Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 822

Melanesia:

1) PNG – Indonesia boda tred i wansait

Updated 18 March 2013, 15:16 AEST

Lida blong PNG Greens Party, Dorothy Tekwie itok Papua New Guinea i lusim planti moni tumas long boda wantaim Indonesia.

Dorothy Tekwie husat i wanpela lida meri long Vanimo long West Sepik oa Sandaun Provins itok, Papua New Guinea gavman imas painim wei blong stopim bikpla moni na bisnis i go long Indonesia.

Em itok long nau ia i olsem planti ol pipol blong PNG i save krosim boda long Vanimo na i go bai planti samting long hap blong West Papua na ino gat tred long hap blong PNG.

Ms Tekwie itok ol meri blong Vanimo i lukim dispela nau na i wanbel long statim wanpela bisnis blong mekim ol pipol blong arasait long boda tu i go baim ol prodak blong PNG yet insait long hap long Vanimo.

Em tok dispela bai mekim tu ol pipol blong PNG husat i save krosim boda long bai oli baim ol samting long ol stua we i stap long hap blong PNG na ino go long hap blong Indonesia na lusim planti kina.(radioaustralia.net.au)

2) PNG weistim nating coffee

Updated 18 March 2013, 13:25 AEST

Ol coffee fama long Papua New Guinea i save weistim planti million kina long wanem i nogat rot long salim coffee blong ol long maket.

Navi Anis, Chief Executive Officer blong Coffee Industry Corperation long PNG i toktok (Credit: ABC)

Piksa: Igat interes i stap long PNG Coffee tasol nogat rot long kisim go long maket

Coffee Industry long Papua New Guinea i tokaut stret olsem planti ol beg coffee long ol rural eria i kostim planti million kina isave weist nating bikos pipol inogat ol rot blong kisim go long ol maket.

Chief Executive Officer blong Coffee Industry Corperation long PNG, Navi Anis itok planti rural eria long kantri isave yusim balus tasol long kisim coffee bin blong ol go long maket long wanem i nogat rot.

Mr Anis itok ol liklik balus blong Missionary Aviation Fellowship na ol balus blong sampela ol liklik air sevis nau i save karim coffee blong ol fama taim oli gat sans na sapos nogat, planti beg blong coffee i save weist nating.

Em itok CIC i traim long halvim ol fama long wamen wei em i nap tasol em i had long wanem ol yet i nogat balus blong halvim ol fama na i dipen long wanem kain rot i stap.(radioaustralia.net.au)

3) Sir Michael Somare challenges MSG to change ‘arc of instability’ tag
By Online Editor
2:30 pm GMT+12, 18/03/2013, Fiji

Papua New Guinea’s founding Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare has challenged the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) to change the label of being an ‘arc of instability’ to that of being an ‘arc of prosperity.’

Sir Michael said the ‘unsavory tag’ for Melanesia represents nothing more than political posturing.

“Our well-earned successes have, more often than not, have been belittled as accidents, products of circumstances or resulting from the benevolence of other countries.

“I for one believe that these sentiments are but manifestations of sour grapes from those that envy our successes, from those that wanted us to fall in our venture, said Sir Michael.

The PNG leader said the achievements of the past 25 years have proven that the MSG as a sub-regional group is here to stay.

“MSG is bearing fruits. MSG member countries economic growth patterns of recent times manifest these. We are doing something right.

MSG member countries comprise Fiji, the FLNKS of New Caledonia, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu.

Sir Michael, who is in Fiji to launch the weeklong celebrations to mark the MSG’s Silver Jubilee celebrations, also used his address to reiterate his support for the Fijian Government’s move towards democratic processes.

“I have always spoken out against a quick fix and have criticised attempts to impose prescriptions from outside.

“I have counseled others not to pressure Fiji to artificially tinker with the Constitution simply to appease development partners or to quell criticisms from our big boys in the region.

This solution, he said would be short-lived, said Sir Michael.

He revealed his interventions with the Pacific Islands Forum and the Commonwealth to show understanding towards Fiji and not exclude her from their membership.

“I have always held the view that working our differences and disagreements from within is less antagonistic and therefore more helpful to lasting solutions and enduring relationships.

The former PNG PM has urged the MSG and its Secretariat to ‘provide understanding and support that Fiji requires to navigate its political challenges through its Strategic Framework for Change.

“Fiji is almost at the end of the process on the new Constitution aimed at restoring democracy. Whatever the end product, it is for Fiji and its people to decide and no one else. We must respect this.

Fiji joined the Melanesian Spearhead Group in 1996 under the leadership of Major General Sitiveni Rabuka.

SOURCE: PACNEWS

4) Solomon islands establishes diplomatic missions in Cuba and Malaysia

By Online Editor
09:43 am GMT+12, 18/03/2013, Solomon Islands

The Solomon Islands Government has established two new Diplomatic Missions in Cuba and Malaysia.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade, Clay Forau made the announcement last week in Honiara following his official visit to New Zealand in the last two weeks.

Foreign Minister Forau said  that Solomon Islands Embassy in Cuba and i Solomon Islands  High Commission office in Malaysia have already been established and reflects a major achievement for the Ministry, the Government and the country as a whole.

“Our new Embassy in Havana, Cuba will help strengthened our bilateral relations with Cuba as well as the Latin America and Caribbean region as well as looking at new opportunities for enhancing our trade and economic relations,” Minister Forau said.

Solomon Islands Ambassador Designate to Cuba,  Simeon Bouro, has already left the country to take up his new posting in Cuba and will be presenting his credentials to the Cuban Vice President on 22 March 2013.

On the Solomon Islands new High Commission office in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Foreign Minister Forau said this will help advance Solomon Islands ‘Look North Policy’ and strengthened our bilateral relations and contacts with the Malaysia Government and the Asian region.

“The High Commission office in Malaysia has been mooted since the 1990s by successive Governments but I am pleased to note that the NCRA Government has made this initiative materialized,” Minister Forau.

The Solomon Islands High Commission office in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, will be temporarily manned by a senior official from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & External Trade, pending the appointment of a new High Commissioner to Malaysia.

The process of the appointment of a new High Commissioner in Malaysia is progressing well and will be finalized soon.

SOURCE:SIG/PACNEWS

5) Gov’t moves to suspend MP Ralph Regenvanu

Posted on March 16, 2013 – 8:29am |
By

Jonas Cullwick

Parliament has confirmed receiving a motion from the government to suspend opposition member of parliament Ralph Regenvanu.
However, Private Secretary to the Speaker, Daniel Bule, says the Speaker, Georges Wells, has not yet given his decision on whether or not to accept the motion.

What appears to be a government counter motion was lodged after MP Regenvanu and his opposition colleagues deposited a motion of no-confidence against the Prime Minister Sato Kilman.

It is reported that the coalition government is accusing Mr Regenvanu of destabilizing the country by presenting a no-confidence motion when the opposition has only 16 members of the 52-seat house to vote for it.

Regenvanu’s imminent suspension reportedly stems from a meeting by the Government caucus that agreed to carry out the counter motion.
At this stage the Port Vila MP says he does not know the reason for the planned suspension.

He said all he has seen is a report on Radio New Zealand, which is where a reason for the suspension was mentioned.

Radio New Zealand reported, “The coalition accuses Mr Regenvanu of destabilising the country by presenting no-confidence motions when the opposition hasn’t got the number in parliament to vote them through”.

But Regenvanu questions such counter motion that targets him alone when there are other MPs involved.

http://www.dailypost.vu/content/gov’t-moves-suspend-mp-ralph-regenvanu

6) Vanuatu Opposition Calls For Renewed Support Of West Papua
Natapei wants relationship with Indonesia reviewed
By Godwin LigoPORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, March 15, 2013) – In Vanuatu The Leader of the Opposition did not mince his words when commenting on the issue of the struggle of the West Papuan people for a political freedom from Indonesia.

“The Opposition has two calls to the Kilman-led government. First is to withdraw an agreement that was signed between Port Vila and Jakarta by the Kilman-led government, and secondly is to withdraw review Indonesia’s observer status in the Melanesian Spearhead Group ( MSG) during the upcoming MSG Meeting in, Noumea, New Caledonia in July of this year,” Opposition Leader Edward Nipake Natapei told Daily Post yesterday at Parliament House.

He said it is totally wrong for Indonesia to meddle in the affairs of the Melanesian countries such as the MSG.

“Remember what the first and late Prime Minister Father Walter Lini said –that Vanuatu will never be fully free until other colonized countries including West Papua are politically freed,” Natapei commented after listening to the talk by the West Papuan Freedom campaigner Benny Wenda.

“The Opposition strongly supports the application for West Papua to become a full member of the MSG at the upcoming MSG Meeting in Noumea New Caledonia in July this year,” said Natapei.

“Melanesian countries are members of the MSG and MSG does not have MSG plus, the plus is West Papua and not Indonesia which is not a Melanesian country,” said the Opposition Leader Natapei.

He confirmed that the Opposition supports the inclusion of West Papua receiving a full status of the MSG Membership to be on the MSG agenda for the upcoming meeting in New Caledonia in July this year.

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

7) Vanuatu says it co-sponsors Tahiti decolonisation bid

Posted at 00:50 on 18 March, 2013 UTC

Vanuatu says it is one of the sponsors of the resolution, seeking to re-inscribe French Polynsia on the UN decolonisation list.

A government public relations officer, Jeff Patunvanu, made the statement after Vanuatu’s representative to the Pacific Council of Churches, Bishop James Ligo, said only Tuvalu and Nauru supported the resolution by the Solomon Islands prime minister.

Mr Patunvanu says Vanuatu is well respected in the region for its traditional stand to see all remaining territories gain self-determination.

A vote on revised resolution is expected in the UN General Assembly this month.

France removed the territory from the list in 1947 but is opposed to return it.

News Content © Radio New Zealand International

8)Vanuatu admits confusion over Abkhazia link

Posted at 03:18 on 18 March, 2013 UTC

Vanuatu’s foreign ministry has denied that the country has set up diplomatic relations with Abkhazia, the Russian-backed breakaway region of Georgia.

This follows the announcement by the government that it is seeking diplomatic relations with Georgia.

In 2011, Vanuatu’s foreign minister Alfred Carlot declared his country’s diplomatic recognition of Abkhazia, before denying it and then later reaffirming the ties.

However, Mr Carlot has now signalled a move to establish ties with Georgia.

The Director-General of Foreign Affairs, Johnny Koanapo, says that at this time there are no formal relations with Abkhazia.

“There’s been a confusion over what the government had intended to do which was just simply a letter stating that there might be an intention to establish relations with Abkhazia. But at this point in time, there’s no action on that and there’s no decision.”

Johnny Koanapo.

Tuvalu and Nauru are among the five countries which recognise Abkhazia.

Radio New Zealand International

9) Le Pen keen on New Caledonia independence vote

Posted at 22:13 on 17 March, 2013 UTC

The leader of France’s National Front, Marine Le Pen, says New Caledonia should hold its independence referendum as soon as possible.

Speaking to media in Noumea, she also says no effort should be spared to avoid splits among those who oppose independence.

Walter Zweifel reports.

“Marine le Pen says she is convinced New Caledonian politicians attached to France understand that they have a mission and will stop playing with fire. Her comment echoes repeated calls by Paris for unity within the loyalist camp, which in the past decade has seen one split after the other. Under the 1998 Noumea Accord on greater autonomy, a referendum on independence is possible after 2014, with opinion polls consistently suggesting a defeat for the mainly Kanak pro-independence side. With the fragile peace after the unrest of the 1980s in mind, none of the parties, apart from the National Front, is keen to rush a decision.”

Radio New Zealand International

  10) Presidential escort

Maciu Malo
Sunday, March 17, 2013/FijiTimes.

THE head of State, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, will bring home the first Fiji Airways Airbus A330-200 aircraft on Tuesday.

Air Pacific’s manager public relations and communication Shane Hussein said the new aircraft would also fly over major parts of the country for the people of Fiji to get a glimpse of it.

“The A330 will depart Hong Kong on Monday night and arrive in Fiji on Tuesday morning,” he said.

“It will land and taxi its way up to the Air Pacific hangar facility, where hundreds of guests will be waiting.

“Full Fijian ceremonies of welcome befitting the occasion will be accorded. It’s an event that we have been planning for a while, and we’re excited that March 19 is almost here, when Fiji’s ‘flying billboard’ arrives home.

“Now, before it touches down in Nadi, the A330 will do a fly-by over major parts of Fiji, essentially doing a lap of honour around the country and giving the people of Fiji a chance to see the aircraft.

“These areas include Sigatoka, Pacific Harbour, Suva, Koro, Taveuni, Savusavu, Labasa, Rakiraki, Ba, Lautoka and Nadi. We are encouraging the people of Fiji to step out of their offices and essentially look up.

“We’re working with national radio to run promotions and competitions all designed to inform the public about where they can see the aircraft.”

Mr Hussein said the new airbus has 24 business class seats and 249 economy class seats.

“Its first commercial flight will be on April 2 to Auckland,” he said.

11/12) Fiji Chief Critical Of PM’s Provincial Council Appointments
Ratu Naiqama: Bainimarama is only seeking local support

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, March 18, 2013) – The paramount chief of Fiji’s Cakaudrove province says the Prime Minister is further trying to shore up local support by appointing the chairpersons of the provincial councils.

Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu says the announcement that the government will dictate the heads of provincial councils to promote its development projects is a worrying sign.

The Prime Minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama has defended the move, saying the government partly funds the councils with more tahn a million US dollars a year.

He says the hereditary chiefs are more interested in elites taking the senior roles and shouldn’t lecture about democracy.

But Ratu Naiqama says this move is another attempt to blow the government’s trumpet.

“When you are talking politics you are talking numbers, all he is trying to do is establish himself, to sway people’s views and try and get the numbers. So far he has tried his best and has failed to get those numbers. When I say numbers, it’s the support,” said Ratu Naiqama. “That is why he is trying to go this way to make sure that what he says goes down there on the ground, and that is not democracy.”

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

Polynesia:

13) Tongan Criminals Illegally Obtain Australian Visas
Police alleged to have fraudulently wiped clean criminal records

By Dominique Schwartz

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, March 18, 2013) – An Australian immigration inquiry has found that 18 criminals from Tonga have fraudulently obtained Australian visas.

Police in Tonga are under investigation after it was found that some officers had effectively wiped clean the criminal slate of 172 convicted Tongans, thereby enabling them to apply for work and residency visas overseas.

Australian immigration officials have found 18 such people holding permanent or temporary visas for Australia.

A Department spokeswoman says three of those visas have been cancelled.

The others are under further investigation and the department has not ruled out deportations.

New Zealand authorities have suspended Tongan visa applications after identifying about 40 visa-holders whose criminal convictions had been wiped.

Radio Australia: www.abc.net.au/ra

14) No dates set yet for Tuvalu by-election
By Online Editor
2:17 pm GMT+12, 18/03/2013, Tuvalu

No date has been set for a by-election for the vacant Nukufetau Island seat on Tuvalu.

The seat was left vacant following the death of finance minister Lotoala Metia in Suva in December last year.

Secretary to Government Panapasi Nelesoni told ISLANDS BUSINESS their lawyers were still working on details including when it will be held.

The Tuvalu constitution gives the government of the day the power to decide when to hold the by-election.

The Nukufetau constituency has been a hot spot for Tuvalu elections since 2011 when Metia’s constituents from Nukufetau demanded for his resignation in a peaceful protest on the island. Members of the powerful council of elders or Falekaupule from his island wanted to meet Metia to persuade him to reconsider his allegiance to Prime Minister Willie Telavi in a move that would have shifted power from Telavi to Metia’s fellow Nukufetau MP Enele Sopoaga and the opposition group.

Since Telavi took over government in 2010 there have been two deaths in his cabinet.

The first being minister Isaia Italeli who died in July of the same year attending a meeting in Samoa.

He was succeeded by his wife Pelenike Isaia who beat Opposition favourite Leneuoti Matusi in a by-election by 62 votes to hand back the majority of 8 seats to Telavi, as opposed to the Opposition’s 7. This was then followed by the death of Metia.

Telavi’s camp is hoping the by-election will give them the numbers to retain power.

With another minister recovering from an illness while on duty in Cuba, the government now has equal number of seats with the opposition in parliament.

Opposition parliamentarian Taukelina Finikaso says it looks like the delay in announcing the by-election date is deliberate to try to ensure their (government) numbers are intact.

He also claimed that a number of projects on Nukufetau has been stopped by government including a water supply project that would address water problems for the villagers.

“Now that the elders of the island are clearly not going to support a government-backed candidate they have put a stop to all projects,” Finikaso claimed.

SOURCE: ISLANDS BUSINESS/PACNEWS

15) Three candidates move through to second round in Wallis and Futuna vote
By Online Editor
2:13 pm GMT+12, 18/03/2013, Wallis and Futuna

The three Wallis and Futuna candidates vying for a seat on the French National Assembly have all got through to the second round of voting.

Napole Polutele, who is supported by the UMP party, held a slight lead in the first round with 37 percent of the vote.

Second placed Mikaele Kulimoetoke gained 33 percent trailed by Lauriane Verge on 29 percent.

Verge is the wife of David Verge who lost the seat in January following a French Constitutional Court ruling annulling last year’s result.

Verge had been found guilty of campaign irregularities and banned from running for office for a year.

SOURCE: RNZI/PACNEWS

Micronesia:

16) Supreme court orders cancellation of Nauru election

By Online Editor
09:53 am GMT+12, 18/03/2013, Nauru

Nauru’s Supreme Court has declared the speaker of parliament Ludwig Scotty’s dissolution of the assembly null and void, cancelling the election planned for 06 April.

The order is the result of a legal challenge by a group of MPs led by a former cabinet minister, Kieren Keke, over President Scotty’s adjournment and subsequent dissolution of parliament.

Dr Keke says the chief justice, Geoffrey Eames, declared the speaker’s dissolution unlawful.

“And therefore declared null and void on the basis that he did not have the constitutional authority to dissolve parliament. As a consequence of that the writ that the speaker had issued for a general election to be held on the 6th of April was also unlawful and declared null and void.”

Keke said the chief justice has also ordered the speaker to reconvene parliament, something that must be done within the next 28 days.

SOURCE: RNZI/PACNEWS

17) US Senate adopts McCain amendment, cuts Guam funding
By Online Editor
09:41 am GMT+12, 18/03/2013, Guam

The U.S. Senate has adopted SenatorJohn McCain’s amendment to the Consolidated and Continuing Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2013, or H.R. 933, effectively eliminating US$120 million for civilian infrastructure projects on Guam.

The amendment removed funding support for critical Guam infrastructure projects, specifically water and wastewater treatment systems on the island as well as a regional public health laboratory.

Guam Senator Frank B. Aguon, chairman of the committee on Guam-U.S. military relocation, had sent a letter to McCain requesting him to reconsider his amendment to H.R. 933.

In his letter, Aguon mentioned the July 2010 environmental impact statement, where the U.S. Department of Defense “acknowledges the existing sub-standard conditions of utility infrastructure systems on Guam…[and] recognizes the constraints on GovGuam to be able to address these indirect impacts of the proposed military relocation.”

Aguon also claims the Center for Strategic and International Studies report McCain referenced in a recent statement contradicts the Arizona senator’s position, with the report’s recommendation to “prioritize improvements on Guam, focusing on roads and infrastructure improvements such as pipeline protection that would be mission-essential even if fewer Marines move to Guam from Okinawa.”

Aguon also pointed out that McCain’s concerns over budgetary pressures “seem somewhat inconsistent,” given Rep. Raul Grijalva, also from Arizona, just recently introduced H.R. 548, a bill appropriating “$200 million for fiscal year 2014 solely for integrated fixed towers, remote video cameras, hand-held devices, mobile systems, and other technologies in Arizona.”

Guam Delegate Madeleine Z. Bordallo also issued a statement in response to the amendment, saying she is appalled that Sen. McCain continues to use funding for Guam projects as an example of “pork barrel” spending, adding McCain dismissed water and wastewater improvements – which are already overburdened by Guam’s existing civilian and military populations — as “egregious and unnecessary.”

“Senator McCain blurred reality in his statements on the floor of the Senate and muddled the importance of this investment. Moreover, Senator McCain insisted on an earmark to CSIS to develop an independent assessment of the rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region. That very report he so strongly advocated for urged the DOD to support certain civilian infrastructure projects and the authors further amplified this point at a hearing last summer,” Bordallo said.

“This amendment removes important authorization language that would have allowed the Department of Defense to transfer the civilian infrastructure funds to Guam. I am deeply disappointed that this amendment was included in the Senate’s Continuing Resolution, and I am committed to working with my colleagues to secure authority to transfer these funds that would ensure the Guam and Pacific realignments are prioritized as we consider the defense bill for fiscal year 2014,” Bordallo concluded.

SOURCE: MARIANAS VARIETY/PACNEWS

Australia:


18) Landslide: voters desert Gillard

By Online Editor
2:07 pm GMT+12, 18/03/2013, Australia

Julia Gillard is entering a politically dangerous last sitting week before the budget, with support for her government stuck in the basement.

A sharp drop in support for the ALP in February which sent shockwaves through the party is showing signs of becoming entrenched with less than six months to go to the federal election.

The latest Fairfax-Nielsen poll has confirmed Labor’s share of the primary vote is languishing at a landslide-losing 31 per cent – up a statistically insignificant 1 point from February. This compares with support for the Coalition unchanged on 47 per cent.

The 1400-strong telephone survey, taken from Thursday to Saturday, also showed  Gillard’s satisfaction rating continuing to drop and Tony Abbott’s continuing to improve.

The two-party-preferred split now sits at 44 per cent for Labor to 56 per cent for the Coalition.

That would leave the ALP electorally devastated if carried through to the September election.

With some Labor MPs and ministers favouring a late leadership change back to Kevin Rudd or a third candidate, the poll showed Rudd was easily the most popular choice among voters for prime minister, out-pointing Gillard by a ratio of two to one, with 62 per cent to Gillard on 31 per cent.

However, low voter enthusiasm for three other Labor leadership possibilities – Bill Shorten, Greg Combet and Bob Carr – suggests the party would not improve its September chances with any of these installed at the helm.

Labor voters themselves are evenly divided between Gillard and Rudd, with the latter edging in front with 51 per cent support and Gillard on 48 per cent.

However, that edge is much less than the 13 point advantage he enjoyed over Gillard in February last year.
Labor voters were even more dismissive than general voters of an alternative such as Shorten. He scored loyalty from just 19 per cent of Labor voters compared to Ms Gillard with 77 per cent backing.

On the separate index of approval ratings, 38 per cent approved of the way Gillard was handling her job compared to 58 per cent who disapproved.

This put her net approval rating – approval minus disapproval – at negative 20 per cent, a deterioration of 4 points in a month.  Abbott’s net approval rating was half as bad on negative 10 per cent (an improvement of 3 points), with 43 per cent approving of his performance and 53 disapproving.

The shifting approval ratings and the preferred prime minister findings confirm that neither leader is particularly popular with voters but that sentiment may be moving in the direction of the alternative prime minister,Abbott.

Pollster John Stirton said the trend spelt serious trouble for Labor. “Taking all the published polls together, there was a significant move against Labor at the end of January and early February, and most of the movement we’ve seen since then has been within the margin of error,” he said.

“The general trend, however, is clearly that Labor would lose an election held now.”

Labor’s 1-point improvement in the primary vote came from the Greens, who dropped 1 point to 10 per cent.

SOURCE: SMH/PACNEWS

New Zealand:

19) Tokelauan, Cook Islander, Niuean People Feel Discrimination In New Zealand
While citizens, Pacific People’s feel second class, consultation reveals

By Lealaiauloto Fatu Tauafiafi in Auckland

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, March 17, 2013) – New Zealand’s constitution is under review. It aims to cover issues such as the size of Parliament, the length of the electoral term, Maori representation, the role of the Treaty of Waitangi and whether New Zealand needs a written constitution.

The review has come under fire for a variety of reasons, some critics claim it is working towards a predetermined outcome: namely, the creation of a written constitution with the Treaty, or its “principles”, entrenched as supreme law.

However, a Pacific consultation started by the Auckland Council’s Pacific People’s Advisory Panel (PPAP) last week has brought to the surface a number of disturbing issues.

One of them is the discriminatory manner by which New Zealand has been treating its own citizens who are Tokelauan, Cook Islanders and Niuean.

People from these three countries are part of the New Zealand realm and are therefore citizens of New Zealand. Tokelau is currently a colony and is ruled by New Zealand, while Niue and the Cook Islands are self governing in free association which means New Zealand looks after their defence and foreign affairs.

After the first Pacific meeting held at the Auckland University School of Law, people from the three realm countries felt discriminated against. Thattheir rights as New Zealanders are not being recognized because they are being viewed as Pacific people.

According to Rev Uesifili Unasa, chair for the PPAP, “What they’re saying is they shouldn’t be lumped together as Pacific people. They are not saying that they are not Pacific islanders, what they are saying is that because they are categorized as Pacific islanders, that they are not getting their entitlement to political resources, and economic kudos as rightful citizens of New Zealand.

That they are entitled to the same rights that Maori and Pakeha are utilizing fully as New Zealand citizens.”

The issue of language was used to illustrate the discrimination the second class treatment the realm countries feel is how they have been treated.

“The Tokelau, Niue and Cook Islands languages are under real threat of being lost and yet in New Zealand we have English, and Te Reo as recognized New Zealand languages.,” recalled Rev Unasa. “So why are the languages of these New Zealand citizens not recognized as official languages of this country.”

Discrimination is magnified when viewed in terms of statistics.

“The distribution of resources in New Zealand, for example, education or health is a case in point. For Maori they get their recognition as Tangata Whenua or as Treaty partners so they have the right to:

Independence of their services,
Run their own governance,
Get their own representation in governance

“Yet Niue, Tokelau and Cook Islands, are not recognized in this way even though their New Zealand citizenship is the same as tangatawhenua.”

Rev Uesifili says the Pacific group understand the plight of the realm countries, especially when they are grouped with the other Pacific island countries.

“When we get lumped together as Pacific, we all know the issues and challenges, but we also know the resources we don’t get, and what political say we don’t get as Pacific people. So, the three realm nations are saying, why are we being treated like this when we are actually authentic Kiwis, that we are citizens of the ‘realm’ of New Zealand just like the Maori and Pakeha? From a Pacific perspective, we see where they are coming from.”

It is one of the key reasons for organizing the series of Pacific consultations on New Zealand’s constitutional review.

Rev Unasa told the New Zealand Pacific, “in terms of our Pacific people, we’ve got to define a place for us in that constitutional future and how our people can actually claim their place in New Zealand. So part of the initiative from our Pacific point of view has been to establish these consultations.”

After the first meeting, the three key issues centredaround the political voice of Pacific people, the rights of the realm countriesof Tokelau, Niue and Cook Islands, and in terms of the Treaty of Waitangi, how Pacific peoples should be placed within the bicultural partnership between the crown and Tangatawhenua.

Rev Unasa is calling on the Pacific community to take part in the constitutional consultation.

However, he admitted it is understandable if Pacific people feel these types of things have nothing to do with them.

“It is very hard for our people because we are so preoccupied with the essentials of life, of going to work, get some money, provide the food for our family, and do our community responsibilities.

“But the reality is that these things impact at the very grassroots levels and in our day to day lives that we don’t know about. Things like how do we get our representation into parliament, and into local government, how can we get our voice heard in terms of our Pacific interest in areas that decide on jobs, on education, health and so forth.”

He showed how a strong Pacific voice in the Constitutional Review can make real changes to the way laws impact on everyday Pacific lives.

“The review is talking about how our laws are shaped and formed,” he said.

“And those are important for us because they impact on our daily lives, on our young people being accused of things in the court.”

The other important impacts on the daily lives of Pacific people is how health and educational resources get distributed according to how many people live in certain parts of the demographic.

“These things are all represented in the constitution but often get lost from our view. And that is why it is so important for us to say to our people ‘whilst these things may not necessarily impact on you today, they do impact on our children, our grand children and our families in the future” so we have to have an input into it.”

It is why Rev Unasa is urging the Pacific communities, “our churches, our ministers, our community leaders to come togetherand talk about the things that are important and put in a submission as a church, as a family, as a community and as an individual, to this process.”

For Niue, Tokelau and Cook Islands, it is a way to get rid of the discrimination against their rights as New Zealand citizens and addressed for their future generations.

The next Pacific consultation will take place on Monday, 18 March at the Manukau Civic Centre. And the week after, on the 25 March, at the Fickling Centre in Mt Roskill.

Samoa Observer: www.samoaobserver.ws/

Franis:

20) Le Fer de lance a 25 ans

Posté à 18 March 2013, 9:02 AEST
Pierre Riant

Les objectifs de cette alliance mélanésienne à sa création étaient avant tout politiques, mais la situation a évolué au cours de ces 25 dernières années.

Dulciana Somare-Brash : “Le régionalisme est une force une positive pour les groupes de la région” [Pacific Institute]

En 1988, 4 parties prenantes ont signé un accord en 6 points : la Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée, les îles Salomon, le Vanuatu et le FLNKS de Nouvelle-Calédonie.
C’est cet accord qui a donné naissance officiellement au Groupe Mélanésien Fer de Lance, le GMFL que Fidji rejoindra en 1998.

Si l’indépendance, la décolonisation et la dénucléarisation ont été au départ les grandes préoccupations du GMFL, l’économie et le libre-échange commercial entre les pays membres sont maintenant devenus des priorités.

D’une organisation assez informelle, le Fer de Lance est devenue une alliance sur laquelle il faut désormais compter. Pour nous parler de ce Fer de Lance, Dulciana Somare-Brash de l’Institut des Affaires Publiques du Pacifique dont le siège est au Vanuatu.

SOMARE-BRASH : « Je pense que dans la région, les réactions sont positives à propos du groupe Mélanésien Fer de Lance et avec l’établissement du secrétariat en 2008, beaucoup d’idées se sont développées pour former une structure et maintenant une institution. »

Et qu’en est-il de la place du GMFL dans le Pacifique ?

SOMARE-BRASH : « Et bien l’établissement ou plutôt l’histoire du Fer de Lance au fil des ans est issue d’un sentiment qui veut que la liberté en Mélanésie doit être réalisée par tous les groupes mélanésiens. C’est pour cela que les 4 parties prenantes que vous avez mentionnées se sont réunies.
Mais après 25 ans et au cours de ces dernières années, nous avons pensé qu’à titre de groupe régional nous devrions élargir nos champs d’activités : je pense à la question des conflits et de la sécurité notamment et les questions de développement. Et je crois que le GMFL est une institution d’idées qui peut désormais relever ces défis. »

Que pense le GMFL de la proposition visant à la création d’un Groupe Polynésien Fer de Lance ?

SOMARE-BRASH : « Je pense qu’il y a quelques inquiétudes dans certains cercles  à propos des groupes sous-régionaux. Nous, nous pensons que le régionalisme est une force une positive pour les groupes de la région. Dans  le secrétariat du Forum des îles du Pacifique, beaucoup  de nations océaniennes du Pacifique ont remis en question l’efficacité de cette organisation. Je pense que la formation d’une identité culturelle et l’établissement de liens entre pays en mesure d’identifier leurs propres défis et de les présenter ensuite dans d’autres forums est une bonne chose. Les groupes sous-régionaux sont une plateforme positive dans le cadre de la coopération et de l’intégration.»http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/french/2013-03-18/le-fer-de-lance-a-25-ans/1102948

21) Le projet de loi sur les médias met à mal le gouvernement australien

Mis à jour 18 March 2013, 9:31 AEST
Pierre Riant

Les directeurs de publication et patrons de presse ont exprimé leur inquiétude.

Inquiétude et mécontentement suscités par l’intention du gouvernement de Julia Gillard de nommer un Public Interest Media Advocate (PIMA), un Conseiller d’intérêt public, dont le travail sera de superviser le Conseil de la Presse pour s’assurer que cet organisme d’autoréglementation adhère aux normes du journalisme indépendant. Ce projet de loi pourrait être présenté cette semaine au Parlement.

Pour les patrons de la presse et les éditeurs de journaux, c’est une atteinte à la liberté de la presse. La coalition d’opposition et des députés indépendants sont aussi montés au créneau. Malcolm Turnbull, porte-parole de l’opposition en matière de communications, a déclaré : « Le problème essentiel est que le gouvernement veut s’impliquer dans le contenu des journaux. »

Le gouvernement s’en défend : « Si vous voulez que le Conseil de la Presse se plie à ses propres normes, il faut voter pour ce projet de loi. »

Le débat continue tandis que le Premier ministre par intérim des îles Fidji, Frank Bainimarama, a déclaré d’un ton sarcastique : « Quand je pense que le gouvernement australien a critiqué mon Décret sur les médias. »http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/french/2013-03-18/le-projet-de-loi-sur-les-médias-met-à-mal-le-gouvernement-australien/1102966

22) François 1er : le nouveau souverain pontife bien accueilli dans le Pacifique

Posté à 15 March 2013, 8:19 AEST
Pierre Riant

Jorge Mario Bergoglio a été élu mercredi soir, à Rome, après un quatrième scrutin des cardinaux réunis en conclave.

C’est la première fois qu’un pape non-européen est élu depuis le 8ème siècle. (Credit: AFP)

Cet archevêque argentin de 76 ans sera appelé par le monde entier François 1er.  Dans le Pacifique, les réactions sont bonnes et le fait que ce nouveau pape jésuite ne vient pas d’un grand pays européen semble très apprécié.

La réaction de Père Michael O’Connor, recteur du Séminaire régional de Fidji à Suva.

O’CONNOR : « Je suis très content bien sûr d’avoir un nouveau pape et aussi surpris que nous soyons sortis de l’Europe, très content que nous soyons sortis de l’Europe. Cela reconnait que le foyer de la population de l’Église catholique est à l’extérieur de l’Europe. Et pour nous, [l’argentine] c’est aussi l’hémisphère sud et c’est donc un plus pour ce qui est de notre région. »

Pour le Premier ministre samoan Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, un pape argentin est une bonne nouvelle pour le Pacifique.

TUILAEPA : « Je suis moi-même un catholique d’un pays en développement et laissez-moi vous dire que je suis extrêmement content de voir un pape en provenance d’une nation en développement et tout spécialement d’Amérique du Sud. »

Law & Order:

23) SPC Prepares Kiribati Advocates for Consultations on Violence Against Women Legislation

BY SECRETARIAT OF THE PACIFIC COMMUNITY

The Kiribati Ministry of Internal and Social Affairs in partnership with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community Regional Rights Resource Team (SPC RRRT) facilitated a workshop for community representatives from 11 to 13 March in Tarawa to advance their knowledge and skills of advocating for improved legislation to address violence against women.

Speaking at the opening of the workshop, the Honourable Attorney General of Kiribati, Titabu Tabane, said he was alarmed at the high rate of violence against women and children in Kiribati reported in the 2008 Kiribati family health and safety study.

‘The study found that 68% of women between 15 and 49 years of age have experienced physical and/or sexual abuse and most of the violence occurs at home or in the family. This translates to two out of every five women in Kiribati suffering physical and/or sexual abuse or violence. This is one of the highest, if not the highest in the Pacific,’ the Hon. Tabane said.

He reaffirmed that violence against women in Kiribati must be addressed appropriately, and legislative reform is a key step in protecting women and children from all forms of abuse, violence, discrimination and exploitation.

Kiribati has prepared draft legislation entitled Kiribati Te Rau N Te Mweenga Bill 2012, or the Family Peace Bill. The bill is expected to go before Kiribati’s parliament this year. In preparation, national consultations to create awareness about the bill are required. MISA, with support from SPC RRRT, is undertaking to train community representatives for community consultations.

Speaking at the workshop, Gina Houng Lee, RRRT Senior Trainer, said, ‘It’s great to see Kiribati come this far. In 2011, the Government requested SPC RRRT to draft the violence against women legislation and, with support from AusAID and the Sexual and Gender based Violence (SGBV) Reference Group, the Family Peace Bill was drafted in 2012. This workshop focuses on educating community advocates on key provisions of the draft bill and supporting the development of practical strategies for community awareness about the bill.’

The Family Peace Bill provides instruction on measures to prevent and respond to domestic violence and on how government and its agencies, as well as service providers, can support victims and their dependents. It also includes several measures that are critical to holding offenders accountable.

The training is part of the SPC RRRT Project: Support to the Government of Kiribati to implement the national approach to support the elimination of sexual and gender-based violence in Kiribati: Policy and National Plan 2011–2012, Preparatory Phase, funded by UN Women. It is a result of a yet earlier project – Changing laws: protecting women and girls – undertaken by RRRT from 2009–2012 under the UN Trust Fund on Prevention of Violence Against Women grant. The project involved developing and building a task force of advocates and providing a set of drafting instructions on VAW legislation that is compliant with global human rights standards.

Source: http://www.spc.int/en/component/content/article/216-about-spc-news/1138-spc-prepares-kiribati-advocates-for-consultations-on-violence-against-women-legislation-.html

24) PNG MP Arore arrested for bribery and corruption
By Online Editor
2:22 pm GMT+12, 18/03/2013, Papua New Guinea

A Minister in Papua New Guinea government was on Saturday arrested and charged with bribery and corruption in relation to last year’s national elections.

Higher Education, Research, Science  and Technology Minister David Arore was charged in Popondetta following investigations into bribery and corruption against two returning officers in the Ijivitari and Sohe electorates in Northern, provincial police commander Supt Victor Isouve said yesterday.

Arore was released on K1, 500 (US$701) bail late Saturday and is due to appear in court today to answer to three charges.

The charges relate to official corruption, treating and bribery, Isouve said.

He said during the national election last year, allegations of bribery and corruption were made against two returning officers, Paul Kamani in the Ijivitari electorate and Elliot Damuni Tale for the Sohe open.

Isouve said a task force team, including CID detectives from NCD, was sent to investigate the allegations that led to charges against the two officers on one count each of official corruption, abuse of office and accepting gratification on duty.

“This case is still before the Popondetta Committal Court for a ruling on whether or not there is sufficient evidence to commit these two to stand trial in the next sitting of the National Court in Popondetta,” he said.

Supt Isouve said during the course of the police investigation, evidence implicated the MP for Ijivitari.

Arore was questioned by police over allegations he facilitated airline tickets, travel allowances, meals and lodging at the Grand Papua Hotel in Port Moresby for the two returning officers.

Isouve said Arore had voluntarily come to the Popondetta police station with his lawyer Tony Sua of Paul Paraka Lawyers, and police executed a warrant of arrest.

“The minister was then invited for a formal record of interview with the police,” Isouve said.

Arore, 39, is from Koruwo village in Afore and is member for Ijivitari.

Isouve said under the law, all three are innocent until proven guilty by a competent court of law.

SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS

25) Solomon Islanders Told To Take Responsibility As RAMSI Winds Down
Community meetings encourage self-reliance after transition

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Times, March 18, 2013) – As RAMSI prepares to downsize, Solomon Islanders are now taking responsibility for the welfare of their own communities. This was revealed by Johnson Honimae after making series of community outreach meetings recently.

Communities in the multi-million dollar Gold Ridge Mine area of East Guadalcanal were among some of the worst affected by the social unrest that led to the deployment of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) 10 years ago this July.

Although the mine has been back in operation for several years, the communities are now having to grapple with the changes coming to RAMSI.

The Solomon Islands Government and RAMSI are working together to ensure ordinary Solomon Islanders understand what is happening as RAMSI transitions.

Representatives of the Government, Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) and RAMSI are visiting communities, schools and provinces to explain what the new smaller, police-focused mission will look like. At a recent series of meetings in villages around Gold Ridge, communities displayed a strong desire to build on the gains facilitated by RAMSI’s presence in the country over the past 10 years.

The transition of RAMSI should actually be seen as an opportunity for Solomon Islanders to take full responsibility for the leadership of their country according to the Solomon Islands Government Assistant Secretary responsible for RAMSI, Derek Manu’ari.

“We Solomon Islanders must start to look after ourselves,” Manu’ari told the Bubulake community outreach meeting recently.

“RAMSI was never meant to stay forever. The government has discussed with RAMSI what areas the mission will need to continue and what areas we need to invite other donors to assist with. Work will continue despite the RAMSI transition but we Solomon Islanders and communities must do our part.”

During the outreach discussions, villagers expressed some doubts over whether the local police would be able to sustain the work that the RAMSI Participating Police Force (PPF) has done in the past decade.

“After ten years of RAMSI, our lives are now slowly returning to normal. We have confidence in the deployment of RAMSI. But there is still a feeling of fear in our mind as this area hosts some of the major developments in this country,” said Titus Soba, a community leader of Obo Obo village.

“The withdrawal of RAMSI PPF will bring back fear to us. We need the presence of the RSIPF (Royal Solomon Islands Police Force) in our communities.”

During the community outreach meetings, the Gold Ridge chiefs and villagers raised concerns about alcohol and substance abuse, including marijuana, and the issuing of liquor licences.

Guadalcanal’s new Provincial Police Commander, David Diosi, who recently took up one of the most challenging police posts in the country, said he had an ‘open door’ policy and encouraged the community leaders to visit him at the province’s newly completed police headquarters near the Honiara International Airport.

“Guadalcanal Province is the hub of the country’s biggest investment and development projects including the Guadalcanal Plains Palm Oil Limited and the Gold Ridge mine so there’s bound to be law and other issues,” PPC Diosi said. “But we, the police and the community, should work together to address these issues.”

The meeting ended in a positive note with communities agreeing to join forces with the provincial police to address law and order issues, instead of looking to other people to come in and solve their problems for them. Such positive developments will go a long way in sustaining what RAMSI has done in the past decade in partnership with Solomon Islands, especially in addressing law and order issues in areas such as Gold Ridge.

It is planned that the military component of RAMSI, which has had a reduced role and low profile for several years now, will leave in the second half of 2013. However, RAMSI’s Participating Police Force will remain in Solomon Islands until June 2017. Today, they are focused on building the capacity of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force. This will continue to be their main job during the next four years.

Solomon Times

26)Canine alert in Fiji: Police Chief
By Online Editor
09:48 am GMT+12, 18/03/2013, Fiji

The Fiji Police Force has started using sniffer dogs at the Nadi International Airport to sniff out drugs and explosives.

Police Commissioner Brigadier General Ioane Naivalurua said the sniffer dogs were an added advantage to the police force.

Four dogs are being used at the airport’s departure and arrival areas to sniff out drugs and explosives that can possibly be taken out of the country or brought in.

“We had the capability of tracker dogs before but now we have sniffer dogs that can sniff out drugs and explosives,” said Brig-Gen Naivalurua.

“The presence of the dogs at the airport will make sure that visitors to our shores feel safe and secure.

“A lot of workshops and symposiums are held in Fiji that attract overseas leaders and we want to ensure that they are safe when they arrive.

“We want to show that the police force is ready for 2014 and beyond,” said the Police Commissioner.

Police spokesman Inspector Atunaisa Sokomuri said the force would use sniffer dogs at other ports of entry in the country.

“We will be using sniffer dogs at Nausori Airport, the wharves in Lautoka and Suva, and at the ports of entry in the North now,” he said.

Inspector Sokomuri said the police force had dog kennels in Suva, Namaka, Lautoka, Cuvu in Sigatoka, the Lausa Police Post between Ba and Tavua, Labasa, Taveuni and at Raralevu in Nausori.

He said the dogs were raised and trained in Fiji with the assistance of some experts residing in the country.

“It is a first for Fiji for a number of dogs to be used at the ports of entry to sniff out drugs and explosives that may be going out or coming into the country.

“We started using the dogs at Nadi International Airport last Monday but the official program was held on Friday.

“The local people seem to be surprised after seeing dogs at the departure and arrival concourse of the Nadi International Airport but for the tourists it’s something normal.”

Asked if the introduction of sniffer dogs at the ports of entry also stemmed from reports of some Fijians joining the Taliban, Insp Sokomuri said: “Fiji is part of what’s happening globally. We are not immune to such threats and the sniffer dogs at the ports of entry will be an added assistance to track down on drug traffickers and explosives.”..

SOURCE: FIJI TIMES/PACNEWS

Health:

27) Solomons dengue claims another life

Posted at 03:18 on 18 March, 2013 UTC

Another person in the Solomon Islands capital Honiara has died from dengue fever and more than 200 people have been confirmed to have the illness in an outbreak authorities describe as the first major flare-up of the disease.

A state of emergency is in place at the national referral hospital to enable staff to defer all non-emergency patients in favour of those with the Aedes mosquito-borne disease.

The ministry of health’s permanent secretary says dengue fever has now killed two people and there are more than 900 suspected to have the illness, which typically causes very high fever and severe headache.

Dr Lester Ross says health authorities are mounting a city-wide clean-up campaign on Wednesday to get rid of mosquito breeding grounds.

“We have 74 people who have been admitted so far. I think on Friday we had about 20, just over 20 cases who were admitted into the national referral hospital.”

Dr Lester Ross says four extra clinics – for assessing and stabilising people – have been set up to ease pressure on the hospital.

Radio New Zealand International

Business:

28) Pacific nations meet to discuss mining resources
By Online Editor
2:02 pm GMT+12, 18/03/2013, FijiPacific leaders are meeting in Fiji this week to discuss how to mitigate the social and economic cost of extractive mining in the region.Pacific leaders are meeting in Fiji this week to discuss how to mitigate the social and economic cost of extractive mining in the region.

The United Nations Development Program has organised The Pacific Symposium on Managing Extractive Industries in the Fijian capital, Nadi, to look at how Pacific nations can take advantage of its rich mining resources to best benefit local communities.

Delegates will also discuss how to manage the environmental impacts of mining.

Manager of the UNDP’s Pacific Centre, Garry Wiseman, told Radio Australia’s PACIFIC BEAT the conference will look at how governments can work directly with affected communities.

“The focus is really looking at what governments can do to…improve their inclusion of the incomes from extractive industries in their budgets,” he said.

“Also, [to] look at what governments can do to work with the most effected communities in the first place.”

Industry representatives and experts from outside the Pacific region will join delegates from Cook Islands, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Vanuatu, East Timor, and Nauru at the meeting.

SOURCE: RADIO AUSTRALIA/PACNEWS

29) PNG Landowners Halt Work On LNG Pipeline, Demand Compensation
Esso confirms portion of Hela Province work stopped

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, March 17, 2013) – A non-government organisation in Papua New Guinea says landowners at a Liquified Natural Gas project site will continue to stall work in the area until the government responds to their compensation and employment demands.

The project developer, Esso Highlands Limited says a small group of people has stopped a portion of work on the onshore pipeline in the Awatangi area of Hela Province.

A spokesperson for LNG Watch, Stanley Mamu says the landowners believe they’re owed 19 million US dollars and says they are upset by what he describes as the government’s biased employment of workers for the project.

“They want proper compensation on their portion of land. The government plus the company buldozing the project there, the pipeline, without proper payment on their land compensation. That’s one. Two, no employment. So what the people want is that government needs to employ our people because cash flow must be in our region.”

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

30) Bank South Pacific posts K407m profit
By Online Editor
2:05 pm GMT+12, 18/03/2013, Fiji

Bank South Pacific (BSP) posted an operating profit before tax of K545.3 million (US$255.2 million) last year, up 14.8% from the previous year’s profit of K475 million (US$222.2 million), chairman Kostas Constantinou announced last Friday.

The BSP group has again achieved very sound results last year, with operational and financial stability supporting solid profitability and balance sheet growth, Constantinou said.

The group also posted a revenue above K1 billion, net of interest expense to K1.353 billion.

The result after tax was K407.74 million (US$190.8 million)

Total assets of the group had increased by about K1.652 billion to K13.333 billion.

The bank’s results were strong with pre-tax profits growing 14.8% to K535.4 million, from K466.2 million in 2011, supported by K1.207 billion of revenues net of interest expense.

Total assets of the bank at the end of last year were just above K13.013 billion.

“Last year’s results had been achieved on the back of continued strong domestic growth of the PNG economy, driven by continuing LNG project-related activities and other resource projects in various stages of development, despite a fractious and fickle global economic environment,” Constantinou said.

“Inflation and foreign exchange volatility had been the macro-economic factors driving monetary policy in PNG.

“Strong export performance supported by favourable global commodity prices had continued to boost liquidity levels, and this has meant interest rates on bank bills  remained at the low levels where they ended 2011, maintaining significant downward pressure on net interest income.

“PNG’s elections were held and conducted without major disruption.

“Elsewhere in the region, economies have performed reasonably well, with export performance leading the way.”

Constantinou said the steady performance last year was an indication of the positive impact of the changes being implemented in BSP.

“For this to continue, the group must maintain competitiveness, anticipate market conditions, and adapt to change,” he said.

“In 2010, we spoke of an emerging recovery in global conditions, but this stalled in 2011 and further weakened last year.

“Even so, BSP has enough local strength to continue to leverage profitably off PNG’s strong economic performance in 2012 and in the future.

“The group is working hard to position itself as the leading bank in the South Pacific, to efficiently serve a customer base that is experiencing and rapidly becoming accustomed to the benefits of technologically aided banking using global standards.

“The 2012 results demonstrated that BSP continues on course to achieve its market goals.

“I am also confident that the group will meet the challenges of this year and return more profitable results for shareholders and ultimately the people of Papua New Guinea.

“And we at BSP are also proud to have been recently announced as the major sponsor of the 2015 South Pacific Games.

SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS

31) Pacific’s Palau looks at commercial fishing ban
By Online Editor
09:52 am GMT+12, 18/03/2013, Palau

Palau’s president has proposed banning all commercial fishing in the Pacific nation’s waters to create one of the world’s largest marine reserves, covering an area roughly the size of France.

President Tommy Remengesau said the nation of 300 islands with a population of about 21,000 generated negligible revenue from foreign fishing vessels plying its waters and he preferred to concentrate on attracting tourists.

Remengesau, who was elected last November, said Palau was already regarded a a leader in marine conservation after creating the world’s first shark sanctuary in 2009.

“Our vision is for an area that is so well protected that Palau becomes the world’s largest marine sanctuary,” he said last week.

“No longer will Palau be merely a shark sanctuary, it will be a sea sanctuary that protects all marine wildlife within Palau’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).”

The EEZ covers almost 630,000 square kilometres (240,000 square miles) of the northern Pacific, including world-renowned scuba diving and snorkelling sites.

Natural Resources Minister Umiich Sengebau said the country earned only about US$5.0 million a year from the fishing industry, with about US$4.0 million coming from tuna fishing, which is dominated by vessels from Japan and Taiwan.

“The president feels that Palau is shortchanged,” Sengebau told AFP.

He said Palau licensed a total of 129 foreign fishing vessels in 2010 but Pacific island nations received only a fraction of the income generated by tuna captured in their waters.

Remengesau said the Asian Development Bank estimated the global tuna industry was worth US$4.0 billion a year and only nine percent went to Pacific nations where most of the fish are caught.

“Revenue received from commercial fishing licences and taxes from commercial fishing is a drop in the bucket compared to the profits made by large fishing companies,” he said in a statement.

“An EEZ-wide no commercial fishing zone would mean that only sustenance fishing by Palauan residents and tourism-related sport catch-and-release fishing would be permitted.”

He said the proposal was in its early stages and the government would look at alternative revenue sources before implementing it, particularly tourism.

“Some of that revenue will be recovered simply through the increase in tourism that results from the incredible marine biodiversity that will be protected by our sea sanctuary,” he said.

Palau has only one ageing patrol boat and Remengesau conceded that enforcing any ban would be difficult, but was confident it could be achieved.

SOURCE: AFP/PACNEWS

32) Labour mobility tops issues discussed at the PACER Plus negotiations workshop

By Online Editor
4:17 pm GMT+12, 15/03/2013, Fiji
Labour mobility topped the discussion at the opening session of the two day Non-State Actors (NSA) workshop on the PACER Plus negotiations which started in Nadi, Fiji today.

The Chief Trade Adviser at the Office of the Chief Trade Adviser (OCTA) –Dr Edwini Kessie this morning session examined the challenges faced by Forum Island Countries (FICs) in the multilateral trading system and the reasons for the launching of the PACER Plus negotiations.

“I think today’s session was very interactive. It was obvious that the private sector and civil society wanted to know more about PACER Plus, and as you witnessed they asked a lot of questions.  That was very interesting and satisfying for me,” said Dr Kessie.

“I think it is a step in the right direction.  We need to engage more with all the stakeholders,” he said of the meeting which brought together representatives of civil society organisations and the private sector.

He updated the workshop on the level of negotiations and the work already carried out by his office.

Dr Kessie said the expectation of the parties was to have a cutting edge agreement that will foster growth and development of the FICs and facilitate their full integration into the multilateral trading system.

The OCTA has had meetings with Australia and New Zealand regarding labour mobility and how the current schemes – RSE of New Zealand and SWP of Australia could be improved in terms of the numbers and the sectors in which Pacific workers could be employed.  Currently, there is a cap of 8000 workers under the RSE, with Pacific workers filling nearly 6000 of the available slots.  By contrast, there is a cap of 12000 places under the SWP over a period of four years.

The two day workshop has attracted participants from the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

SOURCE: PACNEWS

Enviromental Issues & Climate Change+


33) Tokelau’s Kalolo worried about sea level rise

By Online Editor
2:01 pm GMT+12, 18/03/2013, TokelauLike many Pacific Islands leaders Tokelau’s head of Government or Ulu o Tokelau Kerisiano Kalolo is a worried man.Like many small islands nations, he fears his country, comprising three atolls—Atafu, Fakaofo and Nukunonu—could disappear beneath the oceans. He understands that Tokelau’s islands are so small that climate change is visible and it would be their best bet to relocate to another island. “Our people have strong beliefs and relocating is not a choice for them. However, I believe the younger generation may be more amenable to relocation,” Kalolo said. Another issue is self determination, which it has been seeking through the United Nations decolonisation process. “I think the issue has been there for four years for us to self determine and we’ve been given three choices by the United Nations—independence, free association and integration—and we are still working on those options. “We have held two referendums in 2006 and 2007 but we failed to reach the required majority. But we’re now working on getting the right form of self determination that will be good for us,” he said. Tokelau is a non-self-governing territory and has been administered by New Zealand since 1926.

Trust fund

“I think we get $73 million from New Zealand and we also appreciate the assistance we get from Australia.” The Tokelau International Trust Fund was established in 2004 by the governments of Tokelau and New Zealand. Its aim is to support the long-term financial sustainability of Tokelau by providing an additional source of revenue for budgetary and development spending. Australia has also been making annual contributions to the trust fund since 2005 and will make a further contribution in 2012-13, subject to budget outcomes. This support to the trust fund will enable the Tokelau Government to use the annual contributions to achieve long-term financial viability and maintain services for the people of Tokelau. Australia has made A$8.2 million in contributions to the Tokelau International Trust Fund since 2005. With scarce resources, Tokelau’s main resource remains tuna and Kalolo says they have been fortunate to have been part of the Parties to Nauru Agreement, a bloc of nations that are amongst the top in tuna sustainability and conservation measures.

“We get a significant amount of money from this and at the same time we have to look at having facilities in other countries like Pago Pago or Samoa so we can process our fish there. Whilst government remained the largest employer in Tokelau, their future economic plans will look at developing small businesses and exploring benefits from better communication since they are remote. On the issue of transportation Kalolo told ISLANDS BUSINESS that the New Zealand Government had approved funding for the construction of a new ferry for Tokelau, which will cost $7 million. Tokelauans depend entirely on the current ferry, also subsidised by New Zealand, for transport and supplies and have been waiting for a replacement since 2005. Kalolo says the new ferry would be good for them as it can carry 50 passengers plus cargo on the two-day boat trip to their nearest point of contact, which is Samoa.

Located 500 kilometres north of Samoa, Tokelau is accessible only by boat from Apia. Kalolo is also the Chancellor of the University of the South Pacific (USP) and is at the forefront of efforts to get more of their students into USP to benefit from the wide range of courses available there. He has sought support for his students who have faced problems in the past. “In Fiji, we need support for our students when they are away from home so we need someone to counsel them and help them with their work because they come here to a completely different way of life to Tokelau.” He said with access to USPnet for Atafu, one of the three Tokelau atolls, at least 20 students were benefitting from learning online.

It is his aim to get as many students from Tokelau for higher education and therefore a better life. But taking one step at a time, Kalolo ponders how to drive (or rather sail) his kinsmen from the current problems the small island faces into better times. At present a hot issue for the islanders is working an eight-hour working day and getting everyone out of the habits of old and into the new mode that will bring them up to par with international standards. Kalolo said they have found that not many government services trickle down to benefit the people and this was one area the government was trying to address.

SOURCE: ISLANDS BUSINESS/PACNEWS

Sports:

34) Sport: Tonga A looking for progress in NZ PRC leg

Posted at 00:46 on 18 March, 2013 UTC

The win column remains bare but Tonga A coach Mana Otai insists his team is making progress in the Pacific Rugby Cup.

The Kingdom were held tryless in their tournament opener against the Reds College XV a fortnight ago and conceded a combined 94 points in lossess to the ACT XV and Sydney Academy.

They begin the New Zealand leg of the PRC against the Hurricanes Development team in Petone on Monday evening and Mana Otai says they are improving.

“It’s actually about bridging the gap between local rugby and international rugby or Super 15 level of rugby. It’s getting better and the boys are starting to realise also what is required at this level. So for me personally as a coach it’s been a good learning curve as well as development for the players.”

Lining up against the Tongan team will be ’Ikale Tahi halfback Samisoni Fisilau, who’s a member of the Hurricanes Super Rugby squad.

Otai says that brings with it an unexpected problem.

“It’s an afterthough after our captains run that he might be in the crucial position to hear all our calls in Tongan. It’s something that’s a luxury we have had that we don’t have to worry too much about formulating calls but now Samisoni might be a worry for us that we might have to work something out, up our sleeves, just in case.”

Also on Monday, the Highlanders Development team host the Fiji Warriors, the Blues host Samoa A and the Japan Juniors take on the Reds College XV.

Radio New Zealand International

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