NEWS (Melanesian/Pacific) 16 August 2012

1)PNG Government Urged To Analyze Effects Of Mining
Stakeholders told to carefully consider decision for seabed mining

By Grace Tiden

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Aug. 15, 2012) – A challenge has been issued to all authorities tasked with the development of Papua New Guinea’s (PNG) marine resources to analyze the economic realities and contrasts of the fishing industry relative to the destructive concepts of land and seabed mining outcomes.

Manager of the Kokopo Fisheries Co-operative Association Limited in East New Britain Province Evan Laen also challenged all true indigenous administrators and politicians to do their homework on how the current mines of PNG have benefited the majority of the indigenous people affected by the side effects of such operations.

He said the current silence over the issue of the Nautilus Seabed project and its effects on marine resources had caused them to question the integrity of those who supported the experimental strategies of mining moguls who bulldozed their one-sided awareness campaigns that have no logical guarantee to validate their theories.

“We are not trading our marine resources for experimental mining operations,” he said.

Mr. Laen said their pilot project had involved New Ireland Province through co-operatives of the Konoagil Local Level government and Kavieng in their initial drive to project an alternative for the experimental seabed mining and other potential mining activities.

“It is our desire to venture into the fishing industry which from our point of view is the most neglected sector in our region,” he said.

He said they had targeted four main strategic areas where they would base their incentives upon.

They include assistance to set up fishing organizations leading up to the establishment of fishing co-operative societies along every coastal villages, the setting up of fisheries co-operative associations eventuating in a New Guinea Islands Fisheries Federation, securing of sustainable markets for fishing co-operatives or groups and the influential support from political and administrative authorities to make some sense of this neglected industry.

“Where fisheries is an environmental-friendly alternative to pursue, all stakeholders need to seriously consider the bad examples of mining-beneficial propaganda that never meets the expectations of those also affected and are being ignored apart from the immediate landowners of mining projects,” Mr. Laen said.

PNG Post-Courier:

2)Consultations Planned For Solomons Family Protection Bill
Bill hoped to keep women, youth safe by preventing domestic violence

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Times, Aug. 15, 2012) – The Solomon Islands Ministry for Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs is this week hosting a national stakeholders consultation on the Proposed Family Protection Bill in Honiara.

Eliminating Violence Against Women (EVAW) Officer of the Ministry, Pioni Boso says the consultation is aimed at getting feedback from stakeholders on the proposed Family Protection Bill.

Ms. Boso says the Family Protection Bill followed a 2009 National Report which revealed that 64 percent of women and girls in Solomon Islands have experienced domestic violence.

According to the EVAW Desk Officer, the Ministry have already done provincial consultations on the Family Protection Bill ahead of the current National Consultations.

At the core of most family protection bills are measures to;

  • Maximize the safety, protection and wellbeing of people who fear or experience domestic violence, and to minimize disruption to their lives; and
  • Prevent or reduce domestic violence and the exposure of children to domestic violence; and
  • Ensure that people who commit domestic violence are held accountable for their actions.

The Family Protection Bill National Consultation workshop is being hosted by the Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs and will end this Friday.

Solomon Times

3)New Ballot Boxes Cut Over Lack Of Funding In Vanuatu
Upgrade allegedly makes little difference to elections transparency

By Jane Joshua

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Aug. 15, 2012) – Insufficient funds have resulted in the plug pulled on the proposed transparent ballot box initiative for Vanuatu, the first sample of which Minister of Internal Affairs George Wells launched on February 8 this year.

Daily Post queries revealed the Vt4.8 million [US$51,474] initiative for 400 plus transparent Acrylic perspex ballot boxes to replace wooden ballot boxes, which was announced in the 2012-election year, was not budgeted for; the revelation comes two and half months short of polling day.

Transparency was one of the strong points advocated for in the initial announcement of the intention to switch from the wooden boxes, followed by excellent weatherability, weight capacity and enhanced security.

But can a transparent ballot box guarantee a national election free, fair and transparent in 2012 and beyond?

The Acrylic perspex product, which was hailed by government officials, provoked constructive criticism on the transparency aspect and the timing itself. The same month, Lawson LJ pointed out voting is the end product of an election cycle, thus transparent ballot boxes are not the answer to major issues in any elections.

“It is what happens prior to an election which matters if transparent boxes were to be fully utilized to the expected standards otherwise transparent ballot boxes would contain votes illegally obtained… through undue influence, bribery, treating, personating, double registration and the misuse of proxy applications,” he said.

Lawson said change is inevitable and everyone wants a fair, free and transparent election but the cause of the problem must be addressed- not the symptoms.

“What needs to be addressed is voter education and awareness to assist eligible voters and political leaders to change their mentality and conduct before and during an election,” he said. Only this will do away with false proxy applications, personation where names of trees and dead people are registered and double registration ending up in wooden, iron or transparent ballot boxes. It is not the box, but the legitimacy of the content that counts.

Vanuatu Daily Post:

4)Vanuatu court appearance for Phocea couple

Posted at 03:31 on 16 August, 2012 UTC

The captain of a mega yacht seized in Vanuatu and an American woman will be appearing in the Magistrate’s court in Port Vila later today.

The two were arrested and released on bail last month after police raided the Phocea on suspicion of passport fraud and drugs trading.

They are accused of breaching immigration and customs laws.

Our correspondent Hilaire Bule says despite a photograph showing the foreign minister and the education minister on board the vessel before the raid, no politician has been sanctioned.

“There is only charges laid against the captain of the ship and a lady known as Fabiola for the illegal entry. But as far as we understand the other people who are involved for example the allegation against our leaders, until today, no charges has been laid against them.”

Hilaire Bule says the Prime Minister Sato Kilman returned to Vanuatu from the Olympics, after leaving for London as the opposition’s Edward Natapei was calling for his resignation over the affair.

Radio New Zealand International

5)Fiji’s Kubuabola briefs Martin during MSG’s Noumea visit

Posted at 03:31 on 16 August, 2012 UTC

Fiji’s interim foreign minister has used the New Caledonia visit of the Melanesian Spearhead Group to discuss bilateral issues.

Ratu Inoke Kubuabola is leading the MSG delegation on a four-day tour evaluating progress of the implementation of the Noumea Accord on greater autonomy.

The visit will also prepare next year’s MSG summit which is to be hosted by New Caledonia’s pro-independence FLNKS Movement.

The foreign ministry in Suva says Ratu Inoke briefed New Caledonia’s President, Harold Martin, about preparations for elections Fiji has promised for 2014.

The MSG visit was announced for the beginning of last month but was abruptly deferred amid objections that it was to be 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 New Caledonia’s Philippe Gomes who said while he welcomed an MSG delegation there was no call to host the region’s only dictator

Radio New Zealand International

6)Fiji regime leader chides Constitution Commission

Posted at 04:24 on 16 August, 2012 UTC

The Fiji regime leader has warned the head of the Constitution Commission to adhere to the laws of Fiji, including the decrees that created the Commission.

In an interview published by the Fijivillage website, Commodore Frank Bainimarama says calls by Professor Yash Ghai for freedom of expression are misplaced.

He says the chair’s statements show a lack of fundamental understanding of Fiji’s history.

Commodore Bainimarama says the commissioners hold quasi judicial positions and should not give a running commentary on the proceedings.

He has also urged them not to give preferential treatment to certain segments or individuals in society.

The regime leader says commission members should no longer meet privately with politicians, NGOs and trade unionists, who he alleges pressure Mr Ghai.

Decrees stipulate non-negotiable clauses to be in the next constitution, including immunity for the regime for all actions related to the coup that brought it to power.

The draft constitution is expected to be submitted to a Constituent Assembly next year.

Radio New Zealand International

7)SDL Party Allegedly ‘Under Attack’ By Fiji Regime
Despite warnings to be shut down, party ‘will battle on’

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Aug. 15, 2012) – The Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua (SDL) party of the deposed Fiji Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase, says it is more determined than ever to carry on with his legacy.

That’s despite what it describes as efforts to paint the party as evil and intent on fomenting racial discord.

The party is one of the groups under attack by the regime, whose leader Commodore Frank Bainimarama, wants to create a multi racial Fiji, with a new constitution based on prescribed principles.

Sally Round reports.

Its leader is now in prison on corruption-related charges and the Commodore has given it a closure warning, but the SDL party says it will battle on.

“The incarceration of the party leader, Mr. Qarase, has sort of made the party stronger, more determined to carry on with the legacy he has left behind.”

The SDL’s Mesake Koroi says, fingers crossed, the SDL will be allowed to continue.

But like all Fiji’s political parties it must wait for the regime’s new criteria for political party registration still to be announced by authorities.

“We don’t even know whether we will be allowed to contest or not. There is still a feeling of uncertainty among our people and among the party officials as well but we will carry on regardless.”

The party has hit back at reports it is the author of a submission to the Constitution Commission calling for a Christian state, and a level of ethnic-based voting, concepts which go against the regime’s stipulated plans for Fiji.

“The truth of the matter is the party is still collating all the facts before its final submission is made probably before the end of September or early October.”

Mr. Koroi says the party is watching to see how free the consultation process is before making its submission.

The General Secretary of the National Federation Party, Pramod Rae, says his party also won’t be put off by the restrictive environment and the regime’s insistence that submissions have to adhere to its rules.

“You have a certain political philosophy, a certain ideology, certain aspirations and suddenly you say these things don’t feature in your own aspirations anymore. That is somehow incompatible with developing a constitutional framework in a free and fair democratic way.”

The regime has also criticized the views of some NGOs during the constitutional debate saying those that don’t contribute positively are not important.

It has even banned prominent activist Shamima Ali from a role in the Constituent Assembly, which will debate the draft constitution.

Pramod Rae says sooner or later things will come unstuck.

“I think eventually it will probably sink in, the government jumping in almost every second day, rubbishing certain organizations, the government jumping in saying you can’t say this, you can’t say that. In the end the submissions will not contain the quality desirable for this kind of process.”

But the head of Development Studies at the University of the South Pacific, Professor Vijay Naidu, says political parties which have survived the coup and NGOs are standing up well to the challenges they are facing.

He says the constitution debate is an important testing ground for political parties’ very survival and they can come up with strategies to deal with the so-called non-negotiables.

“The current government is actively discrediting the older politicians and political leaders, urging them to face up to the fact that this is a new Fiji. There is a tension but it doesn’t mean at all that the political parties themselves have been undermined in terms of their capability and mobilizing their supporters.”

Professor Naidu says he’s encouraged by fresh faces coming forward.

“One of the sad things about our politics in Fiji is that it has been dominated by men and mostly with perhaps one foot in the grave. Young people and women have generally been denied positions in decision making and I’m quite impressed by a group of young people who have emerged and are speaking on issues.”

One fresh face is that of Nayagodamu Korovou, whose National Youth Party is keen to see Fiji’s military continuing to play an important role post elections.

He says the party aims for a multi-racial Fiji, focusing on improving education, reducing unemployment and the cost of living but with the commander of Fiji’s military as the country’s Vice-President.

“We want them to be involved in everything (to do with) the development of this country. They play a very important role in the security of this nation, since we want to move into getting people to be (as) one. That is a very hard thing to do so we need security to be there.”

Meanwhile as political parties await criteria for their registration, Professor Naidu says they should also be consulted about the registration process.

Radio New Zealand International:

8)Climate change will see extreme floods and droughts in Pacific – study

Posted at 07:32 on 16 August, 2012 UTC

An international study has found that climate change will lead to more extreme floods and droughts in the South Pacific.

The study, led by CSIRO oceanographer Dr Wenju Cai, examined the movement of the South Pacific rain band, which spans the Pacific from south of the equator southeast to French Polynesia and can move north up to 1000 kilometres towards the equator.

It found the frequency of this movement will almost double in the next 100 years, with rain intensifying at a corresponding rate.

In a statement, the CSIRO said Pacific countries will experience more extreme floods and droughts, in response to increasing greenhouse gas emissions

The study also found greenhouse gases are projected to enhance equatorial Pacific warming, which will lead to increased frequency of extreme excursions of the rain band.

Dr Cai says this shift brings more severe extremes, including cyclones to regions such as French Polynesia that are not accustomed to such events.

The study found during moderate El Nino events the rain band moves northeastward by 300 kilometres and countries located in its normal position, such as Vanuatu, experience forest fires and droughts and increased tropical cyclones.

Radio New Zealand International

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