NEWS ( Melanesian/Pacific ) 17/10/12

1) Pacific issues not adequately covered by NZ and Australia media – academic

By Online Editor
09:32 am GMT+12, 17/10/2012, New ZealandThe director of the Pacific Media Centre, David Robie, says the South Pacific cannot continue to rely on New Zealand and Australia media to get the message out for critical Pacific issues.

Professor Robie made the comment during his professorial at the Auckland University of Technology titled, ’coups, conflicts and human rights – Pacific media challenges in the digital age.’

Dr Robie said a Pacific issue like climate change is not adequately covered by New Zealand or Australia media.

“Most of the sort of reporting is being covered from an Australia and New Zealand perspective which is completely different, and it’s lost in the process. So if the Pacific media rely on their big brothers media organisations in Australia and New Zealand, a lot of the critical issues get lost.”

Dr Robie said West Papua is another example where there is not enough exposure coming from Australian and New Zealand media.

He said there needs be a lot more collaboration between news organisations in the Pacific, to build up their own expertise, and critical thinking about media and development issues for the region.

SOURCE: RNZI/PACNEWS

2) Jakarta ‘aware’ of AFP West Papua concerns

By Online Editor
09:40 am GMT+12, 17/10/2012, AustraliaAustralian government funding for counter-terrorism courses in Indonesia would be reviewed if participants were involved in inappropriate activity, Australian Federal Police (AFP) commissioner Tony Negus says.

Negus also told a senate budget estimates hearing on Tuesday that Indonesia was well aware of Australian concerns about the activities of security forces in West Papua.

The issue was raised by Greens Senator Richard Di Natale, who referred to allegations of human rights abuses by Indonesian security forces in West Papua, including members of the counter-terrorist detachment.

Negus said the AFP was taking precautions to ensure it wasn’t supporting activities unacceptable to the Australian community.

“If there was ever any taint of anyone we have trained, being involved in inappropriate activity, we would certainly have to review that level of support that we would provide,” he told the hearing in Canberra.

“That’s clearly evident to the Indonesians.”

Australia had spent about $300,000 (US$308,000) training 11 members of Detachment 88 in Indonesia in counter-terrorism investigation over the last few years.

Negus said the AFP relied on the Indonesians to select the people to undertake the training.

“They are fully aware that we do not, and would not be involved in any counter-separatism work,” he said.
“We have not been involved in any activities in West Papua.”

With 900,000 Australians visiting Bali each year, Indonesian police counter-terrorism activities were important.

“Yes, we need to be very careful about where the funding is going,” Negus added.

“But we also need to recognise the terrific work that has been done across the board in protecting Indonesians and Australians from future attack.”.

SOURCE: AAP/PACNEWS

3) Indonesia Firm On Restricted Access To Papua For Journalists
Rejects calls from UN to stop rights abuses by military personnel

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Oct. 16, 2012) – Indonesia has told the United Nations Human Rights Council, or UNHRC, that it cannot allow foreign journalists free access to Papua and West Papua provinces.

The Jakarta Post reports that a UNHRC Universal Periodic Review in May made a number of requests of the Indonesian government, including a proposal by the French review delegation for access to the eastern region.

The Foreign Ministry says it has abided by the Constitution in its response which includes a list of items that the government is unable to support.

A Ministry spokesman says foreign journalists are allowed to enter Papua region as long as they follow all the regulations laid out by the government.

Jakarta also rejects a recommendation to halt human rights violations by military personnel and police officers, and put an end to the general state of impunity in Papua, as recommended by Japan.

The government says the recommendations do not reflect the actual situation on the ground.

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

4) US recession, Eurozone crisis to affect PNG

By Online Editor
4:05 pm GMT+12, 17/10/2012, Papua New Guinea Papua New Guinea Treasurer Don Polye has warned that the financial crisis and uncertainties within the Eurozone (Europe) and recession in the United States will have negative impacts on countries in the Asia-Pacific including Papua New Guinea.

But Polye said the Government had put in place strategies and policies that would cushion the impact of the uncertainties around the world.

“We have to carefully take note of the current situation and address ourselves. PNG is a resilient economy. In the past we have performed very well,” he said.

“There has been a lot of achievement at the macro-economic level and micro-economic level stability and the achievement we have seen will continue in the medium term.

“We are now putting together policies and strategies to make sure Papua New Guinea, although can be affected by the economic downturn that we experience today, PNG can sustain itself in terms of economy and also grow like we have done in the past.”

He continued: “I have full confidence in the economy and our people, especially the private sector where a lot of activities are taking place. Although PNG will be affected, I believe with prudent policies the Government is putting in place now, we can do much better than the other economies, especially in the Asia-Pacific region.

“Structural reforms have been made in PNG, but these must be continued and expanded to support growth. I have asked the Treasury Department to come back to me with an agenda on the priority structural reforms required in PNG to sustain broad-based growth.

“Structural reforms are being developed to achieve two things. The first is to ensure the economy is resilient and sustainable. We cannot have programs that cannot sustain the PNG economy that can withstand pressure and give comfort that trade and business can take place without any disruption.

“Secondly, we must see an economy that is inclusive. It is unfair that you see an economy that is growing at two different speeds. We would like to see a diversified economy where every Papua New Guinean man, woman and child is a participant in the economy.”

Minister Polye said this after he made a lightning visit to Tokyo, travelling on Thursday and returning on Monday to attend the World Bank-International Monetary Fund annual meetings over the weekend.

He said it was important to attend such meetings at a time of global uncertainty and to have a better understanding of the international situation to prepare a more appropriate and responsible 2013 budget and Medium Term Fiscal Strategy.

“The main message from this meeting is how irresponsible fiscal policy had become in Europe. We had similar experience in PNG during the 1990s,” the Treasurer said.

“We must ensure that PNG never goes back to the days of unsustainable debt levels. The message of the next budget is that we must respond to our development challenges in a way that is also fiscally responsible.”
Polye also met with newly-appointed World Bank president Dr Kim Yong, Vice President of the World Bank (Asia-Pacific Region) Pamela Cox and Vice President of the International Financial Corporation Karin Finkelston.

He said he had indicated to the world finance leaders that not enough prominence had been given to the consequences of this uncertainty for developing countries and what actions they should take.

“I invited them to come to PNG and discuss in more detail what actions they would recommend for countries such as PNG. Of course, PNG will make the decisions, but advice would be welcome,” the Treasurer said.

Meanwhile, the 2013 Budget will be handed down in the second week of November, Treasury Minister Don Polye said Tuesday.

Polye said he is taking more time to frame a budget that reflects the Government’s development agenda and set the foundation for economic growth over the next five years.

“The message for the next budget is that we must respond to our development challenges in a way that is also fiscally responsible,” he said.

Although he did not go into details of the budget, he indicated that the Government under Prime Minister Peter O’Neill will keep to its election promise of sustaining tuition-free education, free primary health care, infrastructure, law and order and agriculture.

The Treasurer said he would be introducing some structural reforms in the form of certain legislation to sustain broad-based growth and indicated that tax reforms are being looked at but will not be introduced in 2013.

Polye said the Government will be selective in re-capitalising some State Owned Enterprises (SOEs).

“Although the Budget cannot look at all the programs, it can look at financing a couple of programs to re-capitalise for the country to have a return,” Polye said.

“We also encourage public private partnership in order to commercialise and make operations of SOEs more effective and making profits. The budget will be addressing some part of that but not every program.

“I would like to have a financing structure not on a year-to-year basis. I want a five-year, ten-year basis. I would like to see multi-year budgets in PNG, not a single year budget. I don’t want to see PNG confined to just one-year budgets,” he said.

He said Treasury is now working on putting in place a financing structure based in existing financial and commercial loans to better implement and to better focus them for the best return on investments.

“In the past you have seen that some have not properly drawn down on loan facilities available, not enough counter-part funding available, and no effective implementation of those packages available to Government,” Polye said.

“There is no point in trying to look for excessive resources when we cannot draw down effectively on existing loans and concessional facilities.”.

SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS

5) PNG Government Owed Over $44.7 Million In Land Rent
Single officer to be replaced with collection team

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Oct. 16, 2012) – Lands and Physical Planning Minister Benny Allan has issued instructions for immediate collection of outstanding state land rents amounting to more than K94 million [US$44.7 million].

The arrears had been incurred over time by various organizations, especially business houses and semi-government bodies.

“I have instructed the Department of Lands and Physical Planning officers to go out and collect all of the K94 million that is owed to the state,” Allan said.

He said state lease title holders were required by law to pay an annual land rent or face having their titles forfeited by the state.

“My instructions will be carried out with immediate effect and defaulting lease holders will be penalized by having their lease titles forfeited if they fail to comply with their terms and conditions,” Allan said.

“My department has lost millions of kina over the years because defaulting state lease holders, especially business houses and semi-government organizations, have been allowed to get away without sorting out their annual land rental bills,” Allan said.

He said a revenue collection section would also be established within the Department of Lands and Physical Planning and tasked to collect state lease rentals.

“At the moment, the task to collect land rentals is performed by a single officer within the accounts section, who acts as a debt collector.

“This will no longer be the case. A team of officers will be identified and engaged to chase after and collect all outstanding state land rentals.”

Allan said state lease title holders were ignorant and others were deliberately avoiding paying their rent or lease.

Many, he said, do not even bother to advise the department if they had changed their mailing addresses.

“Thus, when the bills are mailed out, they do not get them. I have now advised the department to check all defaulting state lease title holders, send out reminder notices for them to pay their dues and, if they continue to fail to settle their rentals, we will revoke their titles.”

He said the department, over the years, had failed to collect rentals on time; state land rents are due in January each year.

The National: www.thenational.com.pg/

6) Head of Anglican to visit PNG

By Online Editor
4:12 pm GMT+12, 17/10/2012, Papua New GuineaThe head of the Anglican Church in the world will be visiting Papua New Guinea over the weekend ahead of his retirement next year.

The Archbishop of Canterbury in England, The Most Reverend Rowan Williams, the Archbishop who pronounced Prince William and Kate Middleton as husband and wife at their royal wedding will start his five day visit on Saturday when he lands at the Jacksons International Airport.

Reverend William’s travel itinerary also includes a visit to the Governor General, the Prime Minister and Opposition leader on Saturday.

He will then travel to Popondetta on Sunday to celebrate mass at the Resurrection Cathedral, and open a new Anglican Hospital at Oro Bay on Monday.

On Tuesday he will fly to Dogura in Milne Bay to see the early landing site of the first Anglican missionaries, and then travel back to Port Moresby to continue his world trip to Australia and New Zealand.

Apart from his wife, Reverend Williams will be accompanied by the Bishop of Leeds and the Permanent Secretary for the Anglican International Development.

This is the second visit of Anglican Church leaders. The first was in 1991 by Archbishop George Garry

SOURCE: NBC/PACNEWS

7) Bougainville Allocates $48 Million To Impact Projects
Part of five-year, $250 million grant monies from PNG

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Oct. 16, 2012) – The regional member for Papua New Guinea’s Bougainville, Joe Lera, says the autonomous province aims to spend a 48 million U.S. dollar grant from the national government on impact projects.

It is the first of a promised 250 million dollars to be provided by Port Moresby over the next five years.

Development in Bougainville has been held back by a lack of resources and Mr. Lera says they want to use these initial funds to create an environment fostering business activity.

“Like hydro, communications, fixing roads, bridges, so people can use this infrastructure to think of other ways they can engage in revenue making activities.”

Meanwhile the national government and the Bougainville provincial administration is this week holding a joint consultative meeting in Kokopo.

Mr. Lera says the drawing down of powers from Port Moresby is the critical issue.

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

8) RAMSI will not end in March next year: Special Coordinator

By Online Editor
4:26 pm GMT+12, 16/10/2012, Solomon IslandsRAMSI Special Coordinator Nicholas Coppel says reports that the mission is ending in March next year are not true.

Responding to a report in PNG’s The National newspaper which was reproduced in the local newspapers today,  Coppel said the policing component of RAMSI will be here for at least another four years.

The report had alleged that the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands was to officially end in March next year when 35 soldiers from the Papua New Guinea Defence Force complete their term in Honiara, March 2013.

But the RAMSI Special Coordinator clarifies that it is the deployment of PNG troops that will finish in March next year, and not all of RAMSI.

Coppel says the police will be continuing for another four years and it is planned that the military contingent will stay until the second half of next year.

SOURCE: SIBC/PACNEWS

9) Solomons Teachers Strike Canceled After Meeting With PM
Schools now expected to receive needed funds within days

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Oct. 16, 2012) – Solomon Islands teachers have called off a planned strike following a meeting with the prime minister, Gordon Darcy Lilo.

Teachers across the country threatened to close schools from this week if the government failed to pay the annual grants used to pay for stationery, student meals and other administrative needs.

The general secretary of the teachers’ union says Mr. Darcy Lilo was shocked to learn of the funding issue and gave an immediate instruction that the remaining annual grants be paid.

Johnley Hatimoana says he expects all the schools will have received their money within the next couple of days but rural schools especially have expressed their disappointment with the government over the funding delay.

“It must not be repeated anyway. I think they should try and look at this issue more critically and readjust some of their bottle neck there.”

Johnley Hatimoana says teachers are welcoming the establishing of a committee to implement the salary restructuring cabinet authorized in February.

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

10) Vanuatu PM’s Alleged Election Exclusion Blamed On ‘Error’
Political advisor says ‘mistake’ made at Value Added Tax office

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Oct. 16, 2012) – The Vanuatu Prime Minister’s political advisor, Richard Kaltongga, says errors made by the Principal Electoral officer in the compilation of the candidates list for the election led to his suspension.

The government last week suspended Lawson Samuel and transferred him to head the Remuneration Tribunal.

This followed the publication of a candidates list for the October 30 election which excluded the name of the Prime Minister Sato Kilman on the grounds that he owed the government US$140,000.

Mr. Kaltongga says that attributing this debt to Mr. Kilman was originally a mistake by the Value Added Tax office.

He says Mr. Samuel’s move to initially exclude Mr. Kilman is just the latest in a number of errors.

“There’s some other stuff like for example in the past with the ballot boxes going to and from the islands. The security for that is usually done by the police force and the Vanuatu Mobile Force. But the Electoral Officer signed a contract with a private security company owned by police officers currently under suspension.”

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

11) New Caledonia call for steps to cut cost of living

By Online Editor
4:02 pm GMT+12, 17/10/2012, New CaledoniaA New Caledonian union umbrella group has called for urgent economic reforms, decrying the local politicians’ lack of action to the tackle the high cost of living.

The group’s leader, Didier Guenant-Jeanson, said there are plenty of reports about the causes of New Caledonia’s high cost of living.

Guenant-Jeanson says if nothing happens by next month, the group will turn to the public directly.

Accords have been signed to tackle the issue after finding that there is a lack of competition, excessive margins and a distorted tax system, but political differences have stood in the way of implementing any measures.

The umbrella group was formed last year and saw unprecedented territory-wide protests against the cost of living, which is among the highest in the world.

SOURCE: RNZI/PACNEWS

12) Immunity provisions questioned: Fiji Constitution chair Ghai

By Online Editor
09:33 am GMT+12, 17/10/2012, FijiSome members of the public in Fiji have raised concerns about an immunity decree in their submissions to the Constitution Commission.

And Commission chairperson Professor Yash Ghai said some people feel issues related to the provisions of immunity should be debated.

“Most people were realistic, any regime anywhere in the world will not give away powers unless they have an assurance for immunity, people are concerned that it is not for public debate or consultation, they said there should be a process of truth and reconciliation and that process can also deal with immunity.”

Professor Ghai said he initially thought the issue had been exaggerated.

“I thought maybe it is not so necessary but in view of wide spread request there is a need to consider it very seriously.”

Meanwhile, People from all walks of life have shared their views on what kind of Constitution they would like.
And Constitution Commissioner Penny Moore is pleased with the response from the public.

“It’s been heartwarming to see people that don’t normally speak preparing submissions, coming and sitting and waiting and coming up and giving a submissions that has often come from them and their families and you hear the discussions in the submissions. They really respect the fact that they’ve been allowed to make a submission.”

Moore says this is the response they are hoping that will be reflected in the new constitution.

About 3000 submissions both written and oral were made to the Commission since the beginning of August.

The Commission concluded receiving submissions from the public on Monday.

The commission will now draw up a draft Constitution before the end of the year.

SOURCE: FBC/PACNEWS

13) UN Workshop In Fiji Focuses On Women And Agriculture
Women vendors shown how to improve produce, sales

By Dawn Gibson

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Oct. 16, 2012) – Fiji marked International Day of Rural Women yesterday with a workshop in Ba that touched on the important role women play in the local agriculture sector.

Organized for women market vendors, the event aimed at raising awareness on the sale and marketing of their produce.

Ba Town Council Administrator Arun Kumar said the workshop organized by the UN Women organization proved beneficial on its first day.

“It educates these market vendors on the importance of their crops — how they can improve their produce, how they can market it, and how they can manage it.

“Essentially, they are being trained to become better at what they do. They are being taught basically how to maximize their resources as well as increase their awareness of agriculture and the role women play,” he said.

The workshop hosted over 100 women from markets all around Fiji and Mr. Prasad said they hoped to see more than 180 women from across the country in attendance today.

Tevola Lewatabe, the president of Ba Women’s Rural Association, said women played a major role in local agriculture.

“Reducing gender inequality and recognizing the contribution women make to agriculture is critical to achieving global food security,” she said.

Ms. Lewatabe, a retired civil servant, has been a market vendor since November, 2011.

International Day of Rural Women was launched on the October 15, 2008, by the United Nations General Assembly.

UN General Secretary, Ban Ki-Moon said then that empowering rural women was crucial for ending hunger and poverty.

Mr. Ban said this was why the United Nations recently launched a program to empower rural women and enhance food security.

Fiji Times Online: http://www.fijitimes.com.

14) Coup prevention key message in Fiji constitution consultation

By Online Editor
4:16 pm GMT+12, 17/10/2012, FijiThe chairperson of Fiji’s Constitution Commission says submissions to the constitution-making body show overwhelming consensus that everything must be done to prevent coups in future.

He said people from all over Fiji have expressed their great disgust at coups.

Professor Yash Ghai said it will be a difficult task, reconciling what the people want with a decree which embeds immunity in the new constitution.

He said commissioners will have to follow the decree but could make comments on its wisdom.

“The constitution will have to give immunity. But there are many ways, I guess, of providing immunities for different acts for different parties for different periods of time and we will keep in mind the general feeling in the country that immunity should be as restrictive as possible so that we move on to a culture where coups will never be tolerated again.”

Professor Ghai said the commission started reviewing today the more than three thousand submissions it has received.

Meanwhile, submissions to the Constitution Commission both verbal and written are now closed.

However, the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) is yet to make its submission.

Speaking on behalf of the RFMF yesterday, Chief Of Staff Brigadier Mohammed Aziz told the Fiji Sun that they were making arrangements with the Commission for the military to make a special submission.

“We are aware that the submissions had closed but we’re making arrangements with the Commission for the military to make a special submission,” Brigadier Aziz said.

In an earlier interview with the Commander of the RFMF, Commodore Frank Bainimarama said the military removed the 2006 Government leadership for a good reason.

Now with the formulation of the new constitution the military Commandeer said they would have their say in their submission.

Brigadier Aziz said the military submission was ready for the Commission. All divisions of the RFMF had an input in the military submission.

RFMF spokesperson and Land Force Commander Colonel Mosese Tikoitoga had called on all the political parties to come with new ideas in the submissions to the new constitution to help build a new and better Fiji.

The RFMF say they fully support the Bainimarama-led Government and its submission will reflect Government’s new roadmap enshrined in the People’s Charter.

SOURCE: RNZI/ FIJI SUN/PACNEWS

15) Fiji’s veteran broadcaster Yaminiasi Gaunavou passes on

By Online Editor
1:23 pm GMT+12, 17/10/2012, FijiRenowned radio personality Yaminiasi Gaunavou, commonly known as YG, died Tuesday.

YG suffered from a kidney failure and was admitted at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital (CWM) in Suva. He died at 3am yesterday.

His son Semiti Gaunavou said his father’s death came as a surprise to his mother Mereisi and his two sisters Kasalaini and Seini.

The Gaunavou family was still trying to come to terms with the sad news when they were visited by the Fiji Times newspaper at their family home in Laucala Beach Estate.

“My father is a very humble man, very polite and loved by everyone who came to know him,” Gaunavou said.

“He’s very committed to his work, but when he’s at home, he would leave everything aside and focus on his family,” he said.

Originally from Vanuavatu Island in Lau, YG was born and raised in the village.

YG worked in the local media industry for a very long time.

What many might not know is that YG was part of a group of local musicians who started off a colourful and popular band known as the Gaunavou Group.

Most people know him simply as YG and his catchy voice is hard to miss as the master of ceremony for various national and numerous social functions.

Sharon Bhagwan-Rolls said it was YG who appointed her as a copywriter for the (then) Fiji Broadcasting Commission in 1988 and opened the doors to the “theatre of the mind”.

“My dedication to the field of broadcasting is certainly a homage to the professional standards he set for me,” Bhagwan-Rolls said.

“YG like many of his generation of broadcasters set the scene for those of us who walked through the doors of Broadcasting House that radio was not just a skill but a profession and an art,” she said. YG is survived by his wife, 10 children and 15 grandchildren.

SOURCE: FIJI TIMES/PACNEWS

16) Fiji military probes five for alleged embezzlement

Posted at 06:09 on 17 October, 2012 UTC

Five Fiji military personnel are to face a Board of Inquiry after allegedly embezzling military funds.

The Chief of Staff Brigadier Mohammed Aziz says they arrested and detained the five in relation to embezzlement in the pay office last month.

Fiji Village reports him as saying the five were detained for three weeks and are now on open arrest which means that they have been allowed to move out of the detention centre but they have to report to any call for an inquiry or other matters.

Brigadier Aziz says a substantial amount is involved and the board will determine whether other people are involved.

He says the matter has also been referred to the police.

Radio New Zealand International

17) Ghai says Fiji constitution will be based on good package of submissions

Posted at 06:09 on 17 October, 2012 UTC

The chairperson of Fiji’s Constitution Commission, Professor Yash Ghai, says the more than 3,000 submissions it has received make up a good package for the new constitution.

Submissions have closed but there has been criticism consultations on the new document were rushed and unfair, with young people especially lacking knowledge and funds to get together and contribute ideas.

Professor Ghai says civic education has been lacking but there have been many detailed recommendations and the constitution will gain much from people simply speaking from their heart.

“We are aware more than before the decline in economic standards, the decline in the welfare, how many many people are coping with absolutely dire poverty on a day to day basis. We have an idea of what people want for the future.”

Professor Ghai says every group that wanted to talk to the commission has had a chance.

He says the commission has received very divergent views which now need to be harmonised if possible.

Professor Ghai says drafting will begin using public views set against a complex framework of past experience, decrees and the commissioners’ own judgement.

Radio New Zealand International

18) Runway Issues Compound Domestic Airline Issues In Fiji
Pacific Sun operations hampered as Labasa runway defunct

By Reginald Chandar

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Oct. 16, 2012) – Fiji’s domestic air carrier, Pacific Sun says flights to and from Labasa continue to be cancelled until further work on the runway is completed, and the runway meets all international safety and operations standards.

Pacific Sun continues to incur a significant financial impact due to the condition of the Labasa runway, which in its current state does not allow the airline to operate its ATR-42 services there.

Pacific Sun General Manager, Sahenaz Voss said as they have consistently stressed that they are just as just as disappointed as their customers in the delay to resume Labasa operations, safety of their customers, crew and the aircraft remains paramount to them.

“In addition to the disruption to the travel plans of our customers as a result, we are incurring significant costs by operating supplementary DHC-6 Twin Otter services into Savusavu,” Voss said in a statement.

“It is a costly exercise, one which losing us a lot of money. However, as a responsible airline, we are doing this to ensure that our customers have another alternative for travel to Vanua Levu.”

Meanwhile, Pacific Sun is encouraged that Airports Fiji Limited will undertake further work on the Labasa runway and the airline understands work may commence next week.

Fijilive: http://www.fijilive.com

19) Tonga Parliament Passes $2.3 Million Budget Increase
MPs question legality of bill over land lease payments

By Pesi Fonua

NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Oct. 16, 2012) – A Bill to increase the government expenditure for the 2012-13 financial year by more than $4.1 million pa’anga [US$2.3 million] was passed by the Tongan parliament this afternoon.

This morning, the Speaker moved for an extra TOP$305,000 [US$175,277] to be approved, to meet increased expenditure of the House, including an TOP$185,000 [US$106,316] invoice from the Parliamentary Select Committee that produced the Report on the Nuku’alofa Development Corporation NDC; another TOP$50,000 [US$28,734] to meet the health bills of MP ‘Uliti Uata who was sent overseas for medical treatment for a stroke.

They also needed TOP$70,000 [US$40,227] to meet the expenses of members of parliament who would be visiting China soon. The House wanted to include the Speaker and the Clerk in the delegation. The Chinese had invited seven but the House wanted nine. The Speaker confirmed that the Chinese said they would not increase their invitation from seven to nine.

Fua’amotu Leases

The Bill to increase government expenditure was a hot topic for debate when it became clear that about TOP$4 million would go toward paying the leases of the land for the Fua’amotu International Airport to three estate owners, Prince Tu’ipelehake, Prince Tungi and Lord Kalaniuvalu Fotofili.

There was a claim by ‘Akilisi Pohiva, Sione Taione and ‘Isileli Pulu that an initial payment by government to land owners of several millions was illegal and that to continue with the lease agreement would remain an illegal agreement.

The Deputy Prime Minister, Hon. Samiu Vaipulu explained that the former government had initiated the negotiations to secure a 99 year lease of the land for the airports in Tongatapu and Vava’u so that they could be upgraded with about TOP$50 million [US$28.7 million] grant from the World Bank. He said that it became known to the current government in February that a lease payment of several million was overdue. There was no allocation in the government budget for such a payment, and the current budget was already drafted. The first payment was made out in June from the government’s Constituency Fund, but the advice from the Attorney General was that even though the first payment was legally right, but subsequent lease payments should be presented to the House for its approval.

He told the House that government has only two weeks left to complete its agreement with the World Bank, and if they fail to finalize the lease agreement the Bank will not release the fund, and the airports will be closed down.

The agreement with the World Bank, was for the Tongan government to be responsible for securing the land, and the bank would provide the funding, a TOP$50 million grant.

The debate in the House drifted into what the Chairman, Siosifa Tu’utafaiva described as members running along two parallel lines with not a chance of ever running together in one line; agreeing on something.

The chairman called for votes and the Bill to increase government expenditure was carried 12-9.

The Speaker, who voted for the Bill thanked the People’s Representatives for their support, to increase the budget of the House. ‘Isileli Pulu responded that they voted against the Bill because of the lease payment.

Matangi Tonga Magazine: www.matangitonga.to/home/

20) Simple strategies needed to care for sexual abuse victims in Pacific countries

By Online Editor
09:29 am GMT+12, 17/10/2012, New ZealandA professor of Nursing says there are some simple strategies Pacific nations could adopt that will help give better care to sexual abuse victims.

Medical staff along with police and NGO’s from 8 different pacific nations took part in training last week to help fill gaps in support for sexual assault victims.

The Co-Director of the Interdisciplinary Trauma Research Unit at the Auckland University of Technology professor of Nursing, Jane Koziol-McLain, was involved in the training and says there are many challenges in the Pacific when it comes to caring for these victims.

She said there is sometimes a lack of medicine and equipment to do a proper exam of the victim.

“Even a simple kit that has a head-lamp, a magnifying glass, the paper work – here in New Zealand we have a medical examination kit that’s put together, so there is the potential for some fairly simple strategies that can facilitate better care.”

Koziol-McLain said another way to help would be to change the attitude of blaming the victim, and instead be non-judgemental and sensitive to the victim.

She said the training also addressed the dual role of health professionals in responding to women who experience sexual assault.

“The first is a therapeutic intervention that is both non-judgemental, sensitive and competent as well in caring for the woman and dealing with the acute trauma as well as preventing sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy. And the second role is attention to gathering evidence that may be used in court, should the woman choose to pursue justice in the courts.”.

SOURCE: RNZI/PACNEWS

21) Demand for Pacific workers won’t be ‘excessive’

By Online Editor
4:15 pm GMT+12, 16/10/2012, AustraliaAustralian Federal Government representatives will visit Kangaroo Island in the next few weeks to establish how many workers may need be brought in from Pacific Island nations.

The island is one of four trial sites around Australia chosen to participate in a pilot program using workers from Pacific countries to fill labour shortages in tourist accommodation.

The chairman of Tourism Kangaroo Island, Pierre Gregor, says historically the island has struggled to find workers during the peak tourism season, which coincides with the pinnacle of the grain growing season.

“On Kangaroo Island we do suffer from … [a] high under-employment rate and because of the nexus between high activity during tourism season and high activity during the agricultural sector, there had been in the past a shortfall in certain employment categories during that peak period of activity,” he said.

He says it could be the end of the year before workers are ready to work on the island.

“I think that the demand is not going to be excessive and there’s probably half a dozen businesses that would fit the broad criteria of needing assistance through the seasonal workers program,” he said.

Meanwhile, Vanuatu’s department of labour has warned agents not to charge workers interested in seasonal work schemes.

The department has suspended an agent of the recently-launched Australian seasonal workers scheme, after it was discovered he was charging workers between US$10 and US$100.

A senior labour officer, Tarisu Kailes said the agent has been given 60 days to repay the money.

“We have warned the agents not to do the same thing. We’ve done several articles in the newspaper, warning others not to charge any workers. Because the scheme is to help the workers to get employment, so it [would] not be fair for the agents to charge the workers here,” he told Radio New Zealand International

Kailes says he believes the agent is an isolated case.

SOURCE: RADIO AUSTRALIA/ RNZI/PACNEWS

22) Fidji: fin des consultations publiques sur la future Constitution

Mis à jour 17 October 2012, 11:22 AEST-Radio Australia.

Caroline Lafargue

Lundi la commission constitutionnelle a clos trois mois de travail avec tous acteurs de la société civile.

Yash Ghai, le président de la commission constitutionnelle, chargée de la rédaction du texte légal suprême :
«Nous avons recueilli les doléances et les souhaits de tous les Fidjiens, des jeunes chômeurs aux étudiants en passant par les politiques, donc nous avons parlé à toutes les classes sociales, et cela n’avait jamais été fait à Fidji. Donc nous avons une base solide pour rédiger une bonne Constitution, dans le respect des droits de l’homme et des principes de bonne gouvernance, avec un seul objectif : créer un texte qui fait consensus dans le pays.» 
Les Fidjiens ont fait part à la Commission constitutionnelle d’un certain nombre de doléances et de souhaits:
«La demande qui revenait sans cesse, c’était de mettre des garde-fous dans la Constitution pour éviter de nouveaux coups d’Etat.  Les coups d’Etat ont fait tellement de mal au pays, tout le monde en a souffert. Le deuxième souhait qui revenait souvent, c’est que les politiques viennent au pouvoir par conviction et avec le désir de servir leurs concitoyens… et non pour s’enrichir. A part ça, les Fidjiens ont évoqué le problème de la terre, qui est détenue à 87% par une seule communauté, alors qu’elle est nécessaire à toutes les communautés, et essentielle pour l’agriculture et toute activité économique. La question des religions aussi, certains groupes ont demandé à ce que Fidji devienne un Etat chrétien. Donc il y a un certain nombre de points que nous devons résoudre.» 
Yash Ghai répondait à Geraldine Coutts sur Radio Australie.
La nouvelle Constitution devrait prendre effet en 2014 après les élections démocratiques promises par le Premier ministre par intérim, Franck Bainimarama.

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