NEWS ( Melanesia/Pacific) # 674


1) PNG Airport Landowners Threaten Closure Before Royal Visit
Call on government to pay $2.1 million immediately

By David Muri

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Oct. 30, 2012) – Customary landowners of Port Moresby’s Jackson’s International Airport – the gateway to Papua New Guinea – have threatened to close the airport if an outstanding compensation claim is not settled by the government.

Meanwhile, landowners of the land on which Rouna hydro-power stations are located outside Port Moresby have given the Government until close of business to pay them their compensation claim of K5 million [US$2.4 million] or they will shut down water and power supply to the city.

The threat by the Rouna landowners directed at attracting a favorable response from the government comes on the eve of Prince Charles and wife Camilla’s most anticipated visit next month.

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall are scheduled to touch down on this airport to commemorate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in PNG.

But the Dubara landowners met at Vadavada settlement in Port Moresby yesterday and demanded that about K4.5 million [US$2.1 million] owed to them be paid immediately or they would forcefully shut the airport during the royal visit and embarrass the government.

The Dubara clan claims to own the entire land on which Jackson’s aerodrome stands and surrounding portions of the land.

Spokesman Kila Joe Gabutu said landowners are frustrated over the government’s failure to honor a deed of release signed with them six years ago.

Mr. Gabutu produced a deed of release for K5 million signed by his late father Joe Henao Gabutu and former Lands Secretary Pepi Kimas on September 5, 2006. Only K500,000 [US$238,566] of the business development grant was paid.

“We will resolve to shut the airport. We have 200 manpower readily available to execute our protest,” Gabutu said.

Two female officers from the office of the National Intelligence Office also visited the gathering. They declined to comment on the issue saying they were there to monitor the threats and report to NEC.

“The government must know that the Prince will land on our land. If it means shutting the airport on the arrival of Prince Charles then we can do it and face the consequences,” Mr. Gabutu warned.

He said the agreement was signed in 2006 after his late father forcefully closed the Jackson’s Airport. He said only K500,000 was paid, adding that the government still owed them K4.5 million with interest.

Mr. Gabutu said his father had died in a tragic car accident without receiving what he had legally signed and was duly entitled for.

“The government has not honored the deed of release. We have run out of patience because the government has failed to honor its side of the bargain,” he said.

He further stressed that if the government can succumb to pressure from Highlanders and pay them their demands on time, there was no reason for them to be denied what was rightfully theirs.

“If Highlanders can fly into Port Moresby and force the government to pay royalties then we too can do it, they will fly in but we will walk towards the airport and shut it down. We are the landowners of this city and the airport,” he said.

Many people, including children, had banners which asked: “If you can pay Southern Highlands at the barrel of the gun, how about us?”

He said the government has not paid his clan for many portions of their customary land in Boroko, Korobosea, Gordons and other parts of the city. Mr. Gabutu said Henao Drive in Boroko was named after his great grandfather.

The government was given the ultimatum to meet the demand before the Royal visit.

PNG Post-Courier: http://www.postcourier.com.pg/

2) Changes Suggested For Solomons Rural Fund Management
Development monies should be managed by provinces, not MPs

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Times, Oct. 29, 2012) – The Taskforce on Political Integrity and Stability in Solomon Islands last week presented its reports to the 6th Premiers’ Conference in Kirakira, Makira-Ulawa Province.

The Taskforce focused on some of the key recommendations of the report, all geared towards improving transparency, public confidence and political stability.

One of the key aspects of the report is the overhaul of the delivery mechanism of the rural constituency development fund or, RCDF.

More specifically, the report recommends that the RCDF be removed from the direct administration and management of members of Parliament.

The report recommended that the RCDF be managed by relevant ministries, through provincial governments, to ensure effective delivery at the provincial level.

The Taskforce further recommends that all provincial governments provide delivery reports on the use of the funds and such reports to be accessible to people of the constituency.

It also says the constituency funds be audited by registered auditors appointed by the Auditor General, and the cost be paid from the constituency fund.

Premiers at the conference were pleased and supportive of the report.

Solomon Times

3)Solomons Opposition Seeks Judicial Review After Motion Fails
‘Constitutional right’ to no-confidence motion ‘suppressed’

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Times, Oct. 30, 2012) – Leader of the Solomon Islands Opposition Dr. Derek Sikua has filed a case in the High Court seeking a review of the Proceeding of the National Parliament on Friday October 26.

Legal papers filed at the High Court today name the Speaker of National Parliament Sir Allan Kemakeza as the First Defendant, Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo as Second Defendant, and the Attorney General as Third Defendant.

In his sworn statement filed at the High Court, Dr. Derek Sikua said he is seeking judicial review into the manner the First, Second and Third Defendants interpreted and applied Standing Orders of Parliament, suppressing his constitutional right to move a motion of no confidence on the Prime Minister.

Dr. Sikua said the Speaker of Parliament agreed on Thursday night that the motion not be placed on the Order Paper for Friday as requested by the mover.

The Leader of Opposition also stated that the Clerk to Parliament was informed of the decision on Thursday night.

Dr. Sikua however stated that he was informed by the Clerk when he rang on Friday morning that the Speaker had changed his mind, and instead directed that the motion be set down on the day’s Order paper.

On the floor of parliament last Friday, the Speaker Sir Allan Kemakeza ruled that the motion be debated, even without it being tabled or moved in the usual manner.

Despite contentions from the opposition on his ruling, the Speaker maintained that his ruling is final.

He stated then that the fact that the motion appeared on the order paper for that day means it was duly moved.

Without it being moved and debated in the usual manner, the motion was voted on and defeated.

Members of the Opposition and Independents walked out of parliament before the vote was taken.

Solomon Times

4)Outspoken re-elected Vanuatu MP looking to form reformist coalition

Posted at 07:16 on 31 October, 2012 UTC

The leader of Vanuatu’s Ground and Justice Party, Ralph Regenvanu, says he is keen to form a coalition government that addresses corruption and prioritises political and land reform.

With 2250 votes in the Port Vila constituency in Tuesday’s general election, Mr Regenvanu has broken his own national record for receiving the most votes of any candidate.

His party has three MPs in the new legislature, and could have a fourth, pending final results.

Despite results in many constituencies are still unconfirmed, Mr Regenvanu says he already has more leverage to form a coalition than after the previous election and says he is in discussions with potential partners.

“Not talking to all sorts of people, we’re talking to specific people. And we want to be in government that is a good government and not a corrupt government and we want to deal with corruption.”

Ralph Regenvanu

Radio New Zealand International

5)Vanuatu Polling Stations Close As Vote Counting Begins
While some registration cards ineligible, polling goes peacefully

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Oct. 30, 2012) – Most of Vanuatu’s polling stations have closed and vote counting has begun in the nation’s parliamentary elections.

The count could take several days and official result is expected within a week.

Vote counters could have significantly more work this year than they did in 2008, with a large jump in the number of voter registrations and a record number of candidates.

There are 346 candidates from 32 parties standing in Vanuatu’s 52 seats.

In Mele, the biggest village on the island of Efate, the polling officials say they have seen a big spike in voter numbers.

“It’s a big increase from the last time. The last time we only had six polling clerks,” Presiding Officer, Tatalo William said. “This year with the big increase they’ve given us another two.”

Registration worries

But not everything has run to plan in the poll.

Even late this afternoon there were Ni-Vanuatu people waiting to hear if they could vote.

Some reported errors on their registration cards which left them ineligible to cast their ballots and there were queues outside the Electoral Commission in Port Vila as people waited to have their voter cards reissued.

“My name’s on the register, but the card is not right,” one man told Radio Australia.

“I have been here since this morning. The problem is these guys don’t have any Plan B to go to… we’ve been here for almost four hours,” he said.

Others told Radio Australia they had been waiting at the Commission for the past three days and had still not had their problems resolved. Many complain that their rights are being ignored.

Police were stationed inside the gates of the office to keep the crowds out.

“[We are] very frustrated. These are our constitutional rights,” one man said. “We have the right to vote. And yet the administrative part is the reason that’s causing all this delay.”

Many were wanting proxy votes on behalf of relatives they said were away.

No disruptions

There have been no reports of violence or disruptions during today’s vote, with the government deploying an extra 300 police officers to polling stations around the country.

But the Australia Network Pacific correspondent, Sean Dorney, says the security presence has not been overbearing.

“There wasn’t any overbearing security presence in the places we went to,” he told Pacific Beat.

In Mele Village for instance there was just the one single policeman inside the polling station.”

Big issues

Vanuatu’s economy and unemployment rate dominated discussion in the lead-up to the vote.

“My big concern is about youth unemployment since all the youths of the education they don’t have anything to do,” Sharon Wabur, a single mother of two, said.

“Many go as far as training centres and secondary schools, but they don’t have opportunity because of the lack of jobs in Vanuatu, so most of them are influenced by drugs like marijuana and violence and vandalism, so it’s no good,” she said.

Sean Dorney says that is evident in Port Vila.

“The economy doesn’t seem to be doing all that badly here, but there are lots and lots of young people emerging from the education system and the number of paid positions in the workforce is not keeping pace with the number of people coming out of the system.” he said.

Others are passionate about ending corruption.

One young supporter of Ralph Regenvanu’s Land and Justice Party told Radio Australia his peers want to see government cleaned up.

“Every young person wants a good leader for a better future,” Mr. Willie said.

“We see on TV, we see and we read in the newspaper, and every week we see corruption, and we want change. We want change because we want good leaders, we want to have a better life.”

Radio Australia: www.abc.net.au/ra

6)New minimum wage rates announced in Fiji

Posted at 07:10 on 31 October, 2012 UTC

The Fiji interim Government has announced an increase in minimum wage rates by between 7 point 9 and 10 point 4 percent, effective from today.

The interim Minister for Labour, Jone Usamate, says it’s the first time a productivity-based wage system has been introduced in the country.

Sawmilling and logging workers get the biggest rise while road workers receive the second largest increase of 10 percent.

In a statement released by Fiji’s information ministry, the minister thanks the ten Wages Councils for their patience in working towards the Wages Regulation Order, despite the resignation of the Wages Councils Chairperson.

Father Kevin Barr resigned from the Council in August over delays in the implementation of pay increases his body had recommended.

Radio New Zealand International

7)Fiji Commission Tasked With Creating Effective Constitution
Yash Ghai says challenge lies with ‘marrying’ different views

By Indrani Krishna

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Oct. 30, 2012) – Fiji’s Constitution Commission chairman Professor Yash Ghai said with public consultations completed, the onus is now on them to draw up a Constitution that can ‘marry’ different views, visions, culture and allow for development without “creating too much of stress, tension and anxiety in society at the loss of the old.”

Ghai made the comments while addressing a multicultural audience at the celebrations of Fiji’s 42nd independence anniversary, at the University of the South Pacific’s Oceania Centre last Thursday.

He said after listening to the people of Fiji during consultations, that the Commission felt that Fiji was in a period of great social transformation as people had different views and visions, some seeking inspiration from the past and others looking to a future with greater options, a part of the global community.

“The challenge for us at the commission is which vision do we take, how do we marry the different cultural and political perceptions and aspirations, how we draft something which acknowledges the, the value of the older cultures but at the same time, opens opportunities to engage in newer ideas, newer technologies, new ways of making a living and new ways of living without creating too much of stress, tension and anxiety in society at the loss of the old,” he said.

Ghai said Fiji would be the way the world should be if every Fijian truly accepts each others’ cultures, making it a heritage of all the people of Fiji.

“If you look at the decree which sets up the process of Constitution making now and if you read the speech of the Prime Minister on March 9 this year, there is a conception of Fiji where you easily, willingly transcend your ethnic affiliation to embrace a wider community, the community of Fiji,” Ghai said.

He also added that Fiji had a rich culture and lessons that could be learnt from diversity and a good example was in the wonderful Fijian cuisine.

“There is Indian, Chinese i-taukei which is enjoyed widely by everyone. It was important to take this approach of the interaction of culture to other spheres like moral traditions, literary and musical achievements, and friendships,” Ghai said.

Fijilive: http://www.fijilive.com

8)Fiji To Form Cooperative National Search And Rescue Unit
Government moves to establish unit up to international standards

By Indrani Krishna

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Oct. 30, 2012) – As part of efforts to ensure better search and rescue operations, Fiji’s Defence ministry has moved to form a Search and Rescue (SAR) Fiji unit.

The unit endorsed by Government will enable the three rescue sub-centres (Land forces, Air forced and Marine forces) to effectively coordinate and organize search and rescue operations that will contribute to greater success rate to save numerous lives.

Acting Minister for Defence, National Security and Immigration Joketani Cokanasiga said that SAR has been considered an important and critical government responsibility given the number of distress calls requiring search and rescue operations received over the years.

“Internationally, SAR management and SAR field response have evolved drastically in the last decade. Searches no longer last for days or weeks; usually they are over in 24 or 48 hours,” Cokanasiga said.

“The Fiji government is committed to the formation, establishment and implementation of SAR component since it has an obligation under that various international instruments such as the ICAO, IMO and others that establish criteria for a safe and secure SAR region.”

In line with this, the Fiji Police Academy in Suva has organized a 2-day workshop featuring participants from the three sections of the defense forces and private companies who have exhibited the various technologies and products that are considered as aid to SAR and enhance the capabilities for any deployment whether it be land, air or maritime.

He also added that regardless of how extensive or complex a search becomes, the proper initial actions are identical and crucial to success.

“Effective initial actions can maximize survivability and detection, minimize cost, and establish a firm direction for those incidents that become unusually complex,” Cokanasiga said.

He further said Fiji, having vast air space and maritime boundaries, is required to establish SAR components which are consistent with international SAR requirements.

Fijilive: http://www.fijilive.com

9)Columbia University study suggests Fiji manage coral reefs separately

Posted at 22:52 on 30 October, 2012 UTC

A United States university study has found coral reefs in the east of Fiji should be managed separately from those in the west.

The research looked at five species of fish in Fiji and found three species didn’t move much between reefs, but two species did.

There are currently marine protected areas in the islands but no coral reef reserves.

Dr Joshua Drew from Columbia University’s Department of Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology says managing the reefs separately would keep fish populations up if disaster strikes.

“If there is a localised oil spill on the west side, babies born on the east side aren’t going to be able to get there. So what we’re trying to say is that you want to make sure you have enough preserves in the east and in the west (so) that if one reef gets wiped out by an oil spill there are enough healthy reefs in that section to make sure that the babies will land on the place that needs to be reseeded.”

Dr Joshua Drew says he hopes the Fiji government will use the research to form their coral reef reserve policy.

Radio New Zealand International

10)Coalition Pushes Caretaker Government Before Fiji Elections
Political parties, trade unions, chiefs file petition

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Oct. 29, 2012) – A coalition of Fiji political parties and trade unions has petitioned the President to put a caretaker government in place in the lead up to the 2014 elections.

The petition accuses the Government of handpicking representatives of the Constituent Assembly, which is due to be formed in December and will advise on the new constitution.

The petition says the entire nation is being held to ransom by a small group of individuals who have usurped lawful authority for their own benefit.

The leader of the United People’s Party Mick Beddoes says it is significant that four political parties, two councils of trade unions and three paramount chiefs are calling for the interim Government to step back from power to ensure a true democratic process.

“It is now a public declaration that the group is no longer just some isolated political parties. It is a growing number of organizations and there is a concern about the need for us to ensure that the election in 2014 is free and fair.”

[PIR editor’s note: Meanwhile, Fiji’s Trade Union Congress President Daniel Urai decided against signing the document when it was made known Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry would also be involved in the petition, a decision reflecting an earlier falling out between the two groups.]

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

11)Regional conference in Suva in November to consider the question of internet accessibility

By Online Editor
4:14 pm GMT+12, 31/10/2012, Fiji

When a group of technologists, corporate leaders, computer engineers, developers and ICT specialists in Fiji and around the Pacific meet in Suva next month to discuss matters likeIPv6, routing and FOSS, it will be too easy for some of us to dismiss the event as a conference only for computer geeks.

In reality however, nothing could be further from the truth. These experts, practitioners and users who are members of the Pacific Islands Chapter of the Internet Society, which uses the acronym PICISOC, will in fact be discussing ways and means to improve the use of internet and internet accessibility in our part of the world.

Take the matter of IPv6 for example. This is computer-tech speak really.  Actually the acronym stands for
“Internet Protocol version 6”! Currently, Fiji uses the IP (Internet Protocol) version 4. However discussions are underway for a transition from IPv4 to IPv6 simply because the internet has run out of IPv4 address spaces. A newer Internet protocol version of course would mean more IP addresses for consumers, be they corporate orindividual. IPv6 is a major milestone in global development and is critical to the internet’s growth as a platform to secure more IP addresses.

What is an IP address? A reference explains it as “a unique number, similar in concept to a telephone number, used by machines (usually computers) to refer to each other when sending information through the Internet.
This allows machines passing the information onwards on behalf of the sender to know where to send it next, and for the machine receiving the information to know that it is the intended destination.”

The PICISOC’s annual Pacific Internet and ICT Conference (PACINET) will be held at the University of the South Pacific’s Japan – Pacific ICT Centre from November 22 – 26, 2012. PACINET is convened in collaboration with the Fiji Government, University of the South Pacific, Secretariat of the Pacific Community and industry member country partners. The newly established Pacific ICT Regulatory Resource Centre (PIRRC) which is based at the USP and funded by the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank is among agencies that are supporting PICISOC’s hosting of PACINET next month.

PICISOC wants to see itself as a group that represents the interests of computer and internet users in the Pacificregion. It focuses on local issues and developments, and seeks to provide impartial advice to the governments and the public on Internet-related matters that are relevant to Pacific Island people.

It was created in 1994 by two IT experts who were working then in two regional organisations: Sam Taufao of Samoa was then IT Manager of the Honiara-based Forum Fisheries Agency and the late Les Allinson who was IT Manager of the then SOPAC – the Secretariat of the Pacific Geoscience Commission. Initially, it was called IT-PacNet and membership was mainly from IT workers in the regional organisations that were around then.

Meetings of early IT-PacNet members recalled were mainly informal and technical in nature. It was not until
1999 that the decision was made to turn IT-PacNet into PICISOC, the Pacific Islands Chapter of the Internet Society. Currently, PICISOC has 756 members who are working in American Samoa, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, Niue, Northern Marianas, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Pitcairn, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Wallis and Futuna.

PICISOC has been a leader in promoting and advocating a number of important Internet and computer related initiatives in Oceania. PICISOC’s official website on www.picisoc.org lists these initiatives as including:

•    geographic information systems (GIS) and remote sensing (RS)
•    the move to IPv6
•    cyber-security leading to the establishment of PacCERT
•    routing leading to the establishment of PacNOG (Pacific Network Operators group people with disabilitiessupporting Access for All in annual PacINET conferences
•    Internet governance foreshadowing the formation of the Pacific IGF (Internet Governance Forum)
•    FOSS (Free and Open Software), and  gender and technology

To find out more about the Conference programme, please contact Ms Anju Mangal – anjum@spc.int and or +679 9925766 or to register for next month’s PACINET Conference, log onto the Conference organiser’s website: http://www.picisoc.org

SOURCE: PICISOC/PACNEWS

12)UN to accelerate withdrawal from East Timor

By Online Editor
5:39 pm GMT+12, 31/10/2012, Timor-leste

The United Nations has handed over full control of policing operations to the East Timorese National Police Force (PNTL) at a ceremony in Dili.

The current UN deployment – the United Nations Integrated Mission in East Timor (UNTEL) – came in 2006, after a political crisis in which dozens were killed and hundreds-of-thousands displaced.

Police Officers from more than 40 countries, including Malaysia, Bangladesh, Pakistan and the Philippines, arrived to help with police duties, restore order and conduct training.

The head of UNTEL, Finn Reske-Nielsen, says the bulk of peacekeepers will now leave over the next six weeks.

“We expect that most of our personnel will leave by the middle of December,” he said.

“We will still have a handful of people left here by 31 December in order to sort of formally close what would be almost 13 years of UN peacekeeping and political missions in this country.”

Reske-Nielsen says a recent evaluation by the UN and East Timor found the PNTL was ready to take back control, but still needed improvement in several areas, including discipline.

“Although the way of dealing with problems might not be up to international standards, in the Timorese context they are really ready to do their job,” Nelson Belo, director of the security organisation Fundasaun Mahein, told Radio Australia’s Connect Asia program.

East Timor’s Government says it plans to keep developing its security forces with continued help from countries like Australia after the UN withdrawal.

SOURCE: RADAUS/PACNEWS

13)Samoa To Replace Year 8 Exams With Competency Test
Change hoped to better prepare Samoan students

By Jasmine Netzler

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Oct. 29, 2012) – It’s official: Samoa’s National Year 8 exam is getting the boot.

It is being replaced by what’s called the Samoa Primary Education Competency Examination (SPECE).

The plan was confirmed by the Acting Chief Executive Officer for the Ministry of Education, Doreen Roebeck-Tuala.

“This means this exam won’t be for the purpose of making the grades to qualify for Samoa College, Avele or Leifiifi College, instead it tests the students’ mental competency,” she said.

Mrs. Tuala said there is evidence which indicates that some students lack critical thinking.

“It means they are quick to memorize the lessons from their books and so do well in the exams but fail to apply what they have learnt in the real world.”

The Ministry of Education’s goal is to better equip students so they can apply what they have learnt in school to their lives.

Speaking about the SPECE, Mrs. Tuala said: “This exam has already been trialed by Year 9 students only because at the time, the Year 8 syllabus wasn’t completed.”

She said this was undertaken in the middle of the year.

SPECE has a different grading system, which is based on the competency level of the students.

The idea behind the change is to create equity since students who don’t pass this exam are able to study at other schools, said Mrs. Tuala.

The last Year 8 National exams will be conducted next month.

Samoa Observer: www.samoaobserver.ws/

14)Collaboration in Guam on methamphetamine

Posted at 22:52 on 30 October, 2012 UTC

The acting chief of Guam police says collaboration between law enforcers on methamphetamine is having an impact on drug rings operating on the island.

The comment follows the award this week of a 27-year-sentence to a woman who led an operation smuggling the drug, also known as ice or crystal meth, from the Philippines to Guam.

The Guam Daily News reports that the length of 40-year-old Gina Medina’s sentence, who pleaded guilty, is a result of her failure to provide ’substantial assistance’ to police prosecutors.

Major Ricardo Leon Guerrero says her imprisonment and significant drugbusts earlier this year are marks of success in fighting a problem that has been around for the past couple of decades.

“The federal agencies together with the local law enforcement is able to close a gap in the way these drugs are brought in and that’s working with the Guam customs and the post office.”

The acting chief of Guam police, Major Ricardo Leon Guerrero.

Radio New Zealand International

15)American Samoa Readies For Elections Next Week
About 18,000 voters will cast ballots for local officials

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Oct. 30, 2012) – There’ll be 45 polling places for next Tuesday’s elections in American Samoa.

Election officials who will conduct voting on Aunuu Island and Manu’a will travel there on Monday.

The chief election officer, Soliai Tuipine, says the Election Office is ensuring that none of the staff who will oversee the voting are actively involved in any political campaigning.

Mr. Tuipine says anyone proven to be active in campaigning or aligned with a camp will not be accepted in any election related work.

Some pulenuu, or village mayors, who have been the target of complaints for their active campaigning, have been told to keep away from the voting booths on election day.

Mr. Tuipine says the Election Office has had to replace some of the temporary workers who were trained to conduct the voting in the villages, for the same reason.

Just under 18,000 voters will be casting ballots for Governor and Lieutenant Governor, the delegate to the U.S. Congress and 20 members of the American Samoa House of Representatives.

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

16)Pacific Nations Considering Stronger Ties With Asia
Australian report predicts Asia as largest global consumer

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Oct. 30, 2012) – Pacific Island nations have begun analyzing the findings of the Australian government’s ‘Asian Century’ White Paper on developing closer ties with Asia.

According to a 2011 ANZ report, most Pacific exports to China currently come from PNG with a small proportion from Solomon Islands.

In 2010 the region had a trade surplus of US$457 million with China, and it has been working to increase that and to expand into other Asian markets.

The White Paper unveiled by Australia’s Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Sunday explains that within a few years Asia will be the world’s largest producer of goods and services, and the world’s largest consumer.

“The Pacific Islands very much are looking themselves at their market and trading and political opportunities in Asia,” Dr. Paul Barker, director of the Institute of National Affairs think tank in Papua New Guinea, told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat program.

“The Pacific Islands will be doing the same thing and exploring their Asian opportunities, and I’m sure they’ll all be looking closely at this White Paper to see what ideas and lessons there are for them.”

The White Paper argues that the so-called ‘Asian century’ is “an Australian opportunity” and lays out Australia’s aspirations for closer ties on trade, education and security.

Dr. Barker says the Pacific Islands are unlikely to “begrudge” Australia’s focus on Asia, but said “there would be a concern that the Pacific shouldn’t be left out of the process.”

Radio Australia: www.abc.net.au/ra

17) Vanuatu: la coalition gouvernementale, futur casse-tête

Mis à jour 31 October 2012, 11:14 AEST

Caroline Lafargue

Les bureaux de vote ont fermé hier soir. Le décompte des voix sera plus ardu cette année en raison du nombre record de candidats, 346 pour 52 sièges. 

Et 32 partis. Au final on risque d’avoir un Parlement très éclaté, entre une quinzaine de partis. Ce sera donc un véritable cauchemar pour former une coalition gouvernementale. «Nous ferions mieux d’attacher nos ceintures, parce qu’avec autant de partis, la route risque d’être très mouvementée», a prédit Marie Noelle Patterson, la directrice de Transparency International au Vanuatu.

Selon notre correspondant Sean Dorney, les deux circonscriptions des îles très éloignées de Banks et Torres devraient changer de main. Rien n’est définitif pour l’instant, mais ces deux sièges auraient été gagnés par un membre du Parti National du Vanuatu et un indépendant, qui aurait sorti l’ancien député, membre du Parti du Premier ministre.

Parmi les grandes figures de la vie politique vanuataise, Ralph Regenvanu, ancien ministre de la justice et de la terre, et l’ancien Premier ministre Edward Natapei, seraient en bonne voie de réélection à Port-Vila. Cette année il y avait plus d’inscrits sur les listes électorales – 192 000 en tout, c’est une grande augmentation par rapport à 2008.http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/french/2012-10-31/vanuatu-la-coalition-gouvernementale-futur-cassetête/1038826

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