NEWS (Melanesian/Pacific) 14 August 2012.


1)MSG delegation begins deferred New Caledonia visit

Posted at 06:54 on 14 August, 2012 UTC

A delegation of the Melanesian Spearhead Group has met New Caledonian leaders at the start of a four-day visit to evaluate the progress of the implementation of the Noumea Accord.

The Accord is to pave the way for a possible independence referendum as part of the territory’s decolonisation process.

The MSG delegation has met the Political Bureau of the pro-independence FLNKS Movement, the representative of the French government, the Customary Senate and the Congress President.

It will go to Lifou on Wednesday and then travel to the northern province.

The visit was planned for early last month but was deferred amid objections to the delegation being led by the MSG chair, the Fiji regime leader Commodore Frank Bainimarama.

He reportedly never applied for a French visa after the election success of a New Caledonia’s Philippe Gomes who said while he welcomed an MSG delegation there was no call to host the region’s only dictator.http://www.rnzi.com/pages/news.php?op=read&id=70233

2)PNG loia bai kotim Australian asylum plan

Updated 14 August 2012, 21:06 AEST

Caroline Tiriman

Wanpla Human rights loia na Gavana blong National Capital Distrik i tok lukaut long Australia olsem em bai kotim em long brukim human rights blong ol asylum sika.

This is an image of the PNG flag

Em foto blong PNG Flag (Credit: ABC)

Australian stori blong ol asylum prosesing senta, long PNG nau i luk olsem despla tingting blong gavman blong Julia Gillard bai bungim sampla heve bihaen long wanpla Human rights lawyer na Gavana blong NCD long PNG, Powes parkop itok em bai bringim despla keis igo long kot.

3)PNG MP threatens legal challenge over Manus

Updated 14 August 2012, 22:44 AEST

A senior member of PNG’s government says he will take legal action to block moves by Australia to again send asylum seekers to Manus Island for processing.

Australia's government wants to process asylum seeker boat arrivals on the Pacific island of Nauru.

Australia’s government wants to process asylum seeker boat arrivals on the Pacific island of Nauru. (Credit: ABC)

It comes as Australia’s parliament isdebating amended legislation which would clear the way for a return to offshore processing on Manus Island and in Nauru.

National Capital District Governor Powes Parkop, a member of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s coalition government, said detaining people who have not been charged would constitute a breach of the country’s constitution.

“There’s no law in PNG that allows people to be detained without being charged,” he told Radio Australia’s Asia Pacific.

“That is not legal here (in PNG) because it’s against our constitution, which safeguards and protects our people, if they’re taken in by police, or other authorities, they’re supposed to be charged as soon as possible for a particular offence.”

 

Mr Parkop said he would take the issue to the courts to ensure any assistance provided to Australia was in compliance with PNG’s constitution.

“We’ll be finding our Supreme Court reference, to question whether the opening up of such a centre is constitutional and legal in our country.

“I have the mandate of our people to speak as I see fit, to defend our constitution and defend the values that we hold dear.”

Mr Parkop said Papua New Guinea had a different approach to asylum seekers.

“It’s not the culture or practice here in Papua New Guinea for us to detain asylum-seekers. When the West Papuans come to PNG, we put them in refugee camps, where they’re free to go fishing and gardening and fend for themselves, while we process them.”

“You know, not only is Australia trying to get us to break our own Constitutional law, but it’s trying to get us to adopt that particular culture that is alien to us.”

Financial boost

Australian Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said the so-called Pacific Solution will cost $AU2 billion over four years for Nauru and $900 million for Papua New Guinea.

The newly-sworn in Governor of Manus Island, Charlie Benjamin, learned of the proposed reopening of the processing centre on Tuesday morning, and said he supports the idea.

“What will Manus gain? Maybe more along the line of infrastructure development that the Australian Government can help the people of Manus,” Mr Benjamin said.

Crucial vote

Offshore processing was previously scrapped by the current Labor Government which described it as “costly, unsustainable, and wrong”. It is being reintroduced after a government-appointed expert panel recommended a number of changes to the current policy, including an eventual increase in the number of refugees accepted by Australia.

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said while the laws were necessary to stop boats, the government needed to work hard to make sure the system is managed humanely.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the report’s call for lengthy detention was a challenging recommendation.

“It is to ensure people do not get an advantage from having risked their lives at sea,” she said, adding that the government will work out what an appropriate time is with advice from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

In order for the amendments to be implemented the government will need the support of the opposition Coalition.

The minority Greens Party has already said it will oppose the plans.Radioaustralia

4)PNG Offers Manus Islands As Asylum Center For Australia
Australian report recommends more processing facilities

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Aug. 14, 2012) – The Papua New Guinea (PNG) Government says it’s prepared to offer Manus Island as a processing centre for asylum seekers if approached by Australia.

The offer follows the release on Monday of former Australian Defence Force Chief Angus Houston’s report on asylum seeker policy.

The report recommended asylum seekers be processed in PNG and Nauru as soon as practical to deter people from making the dangerous boat voyage from Indonesia.

PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said asylum seeker policy was a “humanitarian issue that needs to be addressed” and that his government was committed to helping Australia address it as a regional issue.

“We are ready to facilitate and help find a solution to this tragedy, so the Manus processing centre remains available as a regional processing centre,” Mr. O’Neill said in a statement.

“It should be seen as a regional issue and not just a problem for Australia.”

Mr. O’Neill said he had made his position on asylum seeker policy known in the past and that it had not changed.

“It is a tragedy when we see boatloads of people seeking asylum sink,” he said.

Recommendations

The Houston report also called for an immediate boost to the number of refugees taken under the humanitarian program to 20,000 places, and to 27,000 within five years.

Mr. Houston said there should be enhanced co-operation between Australia and Indonesia as a matter of urgency – including on joint surveillance, law enforcement and search and rescue.

He said the aim was to convince asylum seekers to use the official channels for seeking refugee status in Australia – rather than risking the boat trip.

“The panel believes that a substantially increased, and more regionally focused humanitarian program would give greater confidence asylum seekers in the region that regular migration pathways provide a better to dangerous boat voyages,” Mr. Houston said.

Panel member Michael L’Estrange said the focus should not just be on the offshore processing element of the panel’s plan.

He said other proposals in the plan, including extra refugee places, will deter asylum seekers from using people smugglers.

“That will actually encourage more people to say, ‘I’m not going to waste my money on people smugglers, I will take the option which has now been more enhanced with more places more capacity and basically go that route,'” he said.

‘Deeply disappointed’

The chief executive officer of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre in Melbourne, Kon Karapanagiotidis, said he was shocked by the panel’s recommendations.

“We are deeply disappointed,” he said.

“I think it’s a recommendation that basically just rubber stamps what (Prime Minister Julia) Gillard has been arguing for. And it just shows you the lack of integrity, and the lack of genuine process because what this panel is putting forward is not what the community and the public were making submissions on.”

General secretary of PNG and Solomon Islands Catholic Bishops Conference, Father Victor Roche, told Radio Australia that when one of their bishops last year described his unhappiness at the conditions he saw in an offshore detention centre, the bishops formed a collective viewpoint on the issue.

“We are against the offshore detention centers in Papua New Guinea,” Father Roche said.

Radio Australia: www.abc.net.au/ra

5)Residents Urged To Curb Development At Solomons Lagoon
Environmentalist says logging debris damaging ecosystem

By Denver Newter

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Aug. 14, 2012) – A local environmentalist in the Solomon Islands had called on the people of Marovo lagoon to consider stopping any major developments such as logging and mining happening in their area.

Albert Chris Kwatelae who is currently working with University of Queensland Australian (UQ) in Marovo lagoon, Western province to advocate the importance of environmental protection to the people in Marovo made the call.

He said the impact of logging is now taking its toll on the people, their environment and livelihood.

Mr. Kwatelae said the once pristine lagoon is now being damaged through the activities of logging. He said many coastal areas, plants and trees have been affected by the impact of large scale logging.

“The once blue lagoon now turns dirty and brown from the debris produced by these major human activities. Now you can see the lagoon is so filthy, unlike in past years, which is a sad picture for Marovo lagoon and the future generation,” Mr. Kwatelae, who works as the Marovo Resources Management & Conservation Program Officer.

He said now people in Marovo are finding it hard to get timbers and some other forest resources because of logging, which has removed all of their forests.

Another development currently taking place at small scale is mining; Kwatelae said mining would cause more problems if it expands.

“If mining is fully operational in few years time, it would cause more damages to the lagoon, islands and the people,” he said.

Mr. Kwatelae said the recent incident last year where massive schools of fish were found dead is a clear example of the problems associated with the environmental degradation due to logging and mining.

He called on the people of Marovo to think before taking any action to allow major development in their area. Kwatelae said if they are so concerned about fast money then they would cause problems and damage the environment.

He said it’s important for them to harvest their resources sustainably for the benefit of their future generations.

“Go back to the old ways of fishing and gardening so that you can earn money,” he said.

He said that landowners should not invite any major large scale developments into their areas.

Mr. Kwatelae said his team is working hard to educate communities about the importance of conserving their resources and environment.

Solomon Star

6)Westpac Bank Criticized Over Logging Loans In Solomons
Loans associated with companies logging illegally in islands

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Aug. 13, 2012) – The Australian Greens Party says it is looking for support for a parliamentary motion condemning Westpac bank’s loan contracts to companies accused of illegal logging in Solomon Islands.

Senator Lee Rhiannon told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat program while Westpac has not done anything illegal, it is associated with illegal logging practices through loan contracts.

“The bank really should immediately announce its plans to end links with destructive forestry and commit to contributing to forest restoration in the Solomon Islands,” she said.

Senator Rhiannon said she had been negotiating with members of other parties to back the parliamentary motion. “They would be wise to put the pressure on Westpac.”

Westpac rejects allegations

Westpac’s general manager of Pacific banking, Greg Pawson, says the bank has already reduced its lending to the Solomon Islands logging industry.

“Indeed that comprehensive plan means that we would have reduced our exposure to that industry sector all together by the end of 2013,” he told Radio Australia.

Senator Rhiannon has called on the bank to hand back awards it received in recognition of its environment credentials.

“If they don’t remove themselves from loaning to the loggers and investigate how this has come about, and what restoration needs to be done, they clearly shouldn’t receive those awards.”

Radio Australia: www.abc.net.au/ra

7)Amid riot fears, Vanuatu pension fund leaders suspended

Posted at 06:54 on 14 August, 2012 UTC

Vanuatu’s finance minister, Moana Carcasses, has assured an angry crowd that he has suspended seven senior staff members of Vanuatu National Provident Fund, including its General Manger, Anniva Tarilongi.

This comes amid fears that an estimated 500 Fund members would start a riot, in a repeat of the 1998 unrest.

Mrs Tarilongi’s suspension was announced in answer to an urgent call by the Vanuatu Christian Council, the Vanuatu National Council of Chiefs, the Port Vila Town Council of Chiefs and Efate Vaturisu Council of Chiefs to act against her.

The tension followed reports in the Daily Post Newspaper that Mrs Tarilongi has been paid 7,500 US dollars a month.

Reports claim she recruited her own relatives to work in her management team and paid them more than more experienced staff.

The government has tasked the Auditor General with investigating the claims and issue a public report on his findings.

Radio New Zealand International

8)No more coups: Fiji Military chief

By Online Editor
3:48 pm GMT+12, 14/08/2012, Fiji

The Prime Minister and Commander of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF), Commodore Frank Bainimarama insists that there can be no more coup d’états in the country.

“There will be no more coups in the country and we have to address this in our new constitution,” the Prime Minister said.

Speaking to the Fiji Sun, Commodore Bainimarama said the military took over leadership in 2006 because the politicians failed us.

The Prime Minister said the People’s Charter had put forward 14 key principles to end the coup culture.

Submissions made to the Constitution Commission should also include how to address Fiji’s coup culture.

Government’s way forward was for a better Fiji and the Prime Minister said he would ensure that there were no more coups in the country.

Rewa chief, Ro Filipe Tuisowau in his submission at Nausori last Saturday said the people of Fiji have had enough suffering from politicians/coup makers.

“We’re fed up of coup makers turned politicians,” Ro Filipe said.

He also said that there should be no immunity provisions in the constitution, unless approved by an elected parliament.

“In an address at the 62nd session of the United Nations General Assembly the Prime Minister had said, “Fiji has a coup culture, a history of civilian or military coups executed in the interest of the few and based on nationalism, racism and greed. To remove this coup culture and to commit to democracy and the rule of law, policies which promote racial supremacy and further the interests of economic and social elites, must be removed once for all. Racism, elitism, and disrespect for the law are undemocratic. They lead to hatred, violence, poverty and moral bankruptcy.”.

SOURCE: FIJI SUN/PACNEWS

9)Fiji regime excludes Ali from Constituent Assembly

Posted at 06:54 on 14 August, 2012 UTC

The Fiji regime leader has decided to exclude a leading women’s advocate, Shamima Ali, from the Constituent Assembly to be formed next year.

Commodore Frank Bainimarama has told the website Fijivillage that the assembly will be made up of credible people who think positively about Fiji’s future, adding that she is not in the league.

The regime move comes after Fiji’s three leading women’s organisations said some of the non-negotiable principles in the constitution are matters for the people to decide, not for the state to dictate.

Commodore Bainimarama has dismissed the suggestion, saying the constitution process is not for grandstanding.

Commodore Bainimarama, whose regime wants its immunity for actions in the 2006 coup inscribed in the constitution, has been given the power by decree to choose the Assembly.

The new constitution is expected to be ready for elections promised for 2014.

The regime abolished the 1997 constitution in 2009 after the appeal court ruled that the post-coup interim government was illegal.

Radio New Zealand International

10)Fiji public response ‘extremely good’: Constitution Commission Chair

By Online Editor
3:42 pm GMT+12, 14/08/2012, Fiji

Fiji’s Constitution Commission chairman Professor Yash Ghai says the response from the public towards the consultation has been “extremely good”.

He said they were amazed to see people making thoughtful submissions since the consultation began last week.

“We are impressed and we will ensure that we find solutions to their problems,” Prof Ghai said.

He said with the diverse submissions from members of the public, they would ensure they come with the solutions that best suited the people of this country.

He said for the first time, people were given the freedom to speak freely on issues affecting them.

“You are free to speak on any issues connected to your lives and livelihood, views on the role of government, the rights of people, etcetera,” he said.

Prof Ghai said it was their responsibility to gather people’s comments and submit them to the President for submissions to the Constituency Assembly at the same time as the draft constitution.

“We have to visit as many parts of the country as possible to hold public meetings and hearings,” he said.

“Submissions to it may be written or oral, in principle, all our hearings must be public,” he added.

Professor Ghai also met with Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama Monday to update him on the consultation that continues in the country today.

Although Prof Ghai refused to reveal much of their discussion, he said the meeting was to inform Commodore Bainimarama on the progress of the consultations.

“I updated him on the consultations but we also discussed some issues which I don’t think should be revealed,” Prof Ghai said.

He earlier told this newspaper that the commission was independent in the discharge of its function and no one could interfere in its task.

He had said the government was obliged to co-operate with the commission to ensure that its work proceeded as smoothly as possible and that they had the resources necessary to perform its function effectively.

He had also said no commission worked in a vacuum and if the overall context in which it operated was not hospital to the freedom of assembly and speech.

“It’s for this reason that the commission urged that restrictions on meetings under the Public Order Act should be lifted.”

Prof Ghai had said they were grateful that people did not need permits for a gathering. He however said the commission believed that there were other restrictions which could be lifted, and this had been part of numerous submissions, to help them in their work.

Prof Ghai said people needed to say what they wished and at the same time, they would maintain their independency.

In another development, a total of 400,801 people have registered so far for Fiji’s 2014 elections after 1153 people registered on Monday.

Four hundred and sixty six (466) people registered in the Central division, 586 in the West and 101 in the North.

This brings the total number of people registered in the Central division to 158,572, 151,014 in the Westerndivision, 70,042 in the Northern division and 21,173 in the Eastern division.

The 8-week of registration ends next week. However, some EVR centres will remain open leading up to the 2014 elections.

SOURCE: FIJI TIMES/ FIJI LIVE/PACNEWS

11)Tribe reunites 135 years on

By Online Editor
3:45 pm GMT+12, 14/08/2012, Fiji

Climate change has forced the reunion of a tribe once separated by tribal wars and gruesome cannibalism 135 years ago.

Rising sea levels over the past two decades which has affected settlements in the Yasawa and Mamanuca groups have sent more than 80 families from Malolo, Waya and Viwa islands to Namotomoto in Nadi, reuniting families divided by tribal warfare.

Land space issues at Namotomoto have also forced some of the climate-affected families to move into temporary squatter settlements at Vitogo and Tavakubu in Lautoka.

According to yavusa Nadi member of Namotomoto Village in Nadi, Tomasi Naulumatua, the effects of climate change faced by their blood ties in the Yasawa and Mamanuca had brought them back together.

Naulumatua said relatives in the islands approached them for a place to settle as a result of rising sea levels caused by climate change.

“We, the Botiluvuka clan of Namotomoto, cannot sit back and relax while our blood ties, the Vucunisai clan of Malolo, Waya and Viwa islands, are facing problems,” said Naulumatua.

“Because of this issue we have planned for the reunion and relocation of our brothers and sisters from the islands to our ancestral yavutu (land) in Nadi.

“Our relatives in the islands have approached us saying they want to settle in Nadi because of the impact of sea level rising and the lack of space in the islands.

“We are looking forward to the day when all the clans will settle at our ancestral home near Denarau Island.”

Naulumatua said members of the yavusa Nadi were scattered during the dark early days when tribal warfare was rampant and cannibalism rife.

“This is a reunion after 135 years. Although it is being brought about by climate change, we believe it is in the best interests of our people that we reunite and welcome our family members back to their original home,” he said.

“The yavusa Nadi scattered during the colonial era after being clubbed and driven from our land by the conqueror of Kuilau tribe, Navula, before the land was sold to foreigners.”

A letter of confirmation from the iTaukei Land and Fisheries Commission stated yavusa Nadi consisted of the Botilivuka clan of Namotomoto and the Vucunisai clan who now reside on Malolo, Waya and Viwa…..

SOURCE: FIJI LIVE/PACNEWS

12)Kiwis held hostage in Papua

By Online Editor
12:55 pm GMT+12, 14/08/2012, New Zealand

Three New Zealand tourists were held hostage by militia in Indonesia’s West Papua province.

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully this morning confirmed the incident but officials said the Kiwi trio have now been released and are believed to be safe and well.

Timaru mountaineer Christine Burke told Radio New Zealand her party of ten was on a climbing expedition when they were detained by anti-government militia.

A spokeswoman at the Foreign Affairs Ministry (MFAT) said three of the party were New Zealanders and a further two may hold dual nationality and be travelling on other passports.

MFAT currently advised against all tourist and other non-essential travel to Central Sulawesi, Maluku and Papua provinces, she said.
Advice on MFAT’s Safetravel website says the region posed a high risk to security due to the high threat from terrorism, civil unrest and the risk of kidnapping.

“Obviously, it’s concerning and I would draw attention to the website which I think offers a sensible caution about security issues in that part of Indonesia,” McCully said.

He declined to comment on whether or not the website portrayed a “suitable level of gravity”.

“But certainly on a quick look myself this morning it does offer some quite cautionary advice and I would urge New Zealanders to look at it.” .

SOURCE: FAIRFAX NZ/PACNEWS

13)US Researcher finds three lost species of shark in Kiribati

Posted at 06:54 on 14 August, 2012 UTC

A United States researcher has used shark tooth weapons to prove the waters around Kiribati were once home to species of three shark which are no longer found there.

Joshua Drew, a Lecturer at Columbia University, looked at 124 of the weapons from between 1840 and 1880 which are kept in the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.

He says they compared the teeth in the weapons with some stored samples and found the spottail, dusky and bignose sharks would have been found in the waters around the Gilbert Islands.

“The teeth were fairly easy to identify but they were from species that weren’t supposed to be there. The species were found either in the Solomons, in some cases Fiji or in some cases on the west coast of the United States but nowhere near the Gilbert Islands. They were showing up often enough that it wasn’t just a one off thing that these animals were probably fairly common within these reefs.”

Joshua Drew says sharks were prone to be overfished and this could explain why the species are no longer found near Kiribati.

Radio New Zealand International

14)Better teacher training in Pacific needed says Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat

Posted at 03:17 on 14 August, 2012 UTC

The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat says better training programmes need to be offered to early childhood teachers in the Pacific region.

This has been revealed in the Forum’s baseline survey of the Pacific Education Development Framework, which concludes there has been rapid growth and national support for the early childhood education sub-sector.

The Social Policy Advisor for the Forum Secretariat, Filipe Jitoko, says although support for the sub-sector has grown, many small island communities in the 13 countries surveyed are facing serious challenges.

“The challenge of delivery of service of those remote islands is a major challenge in terms of teacher training, and also provision of resources to those islands and of course teacher quality remains a major challenge in most of the countries.”

Filipe Jitoko says the Forum Secretariat is working with various agencies in the Pacific to overcome the challenges.

Radio New Zealand International

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