Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 699a

VOICE OF MELANESIA,La Voix de la Melanesie,Vois Blong Melanesia,Suara Melanesia,Domo mai Melanesia,Na Ndoloon Ni Melanesi.

1) PNG i baem ol Fishari patrol bot

Updated 18 December 2012, 21:02 AEST

Caroline Tiriman

Papua New Guinea itok nau em bai isi long oli pulim kalabusim ol foran na lokal fishing laen husat isave brukim loa blong fisheri long kantri.

Oli mekim despla toktok bihaen long National Fisheries Autoroti ibin baem tripla nupla  patrol bots ikam long Philippines.

As tingting blong baem ol despla bot em blong halvim ol wok blong lukautim ol solwara na ol fish blong Papua New Guinea nogut ol stil laen bai save kisim nating ol fish long ol.

Ol ples em bai oli save iusim ol desapla patrol bot long ol em Daru  long Western Province, Milne Bay Provins, Vanimo long West Sepik Provins na Bougainville.

2) Cyclone transforms Fiji from tropical paradise to ‘war zone’

  • From:The Australian 
  • December 19, 2012 12:00AM

Stuck in ‘hell’ as Cyclone Evan passes

The managing director of a small resort in Fiji describes what it’s like being stranded as a category four cyclone passes through.

Visitors relieved as Fiji clean up begins

The general manager of one Fijian island resort says grounds have been devastated but guests are in good spirits after Cyclone Evan.

 Fiji aftermath

The son of the pastor of the Christian Mission Fellowship plays in the ruins of the cyclone-hit church in Malomalo, on Fiji’s Coral  Coast. Picture: Tertius Pickard. Source: AP

HAVING endured the fury of Cyclone Evan with no evident loss of life, impoverished Fiji is coming to terms with the destruction the storm’s 200km/h-plus winds caused during a night of chaos and fear.

As the Pacific nation took stock, amid amazement that the category 4 cyclone did not add to the death toll it clocked up in Samoa, Australian holidaymakers counted themselves lucky to have come through it unscathed.

“Out the window we saw palm trees bent over, almost touching the ground, while we were inside in our cocoon. It was really going off,” said John Ronan, 45, of Brisbane, who with wife, Raeleen, took shelter in a hotel ballroom on Denarau Island.

They emerged into a “war zone” yesterday.

“It went from a tropical paradise to looking like it had been hit by artillery. Every tree from palms, coconut trees and frangipanis had been stripped naked, some were bent over and snapped,” Mr Ronan told The Australian. “The pool looked like soup.”

More than 2100 Australian tourists had registered with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade as being in Fiji when the cyclone hit on Monday night, and the country’s military was mobilised yesterday to lead the clean-up in preparation for the peak influx of holidaymakers at Christmas.

The Fijian government’s tourism boss, Elizabeth Powell, urged Australians not to cancel holidays.

“We just need to reassure people who know and love Fiji that we’re fine, we’re dusting ourselves off, and we’re ready for them,” she said.

The cyclone was the fiercest to strike the archipelago in nearly 20 years and carved a path of destruction through the outlying Yasawa and Mamanuca resort islands, where gusts were reported at up to 270km/h near the eye.

While the main island of Viti Levu was spared its full force, 200km/h winds caused massive damage on the Coral Coast, which is dotted with holiday retreats and traditional villages. At least 12 homes were destroyed in the city of Lautoka, Fiji’s second largest.

In Suva, two ships were washed on to reefs near the harbour entrance and uprooted trees blocked usually busy road. Storm surges of up to 4m were reported.

Power and communications across the country remained down yesterday, but the resumption of international flights came as a relief to the hundreds of stranded tourists who had been evacuated from resorts directly in the path of the cyclone. The full extent of the damage to these properties — including the luxury couples-only Likuliku Lagoon Resort — was still unknown yesterday. The Castaway Island resort, off Nadi, was closed until further notice after being battered by the cyclone, the accommodation house’s Facebook page said.

On the island of Tokoriki, about 40km west of Nadi, resort manager Robert Ring said most of the damage was to the gardens, where trees had been smashed like matchsticks by the cyclonic winds.

But essential infrastructure was intact and he expected it would be business as usual by the pool by Christmas. “Everyone’s just in recovery and clean up mode now,” the expatriate Queenslander said.

Foreign Minister Bob Carr paid tribute to the Fijian preparations, which provided emergency shelter for more than 8000 people and helped account for the absence of known fatalities. Australia had committed an initial $1 million each to Fiji and Samoa in disaster relief, he said.

“Houses and food crops have been destroyed across Fiji and there has been major flooding with roads, bridges and tourist areas suffering significant damage,” Senator Carr said.

“Some of the worst hit areas are isolated islands. Fiji is still recovering from flooding in April this year, which will make recovery even harder.”

In neighbouring Samoa, which had little warning before the cyclone struck last week, the official death toll rose from four to five, with fears mounting for up to 10 people still missing.

The cyclone is tracking south towards the North Island of New Zealand and was last night downgraded to category 3, about 300km south of Fiji. It is expected to break down long before it can threaten a third country.

Additional reporting: Rosie Lewis

3) Fight to restore services after Evan batters Fiji

Updated 19 December 2012, 0:11 AEST

Officials in Fiji are assessing the damage after Cyclone Evan hit the Pacific island nation, causing major flooding and packing destructive 270kph winds.

Officials in Fiji are assessing the damage after Cyclone Evan hit the Pacific island nation, causing major flooding and packing destructive 270 kilometre per hour winds.

More than 3,500 people spent the night in emergency shelters in Fiji as the biggest cyclone in 20 years swept past the island nation.

Some parts of Fiji recorded up to 200mm of rain in a 24-hour period as the category four storm passed to the north-western side of the main Fijian islands of Vanua Levu and Viti Levu.

There has been widespread flooding, homes have been destroyed and some bridges and roads were damaged.

Electricity was out in many areas on Tuesday and there were reports of widespread damage to smaller islands.

But Fijian authorities say there have been no reported casualties, unlike in neighbouring Samoa, where it killed at least four people late last week and left another 10 missing.

“The damage seems to be (to) local houses but there wasn’t any great pockets of massive destruction anywhere,” government spokeswoman Sharon Smith-Johns told Radio Australia.

Suva-based meteorologist, Neville Koop, said many people were expected to remain at evacuation centres over the coming days.

“A lot of the evacuation centres were open very early in the north of the country and in the west, and in the central division,” he said.

“The experiences of Cyclone Evan over Samoa has given people sort of a very vivid picture of what the potential was of damage for this system.

“So it looks as though many people took advantage of that opportunity to seek shelter early.”

Delas Whippy lost everything when a tree smashed into his home.

“We were hiding here, myself and my wife, we were in here when the tree fell on it and the top just burst through,” he said.

Flights in and out of Fiji resumed on Tuesday.

Fijian carrier Air Pacific said the majority of its flights had been rescheduled on a delayed basis with business expected to be back to usual by Thursday.

It was furious, absolutely furious, for about five or six hours it was blowing ferociously.

We were staying bunkered down in an evacuation centre in Nadi, with about 450 locals who’d moved out of their homes because they were too afraid that they wouldn’t withstand the force of the wind or the rain that might flood them out of there.

So it was blowing very, very loudly, people were fairly cheerful, although some people actually ventured out into the cyclone because they were so worried about their homes.

There was bits of debris flying around everywhere, so it was quite dangerous.

ABC reporter Matt Wordsworth

The Australian Government has begun delivering aid to Fiji

During the height of the cyclone, a curfew was issued across Fiji as a precaution.

The interim government became worried that businesses and homes could be targetted by looters because so many people were in evacuation centres.

But some locals took the steps of guarding their own places, sitting there in the storm to protect them from anybody who might try and take advantage of the situation.

Last week, Cyclone Evan killed four people when it hit Samoa as a category one.

As it churned through warm waters it gained size and energy hitting the islands of Fiji as a category four.

The Australian Government has committed an initial $1 million in emergency aid to the region and says it expects to provide more assistance.

“At this stage the request includes things like water tanks, a range of water containers, water purification tablets, oral rehydration salts, tarpaulins, soap, generators, tents, even protective clothing,” AusAID spokesman John Davidson said.

4) Reforms failing to close indigenous schools gap

  • From:The Australian 
  • December 19, 2012 12:00AM

Source: The Australian

EFFORTS to close the gap in education for indigenous students have stalled, reflecting the slow progress in lifting the literacy and numeracy skills of all students across the nation, despite the extra billions of dollars spent in schools.

Literacy and numeracy test results released yesterday show indigenous students are closing the gap in a couple of areas, notably the reading standard among Year 3 students, but on average are improving at the same rate as non-indigenous students, leaving the gap intact.

The slow progress in the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy tests casts doubt on the federal government’s goal of halving the gap in literacy and numeracy skills between indigenous and non-indigenous students by 2018, and being among the top five nations in the world by 2025.

The results come a week after the release of an international test that showed one in four Australian primary school students failed to meet the reading standard for their age level.

Students attending school in the cities tend to perform better in the NAPLAN than students in provincial or remote schools, and the trend is exacerbated for indigenous students.

Indigenous students at city schools score an average 15 points lower than their fellow non-indigenous students on reading tests. The gap widens in regional and remote areas, with indigenous students in very remote schools scoring an average 60 points lower than non-indigenous students in the same schools. The biggest gap is in the Northern Territory.

Only 8.6 per cent of indigenous students in Year 5 attending school in very remote areas of the Territory met the minimum standard in reading compared with 94 per cent of non-indigenous Year 5 students in the same areas.

School Education Minister Peter Garrett described the disparity yesterday as “an appalling statistic”.

When the same group of indigenous students were in Year 3 in 2010, 28.5 per cent met the minimum standard in reading.

A similar decline was apparent in the writing skills of indigenous Territory students in very remote areas, with 13.6 per cent meeting the minimum standard for Year 5 in 2008, falling to 7.7 per cent meeting the Year 7 standard in 2010 and 3.3 per cent of these same students, now in Year 9, meeting the standard this year.

Overall, the rate of improvement seen in the early years of NAPLAN testing has slowed. Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority chief executive Rob Randall said: “We are essentially coasting.”

About one million students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 sit NAPLAN tests each year in reading, spelling, grammar and punctuation and numeracy. Girls score higher on average in the literacy tests while boys have higher average scores in numeracy, although more primary school girls reach the national minimum standard than boys.

Parents’ levels of education are also linked to a child’s results, with almost 98 per cent of students with parents who have a university degree meeting the minimum standards compared with 84.5 per cent of students whose parents finished only Year 11 at school.

Year 3 students’ reading is one of the few areas where the gap in achievement between indigenous and non-indigenous students appears to be closing, with 74.2 per cent meeting the minimum standard this year compared with 68.3 per cent in 2008. By comparison, the proportion of non-indigenous students meeting the standard rose 1.2 percentage points in that time. Reading in Year 7 also improved, rising from 71.9 per cent meeting the standard in 2008 to 74.4 per cent this year.

The Year 3 indigenous students who sat the first NAPLAN tests in 2008 also have improved during the past four years, with 68.3 per cent meeting the standard in reading in 2008; this year, as Year 7 students, 75.2 per cent met the standard.

The proportion of their non-indigenous peers meeting the standard rose about 1.5 percentage points in that time.

Mr Garrett said the average performance of indigenous students in reading and numeracy was two to three years below the average of non-indigenous students, rising to about four years in the Northern Territory.

Students from remote areas on average were the lowest scoring group in Australia, with 51.5 per cent meeting minimum standards compared with 93.5 per cent of metropolitan students.

“It’s unacceptable for us as a nation to have these gaps, whether it’s between indigenous Australians or not, finishing high school as much as three or four years behind their counterparts in suburban or city schools,” Mr Garrett said.

“It’s absolutely unacceptable for us to have such a big gap between kids from low socioeconomic backgrounds and those from better-off backgrounds in terms of their educational attainment.”

While there were some “gentle inclines” in the nationwide NAPLAN results, there was nowhere for state education authorities to hide from responsibility for their schools’ performance.

“There should not be a single education minister in a state, nor a single senior state education bureaucrat, who can take any comfort from these NAPLANs at all,” he said. “We need to react urgently, in a focused way, with a national plan for school improvement agreed by all.”

NT Education Minister John Elferink said the commonwealth had to bear some responsibility for the problems in remote areas, given the intervention, introduced by the Howard government and extended by Labor, was meant to fix the situation. Mr Elferink said many remote indigenous students only spoke English at school and there was a need to improve its teaching in their schools.

He said the bigger issue was not the comparison between indigenous and non-indigenous students, but the socioeconomic backgrounds of children.

Opposition education spokesman Christopher Pyne criticised calls by Mr Garrett and the Australian Education Union for extra funding. Labor had poured money into education for little return. “Despite the Gillard government’s boast five years ago of an ‘education revolution’ and additional spending on school halls and computers, it has had little impact on student outcomes,” Mr Pyne said.

Mr Pyne said improving teacher quality, developing a robust curriculum and giving principals more autonomy would boost performance without costing more.

AEU federal president Angelo Gavrielatos said the results confirmed the urgent need for targeted investment to reach the kids who need extra help.

“It’s unacceptable that these results continue to show significant achievement gaps between students from poorer backgrounds and those from more affluent backgrounds, as well as between indigenous and non-indigenous students,” he said.

5)Surge in skilled migrants drives population gains

December 18, 2012 – 1:57PM

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Australia’s population is expanding at the fastest pace in almost three years as more skilled migrants arrive.

Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics released today showed Australia’s population grew by 1.6 per cent, or nearly 360,000, in the year to June. That was the fastest pace since the third quarter of 2009 when the global financial crisis led the Labor government to start cutting back on migration.

The annual rate of population growth was also up markedly from the trough of 1.14 per cent touched early last year, thanks largely to a revival in migration levels.

Net overseas migration added a net 208,300 people in the year to June, an increase of 22 per cent on the previous 12 months. Arrivals of 472,100 handily outstripped departures of 263,800.


The latest data on the number of 457 visa holders (visas granted for skilled workers who have been sponsored by a business to work in Australia) shows that the number of skilled migrants in Australia is surging.

The number of skilled migrants on 457 visas was over 100,000 for the first time in October 2012, CBA economist Gareth Aird noted.

‘‘In the year to October 2012, the number of skilled migrants on 457 visas rose by 26.6 per cent, reflecting a relatively strong labour market by international standards and the strong Aussie dollar (a strong Aussie dollar increases the value of real wages),’’ Mr Aird said.

The construction sector is the largest employer of skilled migrants, employing around 13 per cent of 457 visa holders.

A relatively healthy economy, low unemployment rate and booming mining sector make Australia an attractive destination for migrants.

The natural increase, or births minus deaths, added 151,300 to the population, a rise of 0.5 percent on the year to end June 2011.

Rapid population growth sets Australia apart from most of its rich world peers. For instance, annual population growth in the United States in 2011 was 0.9 percent, while Canada managed 1.0 percent, the UK 0.6 percent, France 0.5 percent and Italy 0.4 percent. The number of Japanese actually fell by a million.

Reuters, with BusinessDay

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6) Zuma wins ANC leadership / How can a community like Newtown recover from mass shooting?

 Tuesday 18 December 2012

South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma, has been re-elected as leader of his party the ANC, a victory that virtually guarantees him another five years in power. We get reaction from South Africa. And we speak to people in communities around the world that have been affected by school shootings like that in Newtown, Connecticut. How has their community recovered from such tragedy?

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