NEWS (Melanesian/Pacific) 01 September 2012.

1) Australian Minister’s Comments On Papua Violence Slammed
Counter-terrorism unit allegedly involved in attacks on protestors

By Alex Perrottet

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (Pacific Scoop, Aug. 30, 2012) – The leader of Indonesia’s parliamentary commission for security, Mahfudz Siddiq, has criticized Australia’s Foreign Minister Bob Carr for his comments about West Papua in an interview with The Age newspaper in Australia.

In an interview with ABC’s 7:30 Report, Senator Carr confirmed Australia had helped to set up and fund the controversial Detachment 88 troops, who were deployed in Indonesia to combat terrorism.

He defended Australia’s role, saying the assistance was provided in the wake of the 2002 Bali bombings and the troops had also received human rights training.

And he confirmed that he had raised his concern with the Indonesian foreign minister on a number of occasions about allegations that the anti-terrorist troops were involved in the killing of West Papuan activist Mako Tabuni.

‘Double standards’

But Mahfudz Siddiq reacted angrily to Senator Carr’s comments, saying he was showing “double standards” for not showing the same concern for those killed in terror raids by Detachment 88 in Indonesia.

Senator Carr told the 7:30 Report the training was strictly for anti-terrorism, not anti-insurgency.

However, several reports have now confirmed Detachment 88 are deployed in the provinces of Papua and West Papua and the comments of Siddiq have also confirmed that they are playing a role there.

The Australian Federal Police has told the 7:30 Report that Indonesia do not distinguish between counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency.

Siddiq said Mako Tabuni was “one of the actors behind a series of violent actions” in Papua, despite the reports to the contrary that said he was gunned down in cold blood by the Detachment 88 troops.

Presence confirmed

“That makes the presence of Detachment 88 and its involvement in some cases in West Papua as being very much about doing their job,” said Siddiq.

Several human rights groups as well as political leaders in Australia have made repeated calls for the Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard to speak about the issue of West Papua at the Pacific Islands Forum in Rarotonga.

Pacific Scoop
All editorial and news content produced under the principles of Creative Commons. Permission to republish with attribution may be obtained from the Pacific Media Centre – [email protected]

2) Sedition Charges Against PNG Chief Justice Dropped
Justice Kirriwon, police officer Fred Yakasa also cleared

By Todagia Kelola

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Aug. 30, 2012) – Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has written to Police Commissioner Tom Kulunga to have sedition charges against Papua New Guinea’s Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia and Justice Nicholas Kirriwon and charges of interfering with political liberties against senior police officer Fred Yakasa dropped. The Prime Minister said this was “in the best interest of the country and the people.”

This is the commitment made by the O’Neill-Dion Government as announced by Governor-General Sir Michael Ogio when he formally opened the ninth Parliament nine days ago.

As a result, all criminal proceedings against the three men have been dropped.

This was revealed in evidence before the Waigani Committal Court in Port Moresby yesterday.

The three men were arrested and charged by police on a complaint laid by the Prime Minister during the impasse about a month before the 2012 National Elections.

Chief Justice Sir Salamo and Justice Kirriwom were charged with sedition while Mr. Yakasa was charged with interfering with political liberty when he and his group of policemen tried to stop Prime Minister O’Neill and other senior MPs from entering Government House at Konedobu to be sworn in.

The sedition case against Sir Salamo was returned before the Committal Court yesterday. Police Prosecutor Inspector Paul Henry told senior Magistrate Cosmas Bidar about the matter and tendered the letter from the Prime Minister addressed to Police Commissioner Tom Kulunga.

Magistrate Bidar revoked all bail conditions against the Chief Justice.

“After having considered all the factors at the completion of the 2012 General Election and the formation of a new Government, I have decided that it is in the best interest of the country and the people that the proceedings be discontinued,” Prime Minister O’Neill said in his letter. He reiterated that his decision to withdraw these complainants was in line with his Government’s development agenda.

The Governor General had said that “during the formation of this Government, our coalition leaders met in Alotau and put together a development agenda with programs designed to correct the mistakes of the past, heal the wounds of political infighting and guide our nation back on track in the next five years.

PNG Post-Courier:

3) Golpu Site In PNG May Yield Huge Gold, Copper Prospects
Recent estimates claim 12.4 million ounces of gold present

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Aug. 30, 2012) – A new estimate of the ore reserve at the Golpu deposit in Papua New Guinea’s Morobe Province has mining industry figures enthusing that it could become one of the world’s biggest gold mines.

The Wafi-Golpu Joint Venture participants, Harmony and Newcrest, have announced a significant upgrade to the estimate for the Golpu copper gold deposit following a technical pre-feasibility study.

The study proposes that the Golpu deposit be developed via an underground mine two kilometers deep, using the block caving method.

The method, where a deposit is essentially mined from the bottom upwards, has never been used in PNG but Newcrest has vast experience with it in Australia.

The joint venture’s General Manager of Sustainability & External Relations, David Wissink, says the study’s conclusions show that Golpu is even more of a world class deposit than previously estimated.

“Harmony did a pre-feasibility study in 2007 and what it showed was 1.3 million ounces of gold and just below a million tons of copper. So what this has done now is increase that almost ten-fold to almost to 12.4 million ounces of gold and 5.4 million tons of copper. So it’s quite a significant increase. It’s a better grade of gold and copper than you’d find at Ok Tedi or Porgera.”

The Executive Director of Papua New Guinea’s Chamber of Mines Greg Anderson says Golpu is an impressive deposit.

“We’re very bullish about its future but it’s going to take a lot of money to develop it and a long lead time and a lot of work in front of us because it’s a huge operation. That’s the problem with block-caves, it gives you low operational costs but a long lead time and high cost to develop.”

Greg Anderson says a benefit of the block caving method is that there is less waste rock involved.

This is unlikely to reduce grassroots opposition to mining in Morobe province where Harmony and Newcrest’s Hidden Valley gold-silver mine has been blamed for poisoning waterways and other environmental devastation.

The joint venture can also expect problems with landowners, according to local journalist Haiveta Kivia, who says a dispute over ownership rights to the Golpu deposit area has been locked up in court for years.

“The main players in the court battle for the ownership of land are the Yanta, Engabu and the Babuaf people. Wafi-Golpu project is now in construction phase. The exploration phase is slowly being phased away and they’re now beginning the construction phase. However the ownership of the land has not been established as yet. The government of Papua New Guinea and the developer are not waiting for the landowners to sort themselves out. The government of Papua New Guinea has given the green light for the developer to go ahead.”

The joint venture says it’s determined to learn lessons from its previous PNG endeavours and to introduce world’s best practice to develop the Golpu resource.

It’s deploying a large community affairs group to consult through the province as it seeks community approval, moving into the feasibility phase

The cost of the mine is estimated at over US$4 billion with first commercial production slated for around 2019.

Radio New Zealand International:

4) One percent to be infected by HIV in PNG

By Online Editor
4:24 pm GMT+12, 31/08/2012, Papua New Guinea

More than one percent of the population of Papua New Guinea is expected to be infected with HIV by 2015 according to reports.

That is about 70,000-100,000 people.

The survey states that the epidemic is mainly being fuelled by unprotected sex, particularly by the large number of people having unprotected sex with different partners within the same period of time.

Despite this many people do not feel they are at risk of becoming infected with HIV and few people understand how to protect themselves.

According to National AIDS Council Secretariat (NACS), national prevalence was estimated at 0.8 per cent in 2010 and remains the highest in the South Pacific. The median number of adults and children living with HIV in PNG is 31,421. Median total for adults aged 15 and over is estimated to be 27,330 and children to be 3991.

HIV surveillance has reported in 2010 a cumulative total of 31,609 cases since detection of first case in 1987.

The report stated that the HIV epidemic is not spread evenly across PNG. Southern and Highlands regions are estimated to have the highest levels of HIV infection, though the number of infections in these regions appear to be leveling off.

Meanwhile the number of infections in the Momase and New Guinea islands region is lower but increasing.

Acting Director NACS Philip Tapo said at a national launch in the fight against HIV/AIDS on Wednesday in Port Moresby that the fight is not over.
“The fight started almost two decades ago, at one stage the prevalence rate was 1.6 percent and now is 0.8 percent. We still have to bring it down to zero percent prevalence rate. There is a need to reach the bulk of the PNG population,” he said. He called on partners to cultivate ideas in the form of advocacy to reach the bulk of the population.

He said, “With the use of mobile phones today, we have reached the bulk population. This is plus for NACS and partners, but there is more to do.”

He also noted there was a need to strengthen and mobilise youths from the ages of 15-24. This age group is highly infectious. “At the start of services we have not focused on this particular group of people,” he said.

He also noted groups like sex workers, landowners and public sectors employees are target groups that needed to be addressed. The public sector he noted was the second-highest number of people seeking sex outside of marriages.

Tapo called on all stakeholders and partners to continue to advocate more on condoms.

“Today we hear about all the bad things from people’s personal stories but we want an opposite approach. We want to see people come out to tell the public that free drugs from partners and Government has supported them and they stand as evidence against stigma and discrimination.”.


5) Nautilus Minerals-PNG set to begin operations 

By Gorethy Kenneth

NAUTILUS Minerals-PNG has spent more than $US400 million (K820m) so far on their operation since inception in Papua New Guinea and is likely to spend another $US400 million to bring the project into production.
And the company has agreed to form an unincorporated mining joint venture with the State of PNG through its nominee Petromin PNG Holdings Limited. The State of PNG has exercised its option to take a 30 percent stake in the Solwara 1 Project and other assets within the Mining Lease (ML154) area.
Nautilus Minerals-PNG boss Mel Togolo said this yesterday, adding that the company would kickstart its three-year operation hopefully by the end of 2013.
Reporters in Port Moresby were taken on a conference presentation by Mr Togolo and Chief Operating officer Anthony O’Sullivan, specifically on the awareness of the project and its impact. They were given an outline of the whole operation in PNG and abroad – Vanuatu, Tonga, New Zealand and Solomon Islands.
Both executives stressed that Nautilus Minerals has met world-class standards and that its sea floor production was safe and environmentally friendly. They said this project was different from the rest, adding that it would help generate money for the people of PNG.
“Any money we make, any dividend to be declared, 30 per cent of that dividend will go to Papua new Guineans. And this is very important, because then our Government will use that money to build schools, hospitals, aid posts, teacher’s houses, roads and bridges,” Mr Togolo said.
“We are probably the biggest country in the South Pacific but we have lots of demand on our leaders to deliver goods and services and our leaders depend on businesses also helping in terms of taxes to the Government to implement the demands of our people.
“…in our discussion, our awareness with the communities, we’ve listened to their concerns. The main concerns were from the fisheries, they want their fish to be protected. They also want their reefs to be safe…we’ve designed the delivery system to make sure that…probably no impact on fish stock or low impact on marine fish…we are out in the big ocean….
“This project, when in operation, will not impact on the reefs at all. We are operating 1600 metres deep, there are no fish down there…fish only live on the top warm water where there’s oxygen, so fish will not be affected.
“We will deliver this project at the end of next year, but there may be some delays and we are still looking at the end of next year or early 2014.
“This project is a bit different from the rest and the life span of the project is about three years, but we are looking at others close by, that’s why we can move the ship from this one to the other.
“We are going there to make sure it is profitable and the shareholders are rewarded because they are putting money.
“Nautilus Minerals will commence its seabed mining operations hopefully at the end of 2013. It has spent $US400 million and expects to spend another $US400 million to get the project to production stage,” he said.
Mr Togolo said that there are positive issues also surrounding the company and they included:
The exploration of territorial waters of PNG since 1997, when the first offshore mineral exploration license was granted;
Nautilus and PNG are leading the world in the exploration of seafloor massive sulphide (SMS) deposits;
– Different risk profile to oil and gas;
– Compared to land-based counterparts: Smaller physical footprint;
– Training in state-of-the-art techniques under the supervision of world renowned deep sea ecologists;
– No direct impact to (human) communities;
– Supporting Education and so far, four PNG Nationals have been awarded a chance to study at Duke University (USA);
– About 15 per cent of Nautilus full time employees are PNG Nationals (as of April 2012); and
– Nautilus’ ultimate goal is for project workforce to be PNG Nationals.
“Nautilus Minerals has been committed to creating a voluntary Community Development Fund in PNG, additional to taxes and royalty payments, once production begins,” Mr Togolo said.
“Its aim is to contribute to community projects, focusing on health and education. The fund will see two Kina for every tonne of mineralized material produced put towards community projects and activities and an independent board will advise Nautilus on the management of the fund, working with relevant Provincial Governments to identify community priorities. “

6) ABG gets 140 Govt powers 

THE total number of powers and functions transferred to the Autonomous Bougainville Administration (ABA) by the National Government so far stands at 140.
Reports from the Division of Autonomy and Implementation show that education has the highest number of powers and functions transferred, at 63 – based on the approved MOUs. Teaching Service Commission (TSC) has 25 powers and functions transferred, eight powers and functions currently available to ABG; health has four transferred with 25 delegated, and six retained by ABG; Lands and Physical Planning has 11 transferred and five delegated; Forestry has 15 transferred and eight currently available to ABG; Primary Industry has 20 transferred and 28 available to the ABG; and Community Development has only two powers and functions currently transferred from the National Government to ABG.
However, the delay with funding and no Joint Supervisory Body (JSB) meetings between the National Government and ABG in the last six months has been highlighted as among the major constraints faced in the process of the drawdown of powers.
About 14 divisional executives in the ABG Administration met with representatives from the six Council of Elders (COEs) in Central Bougainville in a week-long awareness workshop in Arawa last week, particularly to update the people on the progress of each division on the drawdown of power process.
Deputy Administrator, Operations – and Chief Executive Officer of the Division of Autonomy and Implementation Paul Kebori told the participants that other issues regarding Unity, Weapons Disposal, Reconciliation and Good Governance were also key ingredients to speed up the implementation process.
“ABG is existing – the structure is in place, we just need to put together the other vital parts regarding legitimate frameworks of the respective Memorandum of Understandings (MOUs) to make it work.
There are also aspects that need to be considered which relate to Peace and Reconciliations, Weapon Disposal, Referendum, Good Governance, infrastructural developments and Manpower.” Mr Kebori stated.
Mr Kebori told the participants that as citizens of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, they had a duty to fulfil and they must work together to implement the autonomy.
There are 40 COEs, 13 districts and three regional commissioners in North, Central and South Bougainville.
He said it was a must that Bougainville Administration linked up with the COEs.
Post courier Png

7) Discuss Bougainville referendum now

By Online Editor
4:19 pm GMT+12, 31/08/2012, Papua New GuineaPapua  New Guinea and the Autonomous Bougainville Government leaders have to tell the people of Bougainville whether there will be a referendum in 2015 or not.

This is because time is running out and the main benchmarks, set under the Bougainville Peace Agreement that have not been addressed – for example – the Fiscal Self Reliance, Weapons Disposal Issue and Capacity Building to name a few.

Sam Akoitai, speaking as former Bougainville Affairs Minister, a former rebel hardliner and a concerned Bougainville leader, also on behalf of the people of Bougainville, said yesterday that time is running out.

He said that it is better to talk about the referendum now before it falls flat on people’s faces.

“It’s better to say it now rather than leave it until late 2015 and frustrate the people again,” Akoitai said. “I am calling on ABG and the PNG Governments to tell the people of Bougainville and PNG whether there will be referendum in 2015.

“The Bougainville Peace Agreement was a creation for both the National Government and the Autonomous Bougainville Government, they both must work together to ensure the BPA is fully implemented before 2015. There are benchmarks in the BPA that needs to be addressed immediately,” he said.

“The BPA is a double entrenchment agreement and there will be difficulties making amendments if leaders start thinking of an extension of time to the referendum.”

Akoitai said despite him not being a leader in the ABG and PNG Government’s specifically on Bougainville, he was very concerned that there has not been any progress so far.

On Thursday ABG President Momis met with Acting PM Leo Dion over ABG issues also including the K100 million owing to the ABG. Bougainville has just two years to address pressing issues before the referendum for independence.

They discussed the way forward for Bougainville. Details of the meeting had not been disclosed, but the Post-Courier was reliably told that it was on the K100 million funding from the National Government and outstanding Joint Supervisory Body meeting and the Referendum issue.

8) Maelanga banks on RAMSI to back bid

THURSDAY, 30 AUGUST 2012 04:32
DPM Manasseh MaelangaHead of delegation, Deputy PM Manasseh Maelanga at the ACP meeting yesterday. (Photo: Ednal Palmer)

DEPUTY Prime Minister Manasseh Maelanga is vigorously lobbying to have the 44th Pacific Islands Forum Meeting held in Honiara next year.
Mr Maelanga told the Solomon Star during the ACP forum meeting, the country’s bid lies on the fact that a special occasion of interest to Pacific Island countries is taking place next year.

“RAMSI, which is a very successful mission made up of Pacific countries is celebrating its 10th anniversary next year,” Mr Maelanga said.

He said this is the reason for placing the bid to host the top regional meeting.

“The prime minister said it would be good to host the Pacific Islands Forum meeting in the Solomon Islands to coincide with RAMSI’s 10th anniversary celebration.

“This is a successful mission and a good example of security cooperation.

“It is therefore relevant for leaders from Pacific Island countries to witness and be part of the mission’s celebrations.”

Mr Maelanga however said the country’s bid is up against two others who also have a lot of support.

They are Tuvalu and the Marshall Islands.

But unconfirmed reports say Tuvalu is withdrawing and will throw its support behind the Marshalls.

Micronesian countries are expected to support Marshall Islands’ bid but the relevancy of the Solomon Islands bid for the event to coincide with the RAMSI’s special occasion is likely to gain support for Solomon Islands as well.

Decision on who will host next year’s forum will be made during the leaders’ retreat at a remote Island outside of Rarotonga, Aitutaki, tomorrow.

Mr Maelanga led the government delegation in the absence of the Prime Minister, who chose to stay home, to attend to domestic issues.

Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo believes it will be a success for the country to host the Forum Leader’s meeting next year, especially to coincide with RAMSI’s 10th anniversary.

Solomon Islands last hosted the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders meeting 20 years ago.

By Ednal R. Palmer
In Rarotonga, Cook Islands

9) Vanuatu proposes decentralizing project delivery at sub-regional level

By Online Editor
09:33 am GMT+12, 31/08/2012, Cook IslandsBy Makereta Komai, PACNEWS EDITOR in Rarotonga

Vanuatu is one of the strong proponents of de-centralising project delivery at the sub-regional level.

Deputy Prime Minister Ham Lini, in his presentation to Pacific ACP Leaders Tuesday emphasized the need for a re-think to better co-ordinate delivery of services to member countries.

He said with the emergence of another new sub-regional group, the Polynesian Leaders Group (PLG), there is now a need to consider using these various groups to implement activities within countries that share common issues and challenges.

Speaking to journalists, the Director General in Vanuatu’s Prime Minister’s office, Simeon Athy said its time that Leaders recognise at the highest level the value of delivering at the sub-regional level.

“Vanuatu appreciates the formation of the Polynesian Leaders Group. We believe they will echo the same sentiments we are promoting – to deliver some regional programmes through the sub regional grouping.

“As we speak, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) already has an agreement to work with the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG). This fits in well with the parameters of the issues we want to pursue, explained Athy.

One of issues Vanuatu is pushing for is the recognition that the MSG Secretariat based in Port Vila has the capacity and expertise to implement some of these regional projects, especially the ones that deal with complying with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

“At the end of the day it is the effectiveness of the delivery of the programme. If we want to improve the livelihoods of our population, we need to focus on where the problems are. Most of the problems are in the bigger countries of Melanesia.

Athy said here in Rarotonga, the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) showed keen interest in working directly with the MSG.

“We have been discussing with the head of SPREP and they want to sign a similar agreement with the MSG. That’s the way to go.

The Vanuatu senior government official said sub-regional groups like the MSG, the Polynesian and Micronesian heads are not competing with the work of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.

If anything, the sub-regional group complements the work of the Suva-based Secretariat, said Athy.

“MSG has been there for 25 years and is delivering programmes for the betterment of the lives of its peoples. The Polynesians have started. We are not competing with each other. It’s the effectiveness of delivery that is the best approach.

“At the end of the day, PIFS will remain the main political body spearheading regional decisions and will always be relevant for member countries. But it must also decentralize some of its activities to sub-regional groups, said Athy.


10) Vanuatu Ministers To Appear In Court Over Phocea Incident
Education, foreign affairs ministers face ten charges

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Aug. 30, 2012) – Two Vanuatu government ministers are expected to appear in the Supreme Court next week in relation to customs and immigration charges surrounding the super yacht, Phocea.

The vessel has been detained in Vanuatu since last month.

On Wednesday state prosecutors submitted an application for nine people to appear in court on Friday next week, including the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Alfred Carlot and the Education Minister, Marcelino Pepite.

They are facing ten charges, including alleged fraud offences.

Mr. Pepite has admitted being on the Phocea before it was cleared by Customs but says he was attending on the Government’s behalf.

The skipper of the Phocea, Richard Malaise, will also appear next Friday.

Two weeks ago 13 crew members were fined for disembarking Phocea before it had received official clearance from customs and immigration.

And an American student who was also on the vessel, Faviola Imgrad Brugger Dadis, was fined 1,400 U.S. dollars for breaching customs laws and obstructing police.

Radio New Zealand International:

11) Opposition boycotts after attempt to amend URA Act

Posted on August 31, 2012 – 6:29pm | Vanuatu Daily Post.

B. J. Skane

Disturbing news from Parliament Thursday noon was that Minister for Finance, Moana Carcasses, announced that the Government was going to table an additional Bill, the URA (Utilities Regulatory Authority) Amendment Bill.

Because it was not on the original list of bills presented by the government for this extraordinary session, the minister said he was going to move a motion to suspend Standing Orders so that the Bill could be tabled.

When this motion was raised, members of Parliament had not, as at that time even received a copy of the bill nor, the URA said, have any stakeholder consultations been conducted on the amendment(s).

The URA says the process undertaken by Minister Carcasses in this, his alleged second attempt to have the URA Act altered to diminish the powers of the URA in favour of private companies, has excluded from the discussions the public and donor agencies that have actively supported the Government in its energy sector reform efforts.

In not seeking the advice of the Authority, the URA says, the minister has ignored potential negative impacts such an amendment may have for electricity and water customers due to higher tariffs.

According to the URA, to their knowledge, consultations regarding these apparently surreptitiously planned amendments to the Act under which it operates have considered only the interests of private firms based on contentious representations by UNELCO and KUTh Energy with which the Authority disagrees.

It says that by not following a transparent process in adopting fundamental legislative changes a wrong precedent may set, particularly since the proposed amendments do not reflect any Government policy of which the Authority is aware.

“In fact, the amendments undermine the Government’s energy policy and its own Priority and Action Agenda which sought to strengthen the regulatory framework the Authority is operating under since its establishment in 2007.

“The amendments will make the implementation of the Government’s Energy Roadmap less feasible as all stakeholders have identified a functioning regulatory framework as a crucial building block for it.

“Nor will the proposed amendments to the URA Act encourage the development of
renewable energy sources or expand access for Vanuatu’s population to electricity and water services.
“In fact”, the URA says, “it is UNELCO’s concession agreement that is the major impediment for the expansion of innovative services and renewable energy sources and the Government’s inaction to adopt energy policies upon which the regulator can act that are holding both types of development back.”

Alarmingly, UNELCO has recently communicated to seven local solar service providers exercising its powers awarded to it as a monopoly and requiring “prior written approval from UNELCO” for any installation of solar panels for UNELCO customers, which, according to UNELCO, it may refuse.

The URA advises that UNELCO has also recently refused to cooperate with the Ministry of Lands, Geology and Mines in the development of a 4 MW Agriculture Development generation source as endorsed by the Council of Ministers which may have supplied electricity at a lower cost.

In the case of monopolies, only independent regulatory oversight can provide an environment for development of the relevant sectors in the public interest and ensure that utilities do not take advantage of their market dominance. To diminish such regulation would be obviously disadvantageous to consumers.

Many of the amendments proposed by Minister Carcassas have the general effect of severely weakening the URA’a already limited regulatory oversight and reducing the powers of the Authority to ensure compliance by utility companies with both legislation and concession contract. In effect they will potentially afford more protection to the power/water companies and less to consumers.

”Many of the amendments”, the URA says, transfer a large measure of regulatory and contractual administration powers away from the Authority and back to the Government thus removing protections of transparent oversight by an independent body while securing protections for utilities such as UNELCO from regulatory oversight by imposing upon the Authority a variety of critical administrative and operational burdens.

”Overall, the amendments will have a negative impact on the long term interests of electricity and water customers which the Authority is tasked to protect and may lead to increases in tariffs for water and electricity services” the URA says.

In Parliament Thursday morning when the Speaker asked the minister where the bill to amend the URA Act was he was told it had been submitted to the Secretariat of Parliament already and would be available “soon”.

The Speaker then said that when the members received it such a motion could be tabled.

It would seem the minister has taken no notice of the URA’s earlier responses, publicly in a media release July 23 (…) and privately to the Minister and other stakeholders in a letter outlining the URA’s objections to the proposed amendments (…)
It remains to be seen whether he will remain determined to push this Bill through without any attempt at consultation or transparency or at what cost to the population of Vanuatu in the face of the specifics contained in a further statement issued by the URA late Thursday afternoon. Specifics such as the potential removal of effective tariff setting powers from the Authority with detrimental impact on tariffs in the future; the fact that no cost-benefit analysis has been provided to the Authority by UNELCO regarding pre-paid meters so that consideration of the system can be considered in the long-term interests of customers and similarly, in regard to geo-thermal development on Efate, no agreements or concrete actions have been taken by UNELCO, KUTh or the Ministry of Lands, Geology and Mines that would enable the Authority to independently conduct its functions, including the independent determination of a customer tariff for electricity so generated.

In an interesting development the Opposition boycotted Parliament’s Thursday afternoon sitting and so did a small group of Government backbenchers opposed to the URA Amendment Bill. This meant the Government could not convene a quorum and the sitting was not able to go ahead.

The Opposition, we are told, intends doing the same thing on Friday (today) so the Bill cannot be tabled.

12) Fiji Labour Party Condemns Trade Union Leader’s Comments
Mahendra Chaudhry calls statement ‘a pack of lies’

By Reginald Chandar and Indrani Krishna

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Aug. 30, 2012) – Felix Anthony’s statement that the Fiji Labour Party (FLP) no longer represents workers has to be the biggest joke of the year, says FLP leader Mahendra Chaudhry.

Anthony, a leader in Fiji’s Trade Union Congress (FTUC), claimed to have walked out in the midst of discussions during FLP’s conference over the weekend in Nadi because he was frustrated over the practices and operations of the party.

“The Party has been a consistent and diligent voice advocating workers’ rights and welfare over the years,” said Chaudhry. “FLP’s record in standing up for the interests of the workers and the poor of this nation cannot be challenged.”

“His comments about the conduct of the FLP Annual Delegates Conference (ADC) in Nadi on Saturday are a pack of lies.

“He came to the meeting with a pre-planned agenda but could not get support from the delegates.

“It was he who wanted the election of office bearers deferred but the delegates wanted elections held – after all, the ADC was held after a span of three years and elections were long over-due, executive positions left vacant had to be filled.”

Chaudhry has also rubbished claims by Anthony that he and his son, Rajendra Chaudhry dominated the conference on every issue.

“Felix spoke the longest and the loudest. He came with a divisive agenda but failed to receive support from delegates and left before the conference concluded.”

“This is certainly not the first time Felix Anthony has gone public with his challenge to the Labour leadership and FLP understands that his statement to the media is not an officially sanctioned FTUC release,” Chaudhry said.

Meanwhile, FTUC president Daniel Urai has confirmed that the statement given by Felix Anthony was officially sanctioned by FTUC.


13) Political Party Registration Rules Under Review In Fiji
New regulations for parties, voters considered

By Jyoti Pratibha

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Sun, Aug. 30, 2012) – As announced earlier by Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, the Government of Fiji is now in the process of formulating the rules that will govern how new political parties register and existing political parties re-register for the 2014 general elections.

Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum last night said there were several issues that they would address.

He said they were looking at the models present in countries around the world where political parties were also governed by a code of conduct.

Some of the areas that would be looked at would include seeking subscribers from a wider cross section of the society. Previously, for any political party to be formed 180 to 200 signatures were sought but Government would seek to increase that threshold.

“We are currently working on those rules- these will include, for example, increasing the threshold of the number of people required to subscribe to a political party before it is registered or re-registered.

There are some countries where they have a requirement for a certain number of subscribers from different parts of the country, we are also looking at that model, whether, hypothetically, if a political party is required to have 5,000 signatures, whether these 5,000 signatures will have to come from different parts of Fiji to show that it is truly a national party,” he said.

Also, the signatures of only those people who have their voter registration numbers would be eligible to sign and subscribe to a political party.

“Only the signatures of those people would be accepted who have their voter identification number, which can be obtained after electronic voter registration. We know there are certain NGOs and political parties who have asked people not to register.

“We are calling on for people to register because this is an apolitical process and only then will they be able to sign for a political party,” he said. Mr. Sayed-Khaiyum said the need for political parties to reveal their assets and liabilities to public would also be considered.

“Similarly, a political party would need to make their assets and liabilities known to the public, there needs to be public disclosure, it needs to be audited.

“We are also looking at models where the office holders of the political parties will need to make their assets and liabilities known to the public, because you need to have full disclosure of the political party you are interested in supporting,” he said.

He clarified that independent candidates would not be affected by this.


14) Japan offers support to Fiji’s constitutional process

By Online Editor
4:21 pm GMT+12, 31/08/2012, FijiThe Japanese government has pledged its support to the electoral and constitutional reform processes underway in Fiji.

During a meeting  Thursday with the Attorney-General, the Japanese Delegation— led by the Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, Joe Nakano, and the Ambassador of Japan to Fiji, Eiichi Oshima—  offered assistance to Fiji as the country moves toward democratic elections in 2014.

“I had the opportunity to update the Japanese Vice-Minister on electronic voter registration and the constitutional process,” the Attorney-General said.

“The Minister expressed strong support for the progress being made in Fiji, and confirmed that the Government of Japan will stand ready to assist Fiji.”

The Japanese delegation arrived in Fiji on the 29th of August and has had meetings with a number of key Government officials in order to strengthen bilateral ties between the two nations.

“We acknowledge the ever-growing international support for the Bainimarama Government’s vision for a new Fiji,” the Attorney-General said. “This recent pledge of assistance on behalf of the Japanese Government has reaffirmed the special relationship between our two countries.”.


15) Fiji remains suspended from the Pacific Islands Forum

By Online Editor
1:33 pm GMT+12, 01/09/2012, Cook IslandsBy Makereta Komai, PACNEWS Editor in Rarotonga

Fiji remains suspended from the 16 member Pacific Islands Forum.

At their one day Retreat on the beautiful island of Aitutaki Thursday, Forum Leaders which did not include Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, only noted the progress made in 2012 towards elections in September 2014 including the registration of voters and the establishment of the Constitutional Commission.

Gillard left Rarotonga Wednesday afternoon after receiving reports of the death of five Australian soldiers in Afghanistan.

In the three paragraphs on Fiji, Forum Leaders welcomed the assurances given to the Ministerial Contact Group that visited Fiji in May this year that there would be freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom for the media.

Leaders have reaffirmed their longstanding offer to support Fiji’s early return to parliamentary democracy.
Forum Leaders also noted the deliberations of the Pacific ACP Leaders on the participation of Fiji at purely ACP related activities and the intention to consider the issue at a further special meeting in Papua New Guinea later in the year.

Tuvalu’s Prime Minister, Willie Telavi told journalists that his country relies a lot on Fiji and would like to see the island nation return to the regional grouping.

“We are glad to see the progress made in Fiji towards the 2014 elections and would encourage Fiji to come back to join the Forum.

However, Samoa’s Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi hasn’t changed his position on Fiji.

“I disagree with Fiji’s inclusion until there is genuine return to democratic rule and no interference with the judiciary, he told Pacific journalists in Rarotonga.

In another decision, Pacific Forum Leaders have reiterated their support for Australia and New Zealand’s candidacies for the United Nations Security Council.

“Leaders reaffirmed their strong and unanimous support for Australia’s candidature for the UN Security Council for the term 2013-2014 and New Zealand for 2015-206, said the communiqué.

Marshall Islands will host the 44th Pacific Islands Forum next year.


16) Credible signs but 2014 elections will return Fiji to the Pacific Islands Forum, John Key

By Online Editor
1:30 pm GMT+12, 01/09/2012, Cook IslandsBy Makereta Komai, PACNEWS Editor in Rarotonga

New Zealand believes there are some credible signs that the government of Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama in Fiji will go to the polls as promised in 2014 but a few issues need to be clarified before the island nation can be welcomed back to the Pacific Islands Forum.

One key question the administration in Suva will need to answer is immunity for those involved in the events of 2006 and what happens to military officers in government at the end of the 2014 national elections.

Answering questions from journalists at the end of the Leaders one day Retreat in the Southern Group of island of Aitutaki in Cook Islands, New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key said, “I won’t say the process is perfect but I would say that Fiji is making progress.”

“It seems more likely to us that Frank Bainimarama will hold elections as promised. We’ve heard it before and we are little more hopeful now, said Prime Minister Key.

One of the credible processes, he said now in place is the appointment of Yash Ghai to head the Constitutional Review Commission. The Commission has commenced public hearing on the proposed new constitution for the island nation.

“We see him as someone that is highly credible and is putting on the table a genuine process. We expect Bainimarama to take seriously the work that Professor Yash Ghai and his team are doing.

The New Zealand Prime Minister said his country stands ready to assist Fiji return to democratic rule.

“But in terms of major change of reinstating Fiji back into the Forum, Leaders agreed that won’t take place until democratic elections are held in 2014, but we acknowledge the progress that they are making, said Key.
Cook Islands Prime Minister, Henry Puna who takes over as chairman of the 16 member group said most Forum Island Countries are taking their lead from Australia and New Zealand in terms of their engagement with Fiji.

“We have heard the news recently that Australia and New Zealand are re-opening their high commissions in Fiji and the Forum is extremely comforted by that development. We in our own ways are taking steps to re-engage with Fiji.

“May I add at the PACP Leaders Meeting on Tuesday, Leaders were unanimous in expressing their strong desire to see Fiji being re-engaged, may be not under the umbrella of the Forum but in other means. I am pleased to say that Fiji is a member of the ACP and Leaders have taken the view that it should be invited to participate at all levels at Pacific ACP activities and programmes.

“There should be a meeting of PACP Leaders in PNG to finalise Fiji’s re-engagement.

In defense of the Forum Leaders decision not to reinstate Fiji, Prime Minister Puna said, the Forum must be seen to abide by its decision to maintain its integrity as a political body.

“The Forum decision in 2009 must be maintained for the sake of the integrity of the organisation and also because some very clear fundamental principles were set out and accepted by all Forum Island Countries. But at the same time there is a desire to re-engage with Fiji.

However, Cook Islands sent a delegation to Suva last week to attend the Engaging with the Pacific meeting, a meeting convened to discuss direct bilateral issues with Pacific Island Countries.

“Given the recent developments, we thought it best to send a representative to that meeting and we did. I am really pleased we did because through our attendance, we are sending clear signals to Fiji that we are encouraging what they are doing to return to democratic rule, said Prime Minister Puna.

Fiji was suspended from the Pacific Islands Forum in 2009.


17) Pacific Islands Forum stands by Fiji suspension

By Online Editor
4:29 pm GMT+12, 31/08/2012, Cook IslandsLeaders from the Pacific region have decided to maintain Fiji’s suspension from the Pacific Islands Forum as well as calling for more reliable aid.

The leaders have finished the forum’s retreat on the remote one-foot island in Aitutaki.

They’ve decided Fiji will not be allowed back into the forum, but say the country has made progress towards democracy and they’ll permit it to participate in a parallel gathering of Pacific countries.

The leaders have urged aid donors to make their assistance more reliable and more predictable and they’ve called for more assistance to help them fight illegal fishing in the Pacific.

Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna said he may raise the matter with the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, when she visits the Cook Islands for the post-forum dialogue tomorrow.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is on her way to the Cook Islands for post-Forum dialogue with the leaders.

Clinton will be joined by the head of US Pacific Command, Admiral Sam Locklear.

Her visit has been full of logistical headaches, as her staff struggled to find enough cars and hotel rooms during one of the biggest events in the archipelago’s history.

Officials said she is expected to announce a series of new aid initiatives focused on the environment and other areas.

Clinton’s visit is being seen as a bid to counter growing Chinese influence, after Samoa’s Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi earlier this year praised China as a better friend to the region and said that the United States had neglected the South Pacific.

The Pacific Islands Forum leaders have also announced the next hosts for the 2013 Pacific Islands Forum will be Marshall Islands.


18) No immunity for coup perpetrators in Fiji’s new constitution: Fiji Labour Leader

By Online Editor
12:54 pm GMT+12, 31/08/2012, FijiThe leader of the Fiji Labour Party says the new constitution should not give immunity to coup perpetrators as they are the ones responsible for political upheaval in the country.

Mahendra Chaudhry, who was re-elected unopposed as the leader of the Labour Party on the weekend said the constitution should look closely at the role of the military.

He said s the Labour Party is still developing its policies, but in principle it supports the 1997 constitution, with some amendments.

He said those involved with staging coups in the country should have a life ban from holding public office imposed on them.

“They’ve been responsible for the upheaval that has taken place in the country since 1987, they have staged all the coups that have taken place since 1987. We feel that there should not be immunity given to perpetrators of the coups, we also of the view that these people should be barred for life from holding any public office. So we are still developing our thoughts on that.”

Meanwhile, the Electronic Voter Registration (EVR) has been extended by a day and will now end tomorrow, Saturday the 1st of September.

All of the urban Voter Registration Centers (VRCs) will remain open tomorrow during their normal operating hours, with the exception of the VRC in Ovalau which closes today.

Permanent Secretary Responsible for Elections, Mere Vuniwaqa in a statement said the extension will give Fijians, especially those whose work might keep them from registering during the week, an extra day on the weekend to register.

She said they want to ensure that Fijians have every opportunity to register before the intensive period of EVR ends.

After the 1st of September, registration will close across all centers for at least two-and-a-half months as the Elections office carries out data verification and analysis.


19) Maintain chiefs, leaders rights

Repeka Nasiko
Saturday, September 01, 2012-FijiTimes

THE Tui Vitogo, Ratu Wiliame Sovasova, has urged the Constitution Commission to maintain the right of traditional chiefs and heads of yavusa and mataqali to receive money from land leases.

In his submission to the Constitution Commission in Vitogo Village this week, Ratu Wiliame said the commission had to ensure traditional village heads were given a portion of the lease money accorded to landowners.

Ratu Wiliame’s submission is based on the land reforms made by the government at the beginning of last year which resulted in the implementation of the equal distribution formula of land lease payments by the iTaukei Lands Trust Board (TLTB).

According to the TLTB Land Use Structure, all lease monies received or held by TLTB would be distributed equally between all, including chiefs (turaga itaukei, turaga ni qali, turaga ni mataqali) and all the other living members of each landowning units from January 1, 2011.

Under the Land Use Decree 2010, the ownership of all land designated under the decree shall remain with the State or native land owners until the expiration of the lease or until such time the land is no longer required under the decree.

Ratu Wiliame also called for the reinstatement of the Great Council of Chiefs, saying one of the responsibilities of the GCC once it is reinstated would be to govern and manage the traditional resources of the iTaukei people including land and traditional fishing grounds.

Ratu Wiliame submitted that the GCC should be independent of the government and funded from finances such as monies received from land leases.

20) Exclude political parties in election

Repeka Nasiko
Saturday, September 01, 2012-FijiTimes

POLITICAL parties should not be involved in the election process or selection of a government.

Lautoka resident Verona Lucas told the Constitution Commission there were other electoral processes that could be followed to elect people for parliament.

“For the constitution to work and Fiji to experience true unity, the election process cannot involve political parties which are divisive and destructive,” she said.

“Having witnessed earlier elections since Independence and watching the disunity and the destruction brought to the people of Fiji by the election process, taking nearly full four years to recover and then plunged into the process again, this was very distressing,” said Ms Lucas.

She said there are other processes that could be operated.

“Fiji has 182 districts, around 2000 villages and settlements as well as cities and towns and 16 provinces. An election process that allows people to elect people they know are reliable, trustworthy, honest and well educated and were not pre-selected by others such as a political party with its own agenda is required,” Ms Lucas said.

Offering her solution to this problem, Ms Lucas said qualified people could be elected from the community level and then onto the national level following a series of district, provincial and national conferences.

“After election of local people representing them, those who have been elected attend a district conference to consult with other delegates to a provincial conference where there again is a consultation on the election of people to parliament.

“This process costs no more than the support of district and national conferences and does away with the highly expensive process involved in registering parties and canvassing support.”

She said this process would get rid of empty promises from political party candidates.

“As I have been exposed to the fact that there are communities who, election process after election process, were promised more and then never got it.”

21) Polynesian Leaders Support French Polynesia’s Independence
President Temaru calls for ‘respectful self-determination process’

By Tupuola Terry Tavita

APIA, Samoa (Talamua, Aug. 30, 2012) – The Polynesian Leaders Group (PLG) has endorsed the people of French Polynesia’s right to self determination.

Responding to a plea for support from former president Oscar Temaru, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailelele Malielegaoi said “if that is the will of the people of Tahiti Nui, then the PLG will support it” at the Forum level. It was unanimously supported by PLG leaders.

Speaking to reporters outside the meeting, Tuilaepa said that big countries with colonial territories need to rethink their policies, reflect on the future.

“We live in a very globalized world now where you need all the allies you can garner,” he said. “Colonialism is a thing of the past. Big countries need all the friends they can get at the international level. So granting their territories independence and letting them become independent countries is one way to create allies.”

Tuilaepa pointed to Samoa’s relationship with its former administrator New Zealand.

“We’ve had our difference but that is water long under the bridge. There are many issues today that we see eye to eye on. Our relationship now is of mutual benefit to both our countries, our people. We have had a very successful relationship for many years. This can be replicated with other countries and their former territories, in fact, it is being successfully done elsewhere in the world.”

Addressing the Forum leaders this morning, Mr. Temaru asked the leaders to push for Tahiti Nui to be reinscribed on the United Nations Decolonization List.

“We are asking for the very right to a consistent, relevant, respectful self-determination process that will bring dignity to all parties involved.


22) Tokelau Plans To Build First Territorial Airstrip
Increased air service ‘needs to be considered’

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Aug. 30, 2012) – The head of the Apia-based Tokelau government administration office says the General Fono has agreed to go ahead with plans for the atolls’ first airstrip.

Joe Suveinakama says following a survey earlier this year several sites in each village were identified but the first recommendation is for the runway to be built on Nukunonu.

He says an environmental impact assessment, as well as social and economic reports, are being prepared.

He says the findings will be tabled in the October General Fono as part of the New Zealand government’s new 13 million U.S. dollar transport plan, which includes an upgraded ferry on a two-year lease, and the commission of a new purpose-built vessel due in 2014.

“It is the feeling between the Minister of Foreign Affairs of New Zealand and the leaders of Tokelau that this option of air service needs to be considered into the Total Transport Package. So that’s actually now on the table. And it will also include medical evacuations and also the needs of the Government and likewise the travelling community.”

Joe Suveinakama says the flight frequency and number of passengers will be determined once the various costs have been tallied.

Radio New Zealand International:

23) Japanese Company Acquires Guam Broadband Provider
Competition between telecommunications providers waning

By Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Aug. 31, 2012) – Guam’s competitive telecommunications industry is seeing further consolidation with a Japan-based telecom giant’s agreement to buy the island’s lone cable TV service provider.

NTT DOCOMO, the parent company of Guam-based DOCOMO Pacific, is buying MCV Guam Holding Corp., which does business as MCV Broadband.

“We have signed an agreement with MCV shareholders to acquire MCV Guam Holding Corp.,” stated Eijun Tanaka, Tokyo-based public relations manager for NTT DOCOMO Inc.

“We are planning to release more information following FCC’s approval,” Tanaka emailed yesterday in response to the Pacific Daily News’ questions.

Neither side of the transaction is talking at this point about how this acquisition would affect MCV’s tens of thousands of customers who have seen the company evolve from being strictly a cable TV business to one that offers digital movies and programming as well as phone service.

If the transaction does get local and federal regulators’ approval, it would make DOCOMO Pacific a one-stop place for cable TV, phone and online service.

Another phone and Internet company, GTA TeleGuam, offers digital TV service, but not via cable.

A third major Guam telecom company, IT&E, recently launched a service which allows customers to view movies and TV programs through a wireless broadband service called 4G LTE. DOCOMO yesterday launched its own 4G wireless Internet service.

DOCOMO Pacific’s public relations manager, Anthony Corn, said the company has led market share for mobile phones on Guam.

“Our subscriber base is approximately 65,000,” he stated.

The Guam Public Utilities Commission probably will review the proposed acquisition much like its scrutiny of the sale of Guam Telephone Authority, formerly owned by the local government, to a private investment group, said Sen. Tom Ada, who has legislative oversight over utilities and infrastructure. A message left with PUC was not returned as of press time yesterday.

Shamrock Capital Advisors, a California-based private equity firm founded as the Roy E. Disney Family investment company, and GE, provided funding to buy what is now GTA TeleGuam for $150 million in 2004, Pacific Daily News files state.

“When GTA was bought out, it still had to go through with (Guam Public Utilities Commission), and some matters did come under the oversight of FCC,” Ada said.

NTT DOCOMO’s entry into the Guam market began when it bought GuamCell, SaipanCell and HafaTel for about $71 million in 2006, FCC documents show. DOCOMO has about 50 million subscribers in Japan, according to FCC information.

Part of what the FCC reviewed in the purchase of GuamCell and HafaTel was whether it would create an anti-competitive environment or result in a monopoly. Ultimately, the FCC ruled that there’s enough competition in Guam’s telecommunications industry to ensure public interest, including competitive pricing, is protected.

“When this will come under scrutiny, you want to make sure there is competition in the field and not just one big giant eating up” other competitors, Sen. Ada said.

Ada said because of the competitive nature of the island’s telecommunications industry, Guam consumers have benefited from reduced prices and better products and service.

“We should let competition take its course,” he said.

The local telecom market started to change after government restrictions began to relax and as technology evolved. In 2004, GTA’s privatization freed it from a restriction that kept its business from expanding beyond landline phones.

Guam’s telecom also drew interest from international investors other than DOCOMO.

In 2008, PTI Pacifica bought IT&E for an undisclosed sum and the IT&E brand after the acquisition.

The Delgado family from the Philippines primarily owns PTI. Japanese business giant Sumitomo Corp. bought a $25 million stake in PTI, according to PDN files.

At DOCOMO in Japan, partner NTT once had Japanese government ownership as the former Nippon Telegraph and Telephone.

MCV chief executive officer Craig Thompson confirmed a few days ago the company was reviewing offers from three potential buyers, and that the company’s owner, private equity firm Seaport Capital, had considered selling MCV for some time.

Because of the nature of Seaport Capital, Thompson said, it was just a matter of time before the private equity firm made the decision to begin opening itself up to suitors.

Seaport Capital bought 90 percent of United Micronesia Development Association’s stake in MCV in 2005.

Pacific Daily News:

24) NZ to build Pacific assistance with China

By Online Editor
09:16 am GMT+12, 31/08/2012, Cook IslandsNew Zealand is aiming to extend its assistance partnership with China in the Pacific during talks around the Pacific Islands Forum meeting in the Cook Islands, New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully said on Wednesday.

New Zealand, China and Cook Islands are due to announce a joint water supply project on Thursday for Rarotonga, the main island of Cook Islands, ahead of the 24th Post Forum Dialogue Partners Meeting on Friday.

“We think this is a very, very positive development,” McCully told Xinhua in an exclusive interview.

“I’ve made no secret of the fact that I hope that New Zealand will be the first developed country to engage in a development partnership with the Chinese government in the Pacific,” he said.

“China’s a big player here. China has significant resources. New Zealand is smaller but local and we think that this would be a partnership that would work. So this has been under discussion for some time and I’m hoping that there will be further progress while we’re here in the Cook Islands,” he said.

McCully said donor countries had to work harder to coordinate their assistance in the Pacific.

“We think that only through establishing some partnerships and working closely together will we understand each other better and work more closely together,” he added.

He said China’s role in the Pacific could come up in discussions with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton after she arrives in the Cook Islands Thursday.

“The agenda for those meetings is not yet settled, but we certainly are very conscious of the fact that China is a big player within this region. They’ve got a strong presence and we believe that only through getting closer together and working in partnership will we understand each other better and cooperate better.”

The New Zealand government was also working on an ambitious program to mark the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations with China in November and December.

“We’ll have a range of initiatives, not just in the diplomatic area, but will include sport, science and of course business-to- business contact, which we think is very important,” said McCully.

“China wants to have a relationship that is not just a narrow trade and economic relationship and we agree. We want to try and promote contact in the many different areas of endeavour,” he said.

“This is going to be a very positive time in the relationship and we look forward to what will be I think a very ambitious program.”

Meanwhile, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key will make a major announcement on New Zealand’s aid to the Pacific region on Thursday, targeted at fisheries, where the tuna catch is worth about $2.4 billion annually.

Key said Pacific nations are concerned about foreign countries and companies poaching a catch worth about $500 million annually.

“For a set of countries that are not wealthy, where their single biggest resource is fish and particularly tuna, then we need to do everything we can to both preserve their economic rights, and also maintain their stocks.”.


25) Pacific Nations Sign Maritime Boundary Agreements
Agreements to benefit ‘legal clarity,’ marine management

By Henry Yamo

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (Pacific Scoop, Aug. 30, 2012) – In what is described as a historical moment, seven small island states sharing maritime boundaries signed bilateral treaty agreements at the Pacific Islands Leaders Forum in the Cook Islands today.

“The maritime boundaries treaties formalized today signify tremendous steps in our regional corporative efforts and further strengthens our ocean management frameworks,” said Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna.

The signing included seven bilateral and one trilateral agreement between the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Nauru and Kiribati.

The leaders of Kiribati, Marshall Islands and Nauru agreed to an additional trilateral treaty concerning the determination of a point where their exclusive economic zones (EEZs) intersect – referred to as a “Tri-junction point.”

The treaty agreements will now allow for the countries to pursue collaborative efforts to tap into sustainable development and protection of their marine resources for their mutual benefit.

Other countries signing agreements were Kiribati and Cook Islands, Kiribati and Tuvalu, Kiribati and Tokelau, Kiribati and Nauru, Republic of the Marshall Islands and Kiribati, and Nauru with the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

The maritime boundary agreements will bring state-of-the-art accuracy and legal clarity to the boundary positions between several overlapping jurisdictions of neighboring Pacific Island countries.

Unique signing

Puna said that the shared maritime boundaries signing between the countries was unique and demonstrated a close kinship of the Pacific people and their sovereign positions of mutual benefit and trust.

“Our theme for this year, “Large Ocean Island States-Pacific Challenge” speaks directly to these efforts as our maritime boundaries make specific contributions to our need to define our self on our own terms not only to meet the challenge of who we are,” he said.

“But we also show the rest of the world how resolved this united region is to take charge of sustaining the management of the zone resources.”

Puna said the time was crucial in establishing the agreements and regimes that allowed Pacific countries to pursue and advance economic benefits including fisheries, seabed mineral explorations and other initiatives associated with marine preservation.

By clearly establishing these boundaries and zones under domestic and international law, as set out in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the signing of these agreements will provide the foundation for improved governance, protection, conservation and management of resources within respective national jurisdictions.

Puna said these measures would not have been possible without the foresight and the effort of so many partners which he commended for a job well done.

Sustained work

He also said that for all the countries to acknowledge the treaty documents was the result of many hours – in some cases years – of sustained work by respective national technical and legal teams.

Regional agencies that assisted with formulation of the treaties include the Secretariat of the Pacific Islands Community (SPC) and the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA).

Technical and financial assistance was offered by AusAID, Geoscience Australia, Australian Attorney-General’s office, University of Sydney and the Commonwealth Secretariat and the United Nations Environment Program.

Pacific Scoop
All editorial and news content produced under the principles of Creative Commons. Permission to republish with attribution may be obtained from the Pacific Media Centre – [email protected]

26) Island Leaders Discuss Gender Equality For The Pacific
2009 commitments to end gender, sexual violence revisited

By Calida Smylie

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (Pacific Scoop, Aug. 30, 2012) – Gender equality in the Pacific will be discussed as a Forum side event today, with a number of high-profile female United Nations members attending.

Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, Michele Bachelet, will take part in the panel discussions on gender equality.

The head of the UN Delegation to the Pacific Island Forum was also the first female president of Chile, serving 2006 to 2010.

The panel will also include Penny Williams, Australia’s global ambassador for women and girls, and Su’a Kevin Thomsen, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat strategic partnership and coordination program director. Today is a big day for gender equality.

Gender equality talks

Shortly before the gender equality panel talks, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Prime Minister Henry Puna will make an announcement regarding a funding initiative for women in politics.

Amnesty International Pacific researcher Kate Schuetze says the human rights organization would like to see a strong commitment to action by Forum leaders to further their goal of ending violence against women in the Pacific.

“In 2009, Forum leaders committed to eradicating sexual and gender based violence and set up a Forum reference group to address this issue. Amnesty International believes it is now imperative that leaders make clear and time-bound commitments to implement laws and policies aimed at reducing violence and discrimination against women, including by investigating and prosecuting alleged perpetrators.”

[PIR editor’s note: PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has acknowledged the allegedly widespread issue of violence against women in his country. Australia has also reportedly committed almost $330 million to combating gender violence in the region.]

Violence statistics

Two out of every three women are affected by violence across the Pacific.

In March 2012, the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women visited Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands and described it as a “pervasive phenomenon” that must be addressed.

Finance Minister Mark Brown will chair today’s panel, to be held at the National Auditorium.

European Union representatives and other UN staff will also attend the discussion, which is open to the public.

Pacific Scoop
All editorial and news content produced under the principles of Creative Commons. Permission to republish with attribution may be obtained from the Pacific Media Centre – [email protected]

27) Clinton vows to step-up U.S engagement with the Pacific

By Online Editor
1:36 pm GMT+12, 01/09/2012, Cook IslandsBy Makereta Komai, PACNEWS Editor in Rarotonga

United States Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton didn’t mince her words when she declared the U.S will keep a close interest in the Pacific in the coming decade and beyond.

And, she admits that other powers that are partners in development with the Pacific through the Pacific Islands Forum also have a place in the Pacific, making direct reference to China and other Post-Forum Dialogue partners.

“We all have important contributions to make and have a stake in this region’s success to advance your security, your opportunity and your prosperity. After all, I think the Pacific is big enough for all of us, said Clinton, who is in Rarotonga attending the Pacific Island Forum dialogue partners meeting.

Clinton is the first ever highest ranking U.S Government official to attend the annual summit of Pacific Leaders.

She said the Obama administration has declared the 21st century as America’s Pacific century. Increasingly over the past three years, there has been a major push in its foreign policy to increase engagement with the Asia-Pacific region.

“This is a vast and dynamic region, a key driver of global economics and politics and the United States has an historical presence in this region. That’s why I have said that this century will be America’s Pacific century, with an emphasis on the Pacific.

“The Pacific, half of Asia doesn’t always get as much attention as should and the United States knows that this region is strategically and economically vital and becoming more so, said Clinton.

Forum Chair and Prime Minister of Cook Islands, Henry Puna welcomed the United States intention to re-engage with the Pacific.

“For me, what was important, and also for Forum Leaders was the commitment of re-engagement by the U.S and that is to be welcomed.

“I am sure we all heard the statement by Clinton not only a commitment to reengage with the Pacific but also stepping up their presence and assistance programme in the region.

Prime Minister Puna sad it must not be forgotten that China is also very involved in the Pacific.

“For the Cook Islands, we have very close relationships with the People’s Republic of China and I make no bones about it. There have been good to us. In fact at the closing of the dialogue I made specific reference to the assistance that China has given us in the hosting of this Form, along off course with NZ and Australia. There is certainly room for both, the U.S and China in the Pacific, said Prime Minister Puna.

As part of this re-engagement, the United States will have a 21st century agenda that keeps in touch with the peoples of this region, assisting the Pacific in the stewardship of the vast ocean resources.

“We look forward to many more years of friendship and partnership in the years to come, said Clinton.
Already, the U.S has invested heavily in the Pacific, said the Secretary of State.

“Indeed we are increasing our investments and we will be here with you for the long haul.

At the same time, a model of partnership needs to be developed with the Pacific.

This is based on our common values but delivers practical benefits and helps you create stronger economies and societies. We are pursuing this model of partnership here in the Pacific and we want our work here to exemplify the standards, said Clinton.

Currently, the U.S spends US$330 million a year to support the peoples of the South Pacific Islands. Additionally, United States Export Import Bank is active in the region providing US$3 billion providing investments in Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Tonga, Tuvalu and Micronesia.

28) 2015 Pacific Games CEO takes new role

By Online Editor
10:38 am GMT+12, 31/08/2012, Papua New GuineaThe Chief Executive Officer of the 2015 Pacific Games secretariat, Peter Stewart has taken up his new role in the country and is set to roll with the friendlier Pacific way.

And in order to deliver the Games, the secretariat needs the involvement of a larger community to realise that.
Stewart from Melbourne, Australia told the Post-Courier he was looking forward to delivering the Games on time.

While this will be his first Pacific Games task as CEO, Stewart said his experiences from other international events such as the Olympics, Commonwealth Games, multi sport games –the Australasian Public Sector Games in 1998 and 2000 and the 2009 Paralympics Youth Games, Sydney 2000 Olympics and Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games, 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games should see him through to managing this office.

All in all Stewart has oversaw 1500 events annually and managed some of the biggest open space venues in Australia.

Stewart said his primary task is to engage everybody and get them involved in some way or the other in producing a successful 2015 Games.

“We can’t deliver these games with one or two people but with a large number of the local community,” Stewart said.

“Whether it be businesses, who come on as sponsors or suppliers and the locals who come in as volunteers and spectators. Everyone needs to have role in this games,” Stewart said.
He said stressed that there is a role for everyone for this Games so his task is to put in place in 2015 Games.

While Steward had been involved as a technical official to athletics for the then Guam South Pacific Games, he is looking forward to the friendlier atmosphere.

“I am really looking forward to my stay in Port Moresby and getting to know more people here as we head to hosting one of the biggest sporting event of the region,” Stewart said.

The secretariat is currently operating in one of the office space at the Sir John Guise stadium.

Stewart said anyone who wishes to know about the Games can drop into the office anytime.


29) Stars lured home for World Cup qualifiers

By Online Editor
10:36 am GMT+12, 31/08/2012, New ZealandThe pull of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil has proved too strong for the Pacific’s finest footballers to resist with many overseas-based stars returning to their homelands to take part in Stage 3 of Oceania qualifying.

The action kicks off with the first round of matches on September 7 and a pair of intriguing encounters are in store with OFC Nations Cup champions Tahiti visiting the Solomon Islands and New Zealand travelling to New Caledonia in a repeat of the Nations Cup semi-finals.

The second round takes place just days later on September 11 and brings New Caledonia to Tahiti for a francophone derby while New Zealand plays host to Solomon Islands.

The coaching staff of each side revealed their squads for the first two rounds this week and there are plenty of noteworthy names involved as the region’s most far-flung footballers put their hands up to help their respective countries edge closer to Brazil 2014.

As expected, New Zealand’s All Whites are able to call on the highest contingent of top-class professionals with English Premier League players Ryan Nelsen and Winston Reid included alongside fellow England-based stars Tommy Smith, Chris Wood and Tim Payne. The presence of Nelsen and Reid will be a particular boost to Ricki Herbert’s men as both missed the disappointing Nations Cup campaign.

But the All Whites aren’t the only ones able to draw upon talent from foreign shores with each of the other three nations all also including at least one overseas-based professional in their ranks.

New Caledonia’s Les Cagous lead the way with three players who ply their trade in France. Two of that trio, Georges Gope-Fenepej and Wesley Lautoa, are with Ligue 1 sides Troyes and Lorient respectively while Cesar Lolohea is on the books of Ligue 2 club Stade Lavallois.

Winger Gope-Fenepej, who signed for top-flight newcomers Troyes shortly after June’s Nations Cup, is sure to be a key figure throughout Stage 3 and his attacking combinations with 2011 OFC Player of the Year Bertrand Kai and Nations Cup Golden Boot winner Jacques Haeko will cause many problems for Les Cagous’ opponents.

Fellow French territory Tahiti have a similar jewel in the crown in the form of ex-France U-21 international Marama Vahirua. The 32-year-old is a striker of prodigious ability and has made over 320 appearances in Ligue 1 for Nantes, Nice, Lorient and current employers Nancy.

Due to his club commitments, he has never pulled on the shirt of his country but his career at the highest level appears to be winding down – he spent last season on loan at Ligue 2 Monaco – and he is clearly unwilling to spurn the opportunity to take part in the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup, which Tahiti qualified for by winning the Nations Cup.

While they have no such European stars, the Bonitos of Solomon Islands are certainly not short of ability and are able to include talismen Benjamin Totori and Henry Fa’arodo. After proving himself as one of Oceania’s most accomplished strikers in the national leagues of his homeland and New Zealand, Totori was one of the stars of the Nations Cup and did enough to earn a contract with the Phoenix.

Fa’arodo is also familiar to fans across the Pacific after playing professionally in Australia and was a big part of Team Wellington’s run to the final of New Zealand’s ASB Premiership last season.

Stage 3 consists of a round-robin, home-and-away play-off series based on a league system and the winner will advance to the inter-continental play-off against the fourth-placed CONCACAF nation, scheduled to be held in November 2013, for a berth at Brazil 2014.



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