Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 801
1a) Melanesian Risos boom
Igat askim olsem ol bikpla wok blong divelopim ol risosas emi gutpla long Melanesia oa nogat.
Ol kantri blong Melanesia nau iwok long lukim planti wok blong divelopim ol natural risosas olsem,oil, gas, mining na logging indastri.
Despla ol kaen wok i apim tru ol wok moni oa ikonomi blong Papua New Guinea na Solomon Islands, na oli ting ol bikpla mining projek bai kamap tu long Fiji, West Papua na New Caledonia.
Despla i min tu olsem ol ikonomi blong Melanesia iwok long winim ol kantri long Polynesia, em bifo ol ikonomi blong ol isave go pas long Melanesia.
Tasol ol despla risos boom bai halvim gut ol pipal blong Melanesia?.
Bai oli lukluk long despla askim long wanpla konfrans long Australian National Universiti long Canberra.
By Online Editor
4:18 pm GMT+12, 05/02/2013, Vanuatu
The Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Secretariat has received the application from the West Papua Coalition for Liberation for West Papua (WPNCL)to become full member of the MSG.
Director General of MSG Peter Forau will now send the application to the Chairman of the MSG, the Prime Minister of Fiji, Commodore Frank Bainimarama where he and other Melanesian Leaders will make a decision on the request.
Daily Post contacted the office of the Director General of the MSG to ask when that decision will be made but Forau could not be contacted as he was at a meeting.
A press statement from the West Papua office in Port Vila said Forau’s role is only facilitating the process but he makers no decision on the issue.
WPNCL submitted the application for MSG membership at the MSG headquarters last Wednesday.
The Delegation consisted of Vice Chairman, Secretary General, head of the Vanuatu Mission, a Women Representative and students and youth Representative.
They were accompanied by former Prime Minister and staunch advocate for West Papuan independence, Barak Sope and a Representative from the FLNKS of Kanaky/New Caledonia.
Vice Chairman of WPNCL Dr John Ondawame said this was a historic occasion that also marks the beginning of our concerted efforts this year to advance the cause.
“We hope this will encourage Indonesia to take necessary steps to resolve the issue. Being a member is also natural because we are an inseparable part of the Melanesian family. For years our efforts to take the issue back to the UN was hindered by lack of official support by the Independent States in Melanesia,” Dr Ondawame said.
Head of the Vanuatu Mission of WPNCL, Andy Ayamiseba added that being a member is a confirmation of our identity as Melanesian people.
“We cannot deny this fact to our future generations,” Ayamiseba said in the statement.
Women Representative, Bernarda Edoway Douw made a compassionate plea for the West Papuan women, mothers and children who she said had suffered in silence year after year.
“The Papuan women are discriminated against in the market place in the employment sector and in education opportunities. Being a member will raise the profile of West Papua especially for the women,” the Papuan women representative who was here too for the MSG Silver Jubilee celebrations.
Amatus Douw speaking on behalf of the West Papua students and youths highlighted the real life experience of marginalization in West Papua. He stated that population decline is caused by a deliberate policy of the Indonesian government.
Sope elaborated on the historical facts of the creation of the MSG.
He said it was created at the time when there was bloody resistance in Kanaky and our efforts to address the issue did not receive a desired resolve by many governments. For the Melanesian countries it is a serious issue and the only way to find a solution is by members discussing it together and decide on the best way forward.
He reiterated that the former New Hebrides had to seek help from another independent Melanesia country in this case Fiji to facilitate our efforts at the UN Decolonization Committee.
“Now we have more independent Melanesian countries that can do more for West Papua” Sope said.
Sope added that even the UN Decolonization Committee was specifically established for the independent struggles.
“Countries who are members in the Committee are there because they support self-determination for colonized peoples. If a member is against these objectives they must be in the wrong Committee,” the former Vanuatu PM Sope said.
The Secretary General, Rex Rumakiek stated that being a member of this sub regional institution carries heavy responsibilities which WPNCL fully understands.
“Even though not on the same level as governments, given the opportunity WPNCL will do its best to shoulder the same responsibilities with the other members to protect Melanesia against harmful external threats such as terrorism, illegal trade, distortion of social ecology and bio diversity, economic domination and unfair trade practices,” the WPNCL Secretary said.
SOURCE: VANUATU DAILY POST/PACNEWS
2) Analyst predicts MSG will embrace West Papua
By Online Editor
11:02 am GMT+12, 05/02/2013, Vanuatu
An analyst says the Melanesian Spearhead Group is likely to accept West Papua as a member of the sub-regional organisation.
The comment from Ben Bohane, the communications director of the Pacific Institute of Public Policy, comes after the West Papua National Coalition for Independence formally submitted a membership application.
MSG backing for Papua has waned in recent years and two years ago, Indonesia was given MSG observer status despite strong objections by West Papuans.
However Ben Bohane says that support for emerging independent territories is strong in Melanesia.
“And the MSG will likely take them on board. And that will set up the Melanesian countries on some sort of – I won’t say collision path but it will certainly test its relations with Indonesia. If West Papua is admitted to the family as an observer, then it’s on a process to becoming a full member and then as a full member its position within the MSG would be considerably stronger than Indonesia’s.”.
English Now PNG Schools’ Language Of Instruction
Education department to provide support for switch
By Shirlyn Belden
PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Feb. 5, 2013) – Assistance will be provided to all elementary and primary schools in Papua New Guinea to use English as the language of instruction, according to the Education Department.
Starting yesterday, all elementary and primary schools in the national education system started using English as language of instruction as the government phased out the outcomes-based system.
Education secretary Luke Taita said support would be provided for in-service and pre-service training to prepare teachers for the change.
The new policy replaces the use of vernacular (lingua franca) including Tok Pisin and Motu as the language of instruction.
The change in language is to address the concerns of parents, teachers, students, academics and political leaders that vernacular in elementary schools created a poor standard of spoken and written English.
“The current elementary language syllabus will be used by teachers to plan, program and teach their children.
“The English syllabus and other support materials will be made available to teachers to teach English as a subject,” Taita said.
He said the revised policy included teaching phonics as a daily lesson in classrooms.
“To promote quality learning at elementary level, phonics will be introduced to all and taught daily.
“Since English is the only language of communication used in administration and businesses around the world it is important that it is used for teaching and learning in our schools.
“English will be taught as a subject in all elementary schools and that means students enrolled would learn English at the age of six with phonics to be taught as a lesson daily to promote quality English,” he said.
He said it had been proven that phonics enabled students to read and speak fluent English.
The National: www.thenational.com.pg/
4) PNG To Borrow $1.2 Billion To Cover Budget Deficits
Majority to be raised domestically via Central Bank
By Isaac Nicholas
PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Feb. 5, 2013) – The national government of Papua New Guinea will borrow up to K2.6 billion [US$1.2 billion] both domestically and internationally to fill the deficit in the 2013 budget, Treasury Minister Don Polye said yesterday.
Mr. Polye, who was speaking at an Implementation conference in Port Moresby, said cabinet has given its approval for Treasury to look at the internal domestic financial market to raise the capital needed to finance the K2.6 billion budget deficit for 2013, as well as other accrued debts over the years totaling K6.4 billion [US$3 billion].
“First we will raise K1.6 billion [US$757 million] within the PNG financial capital market, and the second strategy is through the international sovereign bond to raise the finance (the balance of K1 billion [US$473.1 million]),” Mr. Polye said.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill also confirmed the move to borrow to finance the budget deficit.
“When we talk about the deficit of K2.6 billion, we are trying to finance it by raising K1.6 billion in the domestic market through the Central Bank,” he said.
Mr. O’Neill said the Central Bank governor has indicated to cabinet that the financing environment in PNG is sufficient to finance that level of funding so the government is capable of refinancing its current debts and also the K1.6 billion debt to the total deficit of K2.6 billion.
“For the other K1 billion which we require to finance the budget deficit, we are going to the international bond market,” he said.
[PIR editor’s note: Meanwhile, the government is facing mounting debts from litigation against it, amounting to millions of kina. Attorney General Kerenga Kua has taken the opportunity to remind officials and government officers to seek proper legal advice in government business in order to avoid unnecessary lawsuits brought against the state. O’Neill has also said that politicians and public service employees musttighten management and accountability processes in order to avoid cost blowouts, particularly after more than US$141.9 million in extra wages was paid out in the last fiscal year.]
The PM said it was an opportunity for PNG to tell the international community that the country has enjoyed economic growth over the last 8-9 years due to foreign reserves being at an all-time high, stable exchange rates and stable interest rates, which are very good indicators that the economy is doing well.
“We need to tell that story to the international financial community to be able to raise future funds we may need to develop our country,” he said.
Mr. O’Neill said it was a good mixture to borrow internally and internationally, to spread the risk and not put stress on the local economy.
He said it was the first time that the government is front-loading warrants to districts and local-level governments for infrastructure development and programs in key priority areas.
Treasurer Polye earlier in his state of the economy statement at the Gateway conference said the 2013 budget is a deficit budget of 7.2 percent of GDP, which is about K2.6 billion.
Mr. Polye said the deficit budget was necessary to increase expenditure in the key areas of health, education and other core sectors including law and order at the sub-national level.
He said the size of the PNG economy stands at K33 billion [US$15.6 billion] and must grow over the next five years to around K58-K60 billion [US$27.4 billion to US$28.4 billion].
“The 2013 budget is a major paradigm shift in moving resources away from Waigani to the sub-national level at provinces, districts and local level governments,” the Treasurer said.
Mr. Polye said all state-owned enterprises and government entities must ensure that they achieve the primary objective of maximizing investments and returns at minimal cost.
PNG Post-Courier: http://www.postcourier.com.pg
5) Solomon Islands Cabinet approves US$38 million for teachers
By Online Editor
10:59 am GMT+12, 05/02/2013, Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands Government is highly unlikely to offer a quick financial solution to deal with the teachers’ salary re-leveling exercise, which has been the subject of the current strike action.
This came after Government agreed to deal with the matter through its budgetary process which will take some time and requires the teachers’ patience.
It was confirmed by Secretary to Prime Minister Barnabas Anga, Secretary to Cabinet James Remobatu, Attorney General, Billy Titiulu, Acting permanent secretary of Ministry of Education, Aseri Yalangona and permanent secretary of Ministry of Finance, Shadrack Fanega.
Anga said cabinet has already approved the $38 million (US$5.2 million) for the re-levelling exercise.
He said this showed the Government was responsible and serious in dealing with the problem.
Fanega said the approval in cabinet was part of the process but the budgetary process will take a long time.
But he said Government will still meet the dues of the teachers.
Yalangona said Ministry of Education is looking at calling on all the Education Authorities to address the re-leveling exercise in the next 14 days.
He said they will go through names of each teacher and make sure they are in the right schools to assist Finance for the date entry.
Meanwhile, Attorney General Billy Titiulu warned teachers to resume duties because failure to do that will have dear consequences against them.
He said what teachers are doing in contrary to advice of their solicitor and Trade Dispute Panel’s decision on Tuesday for them to call off the strike.
Titiulu said if teachers continue to sit in strike it will affect their remuneration in the Government like salary cut and removal of long term benefits because their names will be recorded in the list. He said if teachers continue to strike after panel give notice under section 10 they can be prosecuted.
“You can end up in court; if guilty can pay $1000 fine or six months imprisonment.
“If not can be double like $1000 (US$139) fine and six month imprisonment,” he said.
However, as of yesterday teachers still refused to resume their jobs and vowed to continue their sit-in protest at Town Ground today.
SOURCE: SOLOMON STAR/PACNEWS
6) Vanuatu NGOs Form Anti-Corruption Taskforce
New commission plans to hold government accountable
PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Feb. 5, 2013) – The non-governmental organizations and community-based organizations comprising the Vanuatu Association Of Non-Governmental Organizations (VANGO) have united to form a Task Force of committed organizations and individuals determined to eliminate political and public service corruption.
According to a Task Force spokesperson the name of this new anti-corruption force is the Vanuatu Corruption Commission (VCC).
The VCC spokesperson stated – “Vanuatu Political Authorities continue to ignore civil society’s calls for better governance of the public sector. Political and administrative corruption is as widespread as ever. Nepotism, cronyism, embezzlement of public funds, bribery and vote buying persist.”
It is the citizen who pays the price, as demonstrated by the recent multiplicity of scandals reported in the media. For example, consider the mega yacht Phocea saga involving State Ministers, one of whom was also recently questioned by PNG Authorities in relation to possible Trans-National crimes committed. Then there is the outstanding Lands Department and Ministry scandal for which no-one has yet been held accountable.”
The Vanuatu Corruption Commission’s strategy is to:
Engage people, particularly the grassroots, including youth, women, church leaders, chiefs more widely than ever before, for ultimately, only people can stop corruption
Speak out more boldly about corruption
Work more closely with our coalition partners and the media in the anti-corruption fight
Use our influence to exercise more pressure on political decision-makers to implement anti-corruption reform
Civil Society Organizations are a pillar of Vanuatu’s development and as Institutions dedicated in the fight for the Rights of all Vanuatu people, it is important that the government fully engages with these interest groups in its development plans as well as the implementation of its Priority Action Agenda.
Desk reviews on the government’s implementation of its Priority Action Agenda will be carried out by this group as well as closely monitoring the performance of those in public affairs.
It is time for NGOs to start holding the government accountable for the implementation of its policies and if failure of quality performance is detected, then this group has every right to pursue further legal assistance from legal Institutions in the region and even international, where appropriate.”
Vanuatu Daily Post: http://www.vanuatudaily.com
7) Vanuatu PM Allegedly Given Money By Phocea Owner
Controversial article’s claims denied by Sato Kilman
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Feb. 5, 2013) – The Vanuatu police have been asked to investigate information published in an article which alleges that the prime minister Sato Kilman received US$200,000 for his election campaign from the owner of a luxury yacht.
The Independent published a story over the weekend about Vanuatu diplomatic passport holder, Pascal Anh Quan Saken, whose yacht has been detained in the country since July last year due to false documentation.
It alleges that Mr. Saken, who left the island before he could be questioned in relation to the yacht, transferred the large sum under the name ’Kilman campaign’ before last October’s general election.
The prime minister has denied the claims and his advisor Richard Kaltongga says they’ve asked the police to establish if there is a case for defamation action against the author.
“We’ve registered a complaint with the police, we’ve asked them to investigate this and to either give us a copy of that documentary proof that the newspaper say they have or give us the name of the person who’s spreading all this misinformation.”
Meanwhile the author of the article, Hilaire Bule, says a government source gave him a document which shows the transfer was made.
“Personally I think that if we go to court and we have the proof of the transfer Mr. Kilman the prime minister, it will spoil his reputation if we go to court.”
Hilaire Bule says the newspaper intends to publish the document in its next edition on Saturday.
Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com
8) Vanuatu calls for cooperation to boost Australia’s Seasonal Workers Pilot scheme numbers
By Online Editor
09:52 am GMT+12, 06/02/2013, Vanuatu
Vanuatu’s Commissioner of Labor, Lionel Kaluat is hopeful the number of ni-Vanuatu taking part in Australia’s Seasonal Workers Pilot (SWP) scheme can exceed 100 this year.
He made this comment while briefing the holders of 20 new Seasonal Employment Agency Licenses issued by the Department of Labor last week at the VNPF conference in Port Vila.
Kaluat said that he was happy with the progress Vanuatu was making in the Recognised Seasonal Employment (RSE) scheme with New Zealand where in 2011 and 2012 the country sent 2500 workers and he hoped to maintain this figure this year. Comparatively, since the SWP scheme began, in 2009 Vanuatu sent 4, then 26 people. In 2011, the country sent 80 and last year 100 people.
“We hope this year to improve on this figure, if we put our heads together and make an impact on the employers,” Kaluat said.
“From the RSE scheme we now bring into the country an estimated Vt2.8billion, which is very positive growth indeed, and if you go to the islands, some of these people who participate in the RSE scheme have new houses with permanent material, boats, businesses, solar panels, and it is making a real difference in their lives.”
In response to questions about the age range for people required for work under Australia’s SWP scheme, Kaluat said 21 to 45 years is the requirement.
But he added that Vanuatu has made a submission for this to be extended to about 60 and that they have positive indication of support coming from other participating countries – Tonga, Samoa and Papua New Guinea.
Last Friday, the Department of Labor announced the approval of another 20 licenses for seasonal employment agency for both the RSE and the SWP schemes. On Wednesday, January 30, the Labor Mobility Working Committee under the chairmanship of the Director General of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, George Bogiri approved 20 applications out of 29 that met all the requirements under the Seasonal Employment Act No 23 of 2007. These 20 licensees – 16 for SWP and four for RSE, have been granted approval to operate seasonal employment agencies for a period of 12 months beginning January 31, 2012.
The new licensees are: AGB Seasonal Recruitment Services, agency for SWP; Bistaveos Seasonal Workers Services – SWP; Extra Mile Recruitment Services – RSE; HB & IR Seasonal Works – RSE; Island Seasonal Employment Agent (ISEA) – SWP; Kuwae Seasonal Employment Agency – SWP; Manpower Vanuatu Associates – SWP; Melanesian Business Estate and Consultant Services (MBECS) – SWP; Millennium Cave Seasonal Workers Agency (MCSWA) – CWP; Paradise Seasonal Worker’s Agency – SWP; RB Management Consultants – SWP; Seasonal Workers Agency Vanuatu – SWP; Silstan Seasonal Workers Solution Agency – SWP; Sunbeam Seasonal Workers Agency – SWP; Tankiwi Labor – RSE; Taukahi Seasonal Workers Agency – RSE; Tausi Seasonal Workers’ Agency (TSWA) – SWP; Vanuatu Employment Agency – SWP; Vanuatu Labor Market – SWP; and Vanuatu Seasonal Workers Recruitment Agency (VSWRA) – SWP.
SOURCE: VANUATU DAILY POST/PACNEWS
9) Air Vanuatu targets daily flights to Australia, New Caledonia and Fiji
By Online Editor
3:46 pm GMT+12, 05/02/2013, Vanuatu
Air Vanuatu is this month celebrating its Silver Jubilee.
To mark 25 years of service since its establishment in 1988, Air Vanuatu has a program of celebration but it is still being kept a secret, General Manager, Sales and Marketing Floyd Smith said.
Speaking on the Morning Show with Kizzy on 96 Buzz FM, Smith said they want to keep the celebration a secret at the moment.
In the meantime, the local airline company is celebrating the occasion with cutting edge activities taking place. On Thursday, Air Vanuatu made its inaugural weekly direct Nadi, Fiji, flight that carries very competitive rates and utilizing its ATR 72 aircraft.
“This is a mid-week flight because many other flights are on the weekends such as our direct Suva flight on Sunday and the Air Pacific flights.
“Consumers and clients are very happy with the fare we’re offering and we are happy with the passenger numbers,”
Smith said of the new flight which has come about after Air Pacific ceased its codeshare arrangement with Air Vanuatu on the sector and Fiji also refused Air Vanuatu’s interest for a codeshare deal with Solomon Islands Airways on the route.
“The direct Suva flight, we’re happy also with because Suva is a regional and commercial capital, you have the University of the South Pacific and other regional and international organizations base there,” Smith said.
To celebrate the airline’s silver jubilee, General Manager, Sales and Marketing Floyd Smith said Air Vanuatu has announced a specially-reduced fare package called 20,000 units whereby the fare to all of the airlines destinations, both international and local have been set at Vt20,000 (US$223) plus tax.
“We cannot do anything about the tax, but because of our 20,000 unit package, you will see that our fares very low and the seats are selling very fast like hot cake,” Smith told the Morning Show with Kizzy.
He said the 20,000 units’ cheapest destinations on this package are Santo with Vt23, 300 return – down from Vt31, 000 (US$345) and Melbourne on Vt44,500 (US$496) return. Sydney is Vt46, 800 (US$552), and Brisbane Vt42,000(US$468) return.
“The promotion ends on February 15, and you must use the ticket before the end of November this year, and if you don’t use it by then you lose your money because it is a promotion,” Floyd Smith added.
In addition, to all the progress Air Vanuatu is making, they are testing daily flights to Australia with the addition mid last year of a Tuesday flight to Sydney, which they will discontinue on February 6 because their peak tourist period is over and now it is a back to school time.
On plans for the future, the General Manager, Sales and Marketing, said daily flights to three regional destinations are a possibility.
“Hopefully, in future we would like to see Air Vanuatu venture into daily flights to Australia, Fiji, and New Caledonia, and it’s warranted because the airline is now 25 years old.”
“Air Vanuatu is a home airline, the air hostesses are absolutely marvelous and the captains know customers by name and they will walk down the aisle and chat with the local folks,” Smith responded to the question how the airline is viewed.
SOURCE: VANUATU DAILY POST/PACNEWS
10) Fiji Civil Servants Take Part In USP Leadership Training
Alleged lack of management skills prompts joint program
By Ropate Valemei
SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Feb. 5, 2013) – The lack of management skills in public sectors has triggered Fiji’s Public Service Commission (PSC) and the University of the South Pacific (USP) to train 120 senior civil servants on leadership.
The one-year training on Professional Diploma in Business Leadership Program is an initiative of the university to address gaps in leadership in the public and private sectors.
“We had responded to the need by our stakeholders who have registered that there was a weakness in leadership in most organizations because they have been appointing people with technical qualifications into the management positions without training them,” said training facilitator and USP’s training coordinator at the Regional Centre for Continuing and Community Education, Viliame Rabici.
Mr. Rabici said the first of the four from 120 senior civil servants at director level and heads of departments started their training at the PSC training centre at Nasese yesterday.
“People that we are taking to management positions came from technical areas. So they are specialists in their areas but not at management,” he said.
“So now, we have to give them a choice whether they want to remain in technical or management. If they want to change to management, they have to be retrained.”
PSC invited tenders from providers for an executive training program which USP won.
The workshop was accredited under the Fiji qualification framework under the Fiji Higher Education Commission for approval of course credibility.
PSC acting permanent secretary Iliesa Lutu said they began the journey to train public leaders two years ago and up to that point, they had completed about 40 per cent of the total number of officers in the senior executive cadre.
“Through this program, USP will be expected to train the remaining 60 percent,” Mr. Lutu said.
Fiji Times Online: http://www.fijitimes.com.
11) Fiji scholar wins $600,000 Marsden research grant on security
Dr Steven Ratuva … security case studies on Fiji, New Caledonia, Solomon Islands and Tonga. Image: PMC
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
AUCKLAND (University of Auckland / Pacific Media Watch): A Fijian academic at the University of Auckland, Dr Steven Ratuva, a political sociologist who is on the editorial board of Pacific Journalism Review, has been awarded a Marsden Fund grant worth NZ$600,000 (FJ$850,000) to lead a major research project on Pacific regional security.
Dr Ratuva, of UOA’s Centre for Pacific Studies, was the only Pacific Islands scholar to win a 2012 Marsden award.
The Marsden Fund is New Zealand’s major research award provided by the New Zealand government and the Royal Society of New Zealand to New Zealand’s top scholars to pursue high level research to advance the knowledge and innovation of the country internationally in the areas of science, technology, medicine, arts and social science.
“The Marsden Fund supports the very best investigators to do world class basic research,” said Marsden Fund Council chairperson Professor Juliet Gerrard in announcing the funding results.
“It is widely accepted worldwide that the most important breakthroughs are made when the best researchers are funded to work on their most exciting ideas. This is what makes the Marsden Fund so vital for the long term success of New Zealand and makes Marsden researchers such an inspiring community.”
Dr Ratuva, who is also president of the Pacific Islands Political Studies Association (PIPSA), an international body of political scientists and diplomats, will focus his research on the interface between state-based and culture-based security systems in the Pacific and the potential of a new synthesis in addressing local, national and regional conflict.
The case studies are Fiji, New Caledonia, Solomon Islands and Tonga – four countriesand territories with different conflict dynamics and security configurations.
Dr Ratuva, who holds a PhD from Britain, is member of a research team of international experts on ethnic conflict and affirmative action commissioned by Duke University in the US.
He is a member of an international team of experts on affirmative action and labour market funded by the British Academy and facilitated by Oxford and Cambridge Universities.
He previously taught at the University of the South Pacific, Australian National University and visiting fellow in a number of international universities as well as advisor and consultant for a number of international organisations.
Last year, he chaired a seminar marking the UNESCO Media Freedom Day in the Pacific at AUT University. He has also contributed articles to PJR and Pacific Media Centre Online.
12) 25 Fijian bus drivers face deportation in NZ
By Online Editor
11:05 am GMT+12, 05/02/2013, New Zealand
Twenty-five Fijian bus drivers employed by bus company Go Wellington are facing deportation after working around the city for up to six years.
The men were granted annual work visas and employed by NZ Bus from 2006 when bus driving was listed on Immigration New Zealand’s skills shortage list. Now Immigration NZ is refusing to renew the visas because the shortage no longer exists.
The Fijian Indian men brought their families with them, and had proved themselves to be honest, hard-working and law-abiding citizens, Tramways Union Wellington branch president Evan Keay said.
“It really does appear to be a case of blatant exploitation. These workers and their families were encouraged to come here. They’ve been used to fill gaps and bolster the New Zealand economy.
“Now, because it no longer suits government policy, they are being systematically ejected from this country.”
The work permit for the first member of the group expired last month.
The driver now faces deportation if his appeal proves unsuccessful.
Affected drivers approached this week said they did not wish to comment as they feared it might prejudice their own appeals once their work permits expired.
There are 46 Fijian drivers in Wellington and Auckland, mainly of Fijian Indian origin, who could be affected by the change in immigration status.
Keay said the drivers had come to New Zealand in good faith with their wives and children.
“Many of the children have spent virtually their entire life in New Zealand. These children have received all their schooling here and have no knowledge of life in Fiji and the hardships that will present upon their return . . .
“The only change that has occurred in the last six years, and has led to the refusal of Immigration NZ to renew these workers’ visas, is Government policy,” he said.
The drivers are also being supported by NZ Bus chief executive Zane Fulljames, who wrote to former immigration minister Jonathan Coleman, telling him deporting the drivers would prove costly to the company. “It is likely the cost of training 46 replacements would approach NZD$700,000 (NZD$15,000 per head approx),”Fulljames wrote.
He would like special consideration to be given to the men, as they had shown hard work and loyalty. “We would like a degree of certainty and security while they pursue permanent citizenship.”
Immigration NZ general manager Nicola Hogg said bus drivers could be granted only one-year work visas under the essential skills policy. In Wellington and Auckland there were now New Zealanders available to work as bus drivers.
“The Fijian bus drivers do not have a pathway to residence. All of them have been granted additional visas of up to 12 months. This step has been taken to give the drivers sufficient time to organise their affairs and arrange their return home.”
Outgoing Immigration Minister Nathan Guy said: “I sympathise with these bus drivers but their work visas were always temporary with a limited timeframe. Our policy is that we look for New Zealanders first for jobs, before turning to overseas workers.
“I’ve offered a number of options to the drivers, including a one-year extension to their visas to give them more time to make plans.
SOURCE: DOMINION POST/PACNEWS
13) Minister Defends Samoa Government Tender Process
Local and Chinese companies bidding for Fugalei Market work
By Lanuola Tupufia
APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Feb. 5, 2013) – Samoa Minister of Finance Faumuina Tiatia Liuga has defended the Government’s tender process against claims that foreign companies are undermining it through the submission of “cheap tenders” to fend off competition from local companies.
“There is no point of agreeing on the lowest price that compromises the quality of the building,” he said.
The claims have surfaced as 11 companies – including three Chinese companies – are vying for the multi-million-tala contract to build the Fugalei Market.
According to well-informed sources within the construction industry, of all the companies who have submitted tenders, two of the cheapest tenders are from Chinese companies.
Whereas one has submitted a tender of WST$15 million [US$6.4 million], the second cheapest is WST$17 million [US$7.2 million].
The cheapest tender from a local company is just over WST$30 million [US$12.7 million].
Asked for a comment, the Minister dismissed the notion that the contract is likely to be awarded to a Chinese company simply because their price is the cheapest.
“I don’t know where that information came from but I can’t comment on speculations,” said Faumuina. “I haven’t looked into the tenders since it was opened.”
The tenders were opened in November last year. As of yesterday, it could not be ascertained when the winner is likely to be announced.
But the Minister assured that all the tenders are being evaluated. He said the cost of the project – as it has been advertised – is from WST$15 million to WST$40 million [US$16.9 million].
“There are about eleven companies that submitted bids and are being evaluated by the Evaluation committee,” he said. “The Tenders Board is yet to receive the report from the committee so I don’t have details of it.
“There are several companies from overseas joint venture with local companies that bid and about three Chinese contractors that showed interest.”
The Minister said some local companies bidding for the project are in partnership with outside companies.
Faumuina said the Tenders Board will assess all the bids and the lowest bidder will not always be the one to win the tender.
“There is no point of agreeing on the lowest price that compromises the quality of the building,” he said.
The new two-story market will be elevated by up to a meter to address the issue of flooding at Fugalei.
The ground floor will be used for crops and agriculture produce and a section for restaurants and kitchens and the top floor for handicrafts and flea market.
There will be stairways and elevators convenient access. It will have two traffic exits with defined bus depots, taxi standards and public parking.
The project is expected to be completed by August this year. The winning design for the new facility was submitted by Tinai, Gordon and Associates.
Samoa Observer: www.samoaobserver.ws/
14) Awareness Needed To Save Natural Environment In Samoa
Damaging practices must be fought with awareness of impacts
By Lagi Keresoma
APIA, Samoa (Talamua, Feb. 5, 2013) – The lack of awareness programs and the urge to earn more money is the key cause of people destroying the environment in Samoa.
This was the assessment by the Advisory Committee to the Minister of the Environment (MNRE) in a public presentation today. Chairman of the Committee, Tofilau Lupematasila Fa’amanu Ivara said that “there is not enough awareness for the people to understand the impact of their actions on the environment and a safe future for Samoa.”
Tofilau said that the Ministry needs to change the people’s attitudes and they can’t do that by conducting only two or three awareness programs a year. He believes the Ministry should have a core group to handle public awareness on a regular basis.
He acknowledges the public awareness promotions and talkback shows on the radio and television on the environment. “But that is not enough,” he said.
“The notices are only run accordingly to the amount of time paid.” He also noted that some of the notices are only run when it’s a commemoration of a certain environmental event or after a natural disaster.
From his team’s assessment, they noted that most of the people in the rural areas have little knowledge of the real impact of their actions such as clearing forests and trees for a taro plantation or cattle farm.
He cited the using of dynamite for fishing as one of the methods used by people for a long time and they are still doing it today despite awareness programs.
“So where is the awareness and how often do these we have these awareness programs?” asked Tofilau.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for the Disaster Management Office (DMO) Filomena Nelson emphasized the importance of awareness to the Ministry hence prioritizing it.
“We have workshops and awareness programs almost every month on various issues,” said Nelson.
She believes the Ministry is doing all it can and she agreed with Tofilau unless people change their attitudes, it would be very hard to convince them.
Tofilau and his committee members of 20 selected representatives from various districts and report directly to the Minister of the Environment.
The Committee’s role is to ensure that the law is upheld. They have been granted the authority to stop anyone or company from conducting any illegal actions on the environment especially on reserved lands. This includes the cutting down of trees, mining sand and stones from rivers, shooting of native birds and littering.
“Our Committee can only do so much but it is the Ministry that needs to enforce all this,” said Tofilau.
Last week a member of the committee at Saleapaga reported a local company mining sand at Aleipata. The report was sent to the Minister and by mid afternoon, members of the Ministry of MNRE were on the case and stopped mining of sand in the area.
The Advisory committee was set up in December 2011 and members paid an allowance for their time.
The negative impact and mass destruction of the environment in the recent cyclone and flooding, shows very little was achieved by any awareness programs of the last thirty years and the annual Environment Week celebrated by the Ministry and the country in November every year.
15) Novelist hopes Pitcairn romance will appeal to Mutiny on Bounty fans
Posted at 18:37 on 05 February, 2013 UTC
A Pitcairn Island-based novelist hopes her new book will give readers an insight into the island’s culture.
Nadine Christian says the novel, Remembering Love, will give people a taste of the isolation of Pitcairn, its language and some of its traditions.
Mrs Christian, who is married to an eighth generation descendant of Fletcher Christian, says there is still alot of interest in Pitcairn and the Bounty mutineers who made the island their home.
“We’ve got a huge fan base of people that do still watch the movies and visit our tourism site purely on the romanticism and the history of the Fletcher Christian and Captain Bligh mutiny, so it’s very relevant today.”
Pitcairn Island novelist Nadine Christian.
Radio New Zealand International
16) Kiribati Independent Newspaper Will Continue Operations
Editor says government will have to get used to opposing views
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Feb. 5, 2013) – The editor of a Kiribati newspaper shut down last year by the government says he is not going to change the sort of stories he publishes.
The Kiribati Independent closed last June to allow police to investigate complaints that it had breached the Newspaper Registration Act.
Taberannang Korauaba says although he has not heard anything from the government since it ordered the paper’s closure, his lawyers have assured him that it is safe to resume operations.
He says it is his view that the government considers the paper to be against it – but that is not the case.
“We are media and we are small, you know we are a small island nation and the government as we know has been, is very new to a form of operation that we’re going to publish stories against the government. But I’m sure they will get used to it and we’re still going to do what a newspaper should do.”
Taberannang Korauaba says readers are obviously happy with the paper because last month’s initial print run of 500 copies has sold out.
Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com
17) Groundbreaking Held For New Guam Museum
Island will now have a permanent place ‘to honor its past’
By Jerick Sablan
HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Feb. 6, 2013) – A Guam museum is one step closer to becoming reality.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held at Skinner Plaza in Hagåtña yesterday for the Guam and Chamorro Educational Facility.
The facility will provide a place to hold artifacts from the island’s more-than-3,000-year history, cultural events, movie, and educational classes, said Department of Chamorro Affairs President Joseph Artero-Cameron.
During yesterday’s ceremony, Gov. Eddie Calvo honored two men — both historians — who died recently.
Former senator, journalist, historian and teacher Antonio “Tony” Palomo died Friday at the age of 81.
Author, educator and historian Dirk Ballendorf died Monday at age 73.
Palomo was the director of the Guam Museum for several years and was an advocate for finding a permanent home for the museum.
Palomo’s wife, Margaret Palomo, said she plans to use some of the sand in the groundbreaking for his burial.
“He’ll get a kick out of it,” Margaret Palomo said.
She said she was happy to be at the groundbreaking and is sure her husband was watching the ceremony wherever he is.
Calvo reminded the groundbreaking’s attendants that Guam’s history spans thousands of years and is very rich. He said the museum will bring pieces of that rich history, which are spread in other parts of the worlds like Hawaii, Philippines and Europe, back home.
He also said the museum will start the revitalization of Guam’s capital city.
“This will re-energize our capital city to it’s greatest heights,” Calvo said.
The $27 million project is being funded through the Hotel Occupancy Tax bond. The museum is set to be completed by 2014. Projects such as the museum were established by Public Law 30-228, which gives HOT bond funding to projects throughout the island like the revitalization of parts of the Plaza de España.
The museum will sit on a portion of Skinner Plaza, staring near the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral-Basilica and extending beyond the amphitheater in Skinner Plaza.
The plan for the museum includes three levels and a mezzanine area.
Monte Mesa, chairman of the Guam Museum Foundation Inc., said the support of various government and private agencies helped make the museum become a reality.
“I’m proud to again set another milestone to this project,” Mesa said.
John Mafnas, chairman of the Department of Chamorro Affairs Board of Trustees, said the groundbreaking was a historic day for Guam.
“For decades our people have asked for a museum,” Mafnas said.
Guam hasn’t had a permanent museum since World War II and has been in various temporary housing since then, Artero-Cameron said.
Mafnas said it took many years of talking and planning, but now Guam will have a place to honor its past.
“We’re turning words into action,” Mafnas said.
Mark Baldyga, chairman of the Guam Visitors Bureau’s Board of Directors, said the museum will help the island’s tourism industry, because it will be a place tourists can learn about Guam’s unique history.
“Through the construction of our museum we can finally ask the question not what Guam can learn from the rest of the world. But what the world can learn from Guam,” Baldyga said.
Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com
18) NZ Ministry of Foreign Affairs reveals successful bidders for new aid funding
By Online Editor
10:10 am GMT+12, 06/02/2013, New Zealand
The New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs has revealed the successful bidders for aid funding under its new International Development Fund Partnerships.
The partnerships throw a portion of the country’s aid spending open to business operators for the first time.
Non-government organisations, educational institutions, church groups and government agencies can also apply for the funds.
In the first allocation, 17 organisations get just under US$13 million.
In the Pacific they include the Youth Cultures and Community Trust which has been funded to set up youth development projects across the Pacific.
The University of Auckland is to run a programme called ’Pacific science for health literacy’ in the Cook Islands and Tonga.
Landcare Research will undertake work on invasive weeds in the Cook Islands while International Needs New Zealand is to run a programme empowering solo mothers in Fiji’s squatter settlements
Others receiving money for Pacific projects include the Manukau Institute of Technology, Rotary New Zealand, the Salvation Army, UNICEF and a company called Sandalwood Futures Ltd.
19) Clark sees UN development funding drop
By Online Editor
3:53 pm GMT+12, 05/02/2013, United States
The head of the United Nations Development Program, Helen Clark, says funding shortfalls at the crucial UN development body are a serious concern.
In the wake of the global financial crisis, funding dropped in 2011 and in 2012.
In an address to the executive board in New York, the former New Zealand prime minister said UNDP’s core income is expected to fall further in 2013.
The UNDP is the flagship of all UN agencies working to reduce poverty and improve the lives of people in developing countries.
Its funding target of $US1 billion a year fell $129 million last year.
Clark said: “We are taking all necessary measures to keep spending within the new resource planning envelope that we have.”
The UNDP Pacific resident co-ordinator, Knut Ostby, said in Suva that while the Pacific may be insulated from the worst of the cuts, it is still feeling the impact of reduced core funding.
However, he said, there was now an opportunity to “strategically plan” resources, “to work in a coherence and to work in partnership with other UN agencies, and to work more directly to national priorities”.
SOURCE: RADIO AUSTRALIA/PACNEWS
By Online Editor
4:08 pm GMT+12, 05/02/2013, Australia
The PNG Residents team has won the Cabramatta International 9s Cup, after defeating West Ilawarra in the final 14 to 4.
P-N-G went through undefeated in the pools and the qualifying finals, in the 33 team tournament at the weekend.
An elated coach, Adrian Lam, says this is a fantastic lead-up to this weekend’s big match against the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
21) South Sydney Rabbitohs expecting a big crowd for trial match against PNG Kumuls
By Online Editor
1:33 pm GMT+12, 06/02/2013, Australia
Traditionally a cardinal and mrytle affair, Saturday night’s Return to Redfern trial clash will feature some very different faces.
Rabbitohs officials expecting hundreds of raucous Papuans to cheer on the visiting Kumuls, whose every move will also be evaluated by talent scouts from rival NRL outfits.
Despite being the only nation to declare rugby league its No. 1 sport, PNG remains virgin territory for most recruitment officers.
The 20-strong squad that will tackle Souths this weekend is wholly comprised of PNG residents, with some based in remote highland regions where brutal ‘eye-for-an-eye’ tribal customs still reign supreme.
Dreadlocked prop Esau Siune hails from the village of Kundiawa in Simbu province, which is likely to be banned from hosting matches in this year’s local competition because of repeated violence.
It’s little wonder Rabbitohs three-quarter Bryson Goodwin was anticipating a physical contest after coming face-to-face with Siune and his team mates at Redfern yesterday.
“I’m sure they are going to be hard to play,” he said.
“They’ve even got a guy nick-named the mini jukebox because he produces so many big hits.
“They’ll be energetic and enthusiastic.”
Recruitment officers learned that much last weekend, when they watched the Kumuls win the Cabramatta International Nines tournament after conceding just two tries.
Along with Siune, halves Dion Aiye and Israel Eliab attracted interest from Sydney-based player agents that could pave the way for NRL contracts.
PNG coach Adrian Lam expects more recruitment officers to flock to Redfern for Saturday night’s game.
“From what I’ve heard there will be about six clubs with recruitment officers here,” Lam said.
“I don’t know why clubs haven’t concentrated on Papua New Guinea more.
“They’ve become very familiar with the Pacific islands, but no-one from PNG really gets picked-up unless they come to school in Australia first.”
About 2,000 tickets remain available for the clash – one of seven trials being held this weekend.
Friday night’s Manly-Cronulla hit-out at Brookvale Oval will boast the most high-profile players, with the Sharks rolling out all their new recruits barring Luke Lewis (oblique tear).
Michael Gordon, Chris Heighington, Beau Ryan and Jono Wright have all been included in the 31-man squad, along with established Sharks Wade Graham, Ben Ross, Isaac de Gois and Anthony Tupou.
Canberra have named stars Josh Dugan, Jarrod Croker, Sam Williams and Josh McCrone for Saturday night’s game against Melbourne in Geelong, while Canterbury and Newtown will round out the weekend’s action with the annual Back to Belmore fixture.
Wests Tigers also tackle Penrith in Bathurst, where the Panthers have named a slightly stronger team that includes first graders Clint Newton, Blake Austin and Nathan Smith.
SOURCE: THE DAILY TELEGRAPH/PACNEWS
22) Serevi calls for Fiji 7S support
By Online Editor
1:25 pm GMT+12, 06/02/2013, United States
FORMER national sevens captain and coach Waisale Serevi has called for the nation to continue supporting the Fiji 7s team despite their recent performance in the Wellington 7s tournament.
Fiji lost to Canada 19-28 in the Bowl final of the tournament and are placed fourth on the HSBC Sevens World Series points table with 51 points.
The national side arrived in Nevada in the US yesterday afternoon for the Las Vegas 7s tournament.
Serevi said this was perfect example of a time the national side needed the support of the nation to do better in the next event.
Speaking to Times Sport via his liaison officer in Fiji Pravin Chand, he said he always supported the Fiji 7s side whether they won or lost and wanted the nation to do the same.
“No matter where I am in the world, I always support the Fijian players, win or lose,” Serevi said.
He said this weekend, he would pay a visit to the players in Las Vegas to provide moral support ahead of the tournament.
“I will visit the boys in Vegas as I have for the past two years to wish the team good luck.”
Serevi said he understood when fans were let down by the loss of the team.
He said the players and the families were experiencing the same thing.
“Like all rugby fans, we are always disappointed when our team loses. It is a really hard time for the team right now. Think of how disappointed you are and imagine how the boys and their families back home feel.
“It is important as Fijians that we rally around our boys and support them during this time.
“If there is any time that the Fiji 7s team needs support, this is the time they need our support wherever you are.
“We at Serevi Rugby want to wish the team well for Las Vegas and God bless,” Serevi said.
Chand, who also visited Serevi and the team for the past two years, echoed similar sentiments saying the support of the nation will motivate the team to do better in Las Vegas.
Fiji is drawn in Pool A with England, Scotland and Portugal for the Las Vegas 7s tournament.
SOURCE: FIJI TIMES/PACNEWS
23) Draw for new-look OFC Champions League announced
By Online Editor
1:34 pm GMT+12, 06/02/2013, New Zealand
OFC is pleased to announce the draw for the 2013 OFC Champions League, Oceania’s premier club competition and the qualifier for the prestigious FIFA Club World Cup Morocco 2013.
The tournament, previously known as the O-League, has undergone a change of format for the 2013 edition and will see eight of the Pacific’s finest teams from seven OFC member association countries fight it out for the right to be crowned kings of Oceania from 30 March 2013 to 19 May 2013.
As in recent seasons, the eight teams will be split into two groups with Ba (Fiji), Hekari United (Papua New Guinea), Solomon Warriors (Solomon Islands) and Amicale (Vanuatu) competing in Group A while Mont Dore (New Caledonia), Auckland City (New Zealand), Waitakere United (New Zealand) and Dragon (Tahiti) do battle in Group B.
Unlike in previous years, however, a semi-final stage will now be played and will feature the two highest-placed teams in each group.
The winner of Group A will face the second-placed team in Group B while the winner of Group B will meet the second-placed team in Group A.
These matches will be played over two legs on a home-and-away basis.
The victorious semi-final teams will then clash in a winner-takes-all final at a pre-determined venue. For the 2013 edition, this venue will be in Auckland, New Zealand.