the court had to be adjourned to meet later in the afternoon yesterday but Daily Post was not present at around 4pm to find out whether the application was sustained by the court.

Vanuatu Daily Post:

6)Fiji’s ousted PM granted bail pending sentencing

By Online Editor
4:20 pm GMT+12, 31/07/2012, Fiji

Fiji’s High Court Judge Justice Priyantha Fernando has found former Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase guilty of all nine charges against him.

Qarase has been granted bailed and ordered to report to the Samabula Police Station daily until his sentencing.

The High Court will hear his mitigation application at 9.30am Wednesday (01 August) morning.

On Monday, the three assessors found the former Prime Minister guilty of six counts of abuse of office and three counts of discharge of duty with respect to a property in which he has a private interest.

It is alleged Qarase between 1992 to 2000 while employed as a director of Fijian Holdings Limited, financial advisor of the Fijian Affairs Board and advisor to the Great Council of Chiefs abused the authority of his office.

He is alleged to have applied in the name of Cicia Plantation Co-op Society Limited, Mavana Investments Limited and a family owned company named Q-Ten Investments Limited for the issuance and allotment of Class A shares in Fijian Holdings Limited.


7)Concerns raised about Australia’s ties with Fiji

By Online Editor
4:01 pm GMT+12, 31/07/2012, Australia

Australia’s decision to re-establish diplomatic ties with Fiji have been questioned by a regional politics expert, who says it could be a case of too much, too soon.

Fiji’s military leader Commodore Frank Bainimarama expelled Australia’s last high commissioner to Fiji in 2009 – a move reciprocated by Australia.

However, Foreign Minister Bob Carr has announced Australia and Fiji will once again exchange high commissioners.

The director of the ANU’s Centre for the Contemporary Pacific, Professor Brij Lal, says they are steps in the right direction.

But he questions the regime’s commitment to democracy when the country does not even have a free press.

“It’s important to measure words against deeds,” he said.

“Once Australia has embraced the Fijian regime, it will be very difficult for it to disengage and to take a more objective stance.”

The Fijian government says it will hold elections in 2014 and is preparing to consult on a new constitution and to register voters electronically.

“It would have been prudent on the part of Australia to see some of the fruits of those initiatives before going as far as it has done,” Professor Lal warned.

New Zealand has also announced it will re-establish ties with Fiji, while both countries will move to relax sanctions.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions has been lobbying Senator Carr over Fiji’s restrictions on workers’ rights.

“We have seen some token gestures but our experience with the Fiji military regime is that they make a lot of promises that they do not follow through,” ACTU president Ged Kearney said.

“So we would like to see some very serious changes in those human rights issues in the very near future for us to fully believe that there’s going to be any great change.”

She is equivocal about restoring ties with Fiji.

“I’ve had a long discussion with the Foreign Minister and I think he really believes that these will help the situation,” Kearney said.

“We’re willing to wait a short while and see if indeed they make any progress, but we are a little sceptical of that.”

Former foreign minister Alexander Downer has backed the Federal Government’s move.

“Just having an endless stand-off, it’s not achieving anything,” he said.

“There are times when you have to speak to people you don’t necessarily approve of, you don’t necessarily approve of what they’ve done, but you give yourself the opportunity to explain your case to them.”

But even as diplomatic relations with Fiji were thawing, the country’s last democratically elected Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase, was found guilty of corruption.

The case was prosecuted by Fiji’s Commission against Corruption, which established by Commodore Bainimarama – the man who ousted Qarase.

Downer said that illustrates how much work there is to do.

“It disappoints me if politicians, or at least former politicians, former political leaders in Fiji are going to continue to be harassed,” he said.

“That’s the sort of conversation we should have with them.”.


8)Fiji signs DTA with UAE

By Online Editor
4:43 pm GMT+12, 30/07/2012, Fiji

In a first for the Pacific Island region, Fiji signed a Double Taxation Agreement (DTA) with the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Likewise, UAE also becomes the first country among the Gulf Confederation of Countries that Fiji has signed a DTA with.

This was after the two governments successfully concluded an agreement for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income.

Permanent Secretary for Finance Filimoni Waqabaca said this was a historic occasion for both countries because it cements the mutual economic relations that will now develop and grow between the countries.

“Certainly, this will open opportunities for the private sector and government of our countries to take advantage of the provisions in the agreement to increase investment and job creation in our countries that will benefit our people,” said Waqabaca.

A copy of the agreed text of the Agreement was initialed by the heads of the two delegations and the final ratification signature of the Agreement is targeted for September 2.

The UAE delegation was led by Dr Hamid Qadir, the economic expert in the Ministry of Finance, whilst the Fiji delegation was headed by Filimone Waqabaca, Permanent Secretary for Finance, FRCA chief executive Jitoko Tikolevu, FRCA general manager Taxation Moala Nata and Director Corporate -Ministry of Finance Elina Volavola….


9)Emerson defends easing sanctions on Fiji

By Online Editor
3:59 pm GMT+12, 31/07/2012, Australia

Australian Trade Minister Craig Emerson has defended the government’s decision to resume full diplomatic ties with Fiji, despite concerns about the level of democratic reforms in the Pacific island nation.

The foreign ministers of Australia, Fiji and New Zealand have agreed to exchange high commissioners to ensure channels of dialogue are open and effective.

Dr Emerson said Australia was seeking to encourage better behaviour from Fiji by resuming diplomatic relations, adding sanctions without incentives were not an effective way to conduct diplomacy.

“There is a case for providing some incentive to Fiji at this stage in what we expect to be a transition back to democracy,” he told Sky News on Tuesday.

There were some encouraging signs coming from Fiji, but the minister did not want to give further details.
Relations have been strained between Australia and Fiji since a military coup in 2006 staged by Commodore Frank Bainimarama, now Fiji’s prime minister.

Fiji subsequently was suspended from the Pacific Islands Forum in 2009, with a contact group established to continue dialogue with the regime.


10)Labour supports easing Fiji sanctions

By Online Editor
3:57 pm GMT+12, 31/07/2012, New Zealand

Labour supports moves to ease sanctions against Fiji despite no major progress towards democracy in the troubled Pacific nation.

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully yesterday confirmed after a meeting with his Australian and Fijian counterparts that New Zealand would reappoint a high commissioner to Fiji and relax travel sanctions affecting members of its government.

He would also ask Cabinet to consider dropping the long-standing sporting sanctions.

This morning Labour leader David Shearer said the Government was trying a different tack and giving Fiji the benefit of the doubt.

“It might provide the impetus for Fiji to become much more involved in going ahead with the democratic process.”

There had been no robust, or obvious, improvements in Fiji but resuming the sports links would be popular, he said.

“If this can work that’s good, if it doesn’t work then there is always the possibility of closing it back again.”

Fiji has committed to democratic elections in 2014 and McCully said the change to travel sanctions would ease that process.

“They have consistently pointed to the fact the travel sanctions are a major obstacle to them getting some able people to serve in the government as permanent secretaries or minister, yet those are desirable developments to take place in the context of their step toward elections. So we’ve said we will have a more flexible approach to the sanctions regime but we won’t be actually changing the sanctions themselves, just give more room for exemptions.”

McCully also indicated New Zealand would look again at sporting sanctions and would be more flexible about removing people from the banned list.

“In fact, I’ve been giving a large number of exemptions, so the practical impact of that policy has been not too much different from Australia.”

The sanctions were put in place after a military coup led by Frank Bainimarama in 2006. They prevent members of the self-appointed government and their families, as well as sports teams, from travelling to New Zealand.

McCully said New Zealand’s sanctions were more stringent than Australia’s and the changes would bring the two in line.

Improvements had been made in Fiji but there were still concerns about human rights, media freedom and progress on holding democratic elections.


11)Tongan Overstayers Told To Speak Up After New Zealand Visa Scam
Police investigations ongoing into fraudulent immigration activity

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, July 30, 2012) – Tongans who have overstayed their visas in New Zealand are being encouraged to come forward with information about a visa scam.

Several cases have been reported of people promising Tongan over-stayers visas to stay in New Zealand in exchange for cash payments.

New Zealand-Tongan community figures say they are pleased that police and immigration authorities have made the promise.

New Zealand-Tongan community activist, Will Ilolahia, told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat program that the announcement was made at a weekend community meeting.

“We actually got an assurance from the investigating police detective and also immigration department that those people who were victims of this scam would be able to come in and pick up their passports without any recourse in regard to their situation of being an overstayer,” Mr. Ilolahia said.

“We’re looking at organizing a meeting with those people to try and expose the scammers.”

Mr. Ilolahia says police have interviewed possible culprits behind the scam, but they need more information.

“We’re trying to encourage our people that by being straight up with this that might help them in their own situation.

“Every community has their crooks but for me this is just not on. It’s preying on the desperation of these people who are just trying to get a good life.”

Radio Australia:

12)Report Claims Military Buildup On Guam ‘Too Expensive’
U.S. senators feel buildup plans ‘not aligned with budget realities’

By Brett Kelman

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, July 31, 2012) – Three U.S. senators who have slowed the Guam buildup because of cost concerns have said a new report on military might in the Pacific only bolsters their position.

A statement from Sens. Carl Levin, John McCain and Jim Webb said the new report reiterates how the Department of Defense has not “adequately articulated” its plans for this region.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies released the report last week. The report also said the military plan for the Pacific is not aligned with “current budget realities.”

“This is particularly important as support for the resourcing of major overseas initiatives, in the current fiscal environment, will depend to a significant extent on a clear articulation of U.S. strategic imperatives and the manner in which the investments address them,” the senators said in a statement. “We agree with CSIS’s emphasis on the need for DOD to articulate the strategy behind its force-posture planning more clearly.”

These three senators already have expressed concerns that the plan for the military buildup in Guam is too expensive and “unworkable.” The Senate has frozen funds for buildup projects until more justification for the Marine move is provided.


In a separate statement released yesterday, local independent delegate candidate Jonathan Diaz chastised Delegate Madeleine Bordallo for releasing only the unclassified section of the new report to the public, saying it was a violation of the Freedom of Information Act.

However, classified information in the interest of national security is exempt from the federal Freedom of Information Act. Under the law, the release of such classified information is illegal.

Pacific Daily News:

13)Murray McCully s’exprime sur son escale à Nouméa

Posté à 31 July 2012, 8:20 AEST

Pierre Riant

Le chef de la diplomatie néo-zélandaise était hier à Sydney  après une tournée d’une semaine dans le Pacifique avec des escales à Tonga, Niue et en Nouvelle-Calédonie.


Murray McCully a accepté de répondre aux questions de notre collègue Géraldine Coutts qui lui a demandé si la question fidjienne a fait l’objet de discussions à Nouméa ?

McCully : « Et bien je pense qu’il est juste de dire que la situation à Fidji suscite un certain degré d’intérêt. J’ai été là-bas récemment et on m’a donc posé des questions. Je pense que les gens sont favorables à la tenue des prochaines élections, contents que l’inscription des électeurs est en route et que la Commission constitutionnelle a commencé ces travaux. Comme tout le monde nous voulons, nous essayons de jouer un rôle constructif dans ce processus. Tout le Pacifique semble penser que Fidji a pris la bonne direction mais attendons de voir jusqu’où ils iront. »

Nous vous l’annoncions brièvement hier, M. McCully s’est fait l’avocat d’une augmentation des échanges commerciaux entre la collectivité française et la Nouvelle-Zélande. Nous lui avons demandé de nous en dire plus.

McCully : « La Nouvelle-Calédonie est en fait notre voisin le plus proche et si je tire des conclusions de notre expérience avec l’Australie où depuis 30 ans nous favorisons le libre-échange commercial, je m’aperçois que les deux pays en profitent bien.

La situation avec la Nouvelle-Calédonie est différente étant donné l’influence de la France et de l’Union européenne mais en fin de compte, un créneau énorme existe et nous pouvons libéraliser le cadre commercial entre la Nouvelle-Zélande et la Nouvelle-Calédonie.

Si la Nouvelle-Zélande a davantage accès à la Nouvelle-Calédonie, les prix vont baisser pour les consommateurs calédoniens, ce qui sera bon pour le tourisme. J’ai répété ces phrases avec vigueur et j’ai trouvé l’audience réceptive, y compris le Président Martin. »

Ne parlons pas de barrières tarifaires, mais de la barrière de la langue… Qu’en est-il à ce niveau, est-ce un problème ?

McCully : « Il y aura de toute évidence des défis à relever pour ceux d’entre-nous qui ne maîtrisent pas vraiment le français. Mais la visite a été très bonne avec ma délégation d’une cinquantaine de personnes et tout le monde a ressenti les opportunités qui sont là et les liens qui nous permettront de construire des relations et d’aller de l’avant.»

14) Pacific Athletes At London Olympics Face Tough Competition

Island competitors being beaten out in at least 3 events

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, July 30, 2012) – Cook Islands sailor Helema Williams has finished bottom of the field in the laser radial class at the London Olympics.

The national flag bearer was 4.58 seconds adrift of the fastest time from race one and improved one place to 40th in race two but was still more than six seconds behind the leaders.

Compatriot Ella Nicholas also missed out in the slalom kayak, finishing 18th in a field of 21 competitors.

Nicholas had a best score of 118.29, 19.54 points higher than the top qualifier from Spain.

And judokas Aleni Smith of Samoa and Sled Dowwabobo from Nauru finished out of contention in the men’s under 73kg class.

Dowwabobo was beaten by an opponent from Uzbekistan in the opening round, while Smith was given a bye into the last 32, where he lost against Jaromir Jezek from the Czech Republic.

Radio New Zealand International:

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