Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 708

1) Fiji thanks MSG support, Ratu Inoke
By Online Editor
3:09 pm GMT+12, 29/01/2013, Vanuatu
By Makereta Komai, PACNEWS Editor in Port  Vila

Fiji’s foreign affairs minister, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola has thanked the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) and its four member countries for their ‘understanding and support’ during the country’s political crisis.

Minister Kubuabola used the MSG Leaders Toktok session on Saturday in Port Vila to convey the ‘thanks and best wishes of the Prime Minister of Fiji, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama and her people for the MSG unwavering support.

“When the whole world was against us, it was the MSG that stood beside us, said Ratu Inoke.

The response of MSG countries represents the ‘Melanesian Way’ of dealing with problems confronting them.

‘We believe the action of the MSG was a right decision. It’s like dealing with a situation within a family, said Ratu Inoke.

He assured MSG Leaders that Fiji was on track to hold democratic elections and the government was following the timelines for proposed elections in 2014.

Solomon Islands foreign affairs minister, Clay Forau reiterated his government’s support for the current government.

“We stand behind Fiji and we are hopeful that Fiji will even be stronger after it goes to the polls in 2014.

“We have maintained our support for Fiji’s roadmap for democracy, said Forau.

SOURCE: PACNEWS/PACNEWS

2)Ol floods i hamarin Eastern Australia
Updated 29 January 2013, 9:46 AEST

Long Australia, ol floods long  south-east Queensland i kilim pinis fopla pipal bihaen long wanpla liklik pikinini man ibin dai long nait.

ABC niusmeri Maree Hawthorne i ripot olsem despla yangpla pikinini na mama blong en ibin kisim bagarap taem wanpla bikpla diwai ibin bruk na pudaon antap long ol. Tupla ibin wok long sanap na lukim ol bikpla hai wara ibin wok long ron long wanpla wara klostu long ples blong ol.

Despla pikinini husat ibin gat tripla krismas ibin dai long haus sik long nait.

Tripla man tu ibin dai long ol despla floods stat long taem ol bikpla ren na taem nogut ibin kamapim ol despla floods long Queensland.

Tede ol otoriti iwok long wuas gut long wari blong floods emi wok long kamap long siti blong Bunderberg we moa long 2,000 ol haus na ol narapla samting i kisim bagarap bihaen long mak blong ol wara blong Burnett River iwok long surik igo antap moa iet.

Tede bai oli surikim 130 ol sikmanmeri long Bundaberg haus sik igo long ol narapla haus sik long Queensland.

Long siti blong Ipswich mak blong  Bremer River ibin kamap aninit long bikpla mak em oli bin makim bai kamap long en, tasol nau oli wok long lukluk long bikpla riva oa wara emi save ron klostu long Brisbane siti.

Oli ting olsem despla riva bai kamap tu long mak em oli bin makim, tasol em tu bai no nap kamap long mak emi bin kamap long 2011 na kamapim bikpla bagarap long siti.

NSW

Long New South Wales, ol bikpla win, ren na taem nogut iwok long kamapim bikpla heve long siti blong Sydney tede.

Ashleigh Raper i ripot olsem Becky Gollings blong  State Emergency Sevice tupla pipal iwok long pas iet long kar blong tupla bihaenim ol floods emi kamap long  St Ives long North Shore. “We had our SES crews go out there and thankfully they were able to rescue those people.”

Oli ting olsem ol imegensi sevis bai go hed wantem wok blong kisim na halvim planti moa pipal bihaen long ol strongpla win, na ren bai bagarapim ol diwai na ol paua lain.

Tasol  Andrew Hague blong  Bureau blong  Meteorology itok despla taem nogut klostu bai pinis. “Ex-tropical cyclone Oswald is due to head offshore this afternoon and take the rain and the wind with it.” Mr Hague itok tu olsem, bai oli wok long kisim iet ol strongpla win pastem gutpla taem bai kamap.

http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/tokpisin/2013-01-29/ol-floods-i-hamarin-eastern-australia/1080194

3) Four dead in Australia floods, Storms sweep south after Queensland floods
By Online Editor
2:55 pm GMT+12, 29/01/2013, Australia

Two Australian states are bracing for a peak in floodwaters following the deadly aftermath of ex-cyclone Oswald.

Four people were killed in Queensland, where river levels in Brisbane were expected to peak this afternoon.

Australia’s defence force sent in two C130  heavy transport planes into the sugar town of Bundaberg to help evacuate all patients at the hospital as the city endured its worst flood on record.

The Burnett River was flowing at 9.4m and was expected to climb to 9.5m later today or tomorrow. That is lower than the 10m previously predicted but still half a metre higher than the 1942 record.

Up to 2000 people were already in evacuation centres after being ordered out of low-lying areas. Helicopters have been heard all day and night over the southeast Queensland city.

They rescued 1000 people who were marooned in North Bundaberg. Community Safety Minister Jack Dempsey said it was an historic time for the community.

“Their hearts have been ripped out, leaving behind their most  precious possessions behind and their homes,” he said.

“It’s going to be a long haul.”

Further south, the northern NSW city of Grafton was bracing for the biggest flood in its history after “near drought” conditions just days ago.

With the Clarence River rising upstream, more than 1000 people were issued an evacuation order this morning. They joined more than 1500 people who were told to leave yesterday.

And residents in the remaining parts of north and south Grafton have been warned to prepare to go.

The mayor of Clarence Valley Council, Richie Williamson, said there were a lot of worried people in Grafton.

“We are faced today with an unprecedented rise in the Clarence River and Grafton and no doubt downstream,” he told reporters at a State Emergency Service (SES) briefing in Grafton.

“We are in a dangerous situation that requires a timely response and I think the best thing to do is to evacuate … and wait for further information as we watch what is unfolding.”

Williamson said some people were protected by the town’s levee while others “have water under their house as we speak”

Four people have been killed by the storms in Queensland, with a three-year-old boy becoming the latest victim overnight.

The toddler was with his family watching floodwaters rise in northern Brisbane when a large gum tree fell on them.

He died later in hospital. His pregnant 34-year-old mother remains in a critical condition with several broken bones and severe head injuries after becoming trapped beneath the tree.

The body of a motorcyclist was pulled from Oxley Creek, south of Brisbane yesterday. He had been swept off a flooded bridge before horrified onlookers on Sunday night.
In Burnett Heads, near Bundaberg, an 81-year-old man died after falling off his yacht as he tried to secure it against wild weather on Sunday.

And a 27-year-old man, who is believed to have been disabled, was washed away on Sunday when he and his mother and step-father tried to cross a flooded creek near Gympie.

It is understood the man’s step-father was rescued shortly after the car was swamped, but his mother was forced to cling to tree for more than four hours before she could be saved.

Parts of Sydney were drenched in their heaviest daily rainfall totals in more than a decade as the storm system washed over.

Wind gusts of 100kmh were reported in Coffs Harbour overnight, but in Sydney the wind was not as fierce as predicted, peaking at 70kmh on Sydney Harbour.

A severe weather warning remained in place for the damaging winds, heavy rain and damaging surf.

Weatherzone meteorologist Brett Dutschke said Sydney was saturated in widespread rainfall totals of between 80 and 150 millimetres overnight, causing localised flooding in some areas.

The wettest area of the city was Frenchs Forest, which received 155 millimetres of rain since 9am local time yesterday.

Richmond was saturated in 111mm of rain, the biggest daily total in 16 years in the suburb, while Bankstown, Canterbury and Badgerys Creek recorded 100mm, the heaviest in 12 years.

SOURCE: FAIRFAX AUSTRALIA/AAP/PACNEWS

Emergency links

QLD: Weather warnings | Emergency Management Queensland | Qld Alert
NSW: Weather warnings | State Emergency Service
ABC Emergency
For help during a flood or storm call the SES on 132 500; for life-threatening emergencies call 000

4) Woman flees after sixteen years of abuse

THE wife of another policeman has fled Lae in fear of her violent policeman husband.
Now out of Lae and in a safe town, the mother of three recounted her terrifying ordeal of living with a mobile squad policeman husband who has treated her for the last 16 years as a “sex object as and when he wanted.”
She showed two large scars on both arms which she said resulted from her husband hitting her with an iron bar.
In fact she said the man had meant to kill her when she used both arms to protect herself from the iron bar, resulting in the serious injuries she received.
Both arms have now lost most of their lifting power and the woman says she cannot do heavy work with them. One of the arms has a pin inserted to keep it steady. The woman described her husband as a jealous man who would never allow her to talk to any policeman or male for that matter, demanding she stays home at all times.
She lost her well-paid job to stay home after he continued to call her employers demanding that she be terminated.
The woman told of her husband’s continuous extra-marital affairs, which has become well known in police circles, yet no senior officer has had the courage to stand up and do something about it.
“He doesn’t want me to talk about what he does with other women.
“One time he came home and showed me pictures he took with his mobile phone of his latest lover in compromising positions and telling me she was better than myself,” the woman recounted.“I have forgiven him so many times for what he has done to me but it seems my words only encourage him to do more,” she said.
The man is now living with a woman who has five children and goes home often to see his wife and children.
But the wife is no longer in Lae. She is away from Lae and now able to tell her story.
“He has violently abused me so many times and I live in fear of my life,” the woman said.
The Post-Courier contacted the police media unit about the woman’s story. Police Media Director Superintendent Dominic Kakas said the police force is not protecting its members. Mr Kakas said Commissioner Tom Kulunga has made it very clear that members who abuse their own wives and children are to be dealt with both administratively and criminally.
“In fact cases in which wives have laid an official complaint have been dealt with.
“However, in many instances, not just for police families, the cases do not see the light of day because the women withdraw the cases, for whatever reason. Usually it is after relatives intervene or when the woman cannot face the prospect of facing life without the bread winner.
“We have been mooting a support system for victims so that they can seek justice and not worry about where food is coming from or who is going to pay for the upkeep of the children,” Mr Kakas said. ( Phils Note: Well done PNG-All Melanesian Countries , should adopt/have a support system for the abused victims and their children.)
http://www.postcourier.com.pg/20130129/tuhome.htm

5) Illegal sales on PNG-SI border

DUTY- and tax-free alcoholic beverages from the Solomon Islands are openly available for sale in Bougainville.
The Solomons-brewed beer SB is on sale in mainland Bougainville whilst Saratoga, a pre-mixed alcoholic beverage, can be bought on the mainland and Buka Island.
Saratoga is available in two flavours – Whisky and Cola, and Vodka and Orange.
Saratoga is eight percent alcohol, making it around twice as strong as Papua New Guinea’s locally produced pre-mixed drinks.
One local Bougainvillian commented that “we have learnt this stuff is like Jungle Juice”.
This is a reference to strong home-brewed alcohol. “We know that we have to mix it with soft drink,” he continued.
If Saratoga is not mixed with soft drink, due to its strength,
it can have unexpected results.
Saratoga’s sweetness allows it to be consumed quickly and the consumer gets very drunk fast.
In Australia, these types of drinks are known as “alcopops” because they are popular with young people.
They are taxed heavily in that country in an attempt to make them too expensive for youths.
Both Saratoga and SB are sold in Bougainville for around the same price as Papua New Guinea’s SP beer as no import duty or
tax is paid on it when it is brought in from the Solomon Islands.
This is because there is no customs and quarantine border post between PNG and the Solomons.
As a result, alcoholic drinks are able to be brought into the
country freely and without penalty.
The potential for other contraband, including drugs and weapons, to enter the country unchecked is obvious.http://www.postcourier.com.pg/20130129/tuhome.htm

6) Shortlanders share a lot in common with B’ville

By DAVID LORNIE in BUIN

DESPITE being Solomon Islanders, the people of Shortland Islands live closer to Papua New Guinea than their own country.
So close are the islands to PNG that residents can pick up the Digicel mobile phone signal transmitted from Bougainville.
The Shortlands are less than two hours by dinghy from Buin, South Bougainville – but to get to the Solomons mainland takes two days by boat. Most choose to board the Solomon Airlines twin otter to Honiara.
The Shortlanders are traditional border crossers and have much in common with the Bougainvillians.
A group of Shortlanders travel early every Saturday morning to sell fish and other seafood at the Buin market. They return in the evening carrying money, sweet potatoes, store goods and sometimes SP beer.
Dominic Aisa, 38, makes the weekly trip to Kangu beach, Buin. He has a small retail shop on Fauro, a small island with just three villages and, he estimates, around 1000 people.
“We bring fish and clams,” Dominic says. “We return with potatoes and shop goods to sell.”
He and his fellow traders leave Fauro at around 3.30am and arrive at Kangu after five to jump on waiting landcruisers that take them to the market, a short drive from the beach.
Once at the market you cannot tell the Shortlanders from the Buin locals.
There has, over the years, been intermarriage.http://www.postcourier.com.pg/20130129/tuhome.htm

7) Solomons Leader Calls For Release Of Reconciliation Report
Guadalcanal premier says public has right to know

By Elliot Dawea

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Jan. 28, 2013) – Guadalcanal premier Anthony Veke has renewed his call for the government to take the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) parliament in the Solomon Islands.

The Government held onto that report, and said it contained sensitive information that may cause problems if the report was released publicly.

But Veke said the recommendations made in the report were important for the national to be aware of so that it does not go down the path it went from 1998 to 2003.

“I urge this government to release the report before its term ends,” Veke said. “It was unbelievable the government could be holding on to a report that it should be acting on.

“The public has every right to know the root causes of the recent civil unrest and so I urge the government to take the report to the next sitting of parliament,” the premier said,

He said what the government was now doing was politicizing the report, which should not be the case.

Veke said the government had no right to hold on to that report because it was a public document.

Meanwhile, East Choiseul MP Manasseh Sogavare said the onus was on the prime minister as head of the government to table the report to parliament.

Sogavare said there was no valid reason for the government to hold on to the report.

He said the recommendations in the report were important for the future peace and security of this nation.

Solomon Star

8) SIBC’s long serving journalist dies
By Online Editor
2:26 pm GMT+12, 29/01/2013, Solomon Islands

The Solomon Islands Broadcasting Cooperation (SIBC) and the Solomon Islands media family have lost one of its long serving members.

Joseph Inomae died Sunday morning.

He joined SIBC in 1982 as a news cadet and climbed up the ranks to the Editors position till his passing.
He worked within the news and current affairs department.

On Monday afternoon media representatives, relatives and friends farewelled the late Inomae at his funeral held at the SSEC Central church in Honiara.

The body of late Inomae will be transported to his home village in North Malaita for burial.

He was survived by his wife and four sons.

SOURCE: SOLOMON STAR/PACNEWS

9) Marae not on table of AFP/Vanuatu discussions
By Online Editor
2:46 pm GMT+12, 29/01/2013, Vanuatu

Talks have been held between Vanuatu officials and Australian Federal Police (AFP) on the possibility of the AFP funding the Vanuatu Police Force but the former Prime Minister’s political aide, Clarence Marae’s case has not emerged.

First Secretary to the Prime Minister’s Office  Richard Kaltongga told a Press Conference that AFP and Vanuatu have had discussions of how Australia could fund the Vanuatu Police, particularly the Vanuatu Police College.

Apparently there was no mention of PM Sato Kilman’s First Secretary Mr Marae, who was part of the Vanuatu Prime Minister’s delegation that received an “undignified” welcome by Australian Police May last year and had Mr Marae arrested on money laundering charges.

At that time Australian officials made Vanuatu PM Kilman’s delegation fill out immigration forms and arrested when the Vanuatu delegation was reportedly only in transit.

Vanuatu retaliated by deporting 12 members of the AFP who had been in Port Vila attached with the Vanuatu Police and strained relations between Port Vila and Canberra.

A Police officer told the Daily Post that when the AFP was ordered to leave the budget they allocated the Police College was halted and the recruitment of new Police intakes came to a standstill.

This has affected tremendously the government’s initiative of bringing the number of Police around Vanuatu to over 900 and has been like that until both Vanuatu and Australia realize the importance of security in Vanuatu and AFP and Vanuatu re-opened dialogue last week.

Kaltongga agreed both countries shared the view that security should be boosted and the AFP should come back to Vanuatu with their aid money but with specific instructions on what is expected of them.

Daily Post asked what has happened to Marae who has now spent nearly seven months in a foreign prison in Australia but was told that Marae has a lawyer and is visited by our High Commissioner in Canberra, Kalfau Kaloris.

And no one at the press conference held at the Prime Minister’s office Friday last week said AFP officials apologized for the manner they treated the Vanuatu Prime Minister last May.

SOURCE: VANUATU DAILY POST/PACNEWS

10a)Vanuatu Chiefs Express Interest In New Airport Proposal
Council discussions result in positive feedback from landowners

By Len Garae

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Jan. 28, 2013) – The Chairman of the Vaturisu Council of Chiefs Chief Andrew Kalpoilep and his Secretary General Chief Jimmy Meameadola have received expressions of interests verbally as well as in black and white from landowners from Erakor, Eratap and Eton as well as North Efate for the possibility to build a new international airport on their lands in Vanuatu.

They announced their initial findings in an urgent meeting with the Secretary General of Shefa Province Michel Kalworai yesterday.

Shefa Provincial Secretariat mandated the Vaturisu Council of Chiefs to discuss the request by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade and Tourism, Ham Lini, for the chiefs and landowners of Efate to decide if the island can accommodate a bigger international airport.

The Deputy Prime Minister requested the Shefa Secretary General to consult the Vaturisu over the project only on January 11.

A new airport of that size comprising approximately 3 kilometers of land is necessary to take 747 and 767 planes with a capacity of 400 and 300 passengers.

Vaturisu has moved at super speed to process the request and now, it is analyzing their expressions of interest with a view to holding meetings with companies that own plantations on the lands under consideration.

The Vaturisu will report back to the Shefa Provincial Secretariat shortly in order for the Secretary General to put the cards on the table for the Government to decide on.

Chief Kalpoilep wishes to thank all those landowners for their expressions of interest in the project saying they too see the potential economic impact on the prosperity of the country by way of work opportunities and substantial financial benefits.

Meanwhile Studio Five North has reported Sanma Provincial Secretariat as saying that Santo as the biggest island in the country has more than enough space on which to build the international airport, that Efate has all the major developments so far.

Broadcaster James Moli asked the Director of Tourism Development Office, George Borugu whether he thought Efate or Santo had the space to accommodate the new airport and Borugu replied, “Santo has great potential in terms of space but the people of Santo have to change their mentality first in order to allow such a project to be built here”.

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

10b) Australian company on track for geothermal plant in Vanuatu

Posted at 01:43 on 29 January, 2013 UTC

An Australian energy company is set to start drilling as part of a new geothermal project in Vanuatu.

Last week the Minister of Lands, James Bule, granted KUTh energy a licence to set up a geothermal plant on the main island of Efate.

KUTh’s managing director, David McDonald, says that if a big enough reserve is discovered the results could be revolutionary for Vanuatu.

“We’re putting this power plant on the north of the island of Efate, the main power demand is in Port Vila on the South of the Island. The power only extends 15km or so out of Port Vila. But already the transmission lines are now being extended and our power plant will allow them to be extended further. So it’s really going to open up a complete coastal corridor for development.”

David McDonald says the plant will also be good for the environment because most of Vanuatu’s power is generated by diesel.

Radio New Zealand International

10c) New Caledonia’s new TVs face challenges

Posted at 01:44 on 29 January, 2013 UTC

A campaign against two new television stations to be launched in New Caledonia is picking up momentum.

The French agency in charge of broadcasting last week approved the applications of NCTV and NC9.

The Caledonia Together Party says it will use all means possible to stop NC9 which it says will use lotto money and public funds to give a present to the politicians of the rival Rassemblement-UMP.

An online petition has also been launched by an anonymous individual against the two stations, saying no public money should be spent on feeding the dreams of megalomaniac politicians.

It alleges that the stations lack the breadth needed ahead of key decisions, which is an allusion to a possible referendum on independence from France after 2014.

NC9 says it will run two newsrooms to be as comprehensive as possible.

NCTV says it wants to help the territory’s mainly Kanak north integrate in the spirit of the accords on greater autonomy.

Radio New Zealand International

10d) Fiji’s new rules on political parties highly objectionable: Ghai

Posted at 01:44 on 29 January, 2013 UTC

The head of Fiji’s now disbanded Constitution Commission, Professor Yash Ghai, says some of Fiji’s new rules for political parties are highly objectionable.

Professor Ghai, whose draft constitution was dumped by the regime earlier this month, says such important matters should not be decided by a government not mandated by the people and which may have plans to continue its rule.

The criticism comes in a statement published on the Fijileaks website

The veteran constitution-maker, who has now left Fiji, says instead of promoting parties’ formation and growth, the Political Parties Decree puts obstacles in their way.

He questions the timing of the decree just before Fiji prepares for the Constituent Assembly where political parties would normally be expected to play a leading role.

He says it means long established leading politicians may be disqualified from participating in the assembly which is to debate a new regime-drafted constitution.

The academic questions the need to have rushed through such a law, saying it’s understandable there’s now speculation of a snap election in Fiji.

He says even relatively petty offences are subject to very high penalties.

Professor Ghai says political party registration should be handled by an independent office not a government ministry and he expects this will lead to government interference.

Professor Ghai says political parties, which are the bedrock of democracy, will be weakened as a result.

Radio New Zealand International

11)Unemployed youths

Nasik Swami
Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A TOTAL of 11,860 youths remain unemployed in Fiji.

This is according to latest figures released by the Ministry of Labour’s National Employment Centre.

According to NEC, out of the 11,860 unemployed youths, 5309 were males and 6551 were females ranging from 15 years of age to 25.

Labour Minister Jone Usamate said the highest number of youths unemployed were from the Central/Eastern Division amounting to 5532 followed by 4529 in the Western Division and 1799 in the Northern Division.

Mr Usamate said the reasons, for the high number of unemployed youths were:

* Low qualifications where a high number of school leavers exit school at an early age;

* Tightness in the formal employment sector of the Fijian economy; and

* A lack of job opportunities.

He said the adverse effect of the global financial crisis, lack of creative ideas and minds, replacement of workers by technology, mismatch of labour supply and demand, no co-ordination between industries and education institutions, lack of supervision from parents, and urban migration were other factors which also led to the high unemployment rates among youths.

Mr Usamate said many of the clients registered with NEC were school leavers.

“The centre was established to provide a one stop centre for unemployed to find employment and to upskill and prepare them to enter the labour market,” he said.

Mr Usamate said since the establishment of NEC 1390 youths found employment which was 5 per cent of the total registered unemployed.

“We do not have data of those clients who have been terminated from their jobs after finding employment from NEC.”

He said unemployment was a huge challenge globally and had adverse effects on developing countries like Fiji.

Mr Usamate said the ministry under NEC provided training in areas of formal employment, self employment, foreign employment and the Fiji Volunteer Service.

“Apart from the unique feature of NEC, the ministry is closely working with various stakeholders in other regional countries within the Melanesian Spearhead Group for employment opportunities for our unemployed clients,” he said.

Mr Usamate said the ministry was inviting possible candidates for job opportunities in the United Arab Emirates.

http://www.fijitimes.com/story.aspx?id=223723

12) United People’s Party winds up in Fiji
By Online Editor
2:57 pm GMT+12, 29/01/2013, Fiji

The United People’s Party is no more.

This after the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) made the decision to wind up the party in accordance with the provisions of its constitution.

The UPP’s end was announced in a statement Monday.

The statement said the party would not be re-established and also called on party members and supporters to join one of the three other main political parties, the SDL, FLP or NFP as direct individual financial members.

The NEC said this move was in keeping with the UPP’s core beliefs in promoting ‘multi-racial politics’ in Fiji.

By joining other parties as direct members, the NEC said former UPP supporters would effectively help to alter the ‘DNA’ of these parties ethnic mix through a more natural process.

The statement said the party hoped that in time this would yield a more ‘multi-racial’ structured political entity, in turn would encourage meaningful shift in policies and objectives to properly reflect increasing multiracial membership. Party president Mick Beddoes said he and the members of the NEC were truly grateful and appreciative of the loyalty and dedication of the members and supporters of the party over the many years.

Beddoes said he was humbled and thankful to his constituents for their confidence in him by electing him twice to Parliament in 2001 and 2006 and he hoped that his performance on their behalf was worthy of their support.

Tebbutt Times leadership Polls published from 2003 to 2006 showed the UPP enjoyed broad appeal from all segments and communities in Fiji between 52 per cent and 64 per cent.

SOURCE: FIJI TIMES/PACNEWS

13) The Americas and Asia-Pacific most ‘open’ regions for tourist entry – UN study
By Online Editor
2:10 pm GMT+12, 29/01/2013, United States

The Americas along with Asia and the Pacific were found to be the most ‘open’ regions for tourists in terms of requiring a visa to visit their countries, while European destinations had higher visa restriction levels, according to a United Nations study released today.

In its research, the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) looked at the percentage of people who could enter each country without a visa, obtain a visa on arrival, or apply for an electronic visa in 2012, as opposed to going through the traditional visa application process.

In the case of Asia and the Pacific, an average of 20 per cent of the world’s population were not required a visa to enter, 19 per cent could get a visa on arrival, and only 7 per cent needed to apply for an electronic visa. For the Americas, the percentages were 31 per cent, 8 per cent, and 1 per cent, respectively.

In Europe 21 per cent of the world population is not required a visa. However, in contrast to the other two regions, only 6 per cent are able to apply for a visa on arrival and no electronic visa system is in place.

“An overall restrictive visa policy means lost opportunities for economic growth and jobs, which tourism could bring to destinations,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai. “Travellers regard visas as a formality which entails a cost. This can be a deterrent to travel if costs – whether monetary or indirect – including distance, wait times and service, exceed a certain threshold.”

The research showed that overall, considerable progress has been made to facilitate visas over recent years as the requirement of a traditional tourist visa went from 77 per cent of the world’s population in 2008 to 63 per cent in 2012, with significant changes over the last two years. Since 2010, 43 destinations facilitated the visa process for citizens of at least 20 countries by changing their visa policies to ease entry.

“Important strides have been made in recent times in terms of visa facilitation as more and more countries understand its implicit economic benefits,” Rifai said. “We welcome moves by the United States, the European Union and many other countries which have implemented or are looking into implementing more open visa policies, but we cannot ignore that visa procedures still represent an obstacle to tourism growth and we hope that these good examples can be followed by others.”

According to joint research conducted by UNWTO and the World Travel and Tourism Council, improving visa processes could generate an extra US$206 billion in tourism receipts and create as many as 5.1 million additional jobs by 2015 in economies that are part of the Group of 20 (G20) alone.

As a result of this work, G20 leaders attending the group’s summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, last June recognized tourism as “a vehicle for job creation, economic growth and development” and committed to “work towards developing travel facilitation initiatives in support of job creation, quality work, poverty reduction and global growth.”.

SOURCE: UN NEWS CENTRE/PACNEWS

14) The Davos World Economic Forum and Pacific land rights

Updated 28 January 2013, 17:48 AEST

The Pacific is a long way from Davos, in Switzerland, where world leaders have been meeting over the weekend but one report launched for that meeting signals a change in thinking which could have implications for landowners.

The World Economic Forum’s report ‘A New Vision for Agriculture’ takes a step away from the usual practice of big agricultural companies in the developing world, to argue that small-holder-inclusive projects that work in partnership with the private sector government and civil society are the way forward.

Jemima Garrett reports.

Presenter: Jemima Garrett

Speaker: Orlando Bloom, actor,

Bill Gates, philanthropist and Chairman of Microsoft

David Harewood, actor Lisa Drier, Director of Food Security and Development Initiatives, World Economic Forum Kirk Huffman, Former Director, Vanuatu Cultural Centre

GARRETT: Across the developing world there has been a land grab taking place which has seen millions of traditional owners pushed off their land in favour of big agriculture.

It has created a global outcry.

Last week more than 100 British-based aid organisations and charities launched a campaign calling on UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, to use his Presidency of the G8 group of countries, to tackle the issue.

It’s campaign called ‘Enough food for Everyone IF’ comes with online animations and videos and has the backing of some heavy hitters – including as you’ll hear in this clip film star, Orlando Bloom, Information Technology Tycoon and philanthropist, Bill Gates, and actor, David Harewood.

BLOOM: The World produces enough food for everyone. Why are One Billion people going hungry?

GATES: Hunger not only caused very real human tragedy. It also costs economies billions of dollars. This doesn’t make sense.

HAREWOOD: Enough food for everyone if we stop poor farmers loosing their land.

GARRETT: Big agriculture is also rethinking its approach to the developing world.

Its report ‘A New vision for Agriculture’ was released to co-incide with the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Lisa Drier, the World Economic Forum’s Director of Food Security and Development Initiatives, used the report’s launch video to explain.

DRIER: We started the New Vision for Agriculture in 2009 with 17 global companies that were concerned about the issue of global food sustainability. It basically says that agriculture should make a positive contribution to three things; food security, environmental sustainability and economic opportunity. And part of the message of the vision is that you can’t sacrifice one for the other, which we have sometimes done in the past. We have to start with farmers and put the farmers at the centre of this whole effort.

GARRETT: The New Vision for Agriculture sees the private sector working with landowners, governments and NGOs to improve livelihoods and boost production.

It is a big change from the days when business saw landowners as an obstacle to agricultural development.

Aid organisations are questioning just how much of a philosophical step has been taken.

Anthropologist Kirk Huffman, is former Director of the Vanuatu Cultural Centre, is also sceptical about big agriculture’s ability to live up to its rhetoric.

HUFFMAN: The ‘If’ campaign seems to be more sympathetic to indigenous land rights. The world economic Forum mentions small-holders. It recognises the importance of traditional agricultural systems and stuff like that but it is sponsored by a whole load of private sector companies. If you read the list which is on the last page of the report you get really scared. They are the sort of companies that if you combined the amount of knowledge that they have ..knowledge of and respect for indigenous land systems, you could put the combined knowledge of all of them on the head of a small pin.

GARRETT: They are indeed the big companies. the fact that they are starting, at least, to mention small-holders, is that a step forward or..?

HUFFMAN: That is a major step forward. It’s a major step forward because it is recognising the fact that most of the world’s food is still produced by what they call small-holders, what we would call just traditional, normal sort of gardeners pursuing subsistence agriculture

GARRETT: The Pacific may not be the epicentre of global agriculture but governments have been willing to approve the leasing of large tracts of land.

In Papua New Guinea, 11 per cent of the country has been leased out under Special Agricultural and Business Leases and national development plans call for 20 per cent of the land to be under agriculture by 2030.

In Vanuatu, much of the hinterland of the main island of Efate has been leased to overseas cattle interests.

Kirk Huffman says land alienation is a threat to local people.

HUFFMAN: The thing is nowadays, unfortunately you know, one has threats to traditional land rights, from overseas, in these sort of land grab situations and you have also, unfortunately, sometimes got threats from your own government. This is the thing where these big organisation try and smarm their way into a government’s pocket and get the government to try and do things on their behalf. I am really concerned about it.

GARRETT: Kirk Huffman says traditional landownership in the Pacific has been the key factor in feeding the growing populations.

The value of subsistence agriculture, he says, is often overlooked.

HUFFMAN: My fear is that if you rely too much on the private sector, ..the private sector just basically looks upon land as a commodity. land, particularly in the western Pacific, is not a commodity. It is a lot more than that. It has spiritual aspects and other aspects that economists don’t know anything about, and, basically don’t care anything about. They always push this thing of trying to turn land into a commodity that can be bought and sold like peanuts. They will say it will create jobs but land has always been the biggest employer, in inverted commas, in Melanesia, and it still is. the fact that the land doesn’t necessarily pay you shillings at the end of every week doesn’t necessarily really make any difference because the thing is that it gives you food. It sustains your extended family, it sustains your lineage, it sustains your clan and its been doing it for for thousands of years and, hopefully, it will continue to do it. And the traditional agricultural systems are highly sophisticated. I mean if you really want to learn, if some of these outside, overseas agricultural experts, in inverted commas, really wanted to learn about the depths of knowledge involved in traditional agriculture, they can go out to villages in, for example, Vanuatu or the Solomons, and they can learn more from 10 year old children than they can from Professors back overseas, about traditional agriculture.

http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/radio/program/pacific-beat/the-davos-world-economic-forum-and-pacific-land-rights/1079922

15)Tongan Noble Denounces Loan Mishandling Accusations
Sevele claims he has not been given a chance to defend himself

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Jan. 28, 2013) – former Prime Minister Lord Feleti Sevele says he has been denied an opportunity to defend his reputation over accusations in a parliamentary report.

The select committee report accused the Sevele government of mishandling a multi-million dollar Chinese loan.

On Thursday a Supreme Court judge adjourned a judicial review of the report after the committee members appeared without representation.

The judge ordered the committee members, who include Parliamentarians ’Akilisi Pohiva and Dr. Sitiveni Halapua, to pay Lord Sevele’s costs.

Lord Sevele says parliamentary procedure was not followed by the committee.

“They have a duty to inform those people whose reputation may be at stake in their findings to acquaint them of the findings and give them the opportunity to respond, and their response is to be taken into account. It’s one of the principals of natural justice. That was the right denied to me.”

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

16)Marshall Islands Copra Producers Mark Record Year
‘Solid rebound’ noted from decreases after 2008

By Giff Johnson

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Jan. 29, 2013) – Copra producers in the Marshall Islands had their best year in four years in 2012, according to data released Friday by the government’s coconut oil processing mill.

A total of 6,355 tons of copra was delivered to the Majuro mill for processing into coconut oil from January through December. This total includes 304.83 tons of copra purchased from Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia.

This is a solid rebound on the previous three years, which saw copra tonnage steadily decline from 2008’s second-highest total ever of 7,641 tons. Tonnage dropped to 4,168 tons in 2011 largely as a result of problems with the aging, government shipping fleet.

Copra statistics show the dramatic impact that the establishment of a state-owned enterprise has had on copra tonnage. The Marshall Islands Shipping Corporation (MISC) was established six years ago to improve poorly managed field-trip services for the outer islands then operated by the Ministry of Transportation.

Deliveries of copra to the processing plant in Majuro are up 35 percent since 2007, the first full year of Shipping Corporation operations. This has been accomplished despite a lack of ships and an aging fleet that has experienced significant time in port for maintenance before vessels were funded recently to go to Fiji for dry-docking. Wally Milne has managed MISC since its inception.

From 2000 through 2006, when the Ministry of Transport operated outer-island shipping services, copra tonnage averaged 4,404 tons per year, according to statistics maintained by the copra plant. From 2007 to 2012, the six full years of Shipping Corporation operation of shipping services, copra deliveries average 5,927 tons per year, 35 percent more than in the earlier period.

Marianas Variety: www.mvariety.com

17)Australie : les inondations de la côte Est font une quatrième victime

Mis à jour 29 January 2013, 8:48 AEST
Pierre Riant

Un petit garçon de trois ans est décédé hier dans un hôpital de Brisbane.

Évacuation obligatoire des habitants de Bundaberg. [Ian Hatton] (Credit: Audience Submitted)

Le garçonnet est mort de blessures à la tête après avoir été frappé par un arbre alors qu’il regardait avec sa mère les inondations dans un parc au nord de Brisbane, la capitale de l’État du Queensland.

Ces inondations provoquées par l’ancien cyclone tropical Oswald touchent le sud-est du Queensland et le nord-est de la Nouvelle-Galles du Sud. La ville de Bundaberg, au nord de Brisbane,  reste la plus affectée par ces inondations considérées comme les plus graves de toute l’Histoire de cette région.

Toutes les populations du sud-est du Queensland et du nord-est de la Nouvelle-Galles du sud attendent aujourd’hui avec angoisse la pointe des crues. Les eaux des rivières ne cessent de monter.

Des milliers de personnes ont été évacuées, des centaines d’autres sont bloquées par les eaux et des dizaines de milliers de foyers sont toujours privés d’électricité.

http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/french/2013-01-29/australie-les-inondations-de-la-côte-est-font-une-quatrième-victime/1080116

18)PNG : des armes et des munitions au Parlement ?

Mis à jour 29 January 2013, 8:56 AEST
Pierre Riant

Le greffier par intérim du Parlement est accusé d’avoir acheté des armes et des munitions pour les gardiens de sécurité du Parlement.

32 armes et 10 000 munitions, d’après la presse locale. Mais le Président du Parlement, Theo Zurenuoc, a rejeté toutes ces allégations.

ZURENUOC : « Le Parlement n’a pas acheté d’armes… Le Parlement n’a pas encore acheté des armes. D’un autre côté, un service du Parlement a obtenu un devis d’achat pour des armes. C’est moi qui suis en charge ici et j’ai besoin d’obtenir quelques détails supplémentaires avant de pouvoir vous dire ce que je vais faire.

Mais moi, je suis vraiment dégoûté. Et même si aucun achat n’a été effectué, l’intention d’acheter des armes y était . C’est à l’opposé de mes intentions et même si j’ai la responsabilité de la sécurité du parlement je n’ai jamais cautionné l’achat de tous types d’armes à feu. »

Dans le devis en question ; des armes automatiques et une mitraillette de style militaire avec silencieux. Theo Zurenuoc tient à rassurer la population.

ZURENUOC : « J’ai toujours exprimé ma foi à la population de Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée, elle sait que je crois à une puissance divine et pas aux armes à feu. Je veux aussi dire à la population de Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée que nous devons combattre la possession des armes à feu par certaines personnes.

Mais enfin, comme je l’ai dit, il me faut des détails supplémentaires. Toutefois, si nous réussissons à établir qu’une sérieuse tentative d’achat d’armes à feu a été effectuée par le greffier, de sérieuses mesures disciplinaires seront prises à l’encontre du greffier du Parlement. »

Le greffier,  Simon Ila, occupe ce poste par intérim et a posé sa candidature pour l’occuper de manière permanente.

Le Speaker du Parlement précise que la police assure déjà la sécurité du Parlement.

ZURENUOC : « Nous n’avons pas besoin d’armes à feu pour protéger le Parlement, je n’ai pas d’armes à feu. Je ne me fais pas accompagner par la police. Je suis l’un des quelques-uns qui au Parlement qui n’ont pas de gardes du corps. Je suis le Président du Parlement mais je me déplace sans gardes du corps et je ne vois donc pas pourquoi le Parlement aurait aussi besoin d’armes. Nous avons des policiers disponibles quand un député a besoin d’une protection spécifique.
L’achat d’armes à feu pour le Parlement ne sera jamais approuvé et il faut que la population de Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée le sache. »

http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/french/2013-01-29/png-des-armes-et-des-munitions-au-parlement/1080118

19)Livre blanc du gouvernement australien sur l’influence de la Chine

Mis à jour 29 January 2013, 9:19 AEST
Pierre Riant

Le ministère de la Défense est convaincu que l’Australie doit, en matière de sécurité régionale, ancrer sa position de partenaire stratégique dominant auprès des nations océaniennes du Pacifique.

En toile de fond de cet avertissement ; l’influence politique et économique grandissante de la Chine dans le Pacifique.

Le spectre de cette concurrence entre la Chine et l’Australie pour séduire le cœur et l’esprit des petites îles de la région est évoqué dans le premier jet, le brouillon du Livre blanc 2013 du ministère de la Défense que le quotidien The Australian a réussi à obtenir.

Contrairement au Livre blanc de 2009, c’est la première fois que l’Australie mentionne spécifiquement les ambitions de la Chine pour le Pacifique : « La Chine fait état d’une présence politique, diplomatique et commerciale  grandissante dans le Pacifique Sud. »

Et d’ajouter : « Tandis que l’Australie fournit la moitié de l’aide au développement dans la région et que cette aide va être substantiellement augmentée, l’avancée et l’influence des nations asiatiques ouvrent toute une panoplie d’acteurs de l’extérieur et de partenaires à nos voisins. »

Ce Livre blanc sera rendu publié en juin prochain.http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/french/2013-01-29/livre-blanc-du-gouvernement-australien-sur-linfluence-de-la-chine/1080150


20) Fijians host 7s team

Rashneel Kumar In Wellington, New Zealand
Tuesday, January 29, 2013

+ Enlarge this image

The Digicel Fiji sevens team at Nadi International Airport before flying out to New Zealand yesterday. Picture: JAI PRASAD

THE Digicel Fiji sevens team wasted no time in seeking the blessing of God and the support of the Fijian community upon arriving in Wellington yesterday afternoon.

The national side had a special church service hosted by the Fijians residing in Wellington at the Wesley Methodist Church in Taranaki.

Team manager Semi Rogoyawa thanked the Fijian community in Wellington for a warm welcome.

Coach Timoci Wainiqolo assured the fans of a good performance at the Wellington 7s during the service.

“We thank you all for hosting us and we will try our best to make all of you proud this weekend,” the former Fiji 7s rep said.

Rogoyawa said players would have a pool session to recover from the travelling before hitting the ground to work on the set piece play today.

“We arrived in Wellington without any incident and all the members of the national team are fine and looking forward to the tournament,” he said.

Wellington looks beautiful with blue skies and bright sunshine but a bit chilly.

The 7s atmosphere is slowly gripping the capital city of New Zealand as fans gear up for the third leg of the HSBC IRB Sevens World Series this weekend.

Rogoyawa said the players would have no problem in adapting to the conditions as it was almost similar to the weather back home.

“We will be training twice daily at 10am and 3pm as according to the program. Weather is not a factor to worry about because our players are used to with this kind of conditions,” he added.

The Setefano Cakau-skippered Fiji plays its opening match against Scotland at 1.50pm before taking on Australia at 4.46pm and Portugal at 8.34pm this Friday.

http://www.fijitimes.com/story.aspx?id=223789

21) Ba the real champions of Fiji
By Online Editor
3:18 pm GMT+12, 29/01/2013, Fiji

BA created history after smashing Suva 5-1 to claim the Pillay Garments Champion versus Champion title for a record 17th time at Churchill Park in Lautoka yesterday.

After a 1-0 loss to Nadi over the weekend during the Fiji Sun/GP Batteries National Football League match, the Men in Black displayed the true resemblance of the wounded tiger.

Ba simply walloped the sorry looking Capital City side to clean sweep the series 2-0 after winning the opening fixture at the same venue 1-0 last December.

Ba was unstoppable at Churchill Park with the title already in the bag at half-time after taking a 3-0 advantage.
Suva seemed to be a shadow of the team which defeated Ba 1-0 in the final of the Inter District Competition at Govind Park last October.

Ba coach Yogendra Dutt said the big score line wasn’t expected.

Dutt said they were proud to make the Ba fans happy by adding another title to their cabinet.

He said many fans were concerned after the loss to Nadi.

“Winning in a championship is everybody’s aim,” Dutt said.

“After the loss to Nadi we rejuvenated. The players were determined to put up a better performance. It was their will to win the match with a good margin.”

“We do not look at the Suva game as a grudge match. It was just the passion that the boys put in that delivered the final result.”

Suva coach Gurjeet Singh said the first half goals derailed them.

He said Ba played better soccer on the day by scoring from their opportunities.

“The goals in the first half made a lot of difference,” Singh said.

“We missed our opportunities. But the loss is a wake-up call for the boys.”

“Ba utilised their opportunities well. Scoring goals is very important as that wins you matches. Ba is a team that when it loses, they come back fighting. We were a bit relaxed in the first half and they took advantage.”
Malakai Tiwa scored the first goal in the 2nd minute.

Suva’s Simione Maikali scored an own goal in the 13th minute to double Ba’s advantage.

Malileko Nakama made it 3-0 in Ba’s favour in the 23rd minute.

Avinesh Warran Suwamy scored Ba’s fourth goal in the 67th minute from close range. Semi Rokoqica pulled one back for the southerners from a free kick in the 72nd minute while Nakama got his double in the 79th minute to seal Ba’s victory.

Ba received $4000 for winning the CVC.

Ba: Ratu Jone Ralulu, Avinesh Waran Suwamy, Meli Codro, Jone Vesikula, Tuimasi Manuca Maviliko Nakama, Kiniviliame Naika, Malakai Tiwa, Laisenia Raura, Marika Madigi, Josefata Neibuli.

Suva: Emori Ragata, Simione Maikali, Joshua Wilson, Samuela Vula, Leone Damudamu, Waisake Navunigasau, Nathan Sivam, Sanni Issa, Sedrick Dutt, Samuela Drudru, Ravinesh Karan Singh.

SOURCE: FIJI TIMES/PACNEWS

22) Australia Sevens welcome back key men
By Online Editor
3:20 pm GMT+12, 29/01/2013, Australia

Australia Sevens men’s coach Michael O’Connor has named his squad for the round four of the HSBC Sevens World Series in Wellington, New Zealand, with a batch of stars set to return.

O’Connor makes six changes to the side that claimed the Bowl in South Africa in December, injecting a significant amount of experience back into the line-up for the first IRB tournament of 2013.

“We’re welcoming a lot of players back from injury, which is a big boost,” O’Connor said. “Experience is very important at this level. You can lose one or two players, but we basically lost our starting side to injury last year.”

The squad is still without regular captain Ed Jenkins, who injured his shoulder during the Gold Coast Sevens, and O’Connor is yet to decide on his captain for Wellington.

Forward Jesse Parahi does, however, return to the side for the first time since suffering an injury at the Coral Coast Sevens in November last year, while Allan Fa’alava’au, Lewis Holland and Shannon Walker all return to Australia’s backline.

Ben Adams has also worked his way back after a lengthy lay-off due to injury.

Adams made his debut for Australia at the Oceania Sevens in 2011 and impressed earlier this month as part of the Aussie Thunderbolts development squad at the Uprising Fiji International Sevens.

“We’ve been able to introduce a lot more players to international competition over the last few tournaments,” added O’Connor.

“Our guys are building confidence by having more game time with each other but we still need to build cohesion and you can only do that by playing games.”

Australia were drawn in Pool D for Wellington alongside Portugal, Fiji and Scotland.

Australia Sevens: Cameron Clark, Ben Adams, Con Foley, Sean McMahon, Pama Fou, Jordan Tuapou, Allan Fa’alava’au, Tom Cusack, Will Miller, Shannon Walker, Jesse Parahi, Lewis Holland .

SOURCE: IRB/PACNEWS

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