Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 701

1) PNG Milne Bay pipal i hangre

Updated 8 January 2013, 15:29 AEST

Pius Bonjui

Bikpla san na nogat ren i kamapim sot long kaikai long sampla hap blong provins.

Tripela distrik bilong Milne Bay Province i bin stap aninit long longpela taim bilong drai spel oa nogat ren ibin pudaon.

Ol pipal long dispela tripela distrik ino ibin nap long planim kaikai long taim oli save planim.

Long dispela tasol, na wantaim halivim bilong moni ikam long National Disaster Centre long Port Moresby, Eric Baralia, Milne Bay Provincial Disaster Co-ordinator na ol ofisa bilong em i bin nap long givim halivim bilong kaikai  igo long ol pipal

2) PNG lawyers push to practice overseas

By Online Editor
1:39 pm GMT+12, 08/01/2013, Papua New Guinea

Lawyers in Papua New Guinea want to be able to practice in other countries like Australia and New Zealand.

The interim chairman of PNG Lawyers Association, Ralph Saulep says, there is no proper arrangement in place to allow PNG lawyers the right to appear in Australian and New Zealand courts, while foreign lawyers are able to practice in PNG.

He is calling on the government and the PNG Law Society to begin negotiations so lawyers have reciprocal rights overseas.

“What we are calling for is that a reciprocal arrangement to be made to enable Papua New Guineans practitioners to practice in New Zealand and Australia as well.

“And we think that is a fair, though I mean, if lawyers in other countries are able to access issuing in Papua New Guinea, it’s only fair that the door should be opened to all Papua New Guinean lawyers to practice in other jurisdictions as well,” Saulep said.

SOURCE: NBC/PACNEWS

3)PNG Opposition call for rethink in Australia relations

By Online Editor
1:59 pm GMT+12, 08/01/2013, Papua New Guinea

The Opposition has called on Papua New Guinea to seriously rethink its partnership with Australia, accusing it of dictating to PNG while blaming the Government of dancing to its tune, without proper consideration of issues.

Opposition Leader, Belden Namah made the call this week describing his group’s silence over issues as a calculated move, saying the Opposition will not sit back, and watch issues and events happen, without having their say on them.

“We cannot continue to be dictated by Australia. Why are we being pushed around like puppets.

“We are an independent nation. We have come this far, 40 years.

“We can’t continue to be puppets to Australia.

“The O’Neil-Dion government has demonstrated time and time again that Papua New Guinea is going back to the days of colonialism,” Namah said last week.

SOURCE: NBC/PACNEWS

4)PNG Minister To Stop All Overseas Health Department Trips
Malabag calls on all divisions to focus on implementation at home

By Isaac Nicholas

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Jan. 7, 2013) – Health Minister Michael Malabag has put a stop to all overseas trips by the department of Health top management, including himself as the political head.

Minister Malabag said this is the year of implementation and all Ministers and departmental heads should do just that: stay at home and help to implement the 2013 budget.

He said this when speaking at the opening of the new special care nursery at Port Moresby general hospital yesterday.

“There must be less overseas travels by both department heads and public servants as well as Ministers of Cabinet,” Mr. Malabag said. “We are here to serve our people. We must be focused on budget delivery and implementation of what is put down in the budget.”

Minister Malabag said that there have been a lot of so-called fact-finding travels abroad by huge delegations without any tangible development after all these trips.

“We must be seen to be doing our work and that is why we have been elected to serve our people.”

He said Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and his government have made it clear that they will put money into education, health, infrastructure, law and order and growing the economy.

“Our people have been deprived for too long. The country with so much resource must be translated to be felt by our people.”

Mr. Malabag said cash-strapped multi-national corporations who are investing and making a lot of money in this country must re-invest in health services and give something back to the country.

He said public private partnership is the way forward for the country.

Minister Malabag said Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has written to all the provincial governors, administrators, departmental heads and Cabinet Ministers to turn up at the State Function Room in Parliament later this month to talk about the implementation of the 2013 budget. “This is the year of implementation and in the Health sector I will make sure that we are seen to be giving something back to our people,” he said.

“The government also wants to see that money given is spent on the right development and every toea accounted for,” Minister Malabag said.

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

5)Government Continues Education Subsidies In PNG
Australia pitching in with $11.9 million

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Jan. 7, 2013) – Parents and guardians of students in elementary to grade 12 schools and vocational centers have been informed that Papua New Guinea’s national government will continue to assist them by paying the full school fees for their children this year.

The Acting Secretary for Education Luke Taita reassured the parents, guardians and students in a statement last week.

Meanwhile, Flexible, Open and Distance Education (FODE), Inclusive education and approved permitted schools, will receive a one-off payment of 75 percent of the total cost of the fees. Parents have been reminded to pay the remaining 25 percent

Mr. Taita also said the National Education Board (NEB) in its final meeting last year endorsed the maximum fee limits for 2012 to be maintained in 2013.

Acting secretary Mr. Taita also announced that in 2013, the National Government will purchase and distribute K40 million [US$19.08 million] worth of basic curriculum material kits to all schools, including vocational centers.

Mr. Taita said the Australian government will complement the PNG government’s contribution to the tuition fee free and subsidy payments by paying tuition fees for all elementary children with its share of K25 million [US$11.9 million].

“I would like to thank the government and people of Australia for continuing to fund major programs like the provision of quality education to the children of Papua New Guinea,” Mr. Taita said.

He advised all school authorities to read the information provided in the secretary’s circular and Minister’s policy statement which will accompany the payments, and comply with them.

“I would like to remind all parents and guardians that the tuition fees and subsidy from the government will only cover teaching and learning in the classrooms,” Mr. Taita said.

“Parents and guardians must be prepared to assist their children’s schools in any projects the schools come up with to improve teaching and learning,” he said.

He called on all schools to get approval from their provincial education boards before they can charge parents and guardians project fees.

In order for the smooth distribution of tuition fees and subsidies to happen this year, Mr. Taita is calling on all provincial subsidy coordinators and school census coordinators to send in their schools, 2012 census forms and correct bank account details.

“The payments will be based on the 2012 enrolment data in the school census forms and deposited in the school bank accounts. It is therefore very important that schools open bank accounts with a commercial bank of their choice and send in their correct bank account details to Waigani so that their payments can be deposited into their accounts,” Mr. Taita said.

Meanwhile, one of the strategies the department has come up with to start addressing the exit of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) as instructed by the government is the introduction of English as the medium of instruction in all schools from elementary up to higher learning institutions.

“English and local vernacular will also be taught as subjects in elementary schools,” Mr. Taita said.

He said local vernacular will not be thrown out altogether but teachers will have the opportunity to continue to use vernacular to explain concepts better.

Mr. Taita said that Ministerial policy statement No. 1/91 and the secretary’s circular No. 1/91, Ministerial policy statement No. 3/99 and secretary’s circular No. 38/99 on language policy in all schools state that while children must be encouraged to learn and use English, all schools at all levels should not discourage free communication in vernacular languages.

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

6)Autonomous Bougainville K100 million funding

By Online Editor
1:30 pm GMT+12, 08/01/2013, Papua New GuineaThe Autonomous Bougainville Government will proceed to implement some of its high impact projects in 2013, which are identified as the region’s development priorities.

The funding is part of a funding allocation of 500-million (US$240 million) by the national government through a special financing package specifically for High Impact projects.

ABG approved 74 High Impact Projects in 2012, but it brought on a contentious issue between ABG and the National Government but, ABG managed to convince the National Government until it released K00 million (US$48 million) in October last year.

With the delay in the release of the funds, ABG has now put forward some of the funding allocation to 2013 budget to implement the projects.

These projects are aimed at enhancing economic growth as well as generating development, and providing long term benefits for the ABG.

ABG’s Minister for Finance, Treasury and Planning, Albert Punghau announced that ABG must deliver on these projects as people have been expecting these projects in the past 2 years.

He says the projects are aligned to ABG’s development priority which will include peace and security, economic development, transport infrastructure, human development and good governance.

SOURCE: NBC/PACNEWS

7)Solomon Islands PM To Sue Newspaper, Social Media Group
Lilo slams ‘defamation’ of character, coerced compensation

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Jan. 8, 2013) – Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo on Sunday said his legal team will today file a legal suit against The Solomon Star and Facebook group Forum Solomon Islands International (FSII).

In a press conference yesterday, Mr. Lilo said his legal team will today file in the high court a legal suit against the two parties for defamation of character.

“I have to resort to such a measure to seek the protection of the law to protect my rights and that of my family. I also reserve my rights to lay a complaint to the police for criminal libel.”

He urged the media to respect the legal process and should not discuss the matter.

“Since the matter will now be brought before the court by tomorrow I urge the media to respect the legal process and to recognize that any matters relating to compensation, including allegations connected to that issue, will be sub-judice, meaning that they are before the courts and should not be discussed in the media as further discussion may prejudice the parties in the legal proceedings.”

The Prime Minister also appealed to people not to capitalize on custom to extort money from other people.

“It is also important that I also wish to underscore that I don’t want anyone to use our custom to extort money from other people.”

Meanwhile FSII welcomed the PM’s legal challenge.

Solomon Star

8) Teachers Planning Nationwide Strike In Solomon Islands
Educators to protest government’s ‘failure’ to address issues

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Jan. 7, 2013) – The Solomon Islands National Teachers Association is meeting on Thursday to discuss plans to stage a nation-wide strike.

The Association says the government has failed to address four key issues, such as giving promised pay rises, travel expenses and housing allowances and failing to remove officers from the Honiara City Council who are suspected of stealing money from teachers’ travel budget.

The President of the Teachers Association, Samson Faisi, says he hopes the strike threat will prompt the government to treat these matters seriously.

“My executive came in 2011 and in one incident last year, me and my general secretary we saw the Prime Minister and we also voiced these concerns then. And they promised us in front of his special secretariat they will make sure that they must address these issues and then the year went pass and now we are in 2013, we would like to ensure that all these issues that have been long-standing issues, we must resonate positive feedback from the government.”

Samson Faisi says if the government fails to respond positively to the notice for the strike, planned for later this month or early next month, he will call on other unions to join in.

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

9)People on cyclone-hit Makira in Solomons running out of food

By Online Editor
1:35 pm GMT+12, 08/01/2013, Solomon Islands

Radio New Zealand InternationalThe Solomon Islands National Disaster Management Office says people on the island of Makira which bore the brunt of Cyclone Freda will run out of food if relief supplies don’t arrive soon.

Assessors are inspecting the damage to the island from last week’s storm, which caused widespread flooding of crops and food gardens near the island’s main rivers.

A spokesperson for the Disaster Management Office, Sipuru Rove, says while people have been able to recover some produce, they need the rice and other supplies coming by ship this week.

“The delay was due to the suppliers and the process before the suppliers will be able to allow their relief items to be shipped to Kirakira. We are actually purchasing rice from a company. And that company needs their cheque before we can access that rice.”

Sipuru Rove says a water purification unit is supplying the hospital and the wider community in the provincial capital, Kirakira.

source: rnzi/pacnews

10) Taiwan embassy shuns Solomons media contacts

Posted at 05:55 on 08 January, 2013 UTC-

The Taiwanese Embassy in Solomon Islands has put a ban on contacts with journalists.

The ban has been ordered by the new Taiwanese Ambassador to Solomon Islands, Roy Wu.

The embassy has not revealed the reasons for Mr Wu’s decision to ban all contacts with media practitioners, but it is widely believed the instruction has been given by Taipei.

Our correspondent says Taipei has been bombarded with criticisms from Solomon Islanders who have used the media to express their disillusionment with Taiwanese assistance to parliamentarians.

Annually millions of dollars of Taiwanese financial assistance are given to MPs so they can develop their constituencies, but critics have claimed the assistance has made no impact in the rural Solomon Islands.Radio New Zealand.

11) Magazine Article Worries Vanuatu Kava Dealers
‘Sensational’ story may hurt progress in exporting kava

By Len Garae

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Jan. 7, 2013) – In Vanuatu, kava dealers who export to the United States know the risk they are involved in saying it is like selling petrol where some buyers put it in their cars while others may sniff it, which means those that sell it have no control over how it is used in America.

However while the issue of the sale of kava drink mixed with other substances in America can perhaps cause the drinker’s head to spin out of control, one thing has to be made clear to one ignorant American reporter and the wider American public and that is that the dried kava that is exported there from Vanuatu, when mixed as a drink without any other substance, has not been proven by science to be a threat to the drinker’s health.

The article carried in our Issue No: 3746 under the heading “While legal, doctors, counselors, police cite concerns about effects of kava, kratom,” was written by an ignorant American reporter for his readers in South Florida.

The reporter cultivated his article by linking kava to kratom to entice his readers to try to connect the dangerous effect of illegal drugs while his own headline to the story makes it clear that kava is “legal.”

In our first ever interview with U.S. kava dealer Andrew Procyk early last year, he was confident that kava was slowly becoming the drink to go for in the U.S. to calm the confused mind and ease the physical aches to the body a worker gets from working too hard and pushing the body too far.

Now with the article that appeared in the paper in South Florida, kava exporters from Vanuatu are worried that such sensationalized writing may eventually force America to follow suit and ban kava like the European Union has done ten years ago. The EU ban is still in force.

Ruth Amos of The Food Centre and kava dealers James Armitage and Cameron McLeod and Joe Pakoa of the Department of Trade agree that once kava exports go outside Vanuatu, there is nothing that kava exporters can do but that here at home this is where Quality Control has to come in. All the kava dealers present during the Teleconference in the Ministry of Trade last Friday agreed for the importance and urgency of quality control of kava products to be put in place as soon as possible to safeguard the country’s “green gold’ export.

The International Kava Conference held at Warwick Le Lagon Hotel & Spa last year resolved for all Regional kava producing countries of Vanuatu, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and Marshall Islands to commit themselves towards reaching accepted Local, then Regional then International Kava Standards through which to export kava as Food and Beverage approved by the FAO and WHO.

A clear example of the dilemma facing kava exporters today in the absence of an accepted international kava standard is the dried kava that is exported from Vanuatu to America. It is pure dried kava but once it is received by the buyer, he or she sells it to his client and the client can add kratom or whatever else to this kava drink and that is where the problem starts.

In Vanuatu kava has been used in traditional ceremonies as well as, as a social drink for hundreds if not thousands of years and the population has continued to thrive which proves that the drink is safe.

Procyk says, “Kratom has been on the Drug of Concern List for a long time but never kava and is sold in health food and other shops as well as kava bars for at least the past 20 years.”

The reporter from South Florida writes, “Some authorities believe that kava and its cousin kratom, are on a similar path to that of synthetic marijuana, a substance one widely sold legally in Palm Beach County but has since been banned by the county commission.”

The American kava dealer Procyk replies. “This is terrifying, as there is a direct suggestion to the (potential) prohibition of kava. It is also patently wrong because kratom and kava are not cousins. They are sold at the same establishments but so is beer and orange juice. The links to kava and synthetic marijuana are obviously an attempt by the journalist to bundle all herbal products together. Is there an agenda here by either local or federal authorities? Unfortunately this could well impact on Vanuatu’s biggest export.”

In 2002 the FDA alerted consumers and health care advisers to potential risk of liver problems with the use of kava. This was due to the liver scare in Europe and Germany and as a result the EU banned kava from exporters from the Pacific. The ban is still in place.

Since then, a 2009 report contradicted the claims of hepatotoxicity effects. “When extracted in the appropriate way, kava may pose less or no potential liver problems. I hope the results will encourage governments to reconsider the ban,” according to lead researcher Jerome Saris of the University of Queensland.

Procyk says, “That, as well as recent research by Matthias Schmidt and Vince Lebot, should forever bury any of these liver damage claims. It is like referring to the propaganda that they put out years ago that said marijuana turned you into a homicidal maniac (Reefer Madness) and expect to be taken seriously.

“In summary if there were hepatoxic issues related to kava, half of the population of the South Pacific would suffer serious liver problems, which they do not”.

Vanuatu Daily Post: http://www.vanuatudaily.com

12)Australian Police unwrap kava trade in NT

By Online Editor
1:49 pm GMT+12, 07/01/2013, AustraliaPolice in Australia’s Northern Territory have seized more than 60kg of kava hidden in boxes disguised as Christmas presents.

The six boxes, and a 1.5kg express pack, were intercepted at a Darwin post office and were destined for remote Aboriginal communities.

The kava plant is used as a ceremonial drink by many Pacific Islander communities and while it can be imported into Australia, it is illegal to supply and possess kava in the Northern Territory.

“We will continue to target suppliers, particularly those interstate who flaunt the laws and are profiteering off a small number of communities in the Northern Territory,” Detective Superintendent Tony Fuller said.

Police said the kava was divided into individual deal-sized bags and had a total street value of AUD$61,500.

SOURCE: RADIO AUSTRALIA/PACNEWS

13)Kilman’s coalition remains solid as Torba takes backseat in nation running

By Online Editor
1:55 pm GMT+12, 08/01/2013, Vanuatu

The recent appointment of the new Minister of Public Utilities, Tony Nari, has maintained and further consolidated Prime Minister Sato Kilman’s coalition with the majority members of parliament.

PM Kilman has a difficult task of managing 13 major and single political parties with three Independents, although he has proven he can run such a fragmented side under a coalition like in the last government.

And despite the decision of a National United Party (NUP) MP to stick with the Opposition and the recent passing of the late Minister of Infrastructure, Harry Iauko, the coalition government still enjoys the majority backing of 30 MPs.

The political parties that make up the coalition are People’s Progressive Party (PPP) with 6 MPs, NUP with 3, Nagriamel 3, Reunification Movement for Change (RMC) 3, Green Confederation 3, Iauko Group 2, Natatok 1, Melanesian Progressive Party (MPP) 1, Vanuatu National Party (VNP) 1, Vanuatu Republican Party (VRP) 1, People’s Service Party 1, Vanuatu Progressive Development Party 1, Union of Moderate Parties’ defector MP 1, and three Independents.

Currently the sharing of portfolios in government are as follows; PPP heads the Government through Prime Minister Sato Kilman and heads Parliament through Speaker of Parliament, George Wells; RMC has two portfolios and they are Finance and Education under Charlot Salwai and Steven Kalsakau; NUP has two and they are Trade Ministry and Land Ministry under Deputy Prime Minister Ham Lini and James Bule; Greens MP Toara Daniel is Internal Affairs Minister, Nagriamel MP Samson Samsen is Aviation Minister, VRP’s Pipite Marcellino is Minister of Ni-Vanuatu Business, People’s Service Party’s Don Ken is Minister of Health, Natatok MP Alfred Carlot is Foreign Affairs Minister, Iauko Group’s Tony Nari was recently appointed Public Utilities Minister and the two Independent MPs holding portfolios are Kalfau Moli from Luganville constituency as Minister of Agriculture and Thomas Lakin from Tanna constituency as Minister for Justice.

In terms of sharing of portfolios among provinces or islands, Sanma alone was given three ministries, including the Speaker’s position. The three ministers from Sanma are Pipite Marcellino (VRP), Samson Samsen (Nagriamel) both from Santo Rural constituency and Kalfau Moli (Independent) from Luganville Constituency. The Speaker is MP Wells who is also from Luganville Constituency.

The second province to get the high share of portfolio is Penama with four ministries although, three ministries are taken up by Pentecost MPs, namely Lini, Salwai and Nari and one ministry is under Ambae MP James Bule.

Shefa is third with three ministries held by MP Toara from Shepherds Constituency and MPs Kalsakau and Carlot, both from Efate Constituency.

Malampa Province has two MPs that have a portfolio, both from Malekula Constituency and they are Prime Minister Sato Kilman and Health Minister Don Ken.

Tafea has one portfolio in Minister of Justice, Thomas Lakin, from Tanna Constituency. The only province that does not have a say in the Council of Ministers is Torba Province.

Torba MP, Dunstan Hilton, sacrificed the position he held recently as minister of agriculture for the sake of stability in the coalition.

But this is not the first time that the Torba MP has relinquished a ministry as he has done a similar move in the past to give up the portfolio he held.

The sacrifice has earned and maintained PM Kilman’s coalition its numbers so far.

SOURCE: VANUATU DAILY POST /PACNEWS

14)Missing New Caledonian Youth Found Dead
Swept away last week when Cyclone Freda hit

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Jan. 7, 2013) – Two children in New Caledonia have found the body of a teenager who went missing in wild weather last week.

The local newspaper says the body of the 18-year-old from Houailou was found on Saturday.

He was carried away last Wednesday when a group of five young people tried to cross a river which had swollen by heavy rain in the aftermath of Cyclone Freda.

The tropical depression affected New Caledonia for several days and also claimed a life on Lifou where a man drowned.

Heavy rain and strong winds caused extensive flooding and disruptions across the territory.

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

15)University of the South Pacific trains leaders

By Online Editor
1:41 pm GMT+12, 08/01/2013, FijiFiji’s Public Service Commission and the University of the South Pacific have signed a memorandum of understanding for the Executive Leadership Development Training agreement.

The development program is to assist in training senior executives in the civil service and provide capacity building.

PSC permanent secretary Parmesh Chand said they were working on developing and implementing a public sector leadership development program to be mandatory for various levels of senior executives in the civil service.

Chand said the PSC had completed leadership training for about 40 per cent of the total number of officers in the senior executive cadre.

He said with the signing, USP would be expected to train the remaining 60 per cent.

USP acting vice chancellor Dr Esther Williams said the decision by the PSC to award the training tender to USP was a welcome move.

Dr William said they were happy to partner with PSC in the delivery of a crucial and important service to meet capacity-building and professional needs of the public service.

“We are committed to delivering high quality training and service,” Dr William said.

“The leadership training program proposes to assist managers and supervisors acquire competencies to deal with management and leadership issues that come with positions of responsibility.”

She said staff may have been working in their respective positions for some time and this push for leadership training would add value to what they do and could do in the future.

Dr Williams said the training intended to facilitate a number of key areas that include development of personnel and career goals and plans, familiarisation with roles of a leader and a manager and networking among management peers.

SOURCE: FIJI TIMES/PACNEWS

16)Fiji Methodists quashes rumours of new party role

By Online Editor
1:57 pm GMT+12, 08/01/2013, FijiThe Methodist Church in Fiji  has made it clear that it will not form or be involved in a political party for next year’s elections.Freedom of choice has been given by the newly elected leaders to congregations and individuals to support any political party.

Church general secretary, Reverend Tevita Nawadra has moved quickly to quash rumours that the church was working with some political leaders to form a new political party.

Some of the church’s previous leaders had a history of supporting nationalist causes and movements beginning from the coups of 1987 under then Lieutenant-Colonel Sitiveni Rabuka through to George Speight in 2000.

Church president, Reverend Tuikilakila Waqairatu soon after his election last year said, “There will be no politics under my leadership and the church will work closely with the government of the day.”

Some of the new plans being articulated by the church’s new leaders include:  Spiritual development of its members, Family support groups and education.

The general secretary added, “These are themes identified by church members that they think the church needs to focus on and requires improvement.”

Reverend Nawadra said, “The church needs to focus and unlike before, we are now going to plan properly and review our plans after every six months of operations  to see what we can improve on and better ourselves.”

He added, “Firstly, we are focusing on the spiritual wellbeing of each church group.

“The church needs to reach into these church groups so that it can build up individual members. Secondly, the church needs to refocus on education because the church can help in areas of education.

“Thirdly, family is important and needs to be kept together and looked after well.”.

SOURCE: FIJI SUN/PACNEWS

17)‘RFMF supports all Fijians’

By Online Editor
1:58 pm GMT+12, 08/01/2013, FijiThe Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) started Fiji’s new journey and will see that it continues until the 2014 elections, a top officer said.

Land Force Commander Colonel Mosese Tikoitoga has urged members of the public to bear with the military.

“The RFMF supports all Fijians and will at all times protect them and I urge you all to bear with the military until the 2014 elections,” Colonel Tikoitoga said.

He said critics of the military like Mick Beddoes can carry on with their criticisms against the RFMF but the military’s work would not be affected.

Colonel Tikoitoga said Beddoes’ criticism was baseless and his politics was for the old Fiji and not the modern Fiji.

He said in the last parliament, it was corrupt leadership that led the military to take over leadership.  After the change of leadership in 2006 reforms were put in place to build a better Fiji for all.

With regard to the RFMF releases on the draft constitution, Colonel Tikoitoga said they talked on issues.

He said one of the major issues the Government and the military had championed was the reforms and they would like to see that happening especially when they had brought changes effective to the people.

As for Beddoes (United People’s Party) and the Fiji Labour Party, they were speaking on things that only promoted themselves, he said.

“They should ask themselves if they have the support of the people they are claiming they represent.”

In his latest attack on the military Beddoes said, “I consider the Land Force Commander’s claim that the military are, ‘the last bastion of defence for the people of Fiji and that there is an enveloping comfort that the force exists to deal with both internal and external threats’, to be delusionary nonsense.”

“The truth is, since independence there has only been one clear and present danger to our people, their lives, rights and liberties, property and economic prosperity and that ‘threat is internal’ and our people have been subjected to its brutal imposition on three separate occasions in 1987, 2000 and 2006 and this ‘threat’ comes from the very institution that the Land Force Commander would have us believe is our ‘last bastion of defence.’

“It is hypocrisy of the highest order when the very institution that carried out or supported the forceful removal of our elected governments of 1987, 2000 and 2006 should attempt a cosmetic makeover in an attempt to represent itself as quote ‘the last bastion for law and order in Fiji’ unquote.”

Colonel Tikoitoga said one of the reasons why the 1997 Constitution was abrogated was because it promoted discrimination. This old politics is again promoted by these political parties and the Land Force Commander has reminded them that their politics is for the old Fiji and not the Fiji that Government is currently building.

The RFMF will continue its support for the Government until a new government is democratically elected in 2014, he said.

Only after the elections will the soldiers return to the barracks. Some, according to Colonel Tikoitoga, want the soldiers to return to the barracks now, but this would not happen.

“We started this new journey and we will be with the Government until the handover is made in 2014.”

The Prime Minister and Commander of the RFMF, during his visits to the people in rural areas, have heard requests for him to continue with his leadership as they were happy with what they were getting. In fact they had been ignored by past governments.

SOURCE: FIJI SUN/PACNEWS

18) Fiji Constitution Commission Member Contradicts Ghai
Satendra Nandan claims no interference in commission’s work

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Jan. 7, 2013) – A member of the Fiji Constitution Commission is reported to have countered claims of interference by the commission’s chairperson.

The Fiji Sun reports that Professor Satendra Nandan told the newspaper the work of the body was made easier by the fact that there was no interference.

That contradicts the claims of massive interference from the interim government made by the commission’s head, Professor Yash Ghai.

The draft constitution, which is based on 7,000 submissions, was made public a week ago.

Professor Nandan also told the Sun the commission did not decide to print extra copies and he had been unaware of the 600 being printed by Professor Ghai.

The new constitution is to replace the 1997 document, which the regime abrogated nearly four years ago when the appeal court ruled that the post-coup interim government was illegal.

The interim prime minister is to appoint a Constituent Assembly to finalize the document.

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

19)Fiji’s Western Division Still Recovering After Cyclone Evan
Majority of repairs completed, power and water being normalized

By Repeka Nasiko

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Jan. 7, 2013) – More than two weeks have passed since Tropical Cyclone Evan left a trail of destruction in Fiji’s Western Division.

However, rehabilitation works continue to be carried out by local authorities. The following is a rundown of the costs of repair works that has been carried out so far by government departments and municipal councils in towns that bore the full brunt of Tropical Cyclone Evan last month. The figures were confirmed at an operational meeting of heads of government departments in Lautoka last week.

Sigatoka

A total of 33 homes were severely damaged with restoration works set to cost government FJ$528,000 [US$297,264]. More than 80 percent of the town has been cleaned up, while electricity supplies have been restored to 86 percent of affected areas and water supply to homes have been fully restored.

Nadi

Ninety houses excluding business houses, schools and government quarters were either partially or completely destroyed by TC Evan and authorities have pegged the cost of repairs at FJ$6 million [US$3.4 million]. 75 percent of clean up works have been completed by authorities.

According to the Water Authority of Fiji, water supply has normalized while some areas could still experience intermittent supply.

Lautoka

The hardest-hit centre in western Viti Levu recorded a damage bill of FJ$1.9 million [US$1.07 million] for repair works to 329 homes and buildings, excluding government-owned facilities that were either partially or completely destroyed.

According to the Public Works Department, repair works of damaged windows and roofs at the Lautoka Hospital would cost FJ$284,000 [US$159,892]. Government quarters that were severely damaged in Lautoka would cost FJ$879,000 [US$494,877] to repair and a few houses along Tagimoucia St. have been deemed structurally unfit for habitation. Power supply restoration has reached 79 percent of homes while water services have been fully restored.

Ba

The bill for repair works to the 117 homes that suffered damage has been pegged at FJ$523,000 [US$294,449]. Power supply has yet to normalize despite the fact that all water systems and sewer pump stations were operating normally. Four water trucks are servicing Maruru, Field 27, Tauvegavega, Benai and Korovuto.

[PIR editor’s note: Meanwhile, authorities in the West have confirmed that 86 schools have been completely destroyed, the majority of which were in Lautoka. The destruction is expected to affect about 29,000 students. Fiji’s Interim Minister for National Disaster Management, Lieutenant Colonelo Inia Seruiratu, claims that because of preparations made soon after early warnings were given, Fiji avoided greater damage from Cyclone Evan.]

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

20)Fiji pro-actively preparing for disasters: minister

By Online Editor
2:02 pm GMT+12, 08/01/2013, FijiFiji suffered less damage from Cyclone Evan because of better preparation, says the country’s Minister for National Disaster Management.

A state of disaster was declared after Evan hit the Pacific island nation last month, causing widespread damage to several cities and forcing thousands of people to flee their homes.

Lieutenant Colonel Inia Seruiratu says preparations began as soon as the cyclone watch was started by the Fiji Weather Service.

He told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat Fiji is putting less emphasis on recovering from disasters, and more on minimising the risk of damage.

Lieutenant Colonel Seruiratu says it’s not just luck that saw Fiji escape with less damage than Samoa.

“It is a need for us to shift from a culture of reaction to a culture of prevention,” he said.

“We need to be proactive, and we need to do a lot of planning and we need to do a lot of analysis because if we prepare, well then obviously, the cost and the damage can be minimised.”

Fiji authorities are still working to restore electricity and water supplies in the cyclone-damaged Western Division and some island communities.

Meanwhile, 86 schools in the West were completely destroyed in the height of Cyclone Evan, affecting 29,000 students, Commissioner Western, Commander Joeli Cawaki confirmed.

Out of the 86, 22 primary and six secondary schools were destroyed in Nadi, in Lautoka there were 38 primary and eight secondary schools while for the Yasawas there were 11 primary schools damaged and one secondary school. For rehabilitation works in affected schools, the Fijian government has allocated $1.3 million (US$730,000).

Cawaki has advised all school managements to engage with their contractors and liaise closely with their divisional office in the West.

Divisional education officer western, Lorima Vorovoro said all minor repairs should be completed by 20 January.

“For major repairs all works should be completed by 30 January,” Cawaki said.

In Samoa, Cyclone Evan killed five people and displaced more than 4,000 thousand before hitting Fiji.

At least 12 people are still missing in Samoa in the wake of the devastating cyclone.

RADIO AUSTRALIA/ FIJI LIVE/PACNEWS

21)Tonga Foreign Fishing License Fees ‘A Teardrop In The Ocean’
Local fishing industry functionally ‘dead’ in Tonga

NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Jan. 8, 2013) – The decision by the Tongan government to sell12 Tuna Fishing Licenses at about $13,000 per license has been justified by fisheries officials “as better to get something out of fisheries, than nothing at all.”

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries started actively selling annual tuna fishing licenses to foreign fishing boats after it discovered that its fishing industry has died.

The latest deal has been well publicized after the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Hon. Sangster Saulala signed a MOU with 12 foreign fishing boats, allowing them to fish in Tonga’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) for a year, for a fee of about $154,000. These fishing boats agents in Tonga are Mosese Fakatou and Charles Chen.

The move according to Semisi Fakahau, a Fishery Consultant would mean that during 2013 there will be a total of 24 tuna fishing boats fishing in Tonga’s 660,305 square kilometers EEZ. Twenty two of these boats are foreign fishing boats and only two locals.

Most of these foreign fishing boats will ship their catches straight overseas, and will not need any supporting services from any local sources, because the local infrastructure do not have the capacity to meet their demands. Therefore depriving government and Tonga, some argued, millions of pa’anga.

Those who are against the move by government to issue ‘cheap’ tuna fishing licenses to foreign fishing boats argue that the license fees that government is getting are ‘a tear drop in the ocean.’

Viliami Mo’ale, a fishery official said that in 2004 Tonga had more than 33 tuna fishing boats, 13 of them were locals and the rest were foreign owned.

He said that since 2004 there was a move to reserve fishing rights only to local fishing companies. The conservation of the fish stock was highlighted as a matter of priority, and to protect the livelihood of local fishing companies was a matter of prime concern.

While this was going on, the USA has also struck a regional Tuna Fishing agreement with the 14 Pacific Forum Islands countries, allowing the USA’s purse seine fishing fleet into their EEZ.

Semisi Fakahau pointed out that fishing for tuna became a very competitive industry that the Tongan Fisheries Division and the industry could not cope with, and that was why the industry has been declared dead. Some of the fishing boats have been tied up, and they could not be used for anything.

“To rebuild the industry we have to start from zero,” Semisi believes that for a start, “Fishery should be a ministry in itself, and not one of the divisions of the Ministry of Agriculture, because there is an enormous amount of work to be done to rebuild the infrastructure, a fishery wharf and a fish market.”

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

22)Samoa Government Urged To Probe Flooding
Vaimauga residents blame unsecured power company dam

By Jasmine Netzler and Kerstin Ofisa

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Jan. 7, 2013) – In Samoa, hundreds of people in Vaimauga whose homes, properties and businesses were wiped away by flooding during Cyclone Evan want answers.

They want the Government to investigate the cause of the flood.

They say Cyclone Evan cannot be blamed entirely for the unprecedented flooding that has left them with millions worth of damage.

Many of them claim that the flooding was the result of the Electric Power Corporation’s (EPC) Alaoa Dam being left opened.

Some of them live just below the dam. They say the massive pipes couldn’t contain the water and when they broke, “it created chaos.”

Nearly a month after the cyclone, the memories of what happened are still fresh.

Tiauli Lelea, 50, was in his house when the Faleole Fe’e, Maualuga, Puleilei Falls, Alavai o le Moli, and Alaoa streams that lead straight into the Alaoa channel burst.

“I’ve lived here all my life and there hasn’t been anything like this before,” he said.

“There’s only one reason why those villages were wiped out by the water and I think EPC didn’t close the Alaoa Dam. They left it opened causing the water from the rivers that feed the dam to spill straight to areas below.”

Mr. Lelea said the broken pieces of pipes show how strong the water flow was.

“The water didn’t crawl in slowly,” he said. “It came at a such a speed that we didn’t have time to react. The flooding only lasted about twenty minutes.”

So how does he know that the dam was left opened?

“We can see it from where we live when they clamp the locks down to close the river from rushing into the dam. It’s always opened and I don’t know how they determine when to open or close it. If they had locked it down that day, the destruction wouldn’t have been so bad.”

Having lived in the area for a long time, Mr. Lelea said he knows how the river works.

“We know when it naturally bursts,” he said. “What happened that day was not natural, there had to be something.”

Mr. Lelea said massive water pipes like “the size of a tunnel” run through his village. “So when these water pipes broke, there is nothing we could’ve done. The water was devastating, it was scary.”

Mr. Lelea said if the water pipes were buried, the damage could have been minimal.

“I really believe there should be an investigation into what caused the flood,” he said. “Many people who live further down the river whose homes were destroyed don’t know but they should be told.”

The other areas severely affected were Magiagi, Lelata, Leone,Alaoa, Fa’atoia, Matautu, Apia Park, Leone and Vaisigano.

Mr. Lelea lost a cousin in the flood. His parent’s brick house was also destroyed.

“The water dug up my 13-year-old sons’ grave that was outside my parent’s house which wasn’t even two years old. That’s all gone now, not to mention my own house just meters before the Alaoa Dam.”

Mr. Lelea’s neighbor, Faitala said questions should be asked of EPC.

“The EPC workers usually leave the dam open and this was the case when the flood struck. There was just too much water that it even broke the filter that was in the dam.”

Faitala said the dam is now filled with logs.

“Up until now, no one has come to clear those logs and day by day, the smell from the dam is getting worse.”

Fialauia Hunt, who lives on the mouth of the river and behind the Samoa Water Authority (SWA) compound said the flooding during Cyclone Evan was “something else.”

“The two streams broke at the same time meeting together at one place and it swept everything in its path,” she said. “We thought that it was a normal flood however when the electricity pole next to our house fell and the water started to rise over the bridge, we knew then that something worse was on its way.”

Ms. Hunt said they immediately alerted the other families nearby.

“We started running up the hill for safety.”

According to Ms, Hunt, the flood covered the entire area – damaging most of the houses including the water catchments owned by the Samoa Water Authority (SWA) and the dam at Alaoa.

The flood also washed away the bridge used by villagers to travel from Alaoa to Ueligitone at Magiagi, said Vaitu’utu’u Asoleaga.

This was the only link between the two villages.

“It will take ages to recover this mess and the dam is completely damaged. Logs from the mountain filled up the whole dam and it’s going to need a lot of work to clear it out.”

Repeated attempts to get a comment from EPC were unsuccessful.

Samoa Observer: www.samoaobserver.ws/

23)Palau Ranks In Top Ten ‘Ethical’ Travel Destination List
Samoa, other island states high in ranking

By Aurea Gerundio-Dizon

KOROR, Palau (Island Times, Jan. 7, 2013) – For the third time, Palau is recognized as one of the World’s Ten Best Ethical Destinations by Ethical Traveler.

Ethical Traveler is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization from Berkeley, California. It reviews the policies and practices of hundreds of nations in the developing world every year. The organization then selects the 10 that are doing the most impressive job of promoting human rights, preserving their environment and upholding civil society – all while creating a sustainable, community-based tourism industry.

Since 2011, Palau has been chosen as one of the top 10 ethical destinations.

Joining Palau in the top 10 in 2013 are Barbados, Cape Verde, Costa Rica, Ghana, Latvia, Lithuania, Mauritius, Samoa and Uruguay.

In the Ethical Traveler’s website, the organization noted that island states (including Palau, Barbados, Cape Verde, Mauritius and Samoa) are again a strong presence in this year’s top 10 list. “These states understand that islands will be severely impacted by climate change, and are therefore taking the vanguard in progressive environmental policies,” the organization said.

Ethical Traveler equally recognized Palau, Samoa and Maritius for putting strong emphasis on greening their economies and implementing sustainable development programs. The three countries have reportedly shown high regard for the environment and responsible tourism is being promoted.

Ethical Traveler said Latvia and Lithuania, along with Costa Rica and Uruguay, scored highest in environmental protections.

Cape Verde’s effort to reach 300 percent renewable energy is described to be a notable environmental success. Ethical Traveler disclosed that Cape Verde has increased its total installed renewable capacity by 751.14 percent, indicating a decisive movement toward sustainability and away from fossil fuels.

On human rights, Ethical Traveler said Palau, as well as Cape Verde, Costa Rica, Lithuania and Uruguay received the highest possible scores from Freedom House in the categories of Political Rights and Civil Liberties as well as high Press Freedom scores, even better that those of some developed countries.

Ethical Traveler said that no country, particularly those facing significant economic limitations is faultless. “Our goal is to encourage the behaviors we see as creating a safer and more sustainable world,” the organization said.

Ethical Traveler’s sources of information include Freedom House, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, World Bank, Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) Environmental Performance Index (EPI), UNICEF and the UN Development Program’s Human Development Report.

Island Times: www.islandtimes.us

24)Climate change blamed for heat

By Online Editor
1:49 pm GMT+12, 07/01/2013, Papua New GuineaGlobal warming maybe at its maximum as the country is currently experiencing unusually hot weather.

Senior meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Port Moresby, Kwekeina Maiwori, said. He said this may be due to the fact that the normal weather cycle has been broken as a result of global warming and climate change.

He said that the weather in general is affected because of global warming as the earth encounters fairly hot and fairly cold weather at certain points.

Maiwori said southern parts of Papua New Guinea will continue to experience extreme heat with temperatures at approximately 33 degree Celsius. This is currently felt by Port Moresby residents.

Also the changes in heat are currently felt this time of the year because Australia which lies south is now experiencing summer.

Summer is the warmest of the temperate seasons. Summer in Australia begins early December.

The summer months are December, January and February, as they are for the rest of the southern hemisphere.
Parts of Australia are experiencing extreme heat with temperatures soaring over 40 degree Celsius and this will continue for the next few days.

Maiwori said PNG is now experiencing much heat with no winds to distribute the heat.

“This time of the year, not much wind is experienced,” Maiori said, adding that the north westerly winds that blow at this time are fairly light.

The country’s wet season falls during this time when monsoon travels southwards to the equator, but according to Maiwori, along the wet season line there are breaks, meaning there will be no clouds in certain parts of the region.

This time of the year the country experiences rain.

The wet season begins in November and ends in May. Unfortunately the monsoon in the south has become inactive, according to the Weather office.

The weatherman also noted that changes in the heat are also determined by the movement of the sun.

SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS

25)Desperate need for unskilled workers in NZ

By Online Editor
1:33 pm GMT+12, 08/01/2013, New ZealandSome of Christchurch’s biggest employers are calling for more unskilled immigrants to be allowed into New Zealand to fill job vacancies.

While the city calls for tradesmen, engineers and management-level workers as the rebuild gets into full swing, some businesses say there is a similar need for those willing to do low-paid, unskilled work.

Trish Paterson, recruitment manager for Christchurch-based employment agency Ryan Recruitment, said many local companies were struggling to fill positions that required no qualifications or skills that can be learned on the job.

“It’s not so much that [jobs] are not available, but in a lot of cases they are paying minimum wage and there are other employers paying more, even if it is only 50c per hour, people will move jobs for that,” she said.

The company was even struggling to find people to stand with Stop/Go signs to manage traffic at road works.
Employers needed to adjust their expectations, she said.

“The old attitude ‘if they want the job they have to fit in with us’ is now unrealistic.

“Quite often it is about thinking outside the square . . . taking a more lateral approach and sourcing people that can be trained to do the job, perhaps people they would not have considered in the past.”

Most importantly, Paterson believed, Christchurch needed to bring in more immigrants.

“The work visa thing needs looking at. For example you get an Irish person who loves being here, contributes both with their efforts, adds to the local diversity and also their financial offerings to the region and often the country and they can’t easily extend or tweak their conditions; much to their frustrations.”

A spokesman for Sanford Ltd said the fishing company was understaffed, and desperately needed night-shift cleaners and factory process workers.

“The amount of applications we get are few and far between and the applications we are getting are not really of a level we want to take at the moment.

“A lot of the ones we’re getting are from overseas and they don’t have work visas and stuff so we can’t hire them anyway.”

People arriving in Christchurch were struggling with accommodation and choosing higher-paid work and becoming tradesmen. The company was looking abroad to solve its labour problem.

“It’s only going to get worse. We’ve been speaking to the CDC [Canterbury Development Corporation], and they’ve gone out and talked to other businesses and we’re all feeling the same.”

Fast-food chain McDonald’s was also struggling to find staff. Spokesman Kim Bartlett said it was down to the number of hospitality workers who have fled the city.

“It’s definitely a challenge to fill available positions at McDonald’s restaurants in Christchurch at the moment, across the board from crew members to management. We believe this is due to industry starting to pick up again, such as hotels reopening and hiring staff, whilst the labour pool has shrunk considerably since the earthquakes.”

A Department of Labour spokeswoman said it was being approached by employers looking for workers, and had established the Canterbury Skills and Employment Hub to help fill vacancies.

“Christchurch is presenting a lot of opportunities for people to go back into the work force. But a lot of them are now choosing which job they would rather do,” she said.

SOURCE: FAIRFAX NZ/PACNEWS

26)Fiji Rugby Union to announce sponsorship soon

By Online Editor
2:09 pm GMT+12, 08/01/2013, Fiji Fiji Rugby Union is expected to announce a major sponsorship to help in preparations for the Moscow Rugby 7s World Cup in June.

FRU CEO Manasa Baravilala said talks are still underway. He said they are also awaiting a reply from the Sports Ministry with regards to their 2013 budget allocation.

The funding will help Rugby House prepare a men’s and a women’s team for the global competition. In the meantime, the focus is on putting in place a best possible squad.

“Our first priority is to compete at the remaining tournaments in the current HSBC World Sevens series and from there pick the best players that will represent us in Russia,” Baravilala said.

Meanwhile, It  will be back to the basics for the Digicel Fiji sevens team as it begins its preparation for the third leg of the International Rugby Board (IRB) Sevens World Series to be held next month.

The 21-member national training squad marched into camp yesterday and assistant coach Timoci Wainiqolo was impressed with the 100 per cent turnout.

While not revealing much, Wainiqolo said they would concentrate on the basics to get the players in the right frame of mind for the Wellington and Las Vegas 7s tournaments.

The former Fiji 7s player said they would get all the logistics sorted out first before turning to the field from today.

“We hope the perfect turnout sets a good platform to our preparation for the upcoming tournaments,” Wainiqolo said.

“We are awaiting the head coach (Alifereti Dere) who will join us tomorrow (today) to lead the early stage of preparation.”

Fiji, which is placed third with 44 points in the 2012/13 IRB 7s series, is in Pool D with Portugal, Australia and Scotland for the Wellington 7s to be held on February 1 and 2.

The national side needs to win in New Zealand to stand a chance to claim its second series after winning the 2005/06 IRB 7s title.

Wainiqolo said they had not yet finalised who would lead the team to Wellington 7s.

Both Wainiqolo and Dere have applied for the visa and were awaiting the response from the New Zealand Immigration.

Fiji 7s 21-member squad: Jasa Veremalua, Ulaiasi Lawavou, Manueli Laqai, Lepani Botia, Peni Ravai, Jone Vota, Setefano Cakau, Nemani Nagusa, Mosese Saunivanua, Joji Ragamate, Viliame Navanua, Sakiusa Gavidi, Ilai Tinani, Emosi Mulevoro, Vucago Banitabua, Manasa Nayagi, Osea Kolinisau, Josua Tuiova, Eremasi Benito, Niko Verekauta, Samisoni Viriviri..

SOURCE: FIJI LIVE/ FIJI TIMES/PACNEWS

27)Window of opportunity for Boxing Fiji

By Online Editor
2:12 pm GMT+12, 07/01/2013, Fiji

There’s a huge window of opportunity for the Boxing Commission of Fiji, if it works hard and quick enough, to establish ties with the World Boxing Foundation (WBF).

WBF president Mick Croucher from Australia, met with local officials last week to provide advice on how the sport that has suffered in Fiji because of poor administration, can move forward.

“I spoke to the Boxing Commission and they seem to be good, they’re a new boxing commission. I’ve had a lot of experience worldwide in assisting sanctioning bodies, working with boxing commissions to develop boxing in their country like Fiji and Kenya. Now we’re looking at Nigeria.

A lot of countries only have boxing in their own country and they haven’t gone international because they don’t know the international dealings. I’ve helped them along the way and I figured that Fiji is close to home and if we develop into a good business here, I can see this being a resort because we’re only four hours on a plane from Australia, I can hop on a plane attend a fight and stop for a week.”

Croucher believes Fiji could form the nucleus to sanction WBF title fights from all over the world.

He adds as a reputable sanctioning body, it will be the perfect opportunity to get boxing in Fiji back on track, better than ever, before.

SOURCE: FBC/PACNEWS

28)Live: Catastrophic fire alerts as heatwave hits

Updated 8 January 2013, 21:01 AEST

More than 130 fires are burning across New South Wales as dangerous fire conditions remain prevalent across much of southern Australia. Follow our live blog for updates on the crisis also affecting Tasmania and Victoria.

A total state-wide fire ban is in effect across NSW, with a catastrophic rating in place for the Illawarra,Shoalhaven, Southern Ranges and Riverina. Many other areas are experiencing extreme danger levels.

More than 130 fires are burning across New South Wales as dangerous fire conditions remain prevalent across much of southern Australia.

The mercury skyrocketed above 40 degrees this afternoon, accompanied by strong winds – gusts of up to 100kph in some areas.

A southerly change has hit the far south coast but is moving slowly north, with the cooler air not expected to reach Sydneyuntil 4am at the earliest.

Fire crews across Victoria are also on high alert, with a large fire burning in the state’s south-west; and fires are flaring again in Tasmania.For more news go to :

http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/2013-01-08/live-catastrophic-fire-alerts-as-heatwave-hits/1070954

29)Dunalley : l’une des villes les plus touchées par les incendies

Posté à 8 January 2013, 8:31 AEST

Pierre Riant

Cette ville de Tasmanie est coupée de la capitale Hobart et de la péninsule de Tasman depuis le début des feux de brousse, le vendredi 4 décembre.

Le principal axe routier est toujours fermé et des bateaux sont arrivés sur place pour acheminer des secours. Les habitations et les bâtiments ne sont plus que des monticules de débris et des poutres de fer et des plaques de tôle ondulée calcinées et tordues . Si une centaine de maisons ont été détruites à travers la Tasmanie… 85 l’ont été à Dunalley

Nous avons recueillis quelques témoignages. Celui de Sandy Gray, un fermier local. Sa famille a survécu. Il nous a raconté comment.

GRAY : « En premier, ils ont été à la plage à côté de chez nous, mais la végétation du côté ouest s’est mise à brûler. On leur a dit d’aller plus loin. Ils ont donc pris la voiture et ont conduit le long du littoral jusqu’à un cap. Mais comme le feu continuait de s’approcher tout le monde est rentré dans l’eau pour s’éloigner de plus en plus loin.»

Mais quel âge ont les enfants ? Et à quelle hauteur était l’eau ?

GRAY : « Un enfant d’un an. 4 filles et femmes et mon beau-frère était là, c’est lui qui a conduit la voiture le long des côtes rocheuses…. »

Greg Mann, un habitant de Dunalley, et sa fille de 10 ans, Florence se sont abrités sous une jetée.

MANN : « Nous sommes rentrés dans l’eau et nous nous sommes cachés sous la jetée avec de l’eau jusqu’à la poitrine. Et quand le plus gros de l’incendie est parti, nous sommes sortis de l’eau pour nous abriter ailleurs. »

Ceux qui sont sortis de l’eau se sont réfugiés sur un terrain à l’arrière du pub de Dunalley. Sandy est une touriste de l’État du Victoria qui s’apprêtait à retourner à Hobart quand elle a été surprise par les flammes.

SANDY : « Nous avons fait demi-tour et nous avons garé la voiture derrière le pub de Dunalley sur un terrain déblayé, une mauvaise expérience. Il faisait très chaud avec beaucoup de vent et nous avons regardé tout ce qui brûlait autour de nous, en face de nous. C’était choquant. Vraiment pas bien »

Choquant également d’assister impuissant à la destruction de tous les biens des habitants locaux ?

SANDY : « Ça vous brise le cœur, je me sens si triste pour eux. Et cette région est tellement jolie. »

Julia Gillard, le Premier ministre australien, s’est rendue sur les lieux hier. Toute la nation est avec vous, a-t-elle déclaré tandis qu’une flottille de petits bateaux arrivait des quatre horizons pour approvisionner cette ville et cette péninsule ravagées par le feu.

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