Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 702

 

1) Warnings Issued As Wet Season Arrives In PNG
National weather office forecasts heavy rain, flooding

By Wanpis Ako

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Jan. 9, 2013) – Everyone in Papua New Guinea must be wary of the hazardous weather as it is likely to bring floods, landslides, thunderstorms and strong winds, the National Weather Service says.

“That is because the monsoon (wet) season has been well established nationwide so heavy rains will be experienced in the days ahead,” assistant director Jimmy Gomoga said yesterday.

Gomoga said more rain would be experienced in the Highlands, Southern and Morobe in February and March.

Already, there have been reports of floods and landslides in parts of Western Highlands, Jiwaka, Morobe and Chimbu.

“The cyclone warning still stands as we are in its season,” he said.

He said people living in the mining and deforested areas must be prepared for landslides.

“The current El Nino Southern Oscillation conditions indicate that normal wet conditions will be experienced.

“The wet season might exist for a very short period of time as it did not fully set in last November as expected,” Gomoga said.

He said in the past few days strong wind warnings were issued for the south coast of PNG but the winds died off.

Gomoga said after assessing the situation, the warning was shifted for people living on the north coast.

“The warning will be active for a week or so; we will assess and monitor the situation closely.

“The areas in the north coast include Vanimo, Aitape, Wewak, Bogia, Tomadand, Finschhafen and Vitiaz Strait, including West New Britain and the Bismarck Sea,” he said.

He warned all small craft to take extra precautions at sea, adding that aviation and maritime weather updates had already been sent and that people must keep abreast with weather updates in the media.

Gomoga said the maximum temperature reading for Port Moresby was 32 degrees but it reached 34 degrees last Saturday.

The National: www.thenational.com.pg/

2)Plans set for new PNG foreign policy

By Online Editor
3:07 pm GMT+12, 09/01/2013, Papua New GuineaPapua New Guinea’s Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Rimbink Pato says the government will develop a new “O’Neill-Pato” foreign policy to replace the foreign policies of previous governments.

Pato, who met with department staff at the parliament’s state function room  Tuesday , said a draft foreign policy was already in place and would be taken up for cabinet approval being taken before parliament.

He said the focus of the policy was unlike the foreign policies of former government and would be based on a constructive engagement in all aspects to achieve outcomes.

“The O’Neill-Pato foreign policy will be based on what approach is best to bring outcomes and how we should position PNG with our relationships with others to engage prosperity, stability and growth,” he said.

Pato said if there was a need to foster the relationship with old friends such as Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Britain, “then it has to be based on constructive engagements to achieve outcomes”.

He said the template to be developed was different from other policies, such as the “Look North” policy of Paias Wingti, the “Look North policy but Pacific way” of Sir Julius Chan and the “Friends to all and enemy to none” of Sir Michael Somare.

The policy would be based on the best approach to foster relationship to produce outcomes that would encourage prosperity, stability and growth in the country.

Pato said this was the year of implementation and called on all staff members to work together and not to treat the department as an ordinary public service department because “it is a premier department that will deal with all the growth in the country”.

He urged his officers to change focus and prepare for all the unprecedented economic growth to be experienced in the country.

He said although the department was working separately because it lacked an office building, “I urge you all to work together to achieve outcomes”.

Pato has made a submission to the national executive council for a building to house the department.

He said he would ensure that the department had a building of its own to have all the three divisions, foreign affairs, immigrations and trade, under one roof as in other countries.

He called for the support of department staff to make this plan a reality.

SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS

3) Solomons Leadership Commission Cannot Consider PM’s Case
Commissioner positions unfilled since September 2012

By Eddie Osifelo

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Jan. 10, 2013) – Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo is among four constitutional post holders mandated to appoint two new commissioners in the Leadership Code Commission (LCC).

The other three are Leader of Opposition, Attorney General and Chairman of Public Service.

The LCC cannot consider and investigate any case before it at the moment after the two-year terms of Fr. Fred Seda and John Saunana, expired last September.

Currently, one of the biggest cases before the commission is the misconduct case of Prime Minister Lilo filed by Forum Solomon Islands International (FSSI).

This was over allegation of an extra-marital affair.

Chairman of LCC, Emmanuel Kouhota said his office was unable to look into new cases since September last year because no replacements have been made.

He said currently his office is investigating cases brought before them during the time of two former commissioners.

“Under the normal process, the four will just meet and decide the names of two commissioners and submit them to Governor General for formal appointment,” he said.

Unlike the last appointment, Mr. Kouhota said it took about five months before formal appointment was made.

He said before that, it took about three months to make appointment.

Mr. Kouhota said under the law he can’t pursue any case without the two commissioners.

Solomon Star

4) Vanuatu : terrains à vendre au paradis…

Mis à jour 11 January 2013, 9:47 AEST

Pierre Riant

Des terres coutumières ont été louées à des investisseurs au grand désarroi des propriétaires coutumiers.

Ralph Regenvanu abc licensed 20130111

Ralph Regenvanu, ancien ministre des Affaires foncières et dirigeant du Parti Justice et Terres (Credit: ABC Licensed)

Peu avant Noël, James Bule, le ministre des Affaires foncières du Vanuatu, a donné son accord à la location d’un terrain de 2 300 hectares sur les hauteurs de la côte nord de l’île d’Efate. Les locataires seraient des investisseurs avec des connexions en Nouvelle-Calédonie.

Ce terrain surplombe l’île de Lelepa et l’un des trois sites du domaine du chef Roi Mata inscrit sur la liste du patrimoine mondial de l’UNESCO depuis 2008.
Cela fait maintenant 3 ans que les propriétaires fonciers de Mangaliliu et de Lelepa se battent pour la protection de ce site qui, selon l’UNESCO : reflète la convergence entre la tradition orale et l’archéologie et  témoigne de la persistance des réformes sociales du Roi Mata qui ont mis fin à des conflits qui restent encore d’actualité pour les habitants de la région.

Ralph Regenvanu, ancien ministre et dirigeant du Parti de la Justice et des Terres, ne cache pas sa déception.

REGENVANU : « C’est décevant de voir un ministre comme James Bule, un ministre de haut-rang, aller à l’encontre de la volonté des propriétaires coutumiers. Notre Constitution dit que c’est aux propriétaires fonciers coutumiers qu’appartient la totalité des droits fonciers des terres qu’ils possèdent. »

La terre est pour ainsi dire sacrée au Vanuatu et les chefs coutumiers de Mangaliliu et de Lelepa possèdent les dernières parcelles substantielles de terres coutumières sur  Efate, l’île principale du Vanuatu.  Conscients de la vulnérabilité de ces terres, les coutumiers ont trouvé un moyen novateur pour les protéger davantage. Siobhan McDonnell, de l’Université Nationale Australienne, est la conseillère juridique de ces chefs coutumiers. Voici ses explications.

MCDONNELL : « Au Vanuatu, vous êtes obligé de passer par un bail de location pour avoir une terre coutumière. Il s’agit d’une terre tribale et chaque parcelle de terre appartient à un chef. Et tous les chefs, à l’occasion d’une très grande réunion publique, ont décidé donner leurs terres coutumières au peuple. Tous les chefs ont donc confié leurs terres aux communautés de Mangaliliu et de Lelepa ; c’est le premier bail de la sorte. Nous l’avons déposé pour enregistrement au ministère des Affaires foncières et au lieu d’enregistrer le bail de ces deux communautés, le ministre à donner les terres à un homme de Mele qui, subséquemment et avec l’accord d’un autre ministre, a vendu le bail aux deux investisseurs impliqués. »

Une disposition controversée de la Loi sur la réforme foncière stipule qu’un ministre a un pouvoir de décision sur l’octroi d’un bail foncier quand une terre fait l’objet d’une dispute. Toutefois, selon Siobhan McDonnell, les terres de Mangaliliu et de Lelepa ne faisaient pas l’objet d’une dispute quand les ministres ont décidé de les donner à un Ni-Vanuatu de Mele. C’est après que la dispute a éclaté.

Le ministre des Affaires foncières de l’époque, Steven Kalsakau, a loué les terres coutumières en août dernier à un Ni-Vanuatu d’une autre région de l’île d’Efate: Mele.
Les propriétaires coutumiers de Mangaliliu et de Lelepa ont donc demandé de l’aide à la justice mais avant que la justice ne rende son verdict, James Bule, l’actuel ministre des Affaires foncières a approuvé le transfert du bail de 75 ans aux investisseurs : Michel Monvoisin et Ludovic Bolliet pour seulement 9 dollars l’hectare.
Ralph Regenvanu, lui-même ancien ministre des Affaires foncières, réclame l’ouverture d’une enquête officielle sur cette transaction.

REGENVANU : « Le nouveau ministre des Affaires foncières, James Bule, étaient parfaitement au courant de la situation à propos de ce bail et savait que les propriétaires coutumiers étaient contre et qu’ils espèraient que la justice leur donnerait raison. Mais il a quand même transféré le bail d’un individu d’Efate aux deux investisseurs, des éleveurs, et en ne tenant absolument pas compte  du fait que les propriétaires coutumiers allaient saisir la justice pour rectifier la décision du ministre pour souligner sa totale irrégularité. »

Les deux investisseurs ont clairement fait savoir que ces terres étaient destinées à l’élevage, mais les propriétaires craignent la création de lotissements de terrain pour construire des villas tropicales qui seront mises en vente. Siobhan McDonnel en profite pour mettre en garde des acheteurs potentiels.

MCDONNELL : « Souvent, des Australiens et des Néo-Zélandais qui passent quelques jours au Vanuatu pensent que c’est le paradis. Et, naïvement,  ils se lancent dans des transactions en étant persuadés qu’il n’y a pas de différence entre acheter un terrain au Vanuatu et acheter un terrain en Australie. Ce n’est pas du tout le cas. C’est beaucoup plus compliqué, il y a beaucoup de contentieux et vous devriez y réfléchir sérieusement à deux fois avant de prendre une décision. »

Des propos recueillis par Jemima Garrett.

http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/french/2013-01-11/vanuatu-terrains-à-vendre-au-paradis/1072568

5)Vanuatu Party Calls For Probe Into Controversial Land Leases
Land and Justice leader says ministers may have misused powers

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Jan. 9, 2013) – The leader of Vanuatu’s Land and Justice Party has called for an investigation into the transfer of a controversial parcel of land claimed by custom landowners.

Just before Christmas, Lands Minister James Bule approved the transfer of a 75-year lease on 2,300 hectares of land to investors.

The parcel of land, overlooking Lelepa Island and the Roi Mata World Heritage Area, is claimed by the Mangaliliu and Lelepa people.

The leader of the Land and Justice Party, Ralph Regenvanu, says he is concerned Lands Minister James Bule and his predecessor, Steven Kasakau, may have misused their power to lease land under the Land Reform Act.

Mr. Regenvanu says both ministers have acted against the wishes of traditional landowners.

“It is very disappointing to see a minister like James Bule, who is a senior minister, completely going against the wishes of the custom landowners which is what our constitution says, custom landowners are the ones who should have the total rights over their own land,” he said.

Mr. Regenvanu has called on Prime Minister Sato Kilman to investigate the transactions.

The original lease, made in August, is subject to court action.

Radio Australia: www.abc.net.au/ra

6)Vanuatu PM orders radio station to close

By Online Editor
3:43 pm GMT+12, 10/01/2013, VanuatuThe Prime Minister of Vanuatu has ordered a local radio station to close.
Sato Kilman has written to the management of Capital FM107 accusing it of breaching the broadcasting act and media ethics and abusing the freedom of press by airing unbalanced stories.

In the letter, PM Kilman also alleges that Capital FM 107 did not renew its license in 2010 as required by the broadcasting act and says authorities will carry out an investigation into the matter.

The radio station is also seeking legal advice.

The president of the Vanuatu Media Association, Evelyne Toa, says Vanuatu is a democratic country and should uphold the freedom of expression.

The Publisher of the Vanuatu Daily Post newspaper Marc Neil-Jones says he is concerned that the government may not be giving FM107 sufficient time to sort out any of the problems raised.

SOURCE: RNZI/PACNEWS

7)Bank Reports Cyclone Has Affected Fiji’s Economic Growth
Delays expected for private and public sector projects

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Jan .9, 2013) – The risks to Fiji’s growth projection have increased as a result of Tropical Cyclone Evan, the Reserve Bank said in their economic review of December, 2012.

He said that while the full extent of damages are yet to be ascertained, damages to infrastructure (housing, public utility and in the hotel industry), cane and non-cane crops, livestock and the loss of manufacturing and retailing hours are expected to provide downward impetus on the growth outlook.

And due to possible reprioritization of funds for rehabilitation activities the central bank says there is likely to be delays in the implementation of planned projects by both the private and the public sector.

Moreover, weak outcomes were noted for cane and sugar production and visitor arrivals for the month of December.

The RBF said that during the same period, due to a decline in domestic inflation and an increase in trading partner inflation, the Real Effective Exchange Rate (REER) index fell by 0.3 percent over the month.

According to the report, foreign reserves were around FJ$1,636.3 million [US$919.9 million] at the end of December 2012, sufficient to cover 5.2 months of retained imports of goods and non-factor services.

Fijilive: http://www.fijilive.com

8)Outside Interference Alleged In Fiji Constitution Commission
Military head claims commissioners ‘influenced by another country’

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Jan. 9, 2013) – Fiji’s military Land Force Commander Colonel Mosese Tikoitoga believes that the now dissolved Constitution Commission was influenced by another country.

Speaking to FijiLive, Tikoitoga said “we can assume now in hindsight that the commission was influenced by another country.”

He said because the commission’s work was funded by the AusAID, the 5-member team would have felt they were not answerable to the Fiji government and its people judging from their actions and comments.

“But, let it be known that the people are happy with the government. We have had feedback from the rural and the urban sectors who are happy with how things are and feel that there is no need for an election,” Tikoitoga said.

He said if anyone is in the wrong, it is Ghai and the commission members whose actions were not in line with an oath they had taken in High Court to follow the terms of the country which includes performing their duties within the confines of decrees 57 and 64.

“But, they did not. They went back on their words and said they wanted to be transparent and accountable. But, the fact remains that they took an oath to follow the set rules.

“They claim they want transparency and accountability for all Fijians. But in doing up the draft constitution they did not reveal who all were involved in the formation of the draft constitution.

“We now know it was not all the commission’s work as they had taken on advisors, unionists, political parties, NGOs that actually advised the commission on what the constitution should formulate. What does that say about transparency and accountability.

“And then there’s the commission that’s telling us that we need to go back to pre-2006, how does that happen. And then there’s Penny Moore who is speaking to overseas media about the criteria. Her responsibility and the commission’s is to look after the people’s interest and not further their own,” Tikoitoga said.

He reiterated that the Royal Fiji Military Force remained firm in their statement that the commission had no right under the decrees to disseminate and hold public consultation on the draft constitution.

Tikoitoga also admitted they would not be able to take any legal action against Ghai as no provisions were made in the Constitution Commission decrees about it.

He said these were not considered because the commission members were then believed to be “credible” people.

[PIR editor’s note: Meanwhile, Fiji’s government spokeswoman, Sharon Smith-Johns, says that while some documents were burned, 599 printed copies of the draft constitution were, in fact, “sequestered by police” by government orders in order to “preserve the integrity of the constitutional process.” Smith-Johns says that the only items burnt were shredded printing proofs, which were destroyed for “security reasons.”]

Fijilive: http://www.fijilive.com

9)Fiji military alleges foreign influence on Constitution commission

By Online Editor
4:21 pm GMT+12, 10/01/2013, Fiji Fiji’s military Land Force Commander Colonel Mosese Tikoitoga believes the now dissolved Constitution Commission was influenced by another country.

Speaking to FijiLive, Tikoitoga said “we can assume now in hindsight that the commission was influenced by another country.”

He said because the commission’s work was funded by the AusAID, the five-member team would have felt they were not answerable to the Fiji government and its people judging from their actions and comments.

“But, let it be known that the people are happy with the government. We have had feedback from the rural and the urban sectors who are happy with how things are and feel that there is no need for an election,” Tikoitoga said.

He said if anyone is in the wrong, it is Ghai and the commission members whose actions were not in line with an oath they had taken in High Court to follow the terms of the country which includes performing their duties within the confines of decrees 57 and 64

“But, they did not. They went back on their words and said they wanted to be transparent and accountable. But, the fact remains that they took an oath to follow the set rules.

“They claim they want transparency and accountability for all Fijians. But in doing up the draft constitution they did not reveal who all were involved in the formation of the draft constitution.

“We now know it was not all the commission’s work as they had taken on advisors, unionists, political parties, NGOs that actually advised the commission on what the constitution should formulate. What does that say about transparency and accountability.

“And then there’s the commission that’s telling us that we need to go back to pre-2006, how does that happen. And then there’s Penny Moore who is speaking to overseas media about the criteria.

Her responsibility and that of the commission was to look after the people’s interest and not further their own.”

He reiterated that the RFMF maintains its statement that the commission had no right under the decrees to disseminate and hold public consultation on the draft constitution.

Tikoitoga also admitted they would not be able to take any legal action against Ghai as no provisions were made in the Constitution Commission decrees about it.

He said these were not considered because the commission members were then believed to be “credible” people.

SOURCE: FIJI LIVE/PACNEWS

10)Fiji party leader calls constitutional process a scam

Posted at 22:53 on 10 January, 2013 UTC

The president of Fiji’s United People’s Party, Mick Beddoes, says the regime’s promise of a constitution in a fair and transparent process has always been a sham.

The interim government has dumped the draft constitution it commissioned last year and given its legal team until the end of the month to produce a new one.

It says the draft will then go to a constituent assembly for debate, and a new constitution should be in place by March.

Mr Beddoes, who was the opposition leader before the coup, says he had warned Pacific Islands Forum Foreign ministers in a meeting about what might happen.

He says the regime has managed to convince the international community to foot the bill for its scam.

“I alerted them to the fact that what is going to be put in place is rather an elaborate sham to lure the international community into believeing that some serious genuine steops are being made towards democratic rule. Their interpretation of democratic rule is based on how they see it not how the people see it.”

Mick Beddoes says he suspects the regime has already written up a constitution.

Radio New Zealand International

11)Fiji PM calls on politicians to join constituent assembly – if invited

Posted at 22:53 on 10 January, 2013 UTC

Fiji’s Prime Minister has called on political parties to continue to be involved in the country’s constitutional process.

The interim government has dumped the draft constitution it commissioned last year and given its legal team until the end of the month to produce a new one.

It says the draft will then go to a constituent assembly for debate, and a new constitution should be in place by March.

Commodore Frank Bainimarama says all those who are invited to be members of the Constituent Assembly should participate.

“This is not a time for point-scoring or thinking only about our individual interests, but to think about the future. It is a time to think about our country. To think about our children. To think about development. To think about improving the lives of our citizens.”

Commodore Frank Bainimarama says the copies of the earlier draft that were printed by the Ghai Commission, and confiscated by the regime, will be distributed during the Constituent Assembly process.

The New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister, Murray McCully, says the dumping of the draft constitution is a major step backwards.

“This is not flash, it’s a backwards step of some proportions, but it’s been the history of this whole process. This is not going to be a simple straight line towards elections and international credibility, there were always going to be steps forward and steps backward. This is rather larger as a step backward than I think any of us feel comfortable with.”

Murray McCully says New Zealand will however continue to help ensure there are fair and democratic elections next year, rather than walking away.

Radio New Zealand International

12)Fiji’s constitution to be ready by March: Prime Minister

Updated 10 January 2013, 19:39 AEST

Fiji’s military coup-installed government has announced the final draft of the country’s constitution should be completed by March.

Fiji’s military coup-installed government has announced the draft constitution will be released for review at the end of the January and should be completed by March.

In a joint press-conference broadcast live to people of Fiji on Thursday, the country’s President and Prime Minister announced the final constitution will be released in time to prepare for democratic elections in 2014.

Fiji’s President, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, said the new constitution should enforce the principles of democracy and promote opportunities for all Fijians.

“We cannot, as in the past, allow unelected people to make decisions for the rest of the general public,” Mr Nailatikau said.

Mr Nailatikau said it was “critical” that the constitution upheld the “fundamental principles of democracy, good governance, accountability, human rights and transparency.”

Mr Nailatikau criticised the draft of the constitution that was released last week, the preparation of which was led by Chairman of the Constitution Commission, Professor Yash Ghai.

“It [the draft] has unfortunately, perhaps, succumbed to the whims of the few who have had an interest in perpetuating divisions within our society,” Mr Nailatikau said.

He criticised the Ghai draft for being “very bureaucratic” and said the institutions it would create would require a “very bureaucratic structure.”

However, Mr Nailatikau highlighted several positives of the Ghai draft, including provisions on social and economic rights, good governance and accountability and independence of the judiciary.

http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/2013-01-10/fijis-constitution-to-be-ready-by-march-prime-minister/1072434

13)Tongan Prime Minister announced Cabinet for 2013

By Online Editor
4:18 pm GMT+12, 10/01/2013, TongaTongan Prime Minister, Lord Tu’ivakano has formally announced his Cabinet for 2013.

The announcement which was made on Monday makes slight changes to the titles of government ministries. The number of Cabinet Ministers will remain at 11.

Also noticeable is the much higher number of portfolios under the Prime Minister’s jurisdiction compared to other ministers.

A statement from the Prime Minister’s office also highlighted some of the national projects that government envisaged could benefit Tonga in 2013, included:

– Tonga’s connection to the outside world through a fiber optic telecommunication cable network in June.
– Implementation of Tonga’s Freedom of Information Policy in June.
– The completion of road improvement projects and urban development projects in June.

Following the announcement of Tonga’s 2013 Cabinet, Lord Tu’ivakano and Lady Robyn led a four-member delegation to the International Renewable Energy Agency IRENA 3rd General Assembly to be held at Abu Dhabi, United Arabs Emirates from 13-14 January. The delegation left Tonga on 9 January. Tonga is one of seven Pacific Island States that are members of IRENA.

The 2013 Cabinet line-up:

1. Prime Minister, Lord Tu’ivakano: – Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Minister for Defense, Acting Minister for Police, Fire Services and Prisons, Minister for Information and Communications.
2. Deputy Prime Minister, Hon Samiu Kuita Vaipulu:- Minister for Infrastructure
3. Lord Ma’afu –  Minister for Lands, Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources
4. Hon Dr ‘Ana Maui Taufe’ulungaki – Minister for Education and Training
5. Lord Tu’I’afitu – Minister for Health
6. Hon Lisiate ‘Aloveita ‘Akolo – Minister for Finance and National Planning
7. Hon Dr Viliami Uasike Latu – – Minister for Commerce and Tourism
8. Lord Vaea – Minister for Internal Affairs
9. Hon Clive Edwards – Minister for Justice and Public Enterprises
10. Hon Fe’ao Vakata – – Minister for Revenue Services
11. Hon Sangster Saulala – Minister for Agriculture, Food, Forests and Fisheries.

SOURCE: MATANGI TONGA/PACNEWS

14) La nouvelle Constitution fidjienne arrive en mars

Posté à 11 January 2013, 10:00 AEST

Pierre Riant

Nouvelle étape vers les élections de 2014.

Le gouvernement par intérim issu du coup d’État militaire de 2006 a annoncé que le projet de la Constitution sera rendu public à la fin du mois de janvier et que la rédaction de cette nouvelle Constitution devrait être terminée d’ici le mois de mars.
Dans une conférence de presse diffusée à la nation,  le Président de la République Fidjienne, Ratu Epeli Nailtikau, et le Premier ministre, Frank Bainimarama, ont souligné que la Constitution serait prête pour les élections démocratiques prévues en 2014.
Le Président fidjien a souligné que cette nouvelle Constitution permettra d’appliquer pleinement le principe de la démocratie contrairement à l’ancienne Constitution qui favorisait les Fidjiens de souche aux dépens de la communauté indo-fidjienne.

Terminée l’époque, a-t-il souligné, où des personnes non-élues pouvaient prendre des décisions au nom du peuple. /www.radioaustralia.net.au/french/2013-01-11/la-nouvelle-constitution-fidjienne-arrive-en-mars/1072576.

15)Australian firefighters race against time

By Online Editor
4:02 pm GMT+12, 10/01/2013, Australia Firefighters around the nation are racing to bring a number of blazes under control before an expected spike in temperatures and wind speeds.

Record temperatures earlier this week sparked massive bushfires across large parts of south-eastern Australia, with homes destroyed in Tasmania, Victoria and New South Wales.

Currently there are more than 100 separate fires burning across New South Wales, with 300,000 hectares of land destroyed so far.

The state’s Rural Fire Service (RFS) took advantage of cooler conditions in the south overnight to tackle three of the worst blazes.

RFS crews have worked around the clock in a bid to contain large blazes burning near Yass, Sussex Inlet and Cooma.

RFS Superintendent Matt Inwood says the overnight conditions were a blessing, but they will not last long.

“The cooler conditions have certainly assisted the firefighters on the ground in being able to get in and get some containment lines established around these fires, and indeed back-burn around some of those containment lines,” he said.

“We definitely will make the most of those conditions while we have them, but we’re very mindful of the warmer conditions expected over the coming week.”

Inwood says he is pleased with back-burning efforts so far, but added there is still much work to be done.

“For example we look at the Cobbler Road fire, which is burning about 10 kilometres to the west of Yass, that fire is a 14,000 hectare fire with a 94-kilometre perimeter around the edge,” he said.

“So firefighters have worked around the clock on that for the last 48 hours and certainly will continue throughout the day making the most of the cooler conditions.”

In Queensland 16 fire crews have spent the night strengthening containment lines to help bring a bushfire on Bribie Island, north of Brisbane, under control.

There is still no immediate threat to properties, but firefighters will be assessing the weather situation this morning.

A bushfire advice message remains in place for residents on the island.

Camping grounds and national parks will also remain closed until further notice.

The state is in for more sweltering weather today, with forecasters predicting temperatures will rise above 30 degrees Celsius in just about every town and city.

Senior forecaster Michael Knepp says it will be 32 degrees in Brisbane, 36 at Ipswich, 30 on the Gold Coast and 33 degrees on the Sunshine Coast.

He says western parts of the state including, Longreach, Winton, Mt Isa, Roma and Charleville will be scorching.

“Really most of the state is going to be hot. We won’t see a temperature under 30, unless you go to one of the islands,” he said.

“But on the mainland every single place in the state is going to be over 30 today, so over 40 in a lot of western Queensland, so that is not unusual for this time of the year.”

Tasmanian RFS deputy chief officer Gavin Freeman says the fire service is updating warnings and information as often as possible.

“We’re very aware that the message could wear a bit thin if it seems to be the same tired old message, but we just appeal to the community to bear with us,” he said.

“We’re doing the best we can to get accurate information to you, we understand and appreciate that it’s hard, it’s very tiring for you and the message sometimes sounds the same. But until we’re absolutely sure that everybody’s safe we’ll continue to put those warnings out.”

The fire that started at Forcett continues to burn out of control near the Forestier and Tasman peninsulas.

Fire crews are patrolling the fire to put out flare-ups but people in the Kellevie, Bream Creek, Eaglehawk Neck, Pirates Bay, Doo Town, Old Jetty Road and Blowhole Road areas are urged to remain vigilant.

But hopes are rising that there may not have been any lives lost despite the ferocity of the Tasmanian fires.

Meanwhile, in Victoria fire crews are still battling a near 7,000 hectare bushfire near Portland in Victoria’s south-west.

A meeting is being held at the Dartmoor Town Hall to discuss the fire-fighting strategy with locals.

The Victorian Government will consider emergency grants for people who lost their homes in a fire in the state’s west this week.

Nine homes were destroyed in the blaze which broke out near Chepstowe, west of Ballarat, on Tuesday.

Up to 1,000 head of livestock were killed and 12 vehicles destroyed by the fire.

The Deputy Premier, Peter Ryan, says the government will await insurance assessments before announcing further assistance, but immediate help will be available.

“Certainly in the first instance, we will be looking to make emergency grants to people who are actually in need of them, should it be that we can establish that there are folk there who are desperate to have personalised support,” he said.

SOURCE: ABC/PACNEWS

16)Matson-Owned Reef Shipping Begins Pacific Operations
Registered in New Zealand, but owned by U.S. company

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Jan. 9, 2013) – An American shipping operator Matson South Pacific Limited has begun its operations of the assets formerly owned by Auckland-based Reef Shipping.

The company has been registered in New Zealand and is wholly owned by Matson of the U.S.

Matson acquired vessels and about 1,500 pieces of container equipment from the Reef Group after it went into receivership last November.

Matson will provide a service to Auckland, Fiji, Nauru, Solomon Islands, Tahiti, Samoa, the Cook Islands, Niue, Tonga, Wallis and Futuna, Vanuatu, Tarawa, Tuvalu and Majuro.

Matson’s senior vice president Pacific, Vic Angoco, is overseeing the new venture, as well as the company’s operations in Hawaii, Guam and Micronesia.

A former All Black rugby player, Michael Jones, has been appointed as Matson’s strategic development manager.

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

17)Fiji National Rugby League hunts for manager

By Online Editor
3:33 pm GMT+12, 09/01/2013, FijiFormer Fiji Bati manager Ilaitia Naqau is among the applicants who expressed their interest in managing the national rugby league team to the Rugby League World Cup (RLWC) in England this year.

Fiji National Rugby League (FNRL) general manager Tomi Finau said they wanted to finalise the position by early next month.

With RLWC just a few months away, Finau said the role was important in ensuring Fiji’s successful participation at the world event.

“We need someone with the calibre to work closely with the Fiji Bati coach Rick Stone and liaise with the RLWC organisers on the participation of the national team,” Finau said.

“While almost half of the (manager’s) job is completed, we need someone who can carry on with the remaining assignments on schedule.

“This RLWC is very important to us as we aim to finish better than the last time.”

Finau said the position was open to everyone including those residing abroad.

“We would like to clarify that this position is a voluntary one but we will choose the best candidate available to us,” he said.

“We have already received interest from some people and we are looking for the right person because we will be dealing with some high-profile players during the RLWC and their welfare is very important to us.”

Fiji Bati, under the guidance of Jo Rabele, finished on the fourth place in the 2008 RLWC and new coach Stone has been working tirelessly with the local development officers to ensure the team surpass that rank in November.

SOURCE: FIJI TIMES/PACNEWS

18)East Asia Pacific Team side loses first match

By Online Editor
3:28 pm GMT+12, 09/01/2013, AustraliaPapua New Guinea dominated East Asia Pacific Team lost their first two day match to the host state Queensland in the Australia State Country Cricket Championship in Bunderburg.

The championship consisting of five state teams and three territory teams commenced on January 3 and will end on January 14, 2013.

Young Papua New Guinea batsman Lega Siaka produced a dazzling display of power hitting to rescue EAP from a perilous 5/24 to a competitive total of 180 before he became the last man out for 91 in an innings which included 10 fours and three sixes.

Siaka batting at No. 7 put on a partnership of 63 with vice captain Andrew Mansale, who departed for 40. Only two other team-mates Jason Kila (15) and Vanuatu bowler Patrick Matautava (12) posted double figures.

The bowling honors were shared with opening bowlers Trent Sorohan, Andrew Ware and left arm spinner Michael Salerno grabbing two wickets apiece.

Willie Gavera gave EAP the perfect start with the ball, having Brad Stout caught by keeper Jack Vare on the first delivery.

Wickets continued to tumble and when Queensland opener Todd Schloss was trapped lbw for 25, they were in dire straits at 5 for 38.

But Queensland’s experienced players Sean Fitzsimmons and Josh Mclean steadied the ship combining in an unbroken partnership of 58 runs.

The Queenslanders lost only one wicket on day two before passing the EAP total of 180 to secure first innings points.

The EAP boys fought hard on the field and managed to bowl the Queensland team all out for 294 with are healthy first innings lead of 116 runs with 36 overs remaining for the day.

The EAP batsmen then got the opportunity to bat their second innings which saw PNG batsmen Assad Vala blasting 97 runs of 95 balls to deny the Queenslander’s an outright victory.

The EAP team ended up with 4/167 in their second innings at the end of the match.

The EAP team played their second two day match against the Australian Capital Territory on Sunday.

SOURCE” POST COURIER/PACNEWS

19)Vanuatu Football Federation reschedules national league

By Online Editor
3:24 pm GMT+12, 09/01/2013, Vanuatu

Kick-off in the 2013 National Super League has been postponed by the Vanuatu Football Federation.

The country’s central competition was due to kick-off on February 2 in the Northern and Southern regions but has now been deferred until the end of May.

The decision to delay the competition follows the release of the 2013 OFC Champions League dates with VFF president Lambert Maltock saying the federation wants to accommodate Vanuatu side Amicale’s preparations for the tournament.

“This year will be a very busy year for Vanuatu football. Amicale will participate in the OFC Champions League, which begins in March,” Maltock says.

“So to help them prepare well VFF feels it is proper to reschedule the competition to begin after the Champions League has concluded.”

The country’s respective member associations will now have until March 29 to submit the names of their club champions.

SOURCE: OFC/PACNEWS

20)Trial ‘vital’ for Rugby League World Cup

By Online Editor
4:46 pm GMT+12, 10/01/2013, Papua New Guinea

PNG’s biggest failure on the international rugby league scene has been confidence playing away from home and the endurance to last until the end, says former Kumul and Residents XIII assistant manager Kera Ngaffin.

“That’s why this game against South Sydney and the rest of the team’s lead up preparation schedule is very important for the World Cup,” Ngaffin said.

His comments were supported by another former Kumul and Resident’s assistant coach Michael Marum.

“We definitely need a lot of games to fix up on certain areas of our game,” Marum said.

“It is an opportunity for the players to put their hands up and for us to really see not just their on-field performance but their discipline as well,” Marum said.

Ngaffin, a veteran of 14 tests, expressed his sentiments yesterday while confirming the progress of the Residents’ preparations two weeks before the “Return to Redfern” match on Feb 2.

“This is a grand opportunity, which we probably were not given much of when we were playing – to be exposed and build confidence playing away from home,” he said.

“Despite the circumstances, and if the proposed schedule goes ahead, the timing looks good.”

Ngaffin said that close contact with members of the team and regular updates on their progress according to the training programme initiated by coach Adrian Lam were “all positive”.

“I think, after the PMs XIII match, a very strong mindset and belief was established, and that has been great for the players.”

He also hinted at other possible trial matches against overseas teams.

“There is a possible match with Samoa or an Australian club in April and hopefully a return of the PNG Residents and internationals in June or July where the final team will be put together.

“Then there is the Prime Ministers XIII match just before the World Cup so we will make sure the best team is selected,” he said.

Ngaffin confirmed that administrative arrangements for the Sydney trip were almost completed before the team go into camp on Jan 27.

Meanwhile, Digicel Cup champions Agmark Gurias have started training and preparing for their Queensland, Australia, tour in February following the Residents’ trip.

The Gurias will play Queensland Cup side Northern Pride on Feb 23 followed by a match against a university team in on March 2 before they return for the start of the 2013 Digicel Cup season.

SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS

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