Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 868
1) MSG summit in Noumea chance for West Papua to be heard – lobbyist
Posted at 16:51 on 11 June, 2013 UTC
A Vanuatu based lobbyist who has pushed for West Papua to become a member of the Melanesian Spearhead Group for many years says next week’s participation at the MSG meeting in Noumea, is a chance to finally be heard.
The summit’s hosts, New Caledonia’s pro-independent FLNKS Movement, extended the first ever official invitation to West Papua to attend an MSG summit as an independent entity.
In Noumea, MSG leaders are expected to decide on a formal membership bid by the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation
A spokesman for the coalition, Andy Ayamiseba, says they’ve been given time at the summit to deliver a statement putting forward a case for formal membership, while Indonesia only has observer status.
“So it’s quite different with Indonesia who held the status as an observer so they are only spectators, they don’t have the right to talk and they don’t have the right to vote. We were invited to deliver a speech so it means we can talk.”
Radio New Zealand International
2) Mine in Indonesia’s Papua province still partly closed
Posted at 01:44 on 12 June, 2013 UTC
The owners of the Grasberg mine in Indonesia’s Papua province say safety and health standards are still to be met in some areas.
Freeport McMoRan, which runs the world’s biggest gold mine and second-biggest copper mine, says its underground operation is safe overall, but some facilities are still closed for inspection and repair.
The General Manager, Nurhadi Sabirin, says the company is determined to avoid accidents after last month’s tunnel collapse killed 28 workers, and the death of a truck driver in a separate incident two weeks later.
The company says the mining business is a dangerous activity and its safety programmes are designed to reduce incidents and avoid fatalities.
The Indonesian government ordered the company to halt operations when it restarted them two weeks after the tunnel disaster.
Radio New Zealand International
3) Marape Successfully Defends In PNG Election Petition
Case thrown out by judge due to filing errors by claimant
PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, June 11, 2013) – In Papua New Guinea, Tari-Pori MP and Finance Minister James Marape has won an election petition case filed against him by Johny Philip.
The petition was thrown out by Justice Joseph Yagi last Friday in Tari on the grounds that there was a deficiency in the process of filing petitions.
He upheld the submission filed by Marape’s lawyer Robert Leo of Leo Lawyers when the petitioner moved to amend the petition.
Philip, who lost the seat by 10,775 votes to Marape, filed the petition based on alleged errors, omissions and illegal practices by the Electoral Commission, its agents and Marape’s supporters.
Yagi said the election petition was a serious matter and required petitioners who felt aggrieved (by the election results) to come and plead facts correctly.
“You cannot come to court as a place where you just come unprepared, hence in this petition the petitioner is stuck by the wrong pleading and goes down by it as it is well outside of the 40 days to amend the petition,” he said.
Marape thanked Leo and Electoral Commission lawyer Ray Williams for referring to correct laws that exposed the weakness of the petition.
He also commended the Tari-Pori people for behaving themselves during the court case.
The National: www.thenational.com.pg/
4) Community ‘Ready’ To Discuss Reopening Panguna Mine
Umbrella association to become ‘sole’ voice for landowners
By Romulus Masiu
PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, June 11, 2013) – After 24 years, the leaders, landowners and people of Panguna mine in Bougainville have reached some sort of agreement and are ready to sit down, talk and negotiate for the re-opening of the defunct giant copper-gold mine.
Landowner discontent over equitable distribution and sharing of Panguna mine benefits led to Papua New Guinea’s first serious Bougainville Crisis in May 1989 that went on for about 10 years.
It left about 20,000 dead, including men, women and children, as well as PNG soldiers, policemen and correctional officers.
According to reports from Panguna, the landowners are now ready to kick-start dialogue and negotiations with all the stakeholders, including the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) led by President Father John Momis, the PNG Government and Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) for the re-opening of the copper-gold mine.
Its is yet to be confirmed how widespread this consensus for negotiations fore the re-opening of the mine is, but it appears that Panguna landowners are now speaking the same language as pro-ABG veterans and ex-combatants of Ishael Toroama and his group.
But one thing is certain – they want all outstanding issues to be sorted out, including bel kol or compensation payments, customary obligations for blood shed and lives lost during the 10 year crisis from May 1989 to August 2011 when the final peace agreement was signed in Arawa when Sir Julius Chan was Prime Minister.
What is coming out of Panguna is good news for everybody, especially for Dr. Momis and the people of Bougainville who need money to develop the province as it moves forward to the scheduled referendum in 2015 when the people will have a say in determining their political destiny.
It also comes at a time when about 10 Chinese and U.S. businessmen are currently in Buka for talks with Dr. Momis for possible investment in Bougainville.
The Panguna landowners have elected Lawrence Daveona as chairman of the Special Mining Lease Association, one of six associations that make up the Umbrella Panguna Landowners Association. Mr. Daveona automatically becomes chairman of the umbrella association.
The umbrella association has not been registered and Mr. Daveona has moved to have it registered as a matter of priority.
The full executive of the umbrella association is chairman Daveona, deputy chairman Richard Avero, treasurer Tony Tapakau and secretary Dennis Nasia.
The association executive met yesterday (Monday) and resolved that they will be the sole representative of their people in any talks with ABG, the national government, BCL and any other interested investor.
Chairman Daveona, who comes from the same village of Guava as late Francis Ona who instigated the 10 year crisis, thanked the landowners for electing him chairman and told them he will make the re-opening of the mine his priority.
“I will fight for what is best for the landowners and for all the people of North, Central and South Bougainville, especially those who died and suffered during the Bougainville Crisis,” he said.
PNG Post-Courier: http://www.postcourier.com.pg/
5) Bougainville joint venture ferry in service early next year
Posted at 01:44 on 12 June, 2013 UTC
The loss of the inter island ferry service when the Rabaul Queen sank last year has prompted the autonomous Papua New Guinea province of Bougainville to have its own vessel built.
At least 141 people, including dozens of Bougainvillean students, died in the disaster.
The Bougainville president, John Momis, says the province needs an appropriate form of transport as air travel is too expensive for many people.
He says his government is in a joint venture with a Port Moresby businessman, which is having a vessel built in China.
Mr Momis says the new ferry should be in service early next year.
He says it will carry 370 passengers and comply with the new, more stringent maritime laws.
“It will be a much more robust boat and the other thing is that the ship, the manager, the captain , the crew will be required to adhere to quite stringent requirements of the regulations, which should assist the crew and the passengers in the case of an accident.”
Bougainville president John Momis.
Radio New Zealand International
6) Opposition MP: Vanuatu Government Misses Priorities
New initiatives follow plans of former government: Moli
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, June 11, 2013) – The opposition MP in Vanuatu, Kalfau Moli, says the government is achieving few of the targets in its list of ambitious policies.
Two months ago, the Prime Minister Moana Carcasses Kalosil listed 68 measures to be completed within his coalition’s first 100 days in office.
The list includes moves towards political reform and greater accountability in public finance and economic management.
However Mr. Moli, who is an independent MP, says the government has failed on most of the new initiatives in its list.
“Because most of it are plans from the previous government and they’re working. For example, the rejection to continue with the Chinese funded project to build a Convention Centre (in Port Vila). That has actually [fallen] on its face. The government has endorsed the plan that was endorsed by the previous government and is going with the plan despite the fact that the Prime Minister is in total disagreement about it.”
Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com
7) Call to wind down indexed New Caledonia public sector pays
Posted at 03:46 on 12 June, 2013 UTC
The governor of the Bank of France has spoken out for more competition and lower public sector wages in New Caledonia to help fight the high cost of living in the territory.
Christian Noyer made the comments in Noumea after a meeting of the leaders of the defacto central bank of the French Pacific territories and following a 12-day general strike last month to force prices on some goods and services to be lowered.
Mr Noyer says jobs need to be created and salaries aligned with productivity gains.
He says this involves a gradual winding down of the indexed salaries of the territory’s French public service members, whose pays are about double of those in mainland France.
Mr Noyer says despite an economic slow-down in New Caledonia, its economy will be growing thanks to its nickel plants.
Radio New Zealand International
8) Public Officials For Nadi, Sigatoka Sacked By Fiji Regime
Administrators under investigation by anti-corruption body
By Reginald Chandar
SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, June 11, 2013) – Fiji’s government has terminated the special administrator for Sigatoka and Nadi, Aisea Tuidraki and Nemia Tagi, the chief executive of Nadi Town Council from their respective positions.
Attorney General and Minister of Anti-Corruption Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum confirmed the terminations in a government statement and also announced changes which will see Special Administrator of Lautoka Praveen Bala assuming the responsibilities of special administrator in Nadi until Tuidraki’s successor is announced.
And prominent businessman and tourism industry figure Jay Whyte will become Sigatoka’s very own special administrator.
He will appoint a committee of local stakeholders to assist him in his duties.
Sayed-Khaiyum said the decisions were made in the interests of transparency and better service delivery for the residents of both towns.
He revealed that Tuidraki and Tagi were being investigated by the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC).
“While charges have yet to be laid, government is extremely concerned that both men had declined to cooperate fully with FICAC. Irrespective of the outcome of any investigation, this is clearly not the standard required of our local government officials and we were left with no choice,” he said.
The Attorney-General said there had also been serious complaints made about other aspects of the pair’s conduct including allegations of favoritism in the allocation of jobs and contracts.
It was also being alleged that the office of the Special Administrator had not been keeping proper records.
“Whatever the outcome of the current inquiries, they are secondary to the need to provide the ratepayers of Nadi and Sigatoka with a high degree of transparency, accountability, performance and confidence that their interests are paramount. On that basis alone, the Special Administrator’s and the CEO’s positions were clearly untenable,” he said.
He also thanked Whyte for offering to perform the role of Special Administrator in Sigatoka for no remuneration.
9a) No push for Fiji to rejoin Pacific Islands Forum, Commonwealth, says Ratu Inoke
By Online Editor
4:22 pm GMT+12, 12/06/2013, Fiji
Fiji has no plans to push for readmission to the Pacific Island Forum.
This was revealed by Fiji’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, in his interview with Pavel Vanichkin of Russia’s ITAR-TASS
He said, “Action should speak louder than words.”
In the case of Fiji, he said he was proud that the Government was delivering what it had promised on the developments pertaining to the preparations for elections in 2014.
The development of the new constitution for Fiji that is premised on equity and fairness is testament of Fiji’s progress.
He said the Pacific Island Forum Ministerial Contact Group, comprising some foreign ministers of the Forum countries, including Australia’s Bob Carr and Murray McCully from New Zealand, has been asked by the Pacific Island Forum leaders to continue to dialogue and engage with Fiji and monitor and report on its progress.
However on the question of whether Fiji had any plans to push for approval to rejoin the organisation, Ratu Inoke replied: “The onus is on those that made the decision to suspend our membership to review their decision.”
Fiji, he said, remained firm and certainly had no plans ‘fight for approval’ to rejoin the Forum.
Ratu Inoke was also asked by Vanichkin whether Fiji is taking steps to end its suspension and become part of the Commonwealth again.
He said the Commonwealth had made certain demands and Fiji had been perpetually taking positive steps towards parliamentary elections and democracy in 2014.
“The promise which was made to the international community that Fiji will work towards having elections in 2014 is even more concrete.”
In terms of the progress made so far, many eligible voters have been registered.
The Government is continuing to encourage and promote registration. Moreover, interested political parties have been given until early next year in which to register their parties for elections under the Political Parties (Registration, Conduct, Funding and Disclosures) Decree 2013.
Ratu Inoke said the development of the new constitution involved an arduous task of consultations but the Government would ensure that the views of all Fijians are included in the new constitution.
He said Fiji had acted on the promises it made to the people of Fiji and the international community.
The onus, he said, was for the Commonwealth to recognise this and make their assessments.
SOURCE: FIJI SUN/PACNEWS
GOVERNMENT OF THE
REPUBLIC OF VANUATU
OFFICE OF THE PRIME MINISTER
P M B 053 Port Vila, Vanuatu
Tel: (678) 22413 Fax: 26301
Friday, June 7th, 2013
VANUATU GOVERNMENT PRESS RELEASE
9b) Commemoration of 150th Anniversary of Blackbirding to be part of 2013
Independence Anniversary program
This year 2013 marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the period of “black
birding”, the trade of over 50,000 Ni-Vanuatu and Solomon Islanders to
Queensland and other parts of Australia to work as slaves and indentured
Labourers in the agricultural sectors of the then-British colony. The black birding
era lasted from 1863 until 1906.
In Australia, this 150th anniversary is being commemorated by a number of
events in a number of cities beginning in June and running until November.
The Council of Ministers has now decided that this important anniversary will also
be commemorated in Vanuatu, and the Prime Minister has requested that the
33rd Independence Anniversary Organizing allocate one day of the 2013
Independence Anniversary program to the “National Commemoration of the 150th
Anniversary of Blackbirding”, as follows:
1. the official commemoration date shall be Sunday the 28th July ;
2. the Government will allocate a special additional budget of 1,000,000 vatu
towards this special commemoration day ;
3. there shall be a special sub-committee created to organize this day, which
shall be chaired by the Vanuatu Indigenous Descendants Association
(VIDA) and co-chaired by the Vanuatu Christian Council (VCC) ;
4. a special church service and a special forum shall be organized as part of
the activities of this day ;
5. the Interim National Body for Australian South Sea Islanders (based in
Australia) shall be consulted about the program for this day, as many of
the Australian South Sea Islander community (descendants of Ni-
Vanuatu) will be returning to Vanuatu to take part in this commemoration
The Vanuatu Indigenous Descendants Association (VIDA) is the body
established by the Malvatumauri National Council of Chiefs in 2011 to deal with
and advise the Council on matters relating to the historic blackbirding era and
relationships with the Australian South Sea Islander community.
Contact regarding the program: Mr Maurice Tangarasi, VIDA Secretariat.
10) Tonga Announces $202 Million Government Budget For 2014
Over $100 million of budget to come from aid partners
NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, June 11, 2013) – The Minister of Finance, Hon. Lisiate ‘Akolo has launched Tonga’s biggest ever national budget amounting to TOP$357.6 million [US$202 million] for the 2014-15 financial year, expressing concern over low returns to government from public enterprises.
He was also concerned about a recent change in Tonga’s loan status from high risk to medium risk with implications he feared could lead to loss of grants from donors.
The total budget amount revealed on Friday, 7 June is TOP$18 million [US$10.2 million] more than the current national budget, and notably the third year in a row that a substantial portion of the budget is funded by pledges from foreign aid donors.
The government will contribute TOP$163.1 million [US$92.1 million] while the balance comes from TOP$35.7 million [US$20.2 million] in Budget Support from Aid Donors; TOP$50.3 million [US$28.4 million] in cash for development projects by development partners, and TOP$108.5 million [US$61.3 million] money in-kind from aid donors.
The total working budget for government ministries and government bodies is TOP$198.8 million [US$112.3 million], being a TOP$19.84 million [US$11.2 million] increase from the current budget.
The Minister of Finance at a press conference announced that he has a balanced budget, but he must make sure that foreign aid donors will honor their pledges.
He revealed that the World Bank and the EU had not honored their pledges of budget support for the current budget “because we did not abide by what is called the Policy Metric.”
He said that under Policy Metric there was a list of things for government to do before budget support funding is released. Under the current budget because the Tonga Energy Road Map (TERM) had failed to fulfill the EU requirement, they did not release their budget support.
Government loans burden
The Budget Support funding became available to government after the government loans amounted to 45% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Lisiate said that 45% for some countries is not a worry, but for Tonga it is, and the government had agreed, that there would be no more new loans until Tonga reduces the 45%.
The government loan repayments in the coming financial year has increased by TOP$9.1 million [US$5.1 million], mostly to repay the estimated TOP$120 million [US$67.8 million] loan from China for the reconstruction of Nuku’alofa.
The Minister said that during the past five years Tonga had been paying just the interest on the China loan, but starting this September they will be paying interest and principal. Tonga’s total loan repayment allocation under the new budget is about TOP$20.1 million [US$11.4 million].
Our reliance on overseas donors to balance our budget while we are trying to repay our loans is becoming a contentious issue;
The Minister of Finanace said that under the Chapter IV annual review of the Tongan economy by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) this year, Tonga had been declared as being “high risk.” with regards to being able to repay its loans, and therefore was allowed “no more loans.”
However, just at the end of May, the IMF had declared Tonga’s loan status as “medium risk”, which meant that Tonga may borrow.
“That was the good news,” said Lisiate, “but the bad news is that we no longer can have access to 100% grant, now it is going to be 50% grant and 50% loan. The problem with this approach is that other donors, such as the Asian Development Bank will follow suit and that will not be good for Tonga.”
Under such an arrangement the Minister was puzzled with the thought that the TOP$34 million [US$19.2 million] grant from the World Bank to bring in the fiber optic telecommunications cable network to Tonga, which was originally going to be a grant means that Tonga will have to repay half of it as a loan.
“We are drafting a response to the IMF, that declaring Tonga as “medium risk” is not good for Tonga,” said Hon. Lisiate ‘Akolo. “We have to get our response to them before the end of June when they will finalize their decision on Tonga’s loan status.”
Revival of economy
The solution to all these problems is to revive the Tongan economy which is in its lowest ever. The IMF has forecasted that the Tongan economy will grow by half a percent in the coming financial year.
Lisiate said that reviving the Tongan economy is very difficult because of the difficulty of trying to change the people’s mind-set.
“For a number of years our main source of revenue come from remittances, and it has became a way of life for people to just sit around waiting for remittances to come from their families and relatives overseas, but with a dramatic decline of remittances by 50% from TOP$200 million [US113 million] per annum, and an increase in unemployment in industrial cities, we have to revive our economy.”
Lisiate said that it was easier said than done.
He gave an example that under the current budget there was an allocation of TOP$1 million [US$564,812] that was set aside to encourage exports, “so that exporters, could pay the growers cash, thereby encouraging the growers to go out and grow more, leaving the exporters to concentrate in the business of export. Some of this money has not been utilized because the people involved wanted to use it for production, but that will open up the doors to demand the same thing.”
Lisiate believed that there as just too much talk but no action, and that was the fundamental problem in trying to revive the Tongan economy.
To get the Tongan economy back on track and reduce Tonga’s reliance on remittances and foreign aid, Lisiate has allocated a half a million to investigate declines in revenues and also a social problem in schools.
The allocation is for the establishment of two Royal Commissions. One Royal Commission will investigate the management of government public enterprises. Lisiate claimed there was a dramatic decline in the dividends that some of these enterprises were paying to government. He said that one public enterprise used to pay a TOP$6 million [US$3.4 million] dividend annually, but was now paying only about TOP$300,000 [US$169,444].
He said that the dividends from government public enterprises were very important income that was required to balance his budget. In the new budget there are no increases in taxes and duties, but there is an increase in the allocations for all ministries, though some more than others.
Destablize the country
The other Royal Commission is to investigate and to find a solution to the fighting that has been going on for years between secondary schools students.
He said that something has to be done because the fighting had spread out into villages and it could destabilize the country and undermine the economy.
But going back to the drawing board, the he said that the theme for his new budget is “Continuing to Create Opportunities by Building on Inclusive Sustainable Growth”, and the three distinct groups which are targeted are: Communities, Private Sectors, and Government, as well as the management of Government Finance.
An allocation of TOP$1.7 million [US$960,181] has been set aside for the elderly, aged from 75 years upward. There is also an allocation of TOP$480,000 [US$271,110] for the transportation of children to schools, and also the Electoral Constituency Fund of TOP$2 million [US$1.1 million] – an amount that elected People’s Representatives to the Tongan parliament could use to implement community projects in their constituents.
With the Private Sector, Lisiate said that six Sector Growth Committees would be formed, and come under the umbrella of a National Growth Committee. “So there would be an Agriculture Growth Committee, a Tourism Committee, a Fisheries Committee, a Manufacturing and Processing, Construction and Services, Commerce and Trade, and Retailing and Wholesale.”
He said that 500,000 pa’anga [US$282,406] was allocated to Manufacturing and Processing, another half a million for Tourism, and TOP$1 million for the Tourism Authority.
They will also assist the Real Tonga Airline, and they have allocated TOP$250,000 [US$141,203] to pay for the airline’s Withholding Tax, “because they have to pay their tax, but they are new and still struggling and at the same time to assist tourism.”
The budget allocation for the Ministry of Health will increase by about a million pa’anga. There will also be an allocation of about TOP$1.2 million [US$677,775] to revive the Tonga Maritime Polytechnic, and TOP$480,000 for roads work.
The allocation for the Ministry of Police goes up by TOP$800,000 [US$451,850], and the Judiciary by TOP$900,000 [US$508,331].
The Minister has also allocated TOP$250,000 each for the establishment of Tonga’s first Chief Justice, and an Anti Corruption Commissioner. He said that these salaries were too low for what a foreigner in those positions would demand. “But the question is why is it only Tonga in the region that does not have a local as a Chief Justice?” he asked.
The 2013-2014 National Budget will be formally presented to parliament on Thursday, 13 June.
Matangi Tonga Magazine: www.matangitonga.to/home/
11) Tonga budget to be propped up by aid
Posted at 03:46 on 12 June, 2013 UTC
The Tongan government has announced a budget that is strongly dependent on foreign aid support.
The government is planning to spend five percent more in the coming year compared with last year – about 202 million US dollars.
Don Wiseman has more:
“Matangi Tonga reports that 55 percent of the Budget is set to come from aid donors – particularly Australia, New Zealand, the European Union and the World Bank. But the Finance Minister Lisiate ’Akolo admits that both the World Bank and the EU withheld commitments last year after Tonga failed to meet certain conditions. The budget includes more money for health, policing and road building. Mr Akolo says Tonga this year begins repaying the principal on a loan from China for the rebuilding of Nuku’alofa. He says there’s little growth in the economy while the 50 percent fall in remittances has been having a significant effect. Mr Akolo says in the past there has been too much talk and not enough action on reviving the economy and he wants to do something about that. He says they are setting aside funds to encourage exports, putting more money into the Tourism Authority, providing initial funding for Real Tonga Airline, and setting up a national growth committee to stimulate the economy. The government will also launch a royal commission to find out why returns from government agencies have plummetted.”
Radio New Zealand International
12) Tonga To See Improved Internet Access In August
PM: affordable connectivity will lead to economic opportunities
NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, June 11, 2013) – Tonga’s high speed internet is expected to be launched on August 5, after a multi-million dollar submarine fiber optic cable network goes live. The landing of the first cable in Tonga was celebrated this morning in Sopu after the arrival of the ‘Ile de Re’ French cable ship from Fiji, on June 10.
About 200 people attended a ceremony in front of the cable landing station at Sopu. The French Cable Ship Ile de Re, laid the fiber optic cable over 827 kilometers from Fiji to Tonga in 10 days. As the ship steered closer to shore, the Cable was delivered to its undersea position by a computerized led buoy. The symbolic buoy, illustrating the names “Tonga Cable Limited” and “Alcatel-Lucent” was cut under sea by divers and presented to the Prime Minister.
Alcatel-Lucent is a French submarine fiber-optics company who last year won the contract to lay the submarine fiber optic cable. The US$33 million Pacific Regional Connectivity Project is funded through grants of US$26.6 million including $16.7 million from the World Bank and $9.7 million from the Asian Development Bank, with a $6.6 million investment from Tonga Communications Corporation.
“This is a historical day for Tonga,” said Prime Minister Lord Tu’ivakano, who envisaged new economic opportunities as the internet will be faster with more capacity and cheaper.
He said a more affordable connectivity will lower transaction costs, will create new economic opportunities and increase services delivery options. “Everyone will have a chance to be connected which will reduce internal isolations for those living in rural areas and remote islands of Tonga. It will make the world closer to home,” he said.
“We look forward to commissioning the cable project in the first week of August this year, where the internet will be made commercially available. There will be challenges and consequences and government is working on a Bill aimed to stop and punish those who misuse the internet,” said Lord Tu’ivakano.
Robert Bolouri the Managing Director of the Tonga Cable Ltd. told Matangi Tonga that at this stage the target date for the high speed internet to go live is August 5.
He said when the service comes into full operation it is expected to have a total capacity of 320Gbits, which is about 6,000 times more than the 50-55Mbits capacity that is currently being used through the satellite network. But at the start of the project 10g will be lit and ready, said Robert.
The submarine fiber optic cable will connect Tonga to the Southern Cross Cable, which is the main trans-Pacific link between Australia and the United States.
Matangi Tonga Magazine: www.matangitonga.to/home/
13) Samoa Investing In Multiple Solar Power Projects
Systems to be installed soon at separate sites on Upolu, Savai’i
By Sophie Budvietas
APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, June 11, 2013) – Samoa has taken a small but significant step towards using more renewable energy with some slight savings possible from solar power. Although small, this is the island’s largest solar power project so far.
Samoa Electric Power Corporation (EPC) General Manager, Tologatā Tile Tuimalealiifano says any savings from this project will be reflected in electricity charges.
“This project will provide some savings in fuel although it won’t be significant as it is a small sized project compared to the power demand of the country,” he said. “However any savings from this and any future solar project will be reflected in the tariff.”
Yesterday’s announcement focused on one of two solar power projects planned for Samoa, with a much bigger project still experiencing delays.
For the smaller US$4 million project, the EPC has partnered with U.S. company SunWize technologies to deliver the product.
The U.S. company is designing and installing what will be Samoa’s largest solar electricity generation system.
With an expected completion date in late 2013, the 546kW project with Samoan power utility EPC is a notable international installation for SunWize.
Expected to generate 700,000 kWh annually, the project will span three separate sites on Savai’i and Upolu.
At the time of the announcement the EPC project manager Rapa J. Young Samoa said that due to diesel power being the country’s main source of electricity Samoa was dependent upon imported fossil fuels.
“As a result, fluctuating global oil prices have a tremendous effect on electricity tariffs,” he said.
“We believe our investment in this renewable solar energy project will allow us to reduce Samoa’s dependency on fossil fuels and provide its citizens with a more reliable, stable and affordable supply of electricity.”
Young said the new solar installation will help Samoa take a “major” step toward improving its energy efficiency while also “helping us develop greater skills and capacity in the growing renewable energy field.”
“We’re excited to see this project come to fruition and provide positive environmental and financial benefits for both current and future generations of Samoans,” he said.
According to Tologatā the multi-million dollar project includes a grant of US$4million from the Pacific Environment Community Fund as well as co-financing from the Government of Samoa and other partners.
Tologatā says this is a different project to the $50 million one which has been reported as being set up at the Faleolo Airport with Daystar’s Eco Energy Solutions (Australia) and Sunlogics Power Fund Management.
“This is a different project. This will be EPC-owned and operated,” he said.
“The ($50 million) project is an Independent Power Producer arrangement whereby the IPP sells 4mW electricity generated from its plant to EPC as a commercial operation.
“However, as mentioned earlier, this 400kW (0.4mW) project will be owned and operated by EPC.”
Tologatā says that the U.S. company, SunWize, has subcontracted out some of the work including electrical and civil works.
“One local company is OSM consultants involved in some design and pre-construction work,” he says.
Tologatā says the 2013 end of year deadline a feasible target.
“However this is also dependent upon shipping schedules and weather conditions,” he said.
Samoa Observer: www.samoaobserver.ws/
14a) Australia warned about NZ human rights breach
By Online Editor
1:28 pm GMT+12, 12/06/2013, Australia
Australia has been warned it is breaching its international human rights treaties by denying expatriate New Zealanders access to its new National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
A Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, which examines Bills and Acts before they become law, has produced a report on the exclusion of New Zealanders from the NDIS.
New Zealanders who arrive in Australia after February 26, 2001 are not eligible for the scheme despite being required to pay for it through a special levy.
University of Sydney Human Rights Law specialist, Professor Mary Crock has studied the Parliamentary Committee’s findings, which she said warns the Australian government that it is violating its human rights agreements under international law.
“They (the committee) have picked up on the fact that we (Australia) are discriminating against New Zealanders on the basis of their immigration status ” Professor Crock said.
The committee is calling for the government to justify why New Zealanders are excluded from the new disability scheme.
Australia’s social security laws restrict expat New Zealanders who arrived in Australia from 2001 onwards from accessing certain benefits and services.
New Zealander Angela Bensemann arrived in Australia with her husband in 2007.
She fell pregnant soon after and gave birth to their son Toby in a Sydney hospital after carrying him for just 24 weeks. Toby’s premature birth left him with multiple disabilities, however, because his parents are New Zealanders who arrived in Australia after 2001, Toby doesn’t qualify for services that the NDIS is designed to provide.
“I feel it is unfair. We pay our taxes and not being able to access any funding help for our own disabled child is, I find, discrimination against New Zealanders” Bensemann said.
Eligibility for the NDIS is aligned with similar Australian government schemes for people with disabilities, which are restricted to Australian citizens or permanent residents.
A long standing trans-Tasman agreement allows Australians and New Zealanders to visit, live and work freely in each others’ countries, and as such, Australia classes New Zealanders as temporary residents and not permanent residents.
A spokesperson for the Minister for Disability Reform, Jenny Macklin, told ONE News: “New Zealand citizens who want to access the NDIS have the option of applying for a permanent visa.
“If granted, they would have immediate access to the NDIS, subject to meeting other access requirements.”
Children born in Australia to New Zealand parents are not considered permanent residents of the country until they turn 10-years-old.
Bensemann said her husband’s Sydney employer has offered to sponsor him for permanent residency.
However, Prof Crock said this pathway would more than likely be blocked by the Australian government.
“They (the Bensemanns) run up against the health rules for Australia and the problem is that the health rules can’t be waived and the child’s disability becomes an absolute hurdle to getting any form of standard visa in Australia,” she said.
The question now is whether the Australian government will be held to account by the international community via United Nations Human Rights Committees if it continues to exclude New Zealanders from accessing its National Disability Insurance Scheme.
14b)West Papua fridom muvmen i liklik bruklus lain: Messett na Joku
Updated 12 June 2013, 17:40 AEST
Tupela Melanesia lida insait long gavman blong Indonesia itok West Papua fridom muvmen long Vanuatu i liklik “renegade” bruklus lain tasol.
Tupela Papua lida husat i wok wantaim gavman blong Indonesia itok em ino stret long Melanesian Spearhead Group long larim West Papua i kamap wanpela memba blong MSG.
Tupela man ia nau i Franzalbert Joku na Nicholas Messet tupela man husait ibin lida bipo long muvmen blong West Papua i kisim independence from rul blong Indonesia.
Tasol tupela ibin tanim tingting na nau tupela i wok wantaim Indonesia gavman, na bai tupela i part blong ofisel delegesen blong Indonesia we bai go long MSG Leaders Summit miting long New Caledonia long neks wik.
Ol FLNKS lida long New Caledonia i tok orait pinis long West Papua Coalition we i beis long Vanuatu long atendim dispela MSG summit.
Mr Joku itok, igat 25 million long ol Melanesian pipol na 11 million long ol i stap insait long 5 pela provins blong Indonesia, 8 million i stap long Pacific na 6 million tu i stap long Mindanao long Philippines.
Em itok dispela i trupela samting na i tok ol Melanesian Spearhead Group lida imas luksave dispela na ino lukluk long haphap grup tasol olsem dispela liklik lain long Pacific we laik bruk lus long rul blong Indonesia.
Mr Joku i tokim Radio Australia olsem “Sapos MSG em wanpela riginal organisation long akomodetim interest blong Melanesian communities wherever they may be, dispela nau i stap long tingting blong mipela, mipela i tok olsem yes – mipela Papuan i stap na arapela Melanesian grup tu i stap. Mipela i ting olsem rather than aprochim olsem partial treatment blong question blong observer-ship or membership, mipela laikim bai legitimately elected leaders, Papuan leaders i stap na also ther Melanesian leaders i stap insait long Indonesia i mas representim interest blong mipela and not renegade group.”
Ol MSG memba kantri nau i Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji na ol kanak blong New Caledonia.http://www.
14c)Réaction aux propos de Bob Carr
Mis à jour 12 June 2013, 8:39 AEST
C’est un partisan de l’indépendance de la Papouasie occidentale qui répond aux déclarations du chef de la diplomatie australienne.
Bob Carr a déclaré devant une commission sénatoriale que ceux « qui font flotter le drapeau de Papouasie et qui parlent le langage de l’indépendance font partie d’une cruelle déception qui soulève des espoirs en vue d’une indépendance qui n’arrivera probablement pas. »
Ronny Kareni milite pour la libération de la Papouasie occidentale, une province indonésienne. Il habite Melbourne.
KARENI : « Et bien ma réponse est que ces commentaires sont discriminatoires à l’égard des Papouans de Nouvelle-Guinée. Ce mouvement a été conduit et initié par les Papouans eux-mêmes et cela fait 50 ans que nous demandons à être reconnus.
Quant à moi qui vis ici à Melbourne, mon rôle est de rassembler les troupes, de construire une solidarité avec des personnes qui comprennent et leur dire ce que les gouvernements étrangers taisent ou ignorent.
Le gouvernement australien s’est montré très irrespectueux à l’égard de 50 ans de lutte en Papouasie occidentale.»
Est-ce que les propos d’un ministre australien devant une commission sénatoriale vont remonter jusqu’en Papouasie occidentale, une province très fermée ?
KARENI : « Ça s’est largement répandu avec YouTube et les médias sociaux et beaucoup de Papouans sont déjà au courant. Et pour nous c’est insultant après 50 ans.
Personnellement je suis né dans le conflit et il y a maintenant une 3ème génération qui est toujours dans la lutte. Et de dire que cette lutte est conduite par des gens de l’extérieur, comme l’a dit Bob Carr, c’est vraiment irrespectueux et discriminatoire pour les Papouans qui tentent d’alerter l’opinion internationale.
Et cette question n’est pas une question de politique intérieure en Indonésie, c’est une question internationale puisque dans les années 60, le gouvernement australien de Robert Menzies et les États-Unis ont orchestré la remise de la Papouasie occidentale à l’Indonésie en 1969 après un référendum truqué. »
Un référendum appelé « l’acte du libre choix » qui a été organisé par les Nations Unies. Ce référendum, partiellement en raison de la guerre froide, a été approuvé par les États-Unis, l’Australie et la « communauté internationale ».
Pourtant, seuls quelques Papous triés sur le volet, sur une population de plus de 500 000 personnes, ont voté l’intégration à l’Indonésie.
La Papouasie est devenue ensuite une colonie qui abrite l’une des plus grandes mine d’or de la planète.http://www.
Secretariat of the Pacific Community
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
15) Pacific Growers Participate In ‘Organic’ Produce Training
A group of organic practitioners from Fiji, Kiribati, Samoa, Palau and Vanuatu were trained to facilitate the development of organic participatory guarantee systems (PGS) to provide a credible organic guarantee to consumers seeking organic produce. This will be done through the direct participation of farmers and consumers in the organic guarantee process, and is based on recognized standards for organic production.
The training, which concluded on 7 June 2013 in Nadi, marked the first activity of a project funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and implemented by the Pacific Organic and Ethical Trade Community (POETCom) and Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC).
The aim of this project is to enhance the access of Pacific smallholders to high value markets by obtaining appropriate and recognized organic certification and support.
During the training, participants completed action plans for implementing PGS in their home countries that will be supported through the IFAD project and POETCom activities.
One of the participants, Ahling Onorio, Manager of Kiribati Organic Producers, said that the first step will be to raise awareness of PGS and of the importance of organics for small islands, which depend not only on the land but also the sea for their livelihoods.
The action plan for Kiribati includes meeting with the Abaiang Island Council to discuss plans for PGS and seek their blessing for the work. It also involves undertaking training on producing virgin coconut oil and sugar from coconut sap so that these value-added products can be included under the PGS and open up new sources of income for producers.
Cicia Island in Fiji’s eastern Lau Group intends to be certified under PGS so that produce from the island can be marketed under the ‘Organic Pasifika’ PGS certification. This will be done with the full engagement of the communities and youths on the island.
The training enabled participants to work through the theory and practice of PGS, which included field work and mapping of farms, as well as peer inspections of organic papaya farmers in Sabeto, Fiji.
The peer inspections are at the heart of PGS and involve growers undertaking the organic inspection of other growers’ farms, much as scientists peer review each others’ work to ensure standards are high and that any issues of concern are not overlooked.
According to Stephen Hazelman, POETCom Organic Extension Systems Officer, peer reviews are an important part of training in the certification system.
‘This is where real development and innovation happen – farmers learning from each other, sharing knowledge and seeing for themselves what works and what doesn’t work on farms. It is much more meaningful than seeing something on a demonstration plot or just being advised that something works,’ he explained.
In summing up the training, the Executive Chairman of the Rotuma Export and Marketing Company, Hiagi Foraete, said that passion and commitment to organics was required.
‘Traditional structures will be used to ensure the organic guarantee along with peer reviews and training activities. The passion will come from recognizing the environmental benefits to future generations that our actions today will have,’ he stated.
Around 30 participants attended the training.
POETCom is the peak organics body for the Pacific region, and its secretariat is based at SPC with funding support from the European Union-funded IACT project.
16a) EU, UK reaffirms Fiji support
By Online Editor
4:20 pm GMT+12, 12/06/2013, Fiji
The Head of the European Union (EU) delegation in the Pacific Andrew Jacobs says the European Union has been a long term development partner to Fiji providing real benefits for the country and its people and will continue to do so.
Jacobs says since 2007, the European Union has modified – and in some cases limited – development cooperation with Fiji.
“While we look forward to a return to full constitutional democracy which will enable us to resume full co-operation, our support cannot be provided directly to the government or government agencies, but goes through NGO’s and international organizations. In this context, I take this opportunity to confirm the EU’s keenness to provide support to the authorities for the smooth running of the process leading up to the elections,” he said.
Meanwhile, Queen Elizabeth’s 87 birthday celebrations last night provided an opportunity for the British government to re-affirm its support for democracy in Fiji.
Hundreds turned up to wish Queen Elizabeth a happy birthday at Gordon House in Suva…quite fitting since the monarch has always held a special place in Fiji.
Acting British High Commissioner Steven Chandler says there was a more serious note to the whole affair and that was the elections.
“We sincerely wish the people of Fiji for free and fair elections and look forward to welcoming Fiji back to the commonwealth family where it belongs.
Having registered half a million voters and four political parties should be an encouraging sign for international observers such as the United Kingdom.”
This is the first time in twenty five years that Fiji hasn’t marked the Queen’s birthday with a public holiday.
SOURCE: FBC NEWS/PACNEWS
16b)No apology from BBC over Fiji report
Updated 12 June 2013, 20:21 AEST
The BBC is unrepentant about using Fiji in an investigative piece which has angered the Fijian military regime.
The BBC is unrepentant about using Fiji in an investigative piece which has caused the resignation of one Conservative MP from Westminster.
Daniel Foggo’s investigative item involved a fake consultancy company set up to see if MPs at Westminster would take money to try to influence the UK government to readmit Fiji into the Commonwealth.
One MP, Patrick Mercer, has been forced to resign from the Conservative Party.
Jouranlist Daniel Foggo has told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat that Fiji was chosen because of its questionable human rights record.
“We wanted to represent a place where the ethical concerns were considerable, the point being just to further emphasise that anyone who was willing to represent what we were saying in Parliament was even more dubious possibly, because of the fact that they weren’t taking those (concerns) into consideration,” he said.
“We have used Fiji, I freely admit that, but at the end of the day, we’ve not put anything further into the public domain that’s not already there …
“The fact that there are human rights and democracy concerns over Fiji is well known. That’s why it’s been suspended from the Commonwealth for a number of years.”
Audio: Daniel Foggo speaks to Pacific Beat (ABC News)
Fiji’s interim prime minister, Frank Bainimarama, has responded angrily to Fiji being used in this manner, as the coup installed military government he leads had nothing to do with the lobbying efforts shown on the BBC program.
“I would refute that we have dragged his name through the mud,” Foggo said.
“I would say that if his name’s in the mud it’s there as a result of the (country) not having been a democracy for the last seven years and the various human rights concerns.”http://www.
17a) Huge challenge to educate Tokelauan youths about STIs
Posted at 06:50 on 12 June, 2013 UTC
A top health official for Tokelau says teaching young people how to protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections will be a big challenge.
A recent workshop in Samoa brought together health and civil society representatives from three villages to discuss how to get the safe sex message across to young Tokelauans as well as the wider community.
About 20 percent of young people in the country are estimated to have had an STI.
The national co-ordinator for public health, Alipati Tavite, says first of all the authorities will have to find out how much information people have about the infections.
“There’ll be huge challenges on the way and we are expecting that. And also we have to talk to the leaders of each community in order for them to be aware of the information that we are trying to convey. It needs to bring it up to the surface. We cannot just ignore that because it is happening.”
Alipati Tavite says because most people in Tokelau are devout Catholics it is very difficult to discuss STIs.
Radio New Zealand International
17b) Reference group highlights benefits of including people with disability in the aid program
By Online Editor
1:26 pm GMT+12, 12/06/2013, Australia
AusAID’s progress in integrating disability across the aid program was discussed at the seventh AusAID Disability-Inclusive Development Reference Group (DRG) in Canberra last week.
The DRG—comprised of international leaders in disability and development—provided guidance to AusAID senior executive and staff on implementation of AusAID’s strategy for including people with disability across the aid program, Development for All.
“AusAID has emerged as one of the major donors in this region and around the world and has been playing a leadership role to promote disability-inclusive development”, DRG member and Thai Senator Monthian Buntan told Radio Australia.
While in Canberra, the DRG also raised awareness of disability-inclusive development amongst parliamentarians and the development academic community.
DRG member and CEO of the Pacific Disability Forum, Setareki Macanawai, spoke at an event at Parliament House hosted by the Hon Amanda Rishworth MP, Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers.
Macanawai urged Australia to ‘keep its foot on the pedal’ in its efforts to make the aid program inclusive of people with disability.
The DRG met Australia Awards recipients at the Parliament House function, including paediatric registrar Dr Maureen Udodeme from Nigeria, who told parliamentarians that ‘if given the opportunity, people with disability can bring a lot of positive changes to their society’. Dr Udodeme is studying her Masters of International Public Health in Australia with the support of a scholarship and hearing aids provided by AusAID.
Members of the DRG also spoke at a public forum on disability-inclusive development hosted by Professor Stephen Howes of the Development Policy Centre at the Australian National University. The speakers encouraged over 60 attendees from academia, civil society and government to view people with disability as partners in development, rather than aid recipients.
“As development practitioners, we need to recognise that fifteen per cent of the world’s population are people with disabilities,” USAID’s Charlotte McClain-Nhlapo told the ANU forum.
‘Involvement of people with disabilities in program design—from the beginning—is what we should be doing.
18) PNG races against time to meet goal
By Online Editor
4:16 pm GMT+12, 12/06/2013, Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea is racing against time to improve its maternal and child health status as set out in the United Nations millennium development goals by 2015.
Deputy Health Secretary (national health standards and services) Dr Paison Dakulala told a recent meeting that PNG would not be able to achieve development goals four and five unless the training carried out was done in the PNG context.
“The approach to reducing child mortality and improving maternal health by 2015 must be done the PNG way,” Dakulala said.
He said the targets outlined in the task force’s report were yet to be fulfilled. The reproductive health training Unit (RHTU) was a partnership between the Health Department, AusAID and Oil Search Health Foundation.
The partnership would increase efforts in addressing areas of need by women and children. RHTU was set up following recommendations by a ministerial task force on maternal health in 2009 to prioritise reproductive health and provide advanced and follow-up training for health workers.
Dakulala also spoke about the key result area number three in the national health plan on health system strengthening with the use of information technology.
“The set up of the website is to pass on information to our stakeholders.”
Last Friday, the RHTU website (www.rhtu.org.pg) was launched. It would offer the latest information on training, treatment guidelines and information on reproductive health.
President of the Obstetrics and Gynaecology Society Dr Ligo Augerea acknowledged the poor health indicators of women and children in the country.
Augerea described their work in putting together the report as a daunting task.
“However, the partnership in the area of training would upscale and maintain the skills of staff,” he said.
SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS
19) Schizophrenic Fiji woman locked in shed for years
By Online Editor
1:30 pm GMT+12, 12/06/2013, Fiji
A woman diagnosed with schizophrenia has been found locked in a shed in appalling conditions in Fiji.
ONE News was told of her plight and discovered a family struggling to care for her. But experts say the case highlights a wider regional problem of how mental health issues are treated in the Pacific.
The story of Nur, now aged 49, recalls the ‘Chicken Boy’ case, where a man was kept in a pen and tied to a bed for nearly three decades.
ONE News Pacific Correspondent Barbara Dreaver said the woman was kept in “shocking” conditions.
“She’s in a pathetic situation, her place is not clean, it’s smelly, and I am sure she is totally disabled and really needs help,” said Kitione Waqanisau, from the Fiji Disabled Foundation.
Nur was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1987, but has been kept locked in a shed, naked. In shocking images she is shown crouching with just a thin blanket to cover her, in the small shed where she eats, sleeps and goes to the toilet.
Her family say despite receiving $90 a month for her care, they do not know how to handle her, as she has been violent in the past. Some of her relatives believe she is possessed.
“It’s probably a demon that is in her, that has ruined her and is ruling and commanding her,” said one nephew.
Fiji’s mental health officials estimate 15% of the adult population has a mental illness, but only 8% is reported. However, in other parts of the Pacific it is not uncommon for those suffering from mental illness to be hidden away or abused.
“Terrible, that would be the word to describe it,” said Colin Tukuitonga, director secretariat for the Pacific community. “But we don’t yet have adequate services to deal with the issues.”
The Disabled Foundation is now due to donate a wheelchair for Nur, so she can be taken outside. It also hopes to set up a trust fund in order to hire a carer.
The Fiji government has also stepped in after being informed about the case. Nur has now been referred for urgent medical attention and a social welfare officer has visited her and will provide further help.
Pacific leaders will discuss mental health at a meeting to be held next month.
20) 5052 teachers still suspended
ACTING Education Secretary Luke Taita has called on teachers to urgently have their summary duty sheets processed and submitted to Waigani as soon as possible.
Mr Taita made the call in Port Moresby yesterday.
Teachers in all 20 provinces are affected, with Morobe having the highest with 744, SHP 655 and Madang 421 teachers, who were put off pay roll last month.
Western province has the least with 27 teachers still to submit their forms and be put back on the payroll.
As of pay day May 31, a total of 3727 teachers had been restored on the payroll compared to 3071 on pay day May 17.
The total number of teachers still on suspension is 5052 compared to 5708 on pay day (May 17). In addition to that a total of 1055 new graduate teachers have been put on payroll.
“I am very concerned that we still have some provinces that have more than 300 teachers still on suspension from payroll. These provinces must work fast and confirm whether these teachers are actually in school teaching or not,” Mr Taita said, adding that a lot of money could be saved from this exercise.
He said the exercise is taking too long and he is therefore asking the provinces to work faster.
“The second term of school ends on June 28, which is in three weeks time. Therefore if these many teachers have not submitted their resumption forms then, we have to question or find out whether they are really teaching or not.
Standards Officers and Provincial and District Education Officers are urgently required to assist in this exercise,” Mr Taita said.
He said provinces must be responsible for the teachers they employ by making sure that they complete a resumption form at the beginning of each school year.
“Provinces must play their part by vetting these forms before they submit them to Waigani.
“The information will then be entered in the system so that teachers who are really teaching are not unnecessarily put off the payroll and their livelihood and commitment to work are negatively affected,” Mr Taita said. http://www.postcourier.com.pg/
21a) PNG’s Bougainville to probe suspected education sham
Posted at 06:50 on 12 June, 2013 UTC
The government in the autonomous Papua New Guinea province of Bougainville is to investigate claims by an MP that new private education institutions are charging exorbitant fees and then issue meaningless diplomas for two weeks’ study.
New Dawn FM reports an MP Cosmas Sohia as saying the education department needs to set up a policy to monitor and control these new schools.
He says the fees are a burden and a two-week course does not lead to employment.
The president, John Momis, says if it is happening, it is a sign mainstream education services are not meeting people’s needs.
He says his government needs to think outside the box to try and accommodate those missing out.
“A lot of our students are being ejected by the current system which I consider to be expensive, and it systematically and consistently fails people. I think that system should not be supported anymore. We should look for ways of radically amending it so that we do accommodate those who need education.”
Radio New Zealand International
21b) RMI High Schoolers Do Well On College Placement Tests
Marshalls college reports ‘good momentum’ in scores
By Giff Johnson
SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, June 10, 2013) – College of Marshall Islands placement test results for high school seniors are showing steady improvement, said President Carl Hacker.
The school year just ending may set a record for the percentage of students testing into credit and development levels two and three.
“On our placement test, we have seen some steady positive progress over the last several years, particularly in math,” Hacker said Thursday. “So some good momentum here. It certainly does appear that something positive is happening.”
Historically, only a handful of the over 600 prospective students who take the college placement test achieve scores high enough to qualify for credit level courses. The largest group goes into development level one, the lowest academic level requiring significant remedial work before they qualify for credit-level studies.
Data supplied by the college shows that in 2007-08, only 19 percent of students taking the placement test scored high enough to make it into one of these three academic categories in English and even fewer, 12 percent, made the grade for math.
The numbers have shown an upward trend since then. This past school year, 2012-13, the college is showing 31 percent are placing in credit, development two or development three in math, and 25 percent are making it for math.
“There is some change for the better taking place here,” Hacker said. “We have seen some steady progress.”
At Thursday’s Marshall Islands High School graduation ceremony, principal Evelyn Konou said this year’s graduates showed greatly improved college placement test scores, including more reaching credit-level scores.
Marianas Variety: www.mvariety.com
22) Regenvanu seeks advice on Vanuatu offshore mining licenses
By Online Editor
4:12 pm GMT+12, 12/06/2013, Vanuatu
Vanuatu’s Minister of Lands, Geology and Mines, Ralph Regenvanu, says he’s seeking legal advice on whether dozens of offshore mining licenses are valid.
Regenvanu revealed this week successive lands ministers had issued 148 licenses for offshore exploration over the past five years and he says no others will be allowed without wide consultation.
He says only one of the licenses was gazetted and there may be other grounds to put a stop to the other licenses.
“And the question is whether the others that have not been gazetted, are they still legal? If we get advice that they are legal, then we do have to respect them and apparently there is some sort of agreement that before any exploration can take place, there needs to be a further agreement, so the licenses do not actually allow companies to come in now and do prospecting.”
Regenvanu says that’s another way of ensuring there has been due process in allowing companies in.
23a) 148 licenses issued for offshore exploration
Posted on June 12, 2013 –
While only exploration and prospecting may have been done in Vanuatu, this picture depicts how a seabed mining system works
There have been 145 licenses for offshore mining exploration and prospecting and another three for offshore oil exploration issued over recent years by the Government of Vanuatu.
Minister Ralph Regenvanu made this shocking revelation when he opened the weeklong regional workshop on Offshore Mining and its Social Impacts at the Holiday Inn yesterday.
“When I learnt that this workshop was going to take place here (and I was going to launch it), as the Minister responsible (for lands, geology, mines, energy and rural water supply),
I decided to find out what I could about this issue (about the new frontier of offshore mining).
“I made a very disconcerting discovery, something that in my five years as a parliamentarian and just over one year (accumulated) as a Minister of State I never knew: that in the past five years, the Government of Vanuatu has issued about 145 licenses for offshore mining exploration and prospecting, and another 3 for offshore oil exploration.”
“By announcing this discovery, I am also making this information public in Vanuatu for the first time, and I have no doubt that this will be the first time that 99% of the population of this country is aware of this”, he said.
“These licenses have been issued without any proper national regulatory framework for seabed mining or for scientific research, let alone any proper understanding of what the prospecting process entails and what lies on our seabed – this is, after all, the situation all our countries find ourselves in when engaging with seabed mineral issues”.
He said the most alarming aspect however, is that the Government has been proceeding down a path of action without the people it is supposed to represent agreeing to or even knowing about what those in Government are doing.
“The Vanuatu participants in this workshop know my reputation well as someone who is in politics to increase the transparency and accountability of Government, which to me means being accountable and responsible to the people of this country whom we represent and who pay our salaries with their taxes,” he said.
As Minister responsible for lands, he is now overseeing a process of a reform to the country’s land laws to ensure that the principal of “Free Prior Informed Consent” to land
dealings by the land-holding clans of this country becomes enshrined in law, to the extent that a substantial majority of the members of a land-owning clan are required to agree to any dealing with their land.
“I hope to pass these laws in the November session of Parliament this year. Vanuatu’s Council of Ministers has also just agreed to amend the Constitution to make
it mandatory for the National Council of Chiefs to be consulted on all bills relating to land or kastom before they go to parliament. This amendment will go before Parliament in August,” he added.
To the Regional delegates he said, “I wish to address myself now specifically to the Pacific Island Government representatives here, my fellow servants of the public and the people. You are here to discuss ‘social impacts’. ‘Society’ is the noun of ‘social’ – and our society is made up of people: women, men, boys and girls. It is also made up of communities: clan and traditional communities normally led by chiefs or other forms of traditional leaders, church communities led by bishops, priests, pastors, elders, deacons and deaconesses, village communities, settlement communities. ‘Society’ is made up of the government bureaucracy complemented by civil society organisations and private sector commercial companies. To assess ‘social impacts’, therefore, as this workshop asks us to do, it is just not possible to disregard the people and the communities we serve – they are the only ones qualified to describe and to judge what the ‘social impacts’ of any policy is on them – and there is simply no other way to determine this.
“Accordingly, I ask you as government officials to listen to these voices, the voices of our people, voices like that of the Vanuatu Council of Women and other NGOs, voices like that of the churches. Listen, consider, and do your best to accommodate their views and represent them faithfully in your policy and decision-making. I ask you to take note of the concept of ‘Free Prior Informed Consent’ (I see there will be a presentation on this) which is an important principle when dealing with our communities, and especially the indigenous communities which make up the majority of the national populations of most of the Pacific Islands and who are – significantly – the stewards of most of our land and sea areas. ‘Free Prior Informed Consent’ as a concept and process is outlined perhaps most clearly in the ‘Draft Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples’ (or ‘UNDRIP’) which was adopted by the United Nations in 2007”.
He asked to delegates to take note of the “Precautionary Principle” as contained in the Rio Declaration. “The leading scientific thinking at present states that we need to adopt the precautionary principle when it comes to seabed mineral exploitation. To understand exactly what the precautionary principle entails for Pacific Island countries, I recommend participants read the legal opinion about the term prepared by the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide on the website of the Pacific Network on Globalization (PANG)”, he said.
The Government of the Northern Territory in Australia has established a moratorium on allowing exploration for minerals or mining activities to be undertaken within the coastal waters of the Northern Territory until a review of actual or potential impacts of seabed mining has been undertaken. They are waiting, in fact, to see what happens in the Pacific.
“I see this as an example of a government correctly applying the precautionary principle, and it is an approach Pacific Island states which have not yet issued licences for seabed mineral exploration would be wise to follow,” he said.
In his statement to Pacific Island churches last month, the Rev. Dr. Tevita Havea, Moderator of the Pacific Conference of Churches, said:
Whilst development aspirations are not contested, the pursuit of it must necessarily involve all parties to the covenant of citizenship in all Pacific communities. Churches, government and communities must ensure that we remain true to our collective responsibility for the most vulnerable among us and for the protection and conservation of the environment for future generations”.
“I hope the Reverend’s sentiments, and these thoughts of mine, can assist you in your deliberations this week as you discuss how the views of your societies can be represented inclusively in policy. If the negative “social impacts” of seabed minerals development are to be minimised, it is essential that such development is determined hand in hand with our communities from the outset,” he said in conclusion.http://www.dailypost.vu/
23b)Push for billions in compensation to re-open Panguna mine
Updated 12 June 2013, 17:56 AEST
Community groups want billions in compensation as a pre-condition to talks about re-opening PNG copper mine.
The newly-elected representative for community groups around Papua New Guinea’s Panguna mine on Bougainville says he will push for a multi-billion dollar compensation package, as a pre-condition to talks about re-opening the Panguna copper mine.
Lawrence Daveona is the new chairman of the Umbrella Panguna Landowners Association, representing six groups affected by the giant copper and gold mine.
Opposition to Panguna sparked a civil war and the mine was shut down in 1989.
Mr Daveona says landowners want it to re-open, but only after a long-running demand for $4.5 billion compensation is met.
“That will come as a pre-condition to any negotiation talks,” he says.
He says Australia’s Bougainville Copper Limited is the best company to re-open the mine and hopes an agreement can be reached by 2015.http://www.
24a) New PNG LNG project with Japanese interests
Posted at 06:50 on 12 June, 2013 UTC
Papua New Guinea’s Petroleum and Energy Minister says the development of a third major Liquefied Natural Gas project underlines PNG’s status as a major global energy player.
William Duma says he is pleased at the recent alliance between Australian company Horizon Oil and Japan’s Osaka Gas to develop the Western Province project.
Horizon has made a series of large discoveries and is considering a new gas-export facility on the south coast.
Mr Duma says the entry of Japan’s second largest gas company as investor and strategic partner to Horizon reflects the growth of Japanese interest in PNG.
“Yeah, Mitsubishi’s there as well. We’ve also been receiving good indications from Japanese chemical companies with a view to setting up gas chemical plants in the country as well. We’ve got a favourable fiscal and concessional regime compared to our neighbours so the Japanese… they’re not that stupid, they know what they’re doing.”
Radio New Zealand International
24b) Foreigners threaten Buka in business
By WINTERFORD TOREAS
BUKA town in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville will soon be taken over by foreigners especially the Chinese, according to the locals.
Many have been complaining that they are no longer getting the benefits they used to earn before the arrival of the Chinese in Buka town.
According to many local business operators in town, if the ABG does not address the influx of these Asians, this would lead to many Bougainvilleans closing their businesses in town.
“We were told by the ABG that Chinese businessmen and women who come to Bougainville will only concentrate on big businesses like industries and factories. “But what we are seeing is the opposite. Instead of starting big businesses, these Chinese are involved in retail businesses.
“We understand that retail businesses are meant to be owned by the locals.
“How come the ABG is allowing them to take part in retail business.
“If nothing is done, then not long we will see the Chinese taking over all the shops in town and killing our businesses,” the local business owners said.
ABG Vice President Patrick Nisira revealed during the ABG Parliament sitting in Buka last week that he has already instructed the Bougainville Commerce Division to notify the Chinese business owners in Buka town to concentrate on operating only one business, instead of opening two or more of their businesses.
Mr Nisira said those who fail to comply with this direction will be ordered to close their business and move out of Bougainville.
It is understood that the Commerce Division has already issued this direction to these Chinese business operators in town.
However, it is evident that these Chinese are not adhering to this ABG directive.
Instead many are continuing to open and operate their other businesses in town, which is a clear sign that they are not respecting the ABG as the legitimate government in Bougainville.http://www.postcourier.com.pg/
25) Mining charter with new Dash 8:Air Niugini
By Online Editor
1:19 pm GMT+12, 12/06/2013, Papua New Guinea
Air Niugini welcomed a new Dash 8 aircraft this week for its commercial routes and expected mining charter service operations, according to acting chief executive Simon Foo.
The Dash 8-315 series aircraft under the Papua New Guinea registration P2-PXL was flown in from North Bay, Ontario, Canada to Port Moresby.
Foo said: “With the airline’s focus this year to improve service delivery and on time performance, the arrival of an additional craft would be an added advantage.
“Having the extra Dash 8-300 series aircraft will greatly assist in schedule reliability and redundancy, hence improving on- time performance on the domestic sector.”
He said the aircraft would also give Air Niugini an opportunity to further tap into mining charter services.
Foo said the board decided that Air Niugini would put machine straight to work.
Foo thanked his predecessor, former chief executive Wasantha Kumarasiri, for his initiatives that boosted the airlines profile in the international travel industry.
“I want to assure you the public of Papua New Guinea that with this equipment (Dash 8 craft) we are going to do better on our on-time performance.”
The Dash 8-315 series has 50 seats unlike the Dash 8-200 series with only 37 seats.
The new aircraft will be plying to all domestic ports.
Its arrival will bring to 28 Air Niugini’s aircraft fleet, including the Boeing 767, Boeing 737, Fokker 100, Q400, Dash 8-100/200/300 series.
Since last January, the airline has also received two additional Q400 aircraft.
Air Niugini currently operates to 25 domestic ports and 10 international destinations.
SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS
26) Plans afoot to raise coffee production in PNG
Posted at 05:47 on 12 June, 2013 UTC
Papua New Guinea’s peak coffee industry body, the Coffee Industry Corporation, has a series of plans to try and raise production and increase returns for farmers.
The industry has long been vital in PNG, but has lost some of its lustre in recent times with a number of producers dropping out of the industry.
But it the Coffee Industry Corporation wants to see better returns and higher production and has a series of plans to try and achieve this.
The CIC’s acting chief executive, Anton Benjamin, explained to Don Wiseman.
ANTON BENJAMIN: We hope that by working with our farmers in the districts, particularly, and establish this with farmers, we can at least make an impact. And it’s true that we’re also looking at establishing small nurseries, making sure that we have quality coffee facilities available for farmers who come under this particular programme. The other programme that we currently have on board is support by the World Bank – what we call the Productive Partnerships project. That’s also an initative by the government with support from the World Bank, to support small owners to improve their quality. And I think quality starts at the farm level, basically making sure that the farmer does the right thing. And from there on making sure that you get a good yield, and after that, what happens from the farm through the work factory and then how it’s handled, post-harvest handling procedures.
DON WISEMAN: That is a critical thing in PNG, isn’t it? Because of the poor roads and things like this, it takes forever, often, for a farmer to get his few sacks through to the factory. And you need to be able to speed that process up if you’re going to get the best quality.
AB: That’s right. Exactly. For our farmers in the remote areas we have what we call the freight surety programme. That’s also an initiative by government to basically help farmers in the most remote parts of the country. (Laughs) As you know, PNG is very rough and in those places we do not have access roads. So we have this programme which supports small airline companies to go into the most remote parts of the country where coffee is grown and air-lift them back to the markets. What we do is we have a funding pact under this programme which supports weekly flights for the air freight. So this company, when they do their normal round, they go to the rural area. Also, when they’re coming back to the town they’re bringing coffee. So that programme that is very effective, but the problem is in the most remote parts lack of access has resulted very poor-quality coffee. So whilst we get good organic coffee coming from those remote areas, quality is also very low. So we are making efforts to address those areas, as well, in the remote parts.
DW: At the factory, you get the lower-quality material, then that’s downgraded so it gets a lower price.
AB: Exactly. It gets a lower price. The problem we have is that because they’re sort of isolated, compared to people along the roadside who get good prices, the industry is looking at… Yesterday we had a board meeting and we discussed ways which we could compensate our farmers in those remote areas by providing subsidies. So that will also encourage them to make sure they produce good-quality coffee.
Radio New Zealand International
27) 3rd LNG project for PNG’s Western Province: Duma
By Online Editor
4:10 pm GMT+12, 12/06/2013, Papua New Guinea
Horizon Oil and Osaka Gas will develop Papua New Guinea’s third liquefied natural gas (LNG) in Western province, Petroleum and Energy Minister William Duma announced yesterday.
The third LNG project comes at the back of the PNG LNG project now under development in Hela and Central Provinces, and the Elk/Antelope project in the Gulf province.
“I am pleased to congratulate Horizon Oil and Osaka Gas on their recent announcement of a strategic alliance in Papua New Guinea to commercialise the substantial volumes of hydrocarbons in Western Province,” Minister Duma said. He said he had previously endorsed the considerable efforts of Horizon Oil in this country since assuming operatorship of petroleum retention licences 4 and 21.
The Minister said Horizon Oil, together with its co-venturers, has incurred more than K480 million ($US220 million) on appraisal and pre-development activity in Stanley, Elevala and Ketu gas fields, resulting in the confirmation and independent certification of 1.3 trillion cubic feet gas containing 37 million barrels of LPG and 57 million barrels of condensate.
Minister Duma said Horizon Oil lodged an application for a petroleum development licence for the Stanley gas field in August last year and is working towards application for a further development licence over the Elevala and Ketu gas fields.
“Subject to the finalisation of the review by my department and Cabinet, I would expect to approve the Stanley project development license applications in the very next term,” he said.
“These new projects in Western province will provide strategic benefits to PNG and in particular, the people of Western Province.
“The Stanley project which will involve a capital investment of approximately K659 million ($300 million) in Western province, will result in the employment of up to 200 people during the construction phase and will create opportunities for landowner companies and regional businesses to provide valuable services to the project.”
Minister Duma said the hydrocarbons to be produced from the Stanley gas field will add to PNG’s energy independence.
He said the condensate to be extracted from the Stanley gas will likely to be sold to the Napa Napa refinery, displacing imported feedstock; the gas will be made available on commercial terms to third parties, including Ok Tedi Mining Limited, to generate power to the regional mining operations and to enable the realisation of the PNG government policy of rural electrification in Western Province. “The availability of PNG’s energy endowment as a domestic power source not only improves our nation’s balance of trade but will lead to considerable savings and environmental benefits, with cleaner gas-fired power displacing expensive and inefficient diesel generators,” Minister Duma said.
“Indeed, the use of gas-fired power to displace diesel requirements at Ok Tedi estimated to generate fuel savings of approximately K2.2 billion (US$1 billion) over 20 years, providing opportunities to extend the mine life and enhance distributions to landowners.”
The Minister said in addition to the strategic benefits outlined, the entry of Osaka Gas to PNG as an investor and strategic partner to Horizon Oil strengthens the possibility of material LNG development in Western province.
Osaka Gas is the second largest gas company in Japan and has about 7 million natural gas customers on its service area located in the Kanasai region.
SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS
28) Newcrest profit downgrade has PNG worried
By Online Editor
1:21 pm GMT+12, 12/06/2013, Papua New Guinea
NEWCREST will today respond to an ASX inquiry into the timing and circumstances of last week’s devastating profit and production downgrade — one that has also prompted Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill to raise concerns the company’s problems could affect the national economy.
Both the ASX and the Australian Securities & Investments Commission confirmed last week they were investigating Newcrest after the downgrade announcement was preceded by a raft of broker downgrades, prompting accusations of selective briefings, which Newcrest denies.
The ASX nevertheless sent Newcrest a so-called “aware” letter asking the company whether it disclosed market-sensitive information at the time it should have under listing rules. Newcrest is assumed to have the standard two days to respond, meaning this morning marks the deadline for its response. Should it fail to satisfy the ASX, the matter will be passed on to ASIC.
It was a feature of last week’s downgrade that Newcrest also flagged it would be making an asset writedown of up to $6 billion, mainly on its Lihir gold mine in PNG. The group’s high-cost Hidden Valley mine in PNG will also be taking an as yet undisclosed hit. Newcrest has also undertaken to rid itself of high cost gold ounces, meaning a turnaround at Hidden Valley is more crucial than ever.
That promptedO’Neill’s intervention. Yesterday he expressed concern about the impact on his country’s resource sector and economy generally “when a company as big as Newcrest faces serious problems”.
He offered assistance to the beleaguered gold giant “to help ensure operations continue”.
His statement highlights his anxiety about Newcrest’s troubles infecting the national economy, just as he is presiding over PNG’s most expansionary budget.
Yesterday Newcrest’s share price slumped for the fourth consecutive trading day, closing at $12.03 and extending its fall this year to 47 per cent, half of that in the past four days.
While PNG’s economic growth spurt is being driven chiefly by ExxonMobil’s construction of the country’s first liquefied natural gas plant, its longer term sustainability as a major global resource centre hinges on the development of the next generation of mines.
The future of the $5.6 billion Frieda River copper-gold project is uncertain, because its 81.8 per cent owner, Xstrata, has recently restated its reluctance to take a lead in such greenfield ventures.
And the position of the Ok Tedi mine, which has been the country’s biggest income earner for several years, is uncertain with its current lease concluding at the end of this year, and with the government seeking to assume full ownership.
Those problems underline the importance of Newcrest to PNG, where it bought the Lihir mine three years ago for $9.5 billion, and a 50-50 joint venture with South Africa’s Harmony Gold in the huge Wafi-Golpu gold-silver-copper prospect, as well as the Hidden Valley gold-silver mine.
O’Neill said it was clear that Newcrest was “facing some serious challenges with its projects, including those in PNG”, resulting in part from the fall in the gold price. “The company is highly regarded as a leading participant in our resource sector.”
He said the government would seek a briefing from Newcrest’s management on the impact on the PNG projects, with a view to ensuring they remain “fully operational”.
“The principal role of the national government must be to maintain a sound climate for investors and especially, major resource investors who are spending billions developing our resource sector,” O’Neill said.
“As Moody’s ratings agency recently confirmed, we are delivering the right climate for investors. In the meantime, we will get a briefing from Newcrest, and be open to consider what assistance might be offered.”.
SOURCE: THE AUSTRALIAN/PACNEWS
29) Robots changing the face of farm labour
By Online Editor
1:20 pm GMT+12, 12/06/2013, Australia
Researchers say new technology means the agricultural industry is likely to rely on more robots and less manual labour.
Several universities, including Queensland’s University of Technology, are working on developing so-called ‘Agbots’ or ‘Agribots’ – robots specifically designed for farm work.
QUT’s Professor Gordon Wyeth has told Radio Australia they’ve developed a self-driving tractor, which is able to target weeds more quickly and is less damaging to the soil.
“The robots that have been developed so far aren’t about replacing workers,” he said.
“They’re about transforming tractors from being very large heavy pieces of equipment to being many small pieces of equipment.
“So the idea would be instead of having one big tractor which is driving along the surface…instead you’d have 100 light robots that are able to move lightly across the surface.”
The project is one of several being developed as part of a bid to reduce the reliance on manual labour.
Currently, much of that manual labour in Australia is performed by seasonal workers, including many from the Pacific Islands in Australia under the Pacific Seasonal Worker Pilot Scheme.
Professor Wyeth says using robots is not about replacing farm workers, but about finding more efficient and less dangerous work for them to do.
“One of the big problems we have at the moment for the fruit and veggie industry is finding people to actually get all this beautiful produce out of the ground and into the stores,” he said.
“At the moment we can’t get enough people to do that…it’s physically draining work, very awkward postures, lot of repetitive work.”
The university estimates the robots could save $620 million per year in the wheat industry alone.
Another University of Sydney project is working with biologists to grow ‘two-dimensional’ fruit trees that are easier for robots to identify and harvest.
Professor Wyeth says long-term the use of robots has the potential to reshape the make-up of rural Australia.
“I think we might see potentially a shift in the society around harvesting of crops – so instead of having perhaps seasonal workers who are manual labourers, we’re going to have more high-tech workers…who are going to be able to produce, maintain and work with machines that are out doing the work that’s quite dull and dangerous at the moment.”
“The current young generation are looking to the cities as a place with high-tech – but what if the high-tech is out in the country.
SOURCE: RADIO AUSTRALIA/PACNEWS
30) Air New Zealand drops the blue
By Online Editor
10:13 am GMT+12, 12/06/2013, New Zealand
Air New Zealand has unveiled a new livery for all its aircraft – teal blue is gone to be replaced with a heavy black slash and a silver fern.
The long established koru remains – albeit a small white on black version.
Air New Zealand says the livery features the “official New Zealand Fern Mark, the use of which is managed by Tourism New Zealand and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise.”
The new livery will be rolled out on all aircraft over the next year.
“The new-look livery is distinctive and iconic and we believe will inspire a sense of pride in New Zealanders,” Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon said in a statement featuring the word iconic three times.
The design involved extensive consumer testing including focus groups both in New Zealand and offshore.
The airline says there was a clear preference for the fern mark to be incorporated into the design, with 78 per cent of those surveyed believing it fits with the Air New Zealand brand and represented New Zealand.
The majority of the airline’s fleet will eventually feature the white version of the new livery and a limited number will feature the distinctive black version of the new design.
Air New Zealand flies in behind Air Pacific which has also completely redesigned their aircraft livery, going for a brown and white tapa print version.
SOURCE” FAIRFAX NZ/PACNEWS
Watchdog applauds clean-out of Vanuatu’s diplomatic sector
Posted at 05:47 on 12 June, 2013 UTC
Transparency International in Vanuatu has welcomed moves by the new government to purge the diplomatic sector of dubious diplomatic passport appointments.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Edward Natapei, is understood to have sacked around ten diplomats since his appointment in March as part of a review of the diplomatic sector.
Mr Natapei, who indicated that as many as 70 of the 99 overseas representatives could lose their jobs, says many honorary consuls and other diplomatic representative appointments were made without following the proper procedure.
For Transparency’s Marie-Noelle Ferrieux Patterson, the sale of diplomatic passports has plagued the country since her time as Vanuatu’s former ombudsman. She spoke to Johnny Blades.
MARIE-NOELLE FERRIEUX PATTERSON: I think one cannot be more happy about that, especially me as a former ombudsman from ’94 to ’98 who exposed that practise repeatedly by ministers who were granting diplomatic passports or special status to representatives. And at the time there was one, especially – Maxime Carlot Korman – who was basically appointing people with diplomatic passports, and after that collecting yearly amounts of money to maintain their status. So that’s the only evidence that has come out of how these things, these passports, could be used. But that led to a full clean-up at the beginning of 2000. And, yes, every time we get an extension of this diplomatic passport again, it’s good to hear that the minister is reviewing them all and making sure they are done in accordance with the law.
JOHNNY BLADES: So this problem has been around for a long time, then, as you say. Did it increase quite significantly in the last couple of years or something?
MFP: No, it basically increases as soon as you get a minister that is very slack on the issuance of diplomatic passports. We had Joe Natuman a few years ago as minister of foreign affairs and he also proceeded with a full clean-up. As soon, probably, as he left, the appointments started again so it would have been only a few years, but it seems to be replenishing itself. Every time you have a minister that is showing not as much integrity as the present minister and as Minister Natuman before.
JB: There’s obviously this practise, they know it’s an option. The people coming in to the portfolio know that it’s been done, the channels are there.
There’s a demand.
MFP: There is a demand, but what there is especially, if this passport is issued wrongfully the laws to deal with that, which is the leadership code. And unfortunately this type of leadership code has not been used to deal with these type of of offences. Because if someone who was a minister of foreign affairs and now is a member of parliament was prosecuted under the leadership code for issuing these diplomatic passports basically in breach of the law, they should be disciplined and maybe lose their position as leaders.
Radio New Zealand International
32)Solomons finance minister charged, along with 20 other MPs
Posted at 06:50 on 12 June, 2013 UTC
The Solomon Islands Finance Minister has been charged with misconduct for putting himself in the position where he could have a conflict of interest.
The Leadership Code Commission says Mr Rick Hou approved the payment of 39,000 US dollars of his constituency’s funds to a lodge owned by his wife.
Mr Hou is part of a group of 21 MPs and 15 other officials charged with misconduct for failing to declare financial interests.
The Commission’s chairman, Emmanuel Kouhota, says the leaders could be fined up to 700 US dollars if found guilty.
“It’s something that they took for granted or just take lightly, and so some of them just don’t care to make a declaration to the commission. I remind our leaders that they should comply with their obligations and duties that are placed on them by the constitution and the Leadership Code Act.”
Mr Kouhota says they have been given 60 days to respond in writing to the charges.
The Finance Minister Rick Hou is on a ministerial trip to Malaysia and could not be reached for comment.
Radio New Zealand International
33) Bribery warning
By VERONICA HANNETTE
PEOPLE have been warned to refrain from bribery and
corruption instigated by intending candidates during the upcomming 2013 Local Level Government election throughout the country.
Lae City Urban Council Officer in Charge of Police Policing Unit, Simon Ipam issued the warning yesterday.
Mr Ipam said candidates contesting for the seats in their respective LLGs should conduct a clean and healthy campaign because Morobe province needs good leaders and it was high time good behaiviour was observed from intending candidates.
“This is a peak time in which bribery will be exercised; and the public should not fall for such corruption,” said Mr Ipam.
He said since the issuing of writs last Thursday, the enrolment
period had been conducted in a smooth manner that there have not been any interruptions, disturbances or mishappenings.
Mr Ipam said this would be the final day for candidates to come forward with their nomination fees before the writs close by 4 pm this afternoon.
“Lae has six wards scattered in the urban city area. Therefore I would like to warn the urban residents that they should respect this
period of nomination and
cooperate with law enforcers during this period to maintain the good behaviour until all election procedures are completed and concluded,” he said.
He also warns the public that police will do their duties in
making sure that double voting will not happen. As such, the people themselves will have to look and vote properly for a good leader.
Mr Ipam assured the general public that there would be
police operations conducted during the nomination period and right up until polling.
He also congratulated the public for a peaceful nomination period.
Lae Chief Operation Superintendent Fred Kaiwa also confirmed that police will be out to conduct operations during the nomination, polling and counting period to ensure that safety is guaranteed and the election process proceeds as scheduled by the laws and the government.
Superintendent Kaiwa also expressed his gratitude to officers on the ground for their hard work in controlling the public and supporters.
“I want the public to vote leaders properly. And I stress that they should not take bribes from candidates. All must vote according to their own conscience, will and liberty. http://www.postcourier.com.pg/
34) Fiji politicians want ’outrageous’ salaries explained
Posted at 05:47 on 12 June, 2013 UTC
The leaders of three political parties have again called on Fiji regime leaders to explain what they describe as outrageous salaries.
The politicians say the prime minister and his ministers should reveal their earnings just as they have have had to do.
The National Federation Party, SODELPA and the Labour Party lodged their assets and liabilities with the Registrar of Political Parties on Friday as required under the Political Parties Decree.
The politicians say there are reports the Prime Minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama receives more than US$700,000 a year while his number two Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum is said to receive just over half a million.
They say no previous leader earned more than US$60,000 annually.
The politicians are calling for the government to clarify the reports which appeared on an anti-regime blog.
They say the current ministers should provide the information in the same detail required of political leaders, their spouses and children.
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum earlier said his assets would be revealed by July when a new code of conduct for public office holders would be in place.
He said the information would be updated every six months.
Radio New Zealand International
35a) Fiji workshop looks to fight gender-based violence
Posted at 05:47 on 12 June, 2013 UTC
Experts from around the Pacific will be meeting in Fiji tomorrow to discuss how culture can be used in the fight against violence against women.
The three-day women’s empowerment workshop in Nadi will look at how cultural practices are being used to defend the widespread problem of gender-based violence in the Pacific.
The officer in charge at UNESCO in the Pacific, Dr Sue Vize, says organisers want to break down the barrier of culture, and use it in more positive ways.
“Often when it comes up like that, culture is seen as a negative thing. But we want culture to be seen as a postive force in addressing things like violence against women, women’s participation in political and economic life etcetera. And culture is not static, culture is ever-changing.”
UNESCO is teaming up with academics, development experts and church leaders for the workshop, which Dr Vize says will be the first of its kind for Fiji.
Radio New Zealand International
35b)More than 10 million children work as domestic servants: ILO
Updated 12 June 2013, 15:18 AEST
The International Labour Organization says as many as 10.5 million children worldwide, mostly girls, are working as domestic servants.
Constance Thomas, director of the ILO’s global program to eliminate child labour, says the situation exists despite international efforts to halt such exploitation
“The situation of many child domestic workers not only constitutes a serious violation of child rights, but remains an obstacle to the achievement of many national and international development objectives,” she said.
Almost three quarters of these child domestic servants are girls, with 6.5 million child servants between 5 and 14 years old, according to an ILO report.
The 87-page report has been released to mark the World Day Against Child Labour on June 12.
The ILO says children often work in the homes of a third party or employer, carrying out tasks such as cleaning, ironing, cooking, gardening, collecting water, looking after other children and caring for the elderly.
Vulnerable to physical, psychological and sexual violence and abusive working conditions, they are often isolated from their families, hidden from the public eye, and become highly dependent on their employers.
The ILO says the children also risk being forced into prostitution.
“We need a robust legal framework to clearly identify, prevent and eliminate child labour in domestic work, and to provide decent working conditions to adolescents when they can legally work,” Ms Thomas said.
Child domestic work is not recognised as a form of child labour in many countries because of the blurred relationship with the employing family, the report said.
The ILO says such children are not considered workers and, while they live in a family setting, are not treated as a family member.
Child domestic servants represent about five per cent of all children under the age of 17 in employment around the world, according to ILO figures.
More than 20 million people, mostly female, are employed by private households in the Asia Pacific region, which is more than 3 per cent of all paid employees, according to the ILO’s report.
Tens of thousands of female domestic workers migrate from countries such as Indonesia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka.
The report says poverty is the main driver of child labour exploitation and in some locations, particularly in South Asia, it is not uncommon to find children working as domestic workers to repay family debts.
36) Bougainville President Momis bids security firm
By Online Editor
4:19 pm GMT+12, 12/06/2013, Papua New Guinea
President of the Autonomous Bougainville Government, Dr John Momis is pushing for the establishment of a private security firm to work alongside the Bougainville Police Service in policing law and order in Bougainville.
According to Dr Momis, the private security firm will be made up of former combatants and other Bougainvilleans including men and women who meet the selection criteria. They will undergo security training before being assigned to perform their duties.
President Momis has already made his intention known regarding the formation of this security firm on numerous occasions.
Last week the president again reiterated this idea during the ABG Parliament session in Buka that there is now a plan in place to set up a private security firm.
He said this security firm, which will be a joint venture initiative between the ABG and an Australian company, will be collaborating with the police in maintaining law and order in Bougainville.
Chief Momis said one of the tasks to be carried out by this security firm is to monitor the movement of illegal business operators into Bougainville.
He had also recently revealed that this security firm will also be involved in normal police traffic duties like setting up roadblocks to check the validity of licences of vehicle owners.
Apart from this initiative to set up the security, Chief Momis had also previously revealed his idea of allocating about 30 percent of the ABG’s budgetary allocation to the former combatants to carryout law and order duties in Bougainville.
This announcement was made by the President during the two days Panguna mine negotiation forum which was held in Buin, South Bougainville a few months ago.
Chief Momis had planned to engage the former combatants because he saw that once they are adequately funded and supported, they will be able to carry out their duties in policing law and order in Bougainville.
Meanwhile, the decision by the President to form this security firm has already drawn criticisms from Bougainvilleans.
Many have voiced their concern, saying the President is undermining the work being done by police in Bougainville.
They said instead of establishing this security firm, the ABG should look at equipping police with the resources it needs to perform its duties.
They added that police were not able to effectively do their duties because they are not fully equipped with the necessary resources needed to perform their responsibilities.
SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS
CLIMATE CHANGE,CONSERVATION &ENVIROMENT:
37) Pacific warned over garbage, pollution
By Online Editor
1:33 pm GMT+12, 12/06/2013, Fiji
A leading marine expert has warned the whole of the Pacific is under threat from increasing garbage and untreated sewage.
Poor rubbish disposal and a lack of sanitation are being blamed for an increase in pollution in the Pacific Ocean.
Joeli Veitayaki, head of the School of Marine Studies at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji, has told Pacific Beat for people who depend on the ocean, any threat is serious.
“The amount of rubbish that is now in the marine environment and all the areas leading out to that – the rivers and the inland water bodies,” he said.
“It is the ocean that provides the bulk of the food that the people of the Pacific depend on – so if one looks at the problem from both those ends, one can imagine the seriousness of that problem.”
Professor Veitayaki says Pacific countries depend on their waters not just for food, but also increasingly for exports such as tuna and seabed minerals.
He says some countries are already seeing an economic impact from water pollution.
“In some of the countries, people are permanently sick from water-borne diseases, because of polluted water bodies that people use,” he said.
“If people are sick, money will be spent on getting them back to health, so it’s a problem that cuts across the economic activities of all the small island countries.”
Professor Veitayaki says the changing nature of the garbage generated by Pacific communities means more education and new policies are needed.
“They’re the ones that are on the line, the future of their communities is what we’re talking about, and it’s up to the to try and address the issue and give it the attention that it deserves,” he said.
SOURCE: RADIO AUSTRALIA/PACNEWS
38) US-China climate deal seen as first step
By Online Editor
1:35 pm GMT+12, 12/06/2013, United States
China and the United States took a major step in the fight against climate change over the weekend, but what was termed a “breakthrough” might not do much in the longer term to lock in legally binding carbon emission cuts from the world’s two biggest emitters of greenhouse gases.
Still, environmental groups and some US and global policymakers said the agreement could give fresh momentum to the United Nations’ arduous process of finalizing a global treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol on climate change by 2015.
In their first talks, US President Barack Obama and Chinese Premier Xi Jinping agreed to phase out production and consumption of the gases known as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), working under the U.N’s 1987 Montreal Protocol.
Used mostly in air conditioners and refrigerators, ozone-harming HFCs make up roughly 2 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions, but are rising at a rate of up to 9 per cent annually.
The White House said a global phase-down could reduce the carbon dioxide equivalent of 90 billion tonnes by 2050, roughly two years worth of global greenhouse gas emissions.
“We see that as just the first step of a long and robust international climate agenda in the second term,” Heather Zichal, deputy assistant to the president for energy and climate change said on Tuesday.
Analysts worry that the U.N. climate talks continue to be hampered by deep divisions between developed and developing countries over the responsibility for carbon emissions.
One official close to the negotiations said the agreement was a political breakthrough, but the road ahead to a global deal on climate change would still be long.
The official said the weekend agreement, which followed earlier talks between Secretary of State John Kerry and Xie Zenhua, a vice chairman in China’s top economic development body, can inject a dose of optimism into the U.N. climate talks. But the deal represents a powerful example of what can be done when two major powers work together, the official added.
Experts have said addressing HFCs under the separate Montreal Protocol, regarded as a successful international treaty, can lead to major emissions reductions while negotiators hammer out parameters of a workable new climate treaty by 2015.
“This is the biggest, fastest, most effective climate mitigation that could happen in the near term,” said Mark Roberts, international policy advisor of the Environmental Investigation Agency, a group involved in climate issues.
Unlike carbon dioxide, the most prevalent and longest-lasting greenhouse gas produced across many sectors of a country’s economy, HFCs are short-lived and confined to just a handful of sectors, making them easier to tackle.
The Montreal Protocol also creates different timetables for rich and poor countries to phase out production of the gases and gives poor countries financial support to use alternatives. It has already phased out the use of 100 hazardous chemicals.
The United States, Mexico and Canada first proposed the phase-out of HFCs under the Montreal Protocol in 2009. At that point China, India and Brazil opposed the plan, arguing that HFCs should be addressed in U.N. climate negotiations.
Durwood Zaelke, founder of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, said the constraints of U.N. climate talks have created the need for diplomatic moves outside of that process, such as the new US-China agreement.
“This is the beginning of a movement to enlist more climate mitigation from parallel venues,” he said, adding that such deals take some pressure away from U.N. climate talks and open the way for other solutions.
Zaelke pointed to negotiations within the International Maritime Organization and the International Civil Aviation Organization as examples of venues where shipping and aviation emissions can be addressed untethered from U.N. climate talks.
The HFC agreement is “rebuilding an urgent sense of optimism” in the multilateral process that can pave the way for agreements on other short-lived greenhouse gases, such as black carbon, the soot emitted from cook stoves and diesel engines, Zaelke said.
More of these kinds of agreements could be on the horizon, those familiar with climate negotiations have said.
A US-China climate change working group formed in April is expected to come forward with a number of new proposals at the next US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue from July 8-12.
Diplomats will also gather in Bangkok on June 24 for a week of Montreal Protocol meetings and could start negotiations on an HFC phase-down at that point.
39a) ‘A new era dawns’ for Fiji sports with opening of stadium
By Online Editor
1:39 pm GMT+12, 12/06/2013, Fiji
A venue where dreams will be fulfilled, hopes dashed, triumphs and disappointments will be seen was officially opened last night by the Prime Minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama.
The $20millon ANZ Stadium grand opening was witnessed by invited guests who were present in Laucala.
In his speech, Bainimarama highlighted a new era had dawned for sporting bodies in Fiji. He said the new stadium would be a home for stars and heroes.
“We will see the best of Fiji’s sports people competing against the region and the world’s best,” Bainimarama said before he unveiled the stadium commemorative plaque.
He recognised the sporting heroes who did the country proud of the old stadium, running barefoot.
FSC chairman Peter Mazey thanked all the contributors who assisted in the completion of the stadium.
The Republic of Fiji Military Forces band entertained the crowd at the event while former athletics reps ran the tracks, representatives from the Fiji Bati rugby league team, former rugby union reps and former soccer reps had few minutes to display their skills at the new ground.
The new stadium had hosted the Fiji Secondary Schools Athletics final last month, the Marist 7s rugby tournament, National Football League matches and today it will host the Centennial Match between the Flying Fijians and the Classic All Blacks.
SOURCE: FIJI TIMES/PACNEWS
39b) Trio fire-up Classics
By Online Editor
1:38 pm GMT+12, 12/06/2013, Fiji
Fijians Sitiveni Sivivatu, Rupeni Caucau and Joe Rokocoko will fire up the speedy Classic All Blacks backline against the Flying Fijians at the ANZ Stadium in Suva this evening.
Classic All Blacks coach Peter Sloane has drafted the trio in the starting XV along with livewire flyhalf Orene Ai’i and Sam Tuitupou at second five-eighth.
Captain and half-back Justin Marshall will spearhead the backline with number eight and vice-captain Jerry Collins marshaling the forwards.
The visitors held their first full training session at the Denarau soccer ground in Nadi yesterday.
Sloane said despite the limited preparation time, his side would give the locals a good run for their money.
He said they would be out to entertain the crowd but not at the expense of the game.
“We have done pretty well for a limited time,” the former Blues Super Rugby coach said.
“We had some late arrivals so we had only a couple of runs. That is never enough for a coach or an administrator of a team. But they have come well.
“A big percentage of them have played together. With the Classics, there are a couple of young guys coming in.”
“We are looking forward to the game. Fiji plays a great style of rugby.
“Most of us have been through the islands over the years and it will be a tough battle.
“We are realistic that we will be in a tough battle with the limited preparation. But we have had enough to make it a good game.”
Sloane is no stranger to Fiji having played and coached here.
He said all the players in the squad would be given a run on the field.
“We have been here with the Barbarians in the 1970s and the club sides backs and forwards,” Sloane said.
“I have coached here and have the utmost respect. We have 24 players and the brand’s way is to give everyone a game.
“We have got couple of the older guys who may be rolling a bit more than we know.
“But that’s how we will start with the game.
“I think this is a fantastic occasion and the fans will turn up in numbers.
“We want to entertain but not at the cost of the game that deteriorates into a festival type game because that won’t do the Fijian celebrations any good.”
Meanwhile, Classic All Blacks winger Joe Rokocoko says they will be out to entertain the fans when they face the Flying Fijians this evening.
Rokocoko said he was glad to be part of Fiji Rugby Union’s centennial celebrations.
He said it was good to be playing in the country after being away for a long time.
“It is the centennial celebration for FRU so I’m glad to be a part of it,” the 30-year-old said.
“I guess the focus will be on me, Siti (Sivivatu) and Rups (Caucau). It means a lot to us.
“We have played in New Zealand for a long time. Coming here we want to give something back.
“This is where we are from and it is special. Majority of my family will be jumping on the bus to get to Suva to witness the game.”
Rokocoko earned 68 Test caps for New Zealand from 2003 to 2010 before moving to France in 2011.
He said they were here to win.
“Whatever team has a New Zealand brand on it, they play with a lot of pride,” Rokocoko said.
“There is high standard with this team. For us we are here to win. At the end we want to entertain the people who will be coming over. As long as a Fijian scores in the game it will be no problem. If we get a win it will be good for us.”
The match kicks off at 6pm.
SOURCE: FAIRFAX NZ/PACNEWS
39c) Socceroos edge toward World Cup after win
By Online Editor
1:37 pm GMT+12, 12/06/2013, Australia
The Socceroos have produced the most commanding performance of their World Cup qualifying campaign, smashing Jordan 4-0 to take a massive step towards securing a spot at next year’s finals in Brazil.
The style of the victory – and the scoreline – were just what coach Holger Osieck was looking for ahead of next Tuesday’s final qualifier against Iraq in Sydney.
Goals to Mark Bresciano, Tim Cahill, the outstanding Robbie Kruse and skipper Lucas Neill lifted Australia into second place in Asia’s Group B.
“Our team showed great unity and the score was definitely what we needed,” said Osieck.
“It was a good margin and a good clean sheet, compared to some of the other results which were pretty narrow.
“It was good to have a win like that which will definitely give a lot of confidence for the last game against Iraq.
“We made a big step forward but we haven’t crossed the finish line.
“That’s a fact and I made it perfectly clear in the dressing-room to the players that the preparation for next Tuesday has started already.”
Victory over Iraq will guarantee Australia a spot at a third straight World Cup finals.
The Socceroos controlled most of Tuesday’s match with delightful passing – mainly via the vision of Bresciano.
Kruse, Luke Wilkshire and Brett Holman were particularly dangerous in the first half in a right-sided triangle which unlocked Jordan’s defence time and again.
Tommy Oar teamed with Holman and Kruse in some neat interplay to create the opening goal in the 15th minute.
It was Kruse who slid in a well-timed cross from the right for Bresciano to slam home before striking his trademark Spartacus pose to the delight of more than 43,000 fans.
While Australia dominated, Jordan did have two solid opportunities – including the first of the match on 12 minutes to Saeed Murjan, who forced a good save from Mark Schwarzer.
Ahmad Hayel shot just over the bar on 28 minutes, though they were brief counter-attacks in what was mainly one-way Socceroos traffic.
Jordan sharpened up their attack early in the second half and briefly menaced, before striker Cahill added to his near goal-per-two-games record for his country.
Wonderful lead-up work from Sasa Ognenovski, Bresciano, Holman and a killer cross from Kruse allowed Cahill to head home on 61 minutes to ensure victory.
Then Kruse added a third, nutmegging a defender with a blind turn and slamming home for a 76th minute goal.
It was richly deserved, with the Bayer Leverkusen winger and Bresciano clearly Australia’s two best players.
Then party-time descended on Etihad Stadium as Neill headed home in the 84th minute for his first ever goal for his country – in his 91st appearance.
Australia 4 (Mark Bresciano 15, Tim Cahill 61, Robbie Kruse 76, Lucas Neill 84) Jordan 0 at Etihad Stadium. Crowd: 43,785 Referee: Abdul Malik Bashir.