Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 840

MELANESIA:

1) National PNG Election Debts Threaten Local-Level Polls
Trawen says electoral commission faces $6.8 million shortfall

By Isaac Nicholas

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, April 22, 2013) – A K15 million [US$6.8 million] in unsettled 2012 election bills will jeopardize the coming June local level government (LLG) elections, Papua New Guinea Electoral Commissioner Andrew Trawen said yesterday.

Mr. Trawen explained that this is because the Electoral Commission still has a funding shortfall of K15 million to pay all of its 2012 elections service providers.

“We have been talking with the National Government since last year but there has been no favorable response forthcoming. My office has now received a number of petitions from our 2012 service providers threatening to boycott the 2013 LLG election.

“Our officers in the provinces have been living with constant threats and some have even closed their offices in fear of their lives since the conclusion of the 2012 elections and this is not acceptable.

“My concern is the well-being and life of my provincial election managers and assistant election managers,” Mr. Trawen said.

He pointed out that the Commission has the constitutional mandate to conduct periodic free elections at the interval of once every five years under Section 50 of the National Constitution and the National Government is constitutionally obliged to sufficiently fund these elections.

Mr. Trawen, however, said the National Government did provide outstanding payment budget support of K35 million [US$15.9 million] towards the end of last year which was used to pay for vehicle hires, while other service providers like catering and accommodation missed out as vehicle hires alone had cost the Commission K30 million [US$13.6 million].

“The Commission is now asking the National Government to provide K15 million [US$6.8 million], which is the balance of the initial K240 million [US$108.9 million] election budget so that it can settle its debts before the LLG elections in two months time.”

He said the Commission had initially requested for K240 million to conduct the 2012 elections, however, the National Government approved and appropriated only K180 million [US$81.7 million] resulting in a huge funding shortfall of K60 million [US$27.2 million].

Mr. Trawen said the Commission’s election budget was then revised to K225 million [US$102.1 million] and the Government appropriated an additional budget support of K10 million during the election period and another K35 million as outstanding payment budget support. He said the K35 million was used to settle vehicle hire bills, but accommodation and catering bills are still outstanding.

Mr. Trawen wants all those service providers who have yet to be paid to know that the Commission has not forgotten them.

“While the Commission continues to negotiate with the National Government for funding, I would like to appeal to you to remain patient and help prepare for the 2013 LLG elections,” he said.

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

2) B’ville yet to prove itself : Momis
By Online Editor
5:35 pm GMT+12, 23/04/2013, Papua New Guinea

Bougainville is yet to show it can generate its own revenue before becoming independent, president John Momis says.

He said Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) was nowhere near the target it must reach before it could think of independence.

Momis told a two-day forum on the future of the Panguna Mine in Buin, South Bougainville, that ABG could only raise K6 million (US$2.7 million) annually.

This mean that if AUSAID and other funding sources including the national government stopped their assistance tomorrow, Bougainville will not be able to survive.

Momis said it was why the ABG wanted the Panguna mine to re-open to generate some revenue for the Bougainville government.

He said the ABG was working with landowners to fast-track the re-opening of the Panguna mine. And before it can go ahead, it will continue to consult stakeholders through the regional forum.

He said the ABG, landowners and stakeholders must  negotiate a better deal this time round.

He also said any mining on Bougainville would have to be negotiated under the new law on mining.

He said the draft legislation was being released for people to comment on.

The ABG hopes to pass the law in the June session of the ABG Parliament.

SOURCE:THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS

3) Vanuatu PM dismisses eight more diplomats

Updated 23 April 2013, 18:17 AEST

The government of Vanuatu has announced the removal of another eight of its ambassadors, consuls and overseas representatives from their positions.

The dismissals follow a pledge by Prime Minister Moana Carcasses Kalosil’s new government to clean up the country’s foreign service.

The names of those dismissed remain private but Vanuatu’s new foreign minister Edward Natapei has told reporters at least eight have lost their jobs for reasons including failure to follow diplomatic processes.

“Many of those appointed were granted diplomatic passports even without the proper completion of diplomatic processes required under the Vienna convention on diplomatic and consular relations,” he said.

“I see the fundamental importance is that the reputation of this sovereign nation is protected.”

The ambitious reform agenda was put forward in the days after Mr Kalosil and his supporters staged a successful no confidence motion removing Sato Kilman from office.

Mr Kalosil has highlighted 100 achievements he wants in place within 100 days, including the review of the appointment of all ambassadors, consuls and trade representatives.

One of the first to lose their status was Vanuatu’s roving ambassador to Russia, Thi Tam Goiset.

The termination came after questions in parliament about a provision for Ms Goiset to earn commission on any foreign funding she secured for Vanuatu.http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/

4) New Caledonia Politician Opposes Independence Referendum
Frogier: vote would only lead to pro- or anti-French sentiment

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, April 22, 2013) – The leader of New Caledonia’s Rassemblement-UMP, Pierre Frogier, says the pro-independence politicians are not up to the challenges which the territory needs to tackle.

Speaking at a party congress, he says they talk about independence but even for them, it is a slogan with no meaning.

Mr. Frogier says he will address the grassroots directly, if the elected pro-independence leaders are unable to open a dialogue.

He says he wants discussions on a successor agreement to the Noumea Accord, which will enter into its final phase after the 2014 election.

Mr. Frogier says he doesn’t believe in a referendum on independence, which will only lead to a pro- or anti-French path while there is no majority for independence.

His party’s congress came after a major split, with the breakaway Caledonian People’s Movement winning the French UMP’s backing.

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

5) Fiji party registration delay a political ploy, says Baba

Posted at 03:56 on 23 April, 2013 UTC

A member of Fiji’s proposed Social Democratic Liberal Party, SODELPA, says the Bainimarama regime may be planning an early election and that that is behind continuing delays in the registering of political parties.

A registration process that was to due to be completed weeks ago has been extended on several occasions, mostly for the proposed parties to explain anomalies arising from the people they have signed up.

The Registrar of Elections, Mohammed Saneem, says no decision on the applications will be made until the all the particulars are in.

SODELPA’s Dr Tupeni Baba says their anomalies, which were all incidental, have been addressed.

He says the delays are an attempt to throw dirt on political parties.

“And not register the political parties quick enough because there is a possibility for them that they will call a snap election while the political parties are not ready. So, it’s all political.”

Dr Tupeni Baba.

Early election rumours have been circulating since last week but Commodore Bainimarama is quoted by the Fiji Sun saying the election will go ahead as planned in September 2014.

Radio New Zealand International

6) Fiji youth advocate against constitution dictating compulsory school subjects

Posted at 03:55 on 23 April, 2013 UTC

A Fiji youth advocate is vehemently opposed to the latest draft constitution putting legal obligations on certain subjects being taught in schools.

The Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum told Fiji Village that the constitution may require any education institute to teach subjects regarding teenage pregnancy, smoking and HIV issues.

But Peter Waqavonovono says it should be left up to the discretion of each school what subjects get taught.

“A person has the right to education but at the same time they get or have the right to choose what they want to learn. And at the same time schools have the right to choose what subjects they need to teach the students.”

Peter Waqavonovono says he will put in a submission in favour of bringing back the Yash Ghai draft constitution.

People have until the 30th of April to make submissions on the draft constitution.

Radio New Zealand International

POLYNESIA:

7) Tonga To Receive $3.8 Million Grant To Promote Democracy
AusAID grant also meant to help manage elections in Tonga

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, April 22, 2013) – The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has signed an agreement with Tonga to support governance and promote democracy in the Pacific nation.

The US$3.8 million program, funded by AusAID, will develop the skills of Tongan parliamentarians to improve lawmaking processes.

It will also strengthen the ability of the Electoral Commission to manage free and fair elections.

Australia’s High Commissioner to Tonga, Brett Aldam, says the program builds on previous support provided by the Australian Government for Tonga’s political reform process.

Tonga’s Minister for Finance and National Planning, Hon. Lisiate ‘Aloveita ‘Akolo, has thanked both Australia and the UNDP for their “continuous support”, adding that the agreement is “very timely”, with elections scheduled in 2014.

“But [it is] also very important to strengthen processes to ensure mutual accountability is observed,” he said.

Knut Ostby, the UNDP’s resident representative, has commended the government of Tonga for its commitment to strengthening its democratic governance institutions.

“More countries than ever before are working to strengthen democratic governance. Tonga is no exception,” Mr. Ostby said.

“Tonga’s challenge is to develop institutions and processes that are responsive to the needs of ordinary citizens, and that promote sustainable human development.”

An inaugural program workshop, including Tongan government officials and civil society organizations, will be held in Nuku’alofa on Friday.

Radio Australia: www.abc.net.au/ra

8) Tahoeraa Huiraatira Wins Preliminary French Polynesia Polls
Secures over 40 percent of votes, ruling party sees only 24 percent

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, April 22, 2013) – The Tahoeraa Huiraatira Party of Gaston Flosse has emerged as the clear winner of the first round of French Polynesia’s territorial election.

According to preliminary results, it secured more than 40 percent of vote, defeating the ruling Union of Democracy of Oscar Temaru, which won 24 percent.

The only other party to clear the 12.5 percent threshold of votes to make it to the run-off in two weeks is the A Tia Porinetia of Teva Rohfritsch, which won just under 20 percent.

The Maohi Tatou Party was fourth with slightly more than five percent of the vote, which allows it to join into an alliance with another list contesting the second round.

Mr. Rohfritsch, who campaigned for a renewal of politics after the long-standing rivalry between Mr. Flosse and Mr. Temaru, is yet to comment on the election outcome.

The winning list in the run-off will get a third of the assembly’s 57 seats as a bonus, with the rest divided according to parties’ relative strength.

Mr. Flosse, who at the age of 81 is poised to resume the presidency, was given two jail sentences for corruption this year but is free pending his appeals.

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

MICRONESIA:

9) Taiwan keen to invest in business in the Marshall Islands

Posted at 02:09 on 23 April, 2013 UTC

The Marshall Islands foreign minister Philip Muller says a plan to develop private sector business interaction between Taiwan and the Marshalls has been supported by Taiwan President’s Ma Ying-jeou.

Mr Muller, who accompanied President Christopher Loeak on a state visit to Taiwan, says fisheries is an obvious option for greater investment from the Taiwan private sector.

Mr Muller says during the visit a Taiwanese fishing company proposed a joint venture with the Marshalls Fisheries Department.

He says the company has requested a meeting with the business arm of government and the private sector to identify areas for co-operation and funding for development opportunities in the Marshalls.

Mr Muller also says that one reason there may not have been as much Taiwan business interaction in recent years is that some amendments to investment laws may have made the Marshall Islands less attractive to investors.

He says they will look at amending those laws in the August session.

Radio New Zealand International

AUSTRALIA:

10) Australian population to top 23 million tonight

Updated 23 April 2013, 10:55 AEST

Australia’s population will reach an estimated 23 million people some time tonight, and demographers say it’s on track to hit 40 million by the middle of the century.

Australia’s population will reach an estimated 23 million people some time tonight.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics says the projection is based on last year’s population estimate and takes into account factors such as the country’s birth rate, death rate and international migration.

It estimates that with a birth every one minute and 44 seconds, a new migrant arriving every two minutes and 19 seconds, and a death every three minutes and 32 seconds, the 23 million mark will be reached just after 10:00pm (AEST).

With births outnumbering deaths two to one and a 14 per cent increase in migration, Australia’s population is now growing by more than 1,000 people per day.

ABS figures show that around 180,000 people move to Australia each year.

The ABS estimates that if current migration and birth rates do not change, Australia’s population will be 35 million in 2056, and 44 million in 2101.

But demographer Mark McCrindle says the growth in the population is being driven by net migration, and he says the 40 million milestone will come earlier than the ABS estimates.

“The proportion of the net migration to our population growth has increased from 54 per cent a year ago to now 60 per cent of our growth,” he said.

“We can say that Australia has world-beating population growth right now. The world is growing 1.1 per cent per annum and Australia [at] 1.7 per cent is really out in front.

“When you compare us to comparable developed nations, we really are ahead of the comparisons.”

And he says the population is on track to hit 40 million by the middle of the century.

“If the growth slows down a little bit, that might be in the 2050s, if it remains at current trend it will probably be in the early 2050s, but certainly that figure of 40 million is what we’re headed towards,” he said.

“It’s inevitable that we will hit that number.”

ABS director of demography Bjorn Davis says it is impossible to know who the 23 millionth person will be,.

“While we would like to think that the 23 millionth Australian would be a beautiful little baby boy, it could also be a British backpacker who’s decided to stay in Australia and work in Australia. It could be an Australian who’s been living overseas coming back to Australia, it could be a New Zealand citizen who’s decided they want to live in Australia for a while,” he said.

“The reality is the population clock gives us an answer to that question of how many people there are in Australia now, but it’s based on taking our most recent estimate of the population that we released a few weeks ago for September 2012, and then making some assumptions.

“We certainly don’t have people standing by with clipboards at the hospital watching the babies being born or people standing by at the airports with a bean counter counting how many people are crossing the border.”http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/

TOK PISIN:

11) Solomon Islands i makim MSG 25 yar anniversary

Updated 23 April 2013, 16:51 AEST

Paulus Kombo

Solomon Islands bai makim 25 yar anniversary blong dispela Melanesian Spearhead Group we em i wanpela memba blongen, stat long tumora.

Flags of MSG countries

Em ol flag blong ol MSG kantri (Credit: ABC)
Odio: Joy Kere, Solomon Islands Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary i toktok long MSG selebresen long Honiara.

Permanent Secretary blong Foreign Affairs, Joy Kere itok planti ol kain aktiviti nau bai oli holim long Honiara tumora blong makim dispela MSG anniversary insait long tripela dei stat long tumora.

Em itok long hap blong ofisel seremoni, Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo bai toktok long ol bikpela wok we MSG i kamapim long region blong Melanesia long 25 yar blongen.

Solomon Islands gavman i singautim ol kainkain kampani we i save wokim bisnis aninit long rot blong MSG long soim aut wok blong ol olsem hap blong dispela selebresen.

Ms Kere itok bai gat tu ol sampela kain show long sait long art, kalsa na musik blong Solomon islands na ol arapela Melanesia kantri.

Ol memba kantri blong MSG nau i Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji na New Caledonia.http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/

FRANIS:

12) Le gouvernement salomonais accusé d’irresponsabilité

Posté à 23 April 2013, 8:41 AEST
Pierre Riant

Le Fonds de développement rural a souvent été la source de controverses et c’est encore le cas aujourd’hui.

Taïwan refuse de débloquer des fonds à des députés salomonais. (Credit: ABC)

L’organisation Transparency International accuse le gouvernement d’avoir siphonné 20 millions de dollars salomonais, plus de 3 millions de dollars australiens, pour colmater un trou noir dans ce Fonds de développement rural.

Ce Fonds a été mis en place avec des dons de Taïwan pour que les députés puissent lancer des projets de développement en milieu rural.

L’accès à cette caisse a toutefois été bloqué étant donné que 17 députés n’ont pas été en mesure de rendre des comptes, c’est-à-dire d’expliquer comment l’argent pris dans le Fonds de développement rural a été dépensé. Et l’accès restera bloqué tant que les députés n’auront pas fourni de justificatifs.

Les explications de Daniel Fenua, l’administrateur de Transparency International.

FENUA : «  Quand vous y regardez de près, le gouvernement a effectué une avance des paiements de 20 millions de dollars [salomonais] parce que Taiwan retient les fonds qui doivent être attribués aux membres du Parlement parce que 17 députés n’ont pas soumis de justificatifs. Le gouvernement a donc emprunté de l’argent dans son budget pour remplacer l’argent que Taiwan retient. »

Pourquoi Transparency International s’indigne à ce point ? Si les députés fournissent des justificatifs, les fonds de Taiwan seront débloqués et le gouvernement a pris de l’avance en donnant les fonds que Taiwan devaient donner ?

FENUA : « Mais ce n’est pas bien ce que le gouvernement fait, c’est là notre inquiétude. Vous ne pouvez pas prendre de l’argent dans le budget du gouvernement pour le donner à quelqu’un qui a des problèmes parce qu’il n’a pas soumis de justificatifs.

Ce n’est pas comme ça qu’il faut faire. Ce n’est pas transparent. Les 17 députés qui n’ont toujours pas expliqué où est passé l’argent devraient le faire avant que le gouvernement se décide à leur donner de l’argent. Mais non, le gouvernement donne de l’argent sans recevoir de justificatifs. Ce n’est pas une façon transparente de faire les choses. »http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/

13) La Nouvelle-Zélande montrée du doigt

Posté à 23 April 2013, 9:04 AEST
Pierre Riant

Une députée samoane et ancienne ministre de la Santé, Gatoloaifaana Amataga Alesana-Gidlow a relancé le débat en demandant à la Nouvelle-Zélande de renoncer à ses exportations de viandes grasses, notamment la poitrine de mouton et les boîtes de corned-beef, vers les îles du Pacifique.

La députée s’est exprimée dans le cadre du Forum Parlementaire du Pacifique qui s’est terminé dimanche. L’ancienne ministre souligne que d’un côté la Nouvelle-Zélande investit dans des programmes de santé publique dans le Pacifique où les taux d’obésité et de maladies cardiaques sont à la hausse, mais que de l’autre côté, la Nouvelle-Zélande contribue à ces problèmes.

Notons que la viande de mouton ou d’agneau est assez grasse et qu’elle peut jouer sur la pression artérielle.

Et la députée de conclure : «  Arrêtez d’exporter chez des voisins moins nantis et moins développés des produits gras qui ne sont pas en vente chez vous parce qu’ils ne répondent pas aux normes de l’hygiène alimentaire. »http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/

MEDIA:

14) Fiji Media Issues Raised At New Zealand Political Forum
Youth group member says Fiji media ‘gagged at gunpoint’

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, April 22, 2013) – Discussions on media freedom at the just-completed Pacific Parliamentary and Political Leaders Forum in Wellington have highlighted deep divisions in Fiji media.

Ever since Fiji’s military took over government following the 2006 coup, the country’s media has been increasingly restricted, with the latest regulations meaning media operators face jail terms of up to five years for referring to sidelined political parties among other sensitivities.

Johnny Blades reports.

Fiji’s government insists it supports media freedom but has cautioned that it won’t tolerate what it calls misreporting or media coverage which fuels racial division.

But in its 2013 global report, Reporters without Borders says that Fiji journalists still operate under a media decree which imposes the threat of heavy fines or imprisonment as in the case of a recently convicted editor of the Fiji Times.

However Tura Lewai of the Young People’s Concerned Network told delegates at the Wellington forum that media in Fiji is gagged by the point of a gun.

“We need media people in Fiji that are brave people that will hold our government accountable and also push them to be transparent. We have in Fiji a situation where the government of the day controls what is being printed up in the media.”

His comment was an affront to a fellow delegate, Matai Akauola who is the industry representative on Fiji’s government-appointed Media Industry Development Authority.

He says the talk of bravery is misguided.

“For us, we don’t have an elected government, so what do we do? Do we stay out or do we engage? So if we didn’t engage for the last six years, we would be lost. But in terms of engaging, we are in. And for us, the key thing is the safety of the journalists first. A lot of times we talk about media freedom and all this, but to me the crux of it is the safety of my journalists. If someone is being taken in or whatever, I am there to call up the authorities and say hey, because I know the guys, can you release this person?”

The General Secretary of the Fiji National Council of Women, Fay Volatabu, says the Fiji Media Decree must be removed if the country is to return to democracy.

“And at this point in time, we would also like to have more media freedom. Everything is censored in the newsrooms and in all media outlets so if we had to ask for a wish, that would be my first wish, make sure that all these media bans are taken off, that there is no more censorship in our media rooms.”

[PIR editor’s note: Meanwhile, the United Front for a Democratic Fiji group has called on Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama and Attorney-General Aiyaz-Sayed Khaiyum to nationally-televised debates on mutually-chosen topics. The Front also wants regional media to broadcast the debates, and people should be allowed to vote at the end of debates to choose a winner.]

However Mr. Akauola, who is also Manager and Training Coordinator at the Pacific Islands News Association, says the industry must abide by the military government’s media rules in the interests of the long-term path back to democracy.

“They are moving towards democracy which is good so for us it’s not the time to derail the process. But for now we need to continue to engage and get our views in because if not, you’ll have other people who do not know anything about the media and they will sort of put draconian rules in place that is more or less keeping us out of it in totality.”

The government lifted official placement of media censors from newsrooms last year, but self-censorship remains pervasive and few media outlets seem willing to scrutinize the government’s actions.

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

BUSINESS/TRADE+

15) Landowners withdraw support

MONDAY, 22 APRIL 2013 14:39

Landowners of Kolosori land; a potential earmarked tenement area for nickel prospecting on Isabel have revoked their support for Sumitomo metal mining (SMM) company to operate on their land.

They also demanded fair treatment if their support is required.

The landowner also calls on the government to respect landowners’ wishes and rights as the resource owners on whatever decisions they make.

Spokesperson of the Kolosori land trustees Elliot Curtis said with the current controversial stand on their earmarked land for nickel mining, they want a fair treatment for landowners.

He said as resource owners, they want the government to listen to their cries and let them have the opportunity to choose the best investor onto their land.

“What we want is a fair treatment that is base on partnership in the operations when actual nickel mining kicks off.”

Mr Curtis said from observation since Sumitomo Metal mining has been granted the letter of intent (LOI) for prospecting; there is nothing tangible and seen forthcoming for the future benefit of landowners.

He said they welcomed foreign investors to invest on their land but there are guidelines within the local society that needs to be upheld by those foreign investors when on the ground.

“The Sumitomo Metal mining company although have been here for over seven years did little to our communities and have since working the opposite to our desires,” he said.

He highlighted that what as landowners of the Kolosori land want to see is partnership, respect to their cultural society and an environmental friendly approach from the mining company.

“This does not speak well of what Sumitomo is currently doing and we strongly oppose to its presence on our land.

“In seven years SMM has been on Isabel and they have never accepted our request to work in partnership, so we will never let them on our land and we never ever will.

“SMM also refuse to acknowledge our constitutional rights as custodians of the land, instead they instigate division to our families and tribes.”

Mr Curtis further claimed that workers of SMM on Isabel are mistreating resource owners and have since been not in the best interest of working together with the landowners.

“We landowners have been chased by the Japanese in choppers and boats including being harassed in Honiara, we are sick of it. They took us to court 5 years ago and we beat them and they are taking us to court again over our same land. We do not know why our government continues to let this happen to us.”

“Thus we are calling on the government of the day to be more considerate to us the landowners, to give ample fair treatment in this cause.”

Curtis claimed what Sumitomo has brought to their shores instead is division amongst families and communities in their dealing tactics of luring support.

He added that the court case currently in the High Court against the government and landowners of Kolosori is a mere nonsense so to speak.

“Though lawful, common sense that speaks of a foreign company taking the government of the land and its landowners to the High Court seems more like a joke,” he said.

“We speak for our earmarked Kolosori land like the Choiseul people do; we do not want Sumitomo to operate on our land.”

SMM chief executive officer (CEO) Yoshi explained that the court case is something to do with the earlier letter of intent which was granted to SMM by the then Ministry of Mines when Mark Kemakeza was the minister in 2010.

Then it was later cancelled by the Cabinet because it was alleged to be done in a corrupt manner however SMM sees it as legal according to the procedures, he said.

“Cancelling this letter of intent is what SMM is challenging because it is illegal to our view whilst it was done according to right process, thus we are taking the government and the landowners to court over this matter to justify.”

SMM Director and General Manager Technical, Toshiaki Maeda also denied the claims that SMM workers in Isabel were being mistreated.

He said SMM has been trying its best to work closely with the resource owners and are going to hold meetings to engage them achieve the best.

Maeda further denied allegations of using attendance list of signatures of landowners who usually attend the SMM meetings to get false declaration from landowners’ signatures to say they agreed.

Meanwhile, it is understood that this issue has been brought before the High Court and the hearing is still on.

And the government under the leadership of Danny Philip at that time was said to investigate the issuance of the letter of intent to SMM which was claimed as corrupt.

However, since then there is nothing forthcoming from that investigation. http://www.solomonstarnews.com/

By Bradford Theonomi

16) Poultry production in the Pacific guided by Israel
By Online Editor
5:06 pm GMT+12, 23/04/2013, Samoa

An inaugural course in poultry production and management run by Israeli specialists opened on Monday 22 April in Samoa, and is due to run for two weeks until 3 May.

The course is the first collaboration taking place under the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed in December last year between the University of the South Pacific (USP) and MASHAV – Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation.

The venture has drawn 48 people from nations across the Pacific for two weeks of workshops delivered by industry experts Arazi Hagit and Malka Yitzhak Shmuel, who travelled from Israel under the auspices of the Government of Israel to conduct the training.

Fiji has the highest representation at the course, with 15 participants, adding to the 12 participants from the Solomon Islands, eight from Samoa, five each from Vanuatu and Tonga, and one representative from New Zealand.

“The course marks a milestone in the special relationship developing between nations in the Pacific and Israel”, said Yuval Rotem, Israel’s Ambassador to Australia and Non-Resident Ambassador to Fiji and Papua New Guinea, who signed the MOU with USP last year. “It is very promising to see areas of cooperation growing in the agribusiness development sphere, and we welcome this opportunity for engagement with the Pacific.”

The Poultry Production and Management Training Course is the first of its kind to be run on a regional level. Its significance has been acknowledged by all parties involved. The opening ceremony was held on the USP campus in Apia, Samoa; attended by the CEO of the Minister for Agriculture, Mohammed Umar, Head of the School of Agriculture and Food Technology and Director of the IRETA Institute at USP and Jonathan Zadka, Regional Counsellor to the Pacific Islands.

“USP is very proud to be associated with Israel through this program and truly appreciates Israel’s contribution by providing experts in poultry production”, said USP Head of School Mohammed Umar. “Israel’s support will add to our knowledge and skills in further improving the poultry production systems and efficiencies. We look forward to further collaboration in other areas in future.”

Exploring all facets of poultry production, the course includes workshops dealing with nutrition, feeding and breeding practices; poultry projects planning; cannibalism and prevention; bio-security and disease prevention; along with fieldtrips and opportunities for feedback and discussions.

The facilitators have previously led poultry production courses throughout Asia and Africa and expressed enthusiasm at the opportunity to share their experience with the Pacific.

SOURCE: EMBASSY OF ISRAEL

17) Pacific Leaders Reject Push For Free Trade In Region
PNG’s Juffa: free trade would make Pacific people poorer

By Michael Sergel and Finian Scott

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (Pacific Scoop, April 22,2 013) – Pacific leaders have overwhelmingly rejected a push from the World Bank and New Zealand to free up trade and loosen regulations in the region.

About 60 delegates from 18 countries heard World Bank economist Tobias Haque and New Zealand Finance Minister Bill English argue for higher economic growth and smaller governments, during the Pacific Parliamentary and Political Leaders Forum in Wellington this weekend.

But a majority of the leaders – representing governments, oppositions and NGOs – have committed themselves to sustainable development over economic growth and to sound and balanced governance over more severe austerity measures.

English said New Zealand was a “cork bobbing on the ocean of the global economy, buffeted by its waves” and much smaller Pacific economies were buffeted by “much more intense” economic waves.

“We have a better understanding of the challenges that you are grappling with leaders in your economies than almost any other country- and there’s no point in us feeling like we’re doing well if the 6 million people in our sort of near part of the Pacific aren’t doing well.”

Haque told leaders that an “enabling environment for business” in Pacific economies is “critical” to regional economic success, and Cook Islands businessman Tata Crocoombe argued for sustainably-sized governments that were properly equipped to deal with the effects of globalization.

But delegates raised serious concerns about the volatility of world markets, the threat to culture and traditions and the protection of natural resource wealth – and refused to make specific commitments to a smaller public sector.

Foreign investment

Haque said “enabling business” was important to broadening the tax base, improving public services, increasing jobs and improving conditions, and attracting new foreign investment.

He called for greater exploitation of minerals, agriculture, sustainable fisheries and the Asian tourism market – as well as long-term economic policymaking, more investment in education and healthcare, and the removal of foreign investment barriers.

“Neoliberalization has brought significant benefits, but regulation is still needed. It’s just a matter of the right regulation,” he said.

But for Gary Juffa – the Governor of Papua New Guinea’s Oro province and one of the region’s most outspoken critics of free trade – neoliberalism is a hard pill to swallow.

He told Haque that “a few selfish and greedy people” had caused the financial crisis, and those pushing free trade in the Pacific came from wealthy protected economies in the west.

“Every time the Pacific rises up to say something, Western countries say we give you aid, and we become spectators in our own land,” he said.

“We cannot let Western countries pull wool over our eyes – and Australia and New Zealand produce the finest wool in the world.

‘Waiting for crumbs’

“I believe that if the Pacific is to benefit from its own resources – rather than waiting under the table for the crumbs of its resources – it must be able to rise up and stop being too ‘pacific.’ We have been the friendly islands for too long.”

Juffa told Pacific Scoop that the free trade mantra of removing tariffs and regulations, and taxing the purchases of the people, would make Pacific governments and people poorer.

“The people of the Pacific live on their own land – they are self-sustaining already. If you impose free trade, you are going to take away the opportunities they have to be truly economically independent,” he said.

“Free trade proposes to also relax labor laws and migration laws – which means people from more developed nations can bring in their companies and operate in those small economies. The companies in those economies will not be able to compete with those large companies.”

Juffa says he has no time for “ridiculous trade agreements” and the results of any trade negotiations “must benefit the Pacific Islands” rather than making them poorer.

Fiji National Council of Women general secretary Fay Volatuba told Haque that any trade agreements needed to protect labor and culture.

“Firstly, we don’t have anything to offer except our labor. Make trade agreements that will be positive for our people,” Volatuba said.

Cultural identity

“Secondly, please do not short-sell our cultural identity. That is all that we have left. For us in Fiji, right now, to have the Great Council of Chiefs and all our traditional things taken away from us is something we cry over.”

Vanuatu Lands Minister Ralph Regenvanu – a self-confessed “notorious critic of the World Trade Organization and so-called free trade agreements” who voted against Vanuatu joining the WTO – did not address Haque’s plan of action during the forum.

However, he told Pacific Scoop that free trade would not work for his country.

“We have been trading for a long time, for thousands of years. Trading is something we are quite familiar with,” he said.

“But in terms of industry and meeting the daily demands of our population, we need to be very careful that we maintain control over what we produce and what we consume, and free trade doesn’t support that.”

Samoan cabinet minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa said the current global economic system “was still the same system” that had failed the Pacific and many other parts of the world during the recent financial crisis.

And Guam Republican Minority Whip Thomson Morrison told the forum that his country was no longer able to be self-sufficient like it once was.

Import-dependent

“We are now dependent on imports and at the mercy of world economic powers and multinational corporations,” he said.

He explained that “if Japan sneezes, Guam catches a cold” and Pacific nations needed to be more self-sufficient and less susceptible to volatile Asian markets.

New Zealand Green MP Kennedy Graham challenged Haque on the World Bank’s commitment to economic growth even when it undermined efforts to fight climate change.

He later told Pacific Scoop that he was not convinced the economic growth paradigm was compatible with real action on climate change and resource sustainability.

English argued that the Pacific should choose a balanced path of growth and sustainability – and said State-Owned Enterprises were “not a bad balance between financial discipline and people maintaining a sense of ownership over assets”.

He reminded delegates that he was committed to the Pacific, and urged leaders to petition Australia for greater support of their economic plans.

“Any influence you can exert on the Australian part of the discussion about economic sustainability in the Pacific will certainly help.”

The Pacific Parliamentary and Political Leaders Forum ended yesterday.

Michael Sergel and Finian Scott are Postgraduate Diploma in Communication Studies student journalists at AUT University. They are covering the Pacific politics forum for Pacific Scoop and the Pacific Media Centre as an Asia-Pacific Journalism assignment.

Pacific Scoop
All editorial and news content produced under the principles of Creative Commons. Permission to republish with attribution may be obtained from the Pacific Media Centre – pmc@aut.ac.nz

AVIATION/TOURISM+

18) Opposition Leader Alleges Air Vanuatu Operating Illegally
Lini claims essential operations logbooks not kept up

By Jonas Cullwick

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, April 22, 2013) – The Leader of the Opposition, Ham Lini, says he has information that the Chief Executive Officer as the Airline Certificate Operator holder of the national Air Vanuatu airline is seriously in breach of his CEO duties. This, he says is by the CEO “allowing an alleged illegal operation of the current Air Vanuatu Boeing 737-800 aircraft because the said aircraft had been operated without the following logbooks until today: a) Engines logbook; b) Airframe logbook; and c) Landing Gear logbook.”

The Leader of the Opposition did not reveal the source of his information, but claims that that “these logbooks are the essential part of the airworthiness of the aircraft.”

“Therefore, technically speaking, without these logbooks, the aircraft cannot be released to fly because its maintenance cannot be verified and the maintenance program cannot be checked because it is not recorded in the required logbook,” Opposition Leader Lini said.

He called on the Government as owner of the national airline and the Civil Aviation Authority of Vanuatu to investigate this allegation “as soon as possible before Air Vanuatu is listed on the world black list of unsafe airlines as this is a serious breach of safety rules under the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) the Vanuatu Civil Aviation Regulation.

“In the event the information is true, the CEO must be terminated as in any other country this kind of incompetency warrants an instant dismissal and may be a criminal charge with a lifetime ban to manage an airline company,” Lini insisted.

Meanwhile, the Director of the Civil Aviation Authority of Vanuatu, Joseph Niel, calls the claim a non-issue and totally unfounded.

Mr. Niel explained that the Air Vanuatu Boeing 737-800 aircraft keeps all three logs referred to by the Leader of the Opposition, Ham Lini, however, not manually but electronically through onboard computer software. He said that keeping such logs manually would be time consuming, so, these are kept electronically.

“The importance of keeping logbooks is when you want to sell a plane, because logs show the full history of the aircraft starting from when it was built,” Director Niel explained.

“Even the logbooks for Air Vanuatu’s ATR72 aircraft are being kept using software. But we encourage Air Vanuatu to keep the logbooks manually for aircraft starting from the Twin Otters downward, and even the ATR 72,” Mr. Niel continued.

Hence, in essence, the Director of CAAV was saying the CEO of Air Vanuatu has not broken any law or regulation.

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

LAW&ORDER:


19) Juffa questions commitment of regional countries to protection of West Papua human rights
By Online Editor
5:08 pm GMT+12, 23/04/2013, Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea’s outspoken Northern Province Governor, Garry Juffa has questioned the commitment of regional countries to protecting human rights when ongoing abuses in Indonesia’s Papua region go largely ignored.

Speaking at the Pacific Parliamentarians Forum in Wellington, Juffa said the media in Western countries, in particular, seems as selective as their parliamentarians on which issues they choose to be vocal about.

The Northern Province Governor says last week’s huge outpouring of grief and rolling media coverage over the bomb blasts at the Boston marathon, where three people died, is a case in point.

And he questioned what’s happening about West Papua, where hundreds of people are being tortured, maimed and killed every month.

He challenged the regional media, governments and the United Nations over their roles in this regard.

SOURCE: NBC-PNG

20) US committed to relocating Marines to Guam despite sequestration
By Online Editor
5:09 pm GMT+12, 23/04/2013, Northern Mariana Islands

The United States remains committed to moving 5,000 U.S. Marines out of Okinawa and relocating them to Guam despite sequestration.

In an interview with Marianas Variety, Col. Pete Ponte of the Pacific Division at the Headquarters Marine Corps at the Pentagon said the Marine Corps and the Department of Defense are “still committed to the relocation of the Marines regardless of sequestration.”

Ponte said, “Some aspects of it may take a little bit longer, but we are still committed and we are still determined.”

For his part, Marine Forces Pacific deputy director William S. Febuary said, “Right now we are doing a supplemental environmental study for that relocation to determine the location for our main cantonment on Guam and live-fire training ranges.”

Febuary said that once the Record of Decision is released, “we will then start the construction of the base and the live-fire training ranges to support those Marines relocating.”

He said they anticipate relocating approximately 5,000 Marines to Guam.

For Febuary, the U.S. president is committed to supporting this strategy. “We are moving forward with it.”

Ponte said they expect the record of decision in early 2015.

“The plan right now is to pursue funding from Congress to start construction,” said Ponte.

He said there are other projects that came under the previous Record of Decision (ROD) in Sept. 2010 that will not change within this new supplemental environmental impact statement.

Ponte said, “Some of these projects because they have enduring training value for the Marine Corps., we’re actually pursuing funding to get those started now.”

He said the Marine Corps has some projects this fiscal year “that we’re trying to get funded at Anderson Air Force Base and we have plans to develop our non-live fire training capability on Guam in advance of the relocation.”

“We don’t want to wait until the Record of Decision. We are trying to do what we can now for those projects that have enduring value for training that we can use,” said Ponte.

As to funding, Febuary said, “We have a commitment from the Government of Japan for $3.1 billion to support the relocation effort. That is a large amount to be contributed by them and it supports those Marines moving out of Okinawa.”

These funds, he said, will help build facilities where the Marines will work and live.

With adjustments to the 2006 Realignment Roadmap Agreement relocating U.S. Marines from Okinawa to Guam, the SEIS for the live-fire training range complex on Guam had to be expanded to include assessment of changes to the number and composition of relocating Marines.

The number of Marines moving to Guam has reduced to approximately 5,000 and 1,300 dependents.

The expanded EIS include (1) the main cantonment, including family housing; (2) a live-fire training complex; and (3) assessment of associated impacts to Guam’s civil infrastructure, including roadways.

Neither the roadmap adjustment nor the expanded SEIS affected the previously decided four components that were in the 2010 Record of Decision: (1) training on Tinian; (2) relocation of the Marine Corps Aviation Combat Element (ACE), air embarkation facilities, and the development of the North Gate and access road at Andersen Air Force Base; (3) wharf improvements at Apra Harbor; and (4) non-live fire training at Andersen South and NMS.

The draft SEIS will be made available early next year and the final SEIS will be released in late 2014.

SOURCE: MARIANAS VARIETY/PACNEWS

21) Women Held For Alleged Sorcery Released In Bougainville
After one woman’s beheading, 3 others were kept at health center

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, April 22, 2013) – Bougainville Police in Papua New Guinea say they have secured the release of three women who had been held hostage in a rural health centre in Bana District.

The women were being taken to Buin Health Centre, in the south of Bougainville Island, after their release Monday morning.

The head of Bougainville Police, Superintendent Paul Kamuai, told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat the women were doing well considering their ordeal.

“The elder woman, who was seriously wounded, was able to walk,” he said. “Then, she was able to have meals.”

He says her condition is improving and she is receiving treatment.

Helen Rumbali, her sister Nikono and Nikono’s two teenage daughters were kidnapped two weeks ago by armed men.

Ms. Rumbali was beheaded after the four women were accused of sorcery or black magic.

The three surviving women were then taken to a rural health centre where they were held hostage by the men.

Superintendent Kamuai says police will carry out an investigation into the kidnapping.

Sorcery killer found guilty

In a separate incident, local media has reported that a PNG man who killed his aunt with an axe, after accusing her of sorcery, has been jailed for 30 years.

Saku Uki Aiya was found guilty of the “senseless, barbaric and brutal” murder at a two-day trial in Enga province in PNG’s northern highlands.

The court heard Mr. Aiya blamed his aunt for his brother’s death and went to her home with two other accomplices – who remain at large – bludgeoning her neck and head with axes and knives.

PNG’s National newspaper reported local police commander Sergeant Simon Mek saying the 21-year-old’s case was the first of its kind to make it to a national court.

“So many such cases are reported but rarely go through to the high court as relatives accept their own customary ways of settlement in the village courts,” Mek said.

The newspaper reported that in jailing Mr. Aiya, Justice Mekeo Gaulo said accusations of sorcery were becoming more frequent.

“In my view some are using sorcery as an excuse to terminate someone’s life though the suspect may not be a sorcerer,” he said.

Justice Gaulo urged people to use the court system to settle disputes.

The verdict comes days after the United Nations urged PNG to take a tougher stance on extra-judicial killings related to sorcery accusations.

The UN has called on the government to repeal the country’s Sorcery Act, introduced in 1971, which criminalizes the practice of sorcery.

Radio Australia: www.abc.net.au/ra

HEALTH:

22) Young Woman Is Fourth Dengue Fatality In Solomon Islands
Initial blood testing negative, later testing confirms dengue

By Ben Rakai

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, April 23, 2013) – In the Solomon Islands, a 13-year-old female is the latest to have died from dengue bringing the death toll to four since the first case was reported in February 2013.

This was confirmed by health authorities yesterday when releasing the dengue outbreak surveillance cluster situation report for last week.

Permanent secretary (PS) of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services Dr. Lester Ross said the repaid diagnostic test (RDT) conducted on the girl’s blood sample first tested negative but later the tests on the blood sample conducted in French Polynesia confirmed she was infected with dengue.

“Four have died so far since the first was reported in February 2013. The latest additional case was a 13 year old female who died in March. She was tested negative for dengue on RDT at the National Medical Laboratory.

“She was however confirmed positive of dengue infection after further PCR tests were conducted from ILM in French Polynesia. The tests results were received on 19 April last week,” he said.

Meanwhile the number of positive cases for the deadly virus has continued to increase prompting the need for cleanliness in and around our homes and work places.

The latest report highlighted an increase of 129 new positive cases for last week.

Adding the total number of RDT positives to 849 cases.

While an increase of 485 additional cases have been reported for last week taking the total number of reported cases to 3,189 as of 18 April 2013.

Dr. Lester Ross said the outbreak is active and ongoing, especially in Honiara with 89 percent of all reported cases.

Solomon Star

EDUCATION:

23) Francophone Bachelor’s Degree launched in Vanuatu

Posted on April 23, 2013 – 1:31pm |

The first Francophone Bachelor’s degree in Vanuatu was launched last week at the Francophone University Agency (AUF) in Port Vila by Prime Minister, Moana Carcasses.

The official opening ceremony was attended by the Minister of Education, Bob Loughman, the Minister of Health, Serge Vohor and members of the Parliament as well as members of Opposition.

The event took place in the presence of Mr Michel Epron, Chargé d’Affaires of the French Embassy, Catherine Pétillon, Head of AUF, Christopher Muluane, head of Vanuatu Institute of Public Administration and Management (VIPAM) and Professor Francis Bestion, dean of the faculty of Administration and Communication, representing the University of Toulouse 1 Capitol which will deliver the course to the students of Vanuatu.

The project began in 2011, when the Ministry of Education of Vanuatu asked the French Embassy and the AUF to lead a feasibility study on the possibility of opening a French-speaking university in Port Vila.

The outcome of the study was in favour of setting up a general francophone Bachelor’s Degree in Economic and Social Administration, including a lifelong learning component for civil servants. The Vanuatu Institute of Public Administration and Management (VIPAM) was soon after assigned to oversee the project with the help of a Steering Committee made up of representatives of the different partners involved in this project : the French Embassy, the AUF, the Ministry of Education, the Public Service Commission, the National Commission for La Francophonie, the Vanuatu Cultural Centre.
At the end of 2012, following an official call for tender to identify a consortium of universities who would implement the project, the University of Toulouse 1 Capitol was selected as host university that will deliver the bachelor’s degree after three years of study.

In the meantime, the French Embassy managed to obtain the necessary funding for the first intake of students, in particular from the French Development Agency (AFD) and the government of New Caledonia. A total of 19 million vatu has been obtained, which will enable to cover the cost of a first intake of students throughout the three years of study.

All these efforts have been pushed and supported by the previous and current Government of Vanuatu as education is one of the main priorities for the country.

During his speech Prime Minister Carcasses stated it was an “historical evolution for the Francophonie in Vanuatu”, as Minister Loughman assured to all the involved actors “the full support of Ministry of Education”.

All other officials who attended the ceremony expressed their full support and commitment to do everything in their power to make sure this programme is sustainable on the long run, but also to diversify the higher education offered in Vanuatu. At the end of the ceremony, a plaque was unveiled and sandalwood trees were planted to mark this historic day.

For the first week of this bachelor degree, 35 enthusiastic students, among which 5 lifelong learning students, started their first course in economics, given by Prof. Francis Bestion at the AUF. The first semester will be divided in three blocks of lectures and seminars, with duration of two weeks each. The semester will end in the middle of July, one week before the exams. The faculty includes professors from the University of Toulouse, but also ni-Vanuatu professors and French professors working for the French school Le Clézio.

By setting up a francophone Bachelor’s Degree in Vanuatu, the youth of Vanuatu will finally have access to world-class university programs without having to move abroad and at a reasonable cost.http://www.dailypost.vu/content/

CLIMATE CHANGE & ENVIROMENT:

24) Coastline in danger
Seashores of Vanimo to Lae are vulnerable to the effects of climate change 

By PAEOPE OVASURU

Papua New Guinea’s coastline from Vanimo in West Sepik to Lae in Morobe province has been described as vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
This is according to a report from the Australian Government’s International Climate Change Adaptation Initiative (ICCAI) data.
The data was presented to Prime Minister Peter O’Neill by the Australian Governor-General Quentin Bryce yesterday.
The report also states that coastal flooding is a serious problem that regularly affects 6,000 people, causing many people to evacuate their homes and some to lose their lives.
This risk will increase significantly with rising sea levels. Furthermore, the report has clarified that for populated coastal areas of low elevation, especially the coastline from Vanimo to Lae, the chances of tsunami hazards and severe sea swells are very high.
The topographic images captured via airborne surveys between May 5 and July 13 2012 included the four coastal towns of Vanimo, Wewak, Madang and Lae and other connecting coastal areas.
The survey covered 1066 square kilometers of the coastline.
Madang is the lowest lying town with an average height above sea level of 11 meters. Wewak has an average height of 14 meters, Vanimo 22 meters and Lae has an average height of 41 meters above sea level.
The data is a result of a request for support by the PNG Office of Climate Change and Development (OCCD) in 2010 for the Australian government to assist with mapping capability, capacity building and training of relevant officials.
The project will provide hardware, software and training to build capacity within the PNG government to use, manage and store data.
In addition, the data will enable authorities to undertake simple coastal inundation modeling to support assessment of priority coastal areas.
The data captured through this project is a significant asset to PNG which will improve understanding of coastal impacts from climate change and other inundation events.
The coastal modeling and capacity building project will be implemented under the Pacific-Australia Climate Change Science and Adaptation Planning program and will build on the images captured through light detection and ranging.
This program is aimed at strengthening capacity to assess vulnerability to climate change and develop adaptation strategies.
Prime Minister O’Neill thanked the Australian government for the data, adding that it will help PNG to address the growing threat of climate change.http://www.postcourier.com.pg/

25) MPs apologise to Pacific over NZ failure to sign climate change pact
By Online Editor
5:38 pm GMT+12, 23/04/2013, New Zealand

Rising sea levels, falling fish stocks and more extreme storms have proven destructive and deadly, Pacific leaders told a Wellington forum at the weekend.

New Zealand Green MP Kennedy Graham launched an apology to delegates at the Pacific Parliamentary and Political Leaders Forum on behalf of New Zealanders who disagreed with the government’s decision not to sign the Copenhagen Agreement on reducing carbon emissions and alleviating climate change.

Other delegates spoke of the threat that rising sea levels posed to low-lying islands, the effect of overfishing and environmental changes on the Pacific fish stock, and the recovery efforts after severe storms in Samoa, Tonga and other countries.

Graham told the forum that New Zealand had “failed to respond adequately” to the climate change threat, and the Pacific needed to send a clear message to the New Zealand government and other western governments that international action was needed.

He told Pacific Scoop that scientific evidence pointed overwhelmingly to climate change being a pressing reality for Pacific nations, with ninety-seven per cent of scientists supporting the idea that it was the preventable result of human activity.

“You are talking in terms of millimetres and centimetres – and it’s a time-factored thing. But there is nothing more important for the international community, than tackling climate change now – not in 2020 and not in 2030 – to avoid the problems of 2020 or 2050,” he said.

“We’ve heard, from the people that feel it and experience it, that it is there. What else do we need by way of justification for acting?”

Delegates from some of the world’s most low-lying islands explained how rising sea levels were affecting their way of life.

Kiribati MP Martin Moreti told delegates that sea levels had reduced the size of the island while pushing important coastal fisheries off-shore, and land crops had also been affected.

“We affirm the need for international action, and we need the support of one another as brother and sister to act for our own survival,” he told the forum.

Anthony Benavette, an independent Representative in the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, said that beach and coastal areas had disappeared, landmarks had gone, and fishing stocks had disappeared as a result of rising sea levels in his country.

Palau Senator Jerrlyn Uduch Sengebau-Senior reminded delegates that “coral bleaching did happen” and “climate change is a reality” with severe environmental, economic and social consequences.

Noumea city councillor Tiaré le Goff said New Caledonia had faced a loss of biodiversity and other environmental effects.

Tafua Maluelue Tafua, a current Samoan cabinet minister and former North Shore councillor, said he had seen the firsthand consequences of several severe storms during his six years in Samoa – including cycles and floods that caused numerous deaths and widespread destruction.

New Zealand Labour MP Shane Jones told delegates that protecting fishing stocks from overfishing by Chinese multinationals was essential to sustaining the Pacific economy.

“The European economy has been very sick and the US has been printing money to ensure that their economy did not completely collapse” so we must make sure “Chinese presence is a net positive and it does not lead to resource degradation”, he told delegates.

“We must not be blind to the potential in Asia but be vigilant, so that we are not the casualties or the victims of their economic expansion, but the beneficiaries along for the ride of economic growth.”

Jones told delegates that “the world will pass us by” if we fail to technologically and economically develop – but that included maintaining a sustainable fishing stock.

“I am alarmed when I go to the Pacific and see the huge numbers of international vessels, and I’m quite sure that those vessels in many cases are fishing that resource to a level where it will no longer be sustainable,” he said.

“When we let foreign investors come in and exploit our resource, ensure it works to the benefit of your children and the economy. If not, you’ll be living on tinned fish in the future.”

Concerns about over-fishing were also raised by other Tokelau’s Margaret Pedro, who said that tinned fish was replacing fresh fish as foreign vessels depleted stock.

The Cook Island’s Selina Napu said foreign fishing was undermining the local industry.

The six-day Pacific Parliamentary and Political Leaders Forum ended on Monday.

SOURCE: PACIFIC SCOOP/PACNEWS

SPORTS:


26) Rugby League’s governing body open to more Pacific tests
By Online Editor
5:55 pm GMT+12, 23/04/2013, Australia

The Rugby League International Federation says it is open to the idea of adding more Pacific Island matches to the test calendar following the success of Saturday night’s clash between Samoa and Tonga.

The Pacific test was played as part of a stand-alone representative weekend and has been locked in for another four years.

Tas Batieri from the Rugby League International Federation says those matches could involve any of the Pacific Island countries.

He says there’s also a chance additional test matches could be added, provided everything is up to scratch behind the scenes.

“The way that it operated last Saturday was a good indication and we took every measure where both teams were in first class accommodation, had first class medical support and duplicated what all rep teams do out of Australia and New Zealand. Provided the conditions are the same as the senior rep players I don’t think there should be an issue going forward and the exercise that we had at Penrith last Saturday demonstrated just how good this concept could become down the track, said Batieri.

SOURCE: RNZI/PACNEWS

27) Olympic medal potential for Pacific Islands
By Online Editor
5:56 pm GMT+12, 23/04/2013, Fiji

Fiji and Samoa have a great opportunity to win a medal for the first time in their nations’ histories when Rugby returns to the Olympic Games programme in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, according to IRB Chief Executive Brett Gosper.

Present at the Federation of Oceania Rugby Unions (FORU) AGM in Suva, Fiji, on Saturday where 16 Oceania Unions gathered for a programme of strategic workshops and meetings, Gosper has been quick to highlight the benefits to all IRB Member Unions on the inclusion of Rugby Sevens at Rio 2016.

“If you look at the top Sevens sides in the world, you have some countries there that don’t win many medals at the Olympic Games. Rugby will be a great opportunity for them. Take Fiji, for example. They have never won a medal but Rio could change all that,” said Gosper.

“The same can be said for Samoa, who will be another of the favourites to win a medal in 2016. The other big Pacific Island team, Tonga, has won just one medal previously – in boxing – so they will have the chance to add to that tally.”

“That is the beauty of Olympic inclusion as far as Rugby is concerned. There is the enormous incentive of having medals on offer. It is already helping us to grow the global Game.”

Gosper also praised FORU for the progress it has made under its new strategic plan.

“The strategic partnership with the Oceania National Olympic Committees is a model for other regions in terms of Olympic engagement. Development programmes of our Member Unions are being restructured to ensure Rugby continues to grow in that region for both boys and girls.”

“Currently, there is an AUS$2.5million partnership between the IRB, Australian Rugby Union and the Australian Government to foster community development through Rugby. This is hugely positive for our great sport. We have already seen initiatives like this bearing fruit as the performances of Pacific Island teams during Rugby World Cup 2011 and during the November international window in 2012 have shown.”

Gosper also highlighted the achievement of the Tonga men’s team as they kept alive their hopes of core team status on next season’s HSBC Sevens World Series by booking their place in the qualifying competition at the final round of this year’s Series in London, and the rise of women’s Rugby Sevens in Papua New Guinea.

“A focus area for the IRB in the coming years will be a renewed emphasis on administrative and governance structures that underpin those performance outcomes. The IRB and Member Unions will be addressing ongoing administration and governance challenges currently being faced,” said Gosper.

SOURCE: IRB/PACNEWS

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