Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 877
1) Fiji, PNG and Vanuatu start MSG duty free trade
By Online Editor
5:25 pm GMT+12, 25/06/2013, Fiji
Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu have started trading duty free amongst themselves under the Melanesian Spearhead Group Trade Agreement (MSGTA).
They have reduced duties on goods in their negative list, an achievement for the MSGTA, since it was formed in 1986, initially between Solomon Islands, PNG and Vanuatu. Solomon Islands has assured that it will revisit the timeline for its tariff reduction schedule.
MSG Leaders at their recent meeting in Noumea last week welcomed the significant progress made in the implementation of the MSG Trade Agreement.
“This is a milestone achievement for the MSG in this anniversary year, said the Leaders communiqué.
Leaders also approved the legal text of the revised draft MSGTA3 including its proposed architecture, as a basis for the negotiations of a new legal framework for broader and deeper trade and economic relations amongst MSG members.
“The draft MSGTA3 will not nullify but build on the progress made under the MSGTA2.
The Eminent Persons Group Report recognised the need for intra-MSG trade to increase manifold and unrestricted flow of trade, services and labour.
“MSG has to leverage on the opportunity that exists in the sub-region and in the region at large.
An immediate target is to facilitate New Caledonia in its integration in the Pacific.
“Given its advanced economy, it can be envisaged that the benefits to the Group can be considerable, said the EPG report.
On the Skills Movement Scheme (SMS), which entered into force in September last year, the EPG suggested the inclusion of semi-skilled and under skilled labour under the temporary movement of natural persons.
“The SMS is a means therefore in making skills available to those who need them and the same skilled personnel can also impart the same skills through appropriate training programmes that can be set up as part of the Scheme an supported by scholarships granted by MSG Leaders.
The group recommended a national volunteer scheme be connected to SMS for greater impact, to supply jobs, to countries of deficit.
“The onus is on national governments to get the system in place – professional qualification framework, with or without concessions awarded to MSG, recruitment agency, policies and regulations, to allow free movement of people, said the EPG report.
Skills Movement Scheme has a great potential, to be developed as a tool for the MSG outreach programme.
Under the MSG Skills Movement Scheme, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands are already implementing the scheme.
On kava, MSG Leaders have agreed to scale up political efforts to secure regional and international market access for kava to the Australian and the European Union (EU) markets.
“MSG Leaders will raise their objections to the kava restrictions imposed by Australia and call on Australia to withdraw their unjustified restrictions, said the Leaders Communiqué.
For the first time, the MSG will hold an Investment Roadshow to be launched at the Pacific Islands Development Forum in Fiji in August this year.
Papua New Guinea has offered to host the 2014 MSG Roadshow and Trade Fair.
2) MSG To Establish Peacekeeping Operations Branch
Leaders endorse move to boost regional security
PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, June 24, 2013) – The Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) has achieved another milestone when the Leaders of the MSG endorsed yesterday the establishment of Department of Peacekeeping Operation (DPKO) within the MSG Secretariat based in Port Vila, Vanuatu.
The DPKO concept initially originated from the establishment of the Formed Police Unit (FPU) concept and was presented to the Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) in the Vale ni Bose in Suva in March 2011 and subsequently as requested by the SOM that the DPKO concept is to be the overarching concept over the FPU.
The Leaders’ Summit through the Foreign Ministers Meeting (FMM) agreed to the concept in principle in March 2012.
In the initiation of the concept, members accepted an offer by Fiji to second a Senior Police Officer who would organize and spearhead its further development.
After years of consultation, discussion and negotiations and realizing the need for the region to be more proactive in its security arrangement and to avoid the region’s dependency on polarity and informal arrangement, the leaders finally agreed to and endorsed the concept of the DPKO’s establishment.
The establishment of the MSG DPKO will strengthen security capability and cooperation between member countries in the MSG region; nurture new dimensions of assistance to the United Nations Peace Keeping efforts; establish available capabilities within the Region to be deployed for any instability through the UNDPKO, in the region or to any part of the world; and to contribute to the improvement of peace and security to our region.
The DPKO will now administer and facilitate the strategic direction for security and peace in the MSG region to lay the platform through the Security Ministerial Council (SMC) for improvement and development of the region’s security landscape in particular to harmonize its regional member country’s security policies.
The creation of the SMC as a security and peace authorizing body will regulate and provide the political autonomy, political will and commitment for the participation of security initiatives that requires change in member government security policies, developing region security policies and also in the release of MSG resources in cases of resources mobilization. It is the wish of the leaders that the region has to develop its security environment that is applicable, relevant and will afford peace and prosperity.
Vanuatu Daily Post: http://www.vanuatudaily.com
3) MSG Summit Focuses On Self-Determination In Pacific
Leaders have West Papuans’ lives in their hands: activist
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, June 24, 2013) – Issues of decolonization and self-determination took centre stage at the just-completed 19th Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Leaders Summit in New Caledonia.
For the summit’s hosts and incoming chair of the MSG, New Caledonia’s FLNKS movement, the gathering was a strong endorsement of their preparation for possible independence from France.
However for the West Papuans of Indonesia, their bid to join the MSG and further their own struggle for self-determination, the summit was not all that they had hoped for.
Johnny Blades reports from Noumea.
The theme of Melanesian solidarity is central to all MSG summits. Much is made of how the group was set up to break the shackles of colonialism and support freedom for all Melanesian people. But beneath the celebrations, disquiet lurks over the long-running struggle for self-determination of the West Papuans of Indonesia’s heavily militarized eastern region. A formal bid for MSG membership by the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation, whose leadership has lived in exile for many years, was the most anticipated discussion item at this summit. Vanuatu’s Prime Minister Moana Carcasses told the plenary session that the MSG must support the cause because continued denial of self-determination for West Papuans is unacceptable.
“We are aware of the human rights violation and atrocities being committed against West Papuans in their motherland. And so, therefore, I’m calling for an end to the abuse of human rights. We move that any continuation or abuse of human rights should be immediately brought to the attention of the international communities. Never let our desire for freedom be extinguished by the power of money,” Carcasses said.
Among the five members of the MSG, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and the FLNKS were in support of the West Papuan membership bid. But Papua New Guinea and Fiji – two countries who have in recent months forged closer ties with Indonesia – were uncomfortable with it. Earlier, the issue was debated at length by senior officials, with the leaders ultimately declaring that a decision on the West Papua application would be deferred until after a MSG mission had visited Indonesia to discuss West Papua more closely with Jakarta some time this year. PNG’s deputy Prime Minister Leo Dion – at the summit on behalf of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill who had opted to make a state visit to Jakarta with a huge business delegation instead – made clear that his country fully supports Indonesia’s territorial control of West Papua.
“I think the main thing that this conference has made is to the MSG members to be invited by the Indonesian government to go and dialogue with them. And I think that’s our greatest step forward,” Dion said.
The secretary-general of the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation was disappointed that the membership application had been deferred. But Rex Rumakiek is encouraged that there seems to be some movement on the issue.
“Finally, our issue has been taken up by the Melanesian Spearhead Group, ’cause we have been trying for a long time. The very interesting thing here is that since they are now recognizing, visually recognizing the issue, and, collectively, they want to do something about. That’s the most important thing,” he said.
However he is weary of delay tactics by opponents of West Papuan self-determination and said the mission to Indonesia could be open to manipulation.
“It’s better to make it a decision now than wasting their time to go over there. ‘Cause you won’t see anything new. Most likely, they’ll make sure that your mission fails to get whatever you want to see,” he said.
But the incoming chairman of the MSG – the FLNKS’s Victor Tutugoro – insists the ministerial mission to Indonesia will proceed with eyes wide open.
Through a translator, Tutugoro said: “Yeah, we know what’s happening there. We see the actualities. We are conscious that maybe through this visit they will show us something else. We will see regarding our own decision, for the FLNKS.”
When asked if giving membership now would be helpful, Tutugoro answered: “We cannot break the MSG cohesion. This issue can break the cohesion of the MSG.”
Meanwhile, MSG Leaders declared commitment and direct assistance to the FLNKS’ independence cause. For the veteran FLNKS leader and former MSG chair, Roch Wamytan, assuming the chairmanship now is very important for New Caledonia’s Kanaks as they enter the final phase of the Noumea Accord which provides for a possible referendum on independence between next year and 2018.
“We are in the process, in the process of the Noumea Accord’s emancipation and decolonization process. And I think it’s very important, as well, to be supported by the MSG for us to achieve our independence in the few years coming,” Wamytan
There are few stauncher supporters of decolonization in the Pacific than French Polynesia’s Oscar Temaru. A special guest at the MSG summit, Mr Temaru recently lost the Presidency of French Polynesia to the pro-France veteran leader Gaston Flosse, but the same week he succeeded in getting French Polynesia re-inscribed on the UN Decolonization list.
“We lost that battle, but I think we won the war – the goal of our fight for 35 years. We got our country back on the list, and I can see a new blood, a new force, in our struggle for the sovereignty of our country in the future,” Temaru said.
MSG countries were instrumental in lobbying support for French Polynesia’s reinscription. But the issue of West Papua remains a sensitive one in the MSG. Fiji’s Foreign Minister, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, was centrally involved in Indonesia gaining observer status in the MSG two years ago and now with securing an invitation for the MSG to visit:
“Yeah. We need to recognize the fact that our administrative power is Indonesia. And we need to work with Indonesia, with Jakarta,” he said.
But many in the MSG framework, such as Wamytan, don’t agree with the Leaders’ direction on this issue.
“The opportunity to obtain a status of full member, it will be a good thing for West Papua. But we know Papua New Guinea and Fiji, they are not really on this process,” he said.
For West Papuan activist Paula Makabory, MSG leaders have West Papuan lives in their hands:
“If the Melanesian leaders decided something just to appease Indonesian governments because of the relationships, in this state they are choosing to kill their own brothers and sisters in West Papua under Indonesian occupation. So they will create more human rights violence in West Papua. We have been facing the questions of genocide in West Papua.”
The MSG has grown in cohesion in recent years, becoming the Pacific islands region’s most powerful political and economic bloc. However that cohesion may face its biggest test from the creeping divisions over the West Papua issue.
Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com
4) PNG population a concern, Growth places stress on infrastructure: PM O’Neill
By Online Editor
5:15 pm GMT+12, 25/06/2013, Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has warned that Papua New Guinea’s high population growth rate presents the government a mammoth challenge in the delivery of its infrastructure development program.
“In one lifetime, our population has more than doubled, from just over two million some 30 years ago to seven million today.
That is a massive increase. “Such increase places great stress on our schools, our hospitals, our law enforcement agencies, and other infrastructure.”
“We have to improve what we have and build more, to accommodate the increase in our population. Or we will be stressed to breaking point,” O’Neill said.
The PNG population according to 2011 Census preliminary figures has reached 7,059,653.
This is an increase of 1,868,867 persons compared with the 200 figures of 5,190,786. This represents an increase of 36 percent in PNG population count since 200.
The 2010 census have Western (180, 455), Gulf (121 128), Central ( 237,016), NCD (318,128), Milne Bay (269,954), Oro (176,206), Southern Highlands (515 511), Hela (352,698), Enga (452,596), Western Highlands (352,934), Jiwaka (341,928), Chimbu (211,926), Eastern Highlands (582,159), Morobe (646,876), Madang (487,460), East Sepik (433 ,481), West Sepik (227,657), Manus (50, 321), New Ireland (161,165), East New Britain (271,250), West New Britain (242,676) and Bougainville (234,280).
The Prime Minister who was in Talasea, West New Britain province, where he flew on Friday to open a new police barracks said the police force was now recruiting, to increase the number of police to around 10,000 by 2017. The government will increase funding to provide more housing, vehicles and other necessities.
“We have to do the same for education and health. We have to build more classrooms to cater for an increase in enrolment every year. We have to recruit more teachers, and that means more houses. The payroll increases as we employ more teachers.
“We have to build more hospitals and improve facilities there. We have to employ more nurses and doctors. We all know how stressed our health facilities are today.”
Fed up with increased law and order problems in their area, the people of Kavugara in Talasea provided a block of land freely for the barracks to be built to ensure a permanent police presence there.
The project was completed this year at a cost of around K12 million (US$4.06 million) and now occupied by members of MS19, PNG’s newest police mobile unit.
“Your province has huge potential in agriculture and tourism. Law and order problems have been a setback for progress. This should now change. You should make the most of the opportunities presented by the growth of our economy to realise your full potential in the two sectors,” O’Neill told the people.
SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS
5) PNG leader slams opposition’s ‘race attack’
By Online Editor
10:14 am GMT+12, 25/06/2013, Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill says a racially motivated attack on him by the nation’s opposition leader is disgraceful.
O’Neill on Monday responded to a weekend attack by Belden Namah in which the opposition leader accused the prime minister of not being Melanesian after he signed an extradition treaty with Indonesia.
PNG shares its only land border with the restive Indonesian province of West Papua, and many West Papuans have fled east to escape Indonesia’s rule.
“I just find it absolutely disgraceful that someone who claims to be a ‘leader’ can resort to race-based abuse and name-calling without provocation or justification,” O’Neill said in a statement on Monday.
“His vicious and uncalled-for attack on me while trying to justify his newfound position on Indonesia and Papua is disappointing, but sadly, it is also not unexpected.
“Mr Namah’s disgraceful behaviour is one reason why the opposition numbers have dropped from around 20 to five or six since he became opposition leader last August.”
O’Neill last week visited Jakarta with a large business and ministerial delegation to sign the extradition treaty, and a series of commercial and civil agreements.
Namah directed his response to the bilateral talks at Mr O’Neill personally, and said the O’Neill government would use the extradition treaty to send West Papuans fleeing Jakarta’s rule back to Indonesia.
“Peter O’Neill is not a Melanesian,” Namah said.
“If he is Melanesian, he will feel the pain and the suffering of the West Papuans.”
Speaking directly to the attack, O’Neill said he was proud of the contributions his father – an Australian-born magistrate, or “Kiap” in Tok Pisin – had made to PNG.
“I am a proud Papua New Guinean,” he said.
“I am proud of the contribution my late father made to Papua New Guinea before and after Independence. I am proud of my heritage, as are my children”
He urged Namah to put up policies, adding there was no place for race-based politics in PNG.
O’Neill is already suing Namah for defamation after the latter publicly accused the prime minister of personally benefiting from government contracts.
The political falling out between O’Neill and Namah came after the 2012 national election that saw Mr O’Neill become PM and Namah head a rapidly diminishing opposition.
For a year leading up to the election, Namah was O’Neill’s deputy prime minister.
Now O’Neill commands a large majority in parliament – about 95 out of 111 seats, while Namah has seen his numbers shrink from 12 to just seven.
The pair’s relationship soured during the lead up to the election, with Mr Namah publicly declaring during the campaign he should be the nation’s prime minister.
O’Neill last month reportedly took a page out of former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating’s play-book, telling Namah in parliament he wanted to “undo [him] slowly”.
6) West Papua coalition slams Fiji Foreign Minister
By Online Editor
10:18 am GMT+12, 25/06/2013, Fiji
The vice-chairman of the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation says it is a legitimate organisation which represents the aspirations of the indigenous people of Indonesia’s Papua region.
The coalition’s formal Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) membership application was deferred following at last week’s MSG Leaders Summit in Noumea.
Fiji’s Foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola is among those to have questioned whether the coalition, which is led by mainly exiled West Papuans, is truly representative.
But Dr John Ondawame says Ratu Inoke is confused.
“He is ignorant about the whole situation of what we are doing. The West Papua National Coalition for Liberation is representing 29 organisations: resistance movement, social movement and traditional organisations. So we fully get support from the wider community inside West Papua, inside the jungle and abroad,” Dr Ondawame said.
Dr John Ondawame has signed statements of support from around 70 West Papuan representative groups.
“We’ve got enormous support for all layers of society in West Papua, (including) from the bush, even solidarity groups around the world. However certain elements within groups in West Papua and some other countries, they don’t have any clues about how much support we have in the West Papuan community”.
7) People’s National Party born
Posted on June 25, 2013 –
PNP new Interim President Baptist Firiam and the Party banner during last Saturday launch at Teounville outside Port Vila.
A new political party was launched last Saturday at Teoumaville on Efate.
The party is named ‘People’s National Party’ by founder and interim President Baptist Firiam, from Emae in the Shepherds.
The PNP launching took place on Saturday evening and was witnessed by interim committee members, supporters ,friends and families in Port Vila, and from Teoumaville.
The PNP interim President decided to launch his new political party on his 42nd birthday at his home in Teoumaville on Efate which is now the head office of the newly formed People’s National Party.
“The reason I chose this name is because other political parties use the name or word ‘Vanuatu’ or similar word relating to the name of our country when in fact Vanuatu is already an Independent State. We have already come a long way since 1980-it is 33 years already. Vanuatu is too broad and a name of the country and far from being directly related to the people.
“People’s National Party can always remind the people that the party belongs to them and carry the national interests at its heart,” Interim president Firiam explained during the launching.
He said he had a vision three years ago to form PNP with preparations along the way until the launching on Saturday.
“I had always been a Vanua’aku party (VP) supporter, and following in my father’s footsteps because, the VP spearheaded the Independence struggle, from Britain and France. But I feel that the Vanuaaku Party has lost the sight of the origins of its founding fathers vision which has resulted in so many disputes amongst the VP ranks, and leaders over the past years.
“So the party (VP) has lost trust and confidence which is evident in many breakaway groups forming different political parties. It is clear also to the people of Vanuatu, that the Vanua’aku Party no longer stand for, nor deliver its promises to the population of the country in the recent years,” claimed the new PNP Interim President.
“It’s because of these and other reasons that I have decided to form this new PNP party that will refocus on the need of the grass roots or the disadvantage population mainly the young people of today and tomorrow but otherwise it is my wish to see the entire population have fare sharing of the wealth of the nation instead of the rich becoming richer and the poor becoming poorer,” said PNP Interim President.
On his political track records, PNP Interim President Firiam claimed: “I have served under the Vanua’aku political party wings for many years and in different positions including; political adviser, political administrator, acting first political adviser in the Prime Minister’s Office and the CRP office, and the Ministry held by the late Harry Iauko and played key political roles in many of the VP conferences, he claimed.
“I was instrumental together with the late Iauko during the VP Congress at Ipota on Erromango that saw the transfer of VP leadership handed to Edward Nipake Natapei in 1990. I was also appointed to chair the VP dispute during one of the VP Congress at Lingarak in North Malekula when the party leaders fought for the VP leadership position and the result was Edward Natapei retained the party presidency.
“It was after the VP divided congresses on Tongoa that I moved to the late Harry Iaku Group and today decided to launch a new political party. I still have the respect for the VP but don’t see any more effectiveness in the VP political system for the people of this country,” Firiam said.
The party constitution and political platform have been completed with the new interim executive committee set up. The party’s first congress is expected to be held before the end of the year to formalize the appointments of the PNP executive and adopt 13 proposed candidates for the Port Vila Municipal election in November this year.
The slogan of the party is ‘Malele Ho’. “I have chosen the name of Vanuatu’s most common and well known banana that feeds the people in difficult times because it will grow anywhere you plant it and grows many young suckers that provide food all year round. It symbolizes the party that stands for every citizens of our country.
“I have contested in two national general elections on the VP tickets in the Shepherds but the next election round in 2016 I will stand in the Port Vila constituency. Anyone who wishes to know more about the party can contact me at the new PNP Office at my place in Teoumaville. This is a new party with the new vision for the country and her people’s wellbeing”. http://www.dailypost.vu/
8) Forced price cuts come into effect in New Caledonia
Posted at 01:49 on 25 June, 2013 UTC
New Caledonia has adopted lowered prices on a range of consumer goods in line with an agreement drawn up last month to end a 12-day general strike against the high cost of living.
The measures involve a ten-percent price drop on about 500 products that are expected to make up 80 percent of the needs of the average consumer.
The arrangement to end the strike by most unions also provides for a tax reform by mid-2014, introducing a tax on activities that will absorb a range of current levies.
The conflict has also rekindled debate on whether the indexed salaries of public servants paid by France should be gradually cut.
The cost of living is much higher than in France, in part because of a relative lack of competition.
Radio New Zealand International
9) Fiji making ‘enormous strides’ to fair elections: AG
Updated 25 June 2013, 11:36 AEST
Fiji’s attorney-general says the country is making “enormous strides” towards holding free and fair elections in 2014.
Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum’s comments come after former New Zealand foreign minister Winston Peters told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat he has no confidence the elections will happen.
“The fact of the matter is that they moved to a dictatorship without holding elections and the rule of law was seriously, dramatically compromised in a way that we would find … very unacceptable,” Mr Peters said.
“At this point in time, there is very little evidence of (a move towards free and fair elections),” Mr Peters said.
Audio: Winston Peters speaks to Pacific Beat (ABC News)
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum says Mr Peters’ comments are “obtuse”.
“Obviously any person who knows about what is happening on the ground in Fiji would know there have been enormous strides made towards holding the elections by September 2014 next year,” he said.
“I think it is rather obtuse to make those sorts of comments without knowing what is happening on the ground.”
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum says the country has recently entered the “third phase” of electronic voter registration with about 520,000 Fijians currently registered to vote.
Audio: Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum speaks to Pacific Beat (ABC News)
Mr Peters was speaking about Fiji in the lead up to the launch of the book Persona Non Grata: Breaking the Bond – New Zealand and Fiji 2004-2007, written by former New Zealand High Commissioner to Fiji, Michael Green.
Michael Green died of cancer last year but his book is being launched in Wellington on Thursday.
The book alleges coup leader and interim prime minister Frank Bainimarama personally threatened “to get him” and describes the regime as one characterised by intimidation and thuggery.
Mr Green was declared persona non grata and ordered out of Fiji in 2009. http://www.radioaustralia.net.
10) Fiji’s Social Liberal Democratic Party to announce leader in August
By Online Editor
10:10 am GMT+12, 25/06/2013, Fiji
Fiji’s Social Liberal Democratic Party (SODELPA) is expected to announce its leader in August.
SODELPA general secretary Pio Tabaiwalu told FijiLive they have selected their board members including their national executives which will be responsible for looking for a new leader.
“The executives will have the responsibility to select a new leader which they will be doing by moving around the country collecting nominations and we expect to have a name by August,” Tabaiwalu said.
“We had reviewed our party constitution during our meeting however there will be some minor amendments and will be submitting them to the Registrar soon,” he said.
“We have had tremendous support from the public even before our campaigning and we look forward to more support during the elections.”
Party officials elected to be part of the SODELPA board include Ro Teimumu Kepa (President), Silivenusi Waqausa, Lote Yavuca, Kelemedi Naidiri, Sitiveni Loco, Anare Jale, Sailasa Matea, Timoci Bulitavu, Temesia Seniloli, Jone Bauwale and George Shiu Raj.
Nominations for their National Executive Council include Ro Teimumu Kepa, Ratu Jone Kubuabola, Tu Peni Baba, Anare Jale, Ratu Isireli Koyamaibole and Ratu Isikeli Komaisavai.
SOURCE: FIJI LIVE/PACNEWS
11) Kiribati reiterates support for Taiwan
By Online Editor
4:59 pm GMT+12, 25/06/2013, Kiribati
Taiwan’s first top diplomat to Taipei, Ambassador Tekoa Iuta presented her credentials to Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-joeu last week.
During the presentation, President Ma reiterated the strong commitment of his Government to supporting the development of Kiribati in areas such as energy, fisheries and human resource development.
He said Taiwan was now ready to accept foreign students to study undergraduate medical studies at Taiwanese national universities.
The Taiwanese leader welcomed the support of President Tong and his Government over the dispute with the Philippine Government following the death of a Taiwan fisherman.
President Ma welcomed the establishment of the Kiribati Embassy in Taipei which will further strengthen the strong ties of friendship between Kiribati and Taiwan.
Ambassador Iuta was the Secretary to the Cabinet and Chief Advisor to President Tong and his Government before taking up her new post as Ambassador to Taiwan.
Ambassador Iuta reiterated the strong relations existing between Kiribati and Taiwan and the commitment of the Government of Kiribati in building further on this as demonstrated by the opening of the Kiribati Embassy in Taipei by President Tong on 31 May this year.
She assured President Ma of Kiribati’s continued support to Taiwan’s efforts to participate meaningfully at the international level and commended the approach taken by Taiwan to resolving the dispute with the Philippine Government.
SOURCE: RADIO KIRIBATI/PACNEWS
12) Guam decolonization body seeks funds for self-rule education campaign
By Online Editor
10:07 am GMT+12, 25/06/2013, Guam
The Commission on Decolonization wants to start a public information campaign to educate voters about the process leading to a self-determination plebiscite and the options available for Guam.
However, Ed Alvarez, the commission’s executive director, said the plebiscite education program will cost US$30,000, which he said the agency doesn’t have.
“We have to find a way to make money for this education program,” Alvarez said at yesterday’s meeting with commission members in Adelup.
“I don’t want to wait anymore. I want to start educating the masses about this issue. It’s about time we make this happen,” Alvarez added.
Alvarez suggested that the commission ask the Legislature to prepare a measure that would allow the commission to accept donations in all forms.
He suggested, for example, a tax credit for any media outlet that donates air time or print space for the commission’s education program-related advertisements.
Eddie Duenas, representative of the Statehood Task Force, suggested that the commission ask Gov. Eddie Calvo to provide the funds for the education campaign since the body falls under the governor’s office.
Commission members agreed to set up a meeting with the governor and members of the Legislature to find a way to fund the plebiscite education campaign.
Alvarez said the United Nations has begun accelerating its efforts bring self-rule to 17 colonized territories all over the world.
“There’s a big push now in the U.N. to delist these colonies. There seems to be an urgency because it’s an embarrassment for the U.N. that in the 21st century, we still have colonies,” Alvarez said.
SOURCE: MARIANAS VARIETY/PACNEWS
13) Samoa Supports Terminating Talks With EU Over EPA
Pacific nations claim EU has failed to address situation
APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, June 24, 2013) – Samoa will support the decision to axe talks with the European Union surrounding an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) if negotiations are not finalized this year.
Assistant Chief Executive Officer in the Trade Division at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Aida Faumui Savea said Samoa is a part of the region and as such supports the region’s position.
“We are however, exploring our options should we arrive at that juncture,” she says.
Last week, the Pacific representative, Dr. Viliami Uasike Latu dropped a bombshell when he announced that the Pacific would pull out of the negotiations.
The ultimatum on the longest running trade talks in the Pacific was conveyed to the European Union Commissioner for Trade, Karel de Gucht, in a letter dated June 4, 2013.
The Pacific countries claim that Europe has failed to respond to their requests and the challenge issued by Dr. Latu on behalf of the Pacific Island countries (PICs) has thrown a decade worth of discussions into jeopardy.
“As a member country we think we have been mistreated by the EC especially when it comes to fisheries issues,” Dr. Latu said.
According to Samoa’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade website, the EPA should not only provide trading opportunities in priority sectors for each of the member states but should also have a strong developmental focus.
In the letter penned by Dr. Latu obtained by Island Business he writes: “We have a clear directive from our leaders to conclude negotiations on a comprehensive EPA as a single region before the end of this year.
“We will be submitting our final report to our Leaders at their meeting in September 2013 and I am afraid that if no tangible progress is made before then – this could be the end of our 10-year long negotiating process. This would be disappointing especially after spending so much time and money on this process.”
“We have done everything possible on our end; we submitted all the market access offers and provided detailed responses to your questions on fisheries issues but it looks like there is no end to the ‘question and answer session.”
“We have reached a point where we need to conclude this process one-way or the other.”
However the EC’s Director responsible for EPA’s Peter Thompson says Europe is willing to consider all the Pacific proposals but the timetable is unrealistic.”
“If they say they want this to be done in a matter of months, I do not see that as reasonably possible,” he said.
“I have had 30 years of negotiations in my life and frankly with the number and depth and complication of issues that we have in front of us I do not see this as being just a few months’ work.”
“We stand ready to work with our friends in the Pacific to try to deal with the substance of first of all, their request, and the need on our side, to find the guarantees and reassurances about sustainable management and conservation of stocks and so on and take them one by one.
“But at this stage I wouldn’t wish to say this is another year’s work or two year’s work because it depends on the speed and, frankly, so far some of the answers have been a bit thin.”
The EPA is the longest running and potentially most lucrative trade discussion involving 14 PICs from around the region.
The negotiations also include African and Caribbean nations.
Whether the talks can be rescued at this stage is in doubt.
Samoa Observer: www.samoaobserver.ws/
14) Call for simultaneous French Polynesia and New Caledonia referendums
Posted at 01:49 on 25 June, 2013 UTC
French Polynesia’s opposition pro-independence leader has called on New Caledonia’s pro-independence movement to consider holding a self-determination referendum in both territories at the same time.
The proposal was made by Oscar Temaru during last week’s address to the Melanesian Spearhead Group meeting in Noumea.
He says he wonders if New Caledonia’s Kanaks can wait and aim for such a joint plebiscite, which he says should still be held before the end of the term of the French president, Francois Hollande.
Under the Noumea Accord, an independence referendum in New Caledonia can be held betwen 2014 and 2018.
Last month, the UN General Assembly reinscribed French Polynesia on the list of territories to be decolonised.
Mr Temaru says together the two French territories have enormous resources and potential, which is coveted by what he calls the big sharks cruising the oceans.
Radio New Zealand International
15) PNG Poveti na Pasin Pamuk
Updated 25 June 2013, 15:09 AEST
Poverty oa pasin blong nogat moni na kaikai isave fosim ol yangpla meri long ol taon blong Papua New Guinea long mekim pamuk pasin.
Odio: Fr John Glynn blong WeCARe Foundation long Papua New Guinea itoktok wantem Caroline Tiriman
Fr John Glynn blong WeCARe Foundation long Papua New Guinea itoktok wantem Caroline Tiriman (Credit: ABC)
Despla toktok ibin kam long Father John Glynn husat ibin statim wanpla laen blong halvim ol yangpla pipal long Port Moresby em em oli kolim WeCARe Foundation.
Father Glynn i mekim despla toktok bihaenim ripot blong US State Department olsem ol gavman ofisa blong PNG isave redi-im rot blong salim ol lokal na meri blong ol narapla kantri long mekim pamuk pasin.
Despla ripot itok tu olsem planti yangpla meri isave wok tu olsem ol labourer long ol logging na mining bisnis long kantri.
Father Glynn itok poveti isave kamapim despla kaen wari long planti hap long graon, olsem long Europe, North na South America tu na ino long Papua New Guinea tasol.
Ripot ia itok ol PNG gavman ofisa isave halvim ol kaen korap wok blong givim visa igo long ol meri blong Asia olsem, Thailand, Malaysia, na Philippines long wok long ol logging na mining kemp olsem ol pamuk.http://www.radioaustralia.net.
16) Bekas pengungsi anak di Australia bicara
Diperbaharui 25 June 2013, 13:19 AEST
Koresponden Canberra Karen Barlow untuk Newsline
Ditengah hiruk pikuk perdebatan tentang pencari suaka, anak-anak pencari suaka yang datang ke Australia dengan kapal seringkali terlupakan.
Penahanan anak-anak telah membuat issue pencari suaka semakin kontroversial.
Orang-orang yang datang ke Australia dengan kapal untuk meminta suaka kini berjumlah puluhan-ribu – jalur yang mereka lalui seringkali sama, tapi setiap cerita berbeda.
Najeeba Wazefadost, seorang pengungsi Hazara Afghan, melarikan diri dari Taliban ketika berusia 12.
“Saya tidak tahu bahwa Australia jauh sekali … saya tidak tahu bahwa saya bakal disekap di pusat detensi,” kata Wazefadost.
“Saya tidak pernah lupa ketika kami diperlakukan hanya sekedar angka.”
“Traumatis sekali, terutama bagi anak-anak, pusat detensi bukan tempat yang baik untuk tinggal.”
Wazefadost mengikuti orang tuanya, seperti juga pengungsi Irak Maryam Fakhre. Ia sempat mengamati kegiatan para penyelundup manusia.
“Saya ingat wajah-wajah mereka, tapi tidak tahu nama-nama mereka … saya sendirian … dan saya takut,” kata Fakhre.
Seperti juga Wazefadost, Fakhre juga memafaatkan kesempatan yang ada di Australia.
Seorang pengungsi Irak lainnya, Ali Kahzadi, tiba di Pulau Christmas tiga tahun lalu.
Pada usia 10 tahun, ia menjadi kepala keluarga sampai ayahnya tiba dengan kapal kemudian.
“Saya ingin kembali tapi tidak bisa,” kata Kahzadi.
“Selama tiga hari, hujan turun …. kami semua berjumlah 116 dan benar-benar menakutkan.”
Sementara itu, keluarga Reem Jezan melakukan pelayaran selama sembilan hari dari Indonesia ke Darwin.
Mereka lari dari Iran dimana mereka menolak meninggalkan agama mereka, Kristen, di negara yang mayoritas Muslim.
Ia ingat ayahnya meminta maaf dalam perjalanan itu.
“Tekanan yang dihadapi ayah saya semakin besar dan ayah pingsan dan harus dirawat di rumah sakit selama beberapa minggu,” kata Jezan.
“Ia koma selama sembilan hari berturut-turut.”
“Ketika ia terbangun, ia tidak ingat apa-apa tentang perjalanan itu.”
Selama tiga tahun dari 2001, Reem Jezan dan keluarganya tinggal di pusat detensi Villawood.
“Saya melihat orang-orang menggali kubur mereka sendiri, melihat orang-orang menjahit bibir mereka sendiri, melihat orang-orang tidak makan selama berminggu-minggu,” katanya.
“Saya melihat darah, melihat anak-anak kecil menjadi trauma dengan segala sesuatu yang terjadi.”
Ali Al Ali adalah seorang pengungsi Kurdi yang pernah terdampar di Malaysia dan mengalami kapal tenggelam dalam perjalanan ke Australia.
Ia mengatakan, ia tidak ingin orang lain yang mengalami apa yang dialaminya sebagai pengungsi.
“Pada malam hari kapal tenggelam,” kata Ali.
“Ayah saya berkata ‘saya minta maaf telah membawa kalian kesini … saya kira kalian akan mempunyai masa depan yang lebih baik, tapi ternyata saya salah’.”
Sejauh ini tahun ini, sudah 180 kapal yang membawa lebih dari 12,000 orang tiba di Australia.
Nasib anak-anak di pusat-pusat detensi menjadi keprihatinan, dan pemerintah telah mengimplementasikan kebijakan untuk menghindari penahanan anak-anak.
Anak-anak keluarga Jezan, yang sudah 17 bulan dalam penahanan, digunakan sebagai eksperimen apakah tahanan anak dapat dikirim ke sekolah di luar.
Setiap pagi dan sore, mereka dikawal ke sebuah kendaraan van untuk memastikan mereka tidak akan lari.
Meski mengalami berbagai cobaan dan penderitaan, banyak pengungsi yang mencari suaka di Australia mengatakan, mereka bersyukur atas kehidupan mereka yang baru.
“Dulu di negara saya .. saya tidak pernah dihormati sebagai perempuan .. saya tidak pernah tahu siapa saya atau apa yang dapat saya lakukan.” kata Wazefadost.
“Australia memberi saya kebebasan yang selalu saya impikan.” http://www.radioaustralia.net.
17) Helen Hugues : économiste australienne et militante
Mis à jour 25 June 2013, 8:26 AEST
Helen Hugues est décédée le 15 juin dernier à Sydney à l’âge de 84 ans suite à des complications après une intervention chirurgicale.
Helen Hughes, adulée par les uns et décriée par les autres. (ANU)
Née en Tchécoslovaquie en 1928, elle s’est installée avec sa famille à Melbourne en 1939.
La longue carrière de cette économiste de renom spécialisée dans le développement a été marquée par son intérêt farouche pour le Pacifique et vers la fin de sa vie, pour les communautés aborigènes d’Australie.
DUNCAN : « Sa grande contribution a été toute une série d’études regroupées autour de ce que l’on a appelé : Pacifique 2020.
Ces études ont été effectuées dans les années 90. Elles ont ciblé la rapidité de la croissance démographique [dans la région], la dégradation de la santé publique, l’urbanisation galopante et le fait que l’agriculture ne progressait pas très rapidement.
Un point de vue assez pessimiste du Pacifique est ressorti de ces études qui ont déclenché beaucoup de réactions.
Quand elle a quitté l’Université nationale australienne, elle a continué à écrire sur l’échec de l’aide dans le Pacifique et une fois plus, ça a créé beaucoup de débats. »
Son point de vue était souvent opposé à celui de beaucoup d’universitaires qui parlaient de l’importance du rôle des gouvernements et de la propriété foncière collective. Helen Hughes était elle en faveur de gouvernements moins interventionnistes, en faveur de l’entreprise privée et de la propriété privée… Ce qui faisait de cette économiste une anomalie en quelque sorte dans les milieux universitaires.
DUNCAN : « Ce n’était pas bien vu par de nombreux universitaires, malheureusement. Mais je suis d’accord elle. Je ne vois pas comment parvenir à encourager l’entreprenariat individuel sans un titre de propriété foncière individuel.
Je pense que si les gens du Pacifique pouvaient bénéficier des mêmes institutions que nous avons ici en Australie, et bien ils auraient l’esprit d’entreprise et seraient tout aussi innovants que tout le monde. Mais dans de nombreuses nations du Pacifique, ils n’ont pas cette chance. »
Helen Hughes n’a jamais mâché ses mots. Voici sa réaction suite aux déclarations de Derek Brien, directeur général de l’Institut de politique publique dont le siège est au Vanuatu, Derek Brien qui a suggéré que l’Australie devrait revoir ses relations avec les pays mélanésiens et faire attention aux besoins de ces nations un peu plus sérieusement. Voici sa réponse.
HUGHES : « Et bien je suis abasourdie ! Totalement abasourdie. Nous avons ici un Occidental qui parle au nom des îles du Pacifique et qui ignore que les nations du Groupe mélanésien Fer de Lance, dont le Vanuatu fait partie, qui étaient des pays très prometteurs il y a quelques années, sont maintenant devenues comme des nations africaines sub-sahariennes ; les moins bien gouvernées et les nations en développement les moins nanties de la planète.
Et maintenant, il nous dit qu’il faut les prendre au sérieux.
La plupart des personnes qui vivent dans ces nations du Groupe mélanésien Fer de lance vivent une vie de subsistance et sont plus pauvres qu’ils ne l’étaient il y a 30 à leur indépendance.
Et c’est très vrai pour le Vanuatu où une élite très fortunée vit à Port Vila en appréciant toutes les bonnes choses tandis que des femmes vont accoucher dans des buissons.
Je suis vraiment stupéfaite. L’Australie est supposée dire : ok ok, ces pays sont vraiment sérieux.
Nous devrions les prendre au sérieux et s’engager avec eux comme nous le ferions avec des pays comme la Malaisie ou Singapour ou des pays comme ça.
Ces pays n’ont rien fait pour leur population. Ils se sont accaparés de l’aide, de tourisme ou des ressources minérales pour le compte d’une petite élite et cette élite nous dit maintenant qu’ils faut les prendre au sérieux. »http://www.radioaustralia.net.
18) Tongan Broadcaster Seeks Donations To Print Tsunami Book
‘Niuatoputapu Tsunami’ to benefit those affected by 2009 disaster
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, June 24, 2013) – The Tongan Broadcasting Commission (TBC) is looking for donors to help it print 9,000 copies of a book about the impact of the 2009 earthquake and tsunami on the people of Nuiatoputapu.
The book, Niuatoputapu Tsunami, documents the experiences of survivors of the tsunami, which killed 9 people in Tonga’s northernmost islands.
The general manager of the TBC, Nanise Fifita, says it already has 150 copies of the book in Tongan and English, but wants to distribute copies to all of the Kingdom’s schools, as well as some in the wider Pacific.
“This book is not for TBC’s own commercial interests. First and foremost it has to benefit the people of Niuatoputapu. The survivors of the 2009 earthquake and tsunami, what they have contributed should become a learning material for Tonga’s present generation and those to come.”
Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com
19) Samoan MP warns journalists could be jailed for inaccurate reports
By Online Editor
10:12 am GMT+12, 25/06/2013, Samoa
Samoa’s parliamentary speaker has warned its media that journalists responsible for inaccurate reports could be jailed for up to six months.
Parliamentary speaker La’auli Leuatea Polata’ivao’s comments were prompted by reports surrounding an angry exchange between prime minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi and deputy Tautua Samoa Party leader A’eau Peniamina Leavai.
The editor of Samoa Observer, Mata’afa Lesa, has told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat he is outraged by the warning.
“Some of the words exchanged were extremely rude if you understand the Samoan language,” Lesa said.
“I think the word they’re really objecting to, the word used in Samoan, is ‘Faamaga’.
“‘Faamaga’ is literally having someone else come and grab your mouth open.”
Lesa says his newspaper’s report is accurate.
“We’ve got the recording of it,” he said.
“The words in the story were said in parliament.”
However Polata’ivao has called on the media to only use “officially” approved transcripts from the parliamentary Hansard section.
“Inside this parliament, the Speaker gives an order and they (media) can’t just come in and issue every statement that is not official transcripts of parliament or in Hansard,” Polata’ivao said.
Media requests for copies of order papers, bills, or records from Hansard have previously been turned down.
Polata’ivao has declared charges are possible under a 1960 law carrying a maximum sentence of six months or a $100 fine, or both.
Lesa says the law is outdated.
“Here we have the speaker of the house using a law that doesn’t exist anymore and so it’s a bit of a joke really,” he said.
“We reported what was said and we reported the fact that they’re threatening to ban journalists and jail them.
“To jail a journalist for 6 months for something like that is outrageous.”.
SOURCE: RADIO AUSTRALIA/PACNEWS
20) American Samoa marks HIV testing week
By Online Editor
5:01 pm GMT+12, 25/06/2013, American Samoa
American Samoans are being cautioned not to be complacent about HIV/AIDS testing.
The chairman of a community group for the prevention of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases says people shouldn’t let their guard down just because the territory has recorded only one AIDS death.
Catholic priest Father Kelemete Pua’auli says the individual should be responsible for protecting themselves from HIV/AIDS and getting tested is a good start.
This week is national HIV testing week and there are hopes more people will be taking advantage of the free testing than the about 1100 who got tested last time around in 2011.
Father Kelemete says individuals should take responsibility for their own health.
“Just take the test and take control of yourself. What we are doing here is just not to scare people but to protect the health of our people. Since our island is very small and we are very family oriented and close, we need to look after one another but you have to take care and look after yourself first, and be honest and be truthful.”
21) Fiji Hardwood Corporation To Lay Off 178 Employees
Overpriced mill purchases in 2004 leads to closures
By Mereani Gonedua
SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, June 24, 2013) – 178 Fiji Hardwood Corporation Limited’s Wavunu sawmill and Navutu manufacturing yard workers will be laid off as the two mills closed today.
FHCL in a statement said the mills were closed after a thorough review of their structure plans and due to a financial loss since 2004 both the mills were overpriced when they were purchased from Fenning Pacific Limited for FJ$3.5 million [US$1.8 million] and FJ$2.5 million [US$1.3 million] respectively.
FHCL said the workers will be given 30-days leave of notice and one week’s pay.
The payments given to the workers will be in addition to the paid leave that was granted over the past three weeks for each employee.
The review found that the reinvestment of the mandatory reinvestments of substantial funds that was required to modernize operations was invalid as Fiji Hardwood could not add to more financial burden on the taxpayers.
22) Palau President Urged To Establish Ties With China
Senate resolution says many benefits to be had
KOROR, Palau (Island Times, June 24, 2013) – A Senate Joint Resolution was introduced in the upper chamber of the Olbiil Era Kelulau urging the president to establish diplomatic ties with the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
The resolution, introduced by Sen. Hokkons Baules, states that having diplomatic ties with PRC will yield many benefits to Palau.
The resolution states that PRC, with its membership in the United Nations Security Council and the World Trade Organization, has international influence that can solidify Palau’s global concerns.
Furthermore, the resolution states that PRC’s economy is the second largest in the world.
The PRC reportedly shares similar concerns with Palau, including concerns on climate change.
The resolution states that PRC ranked first in clean energy investment in 2009 with a total spending of $34.6 billion and also participated in the 14th General Assembly of the Asia-Pacific Parliamentarians’ Conference on Environment and Development that was hosted by Palau in November 2009.
Senate Joint Resolution No. 9-13 has been referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs and State Relations, chaired also by Baules, for review.
Island Times: www.islandtimes.us
23) Hong Kong Group Interested In Buying CNMI Casino
Foreign investor willing to address Tinian Dynasty issues
By Haidee V. Eugenio
SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, June 25, 2013) – Government officials and management of Tinian Dynasty Hotel and Casino met yesterday to discuss, among other things, a Hong Kong-based investor group’s interest in buying the only casino in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
This comes at a time when Taiwan-based Howarm Golden Islands continues to negotiate with Tinian Dynasty about buying the hotel and casino.
Tinian Mayor Ramon Dela Cruz confirmed that a Hong Kong-based publicly traded company whose name he said can’t be disclosed at this time “is interested in acquiring” Tinian Dynasty.
“This is very positive development. It shows that foreign investors are interested in investing on Tinian. As of today we don’t know how much they are offering to buy Dynasty. Nothing is set in stone yet,” Dela Cruz told Saipan Tribune.
The Tinian mayor added that the Hong Kong-based investor is “willing” to sit down and look into the Dynasty issues concerning employees’ back wages, unpaid obligations to vendors and suppliers, and concerns from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.
“This company is interested in bringing in high rollers from Asian countries to be flown to an isolated island like Tinian. The company thinks they can come in and make the Dynasty profitable, that they can work with and comply with IRS [requirements],” he added.
Rep. Trenton Conner (Ind-Tinian), one of the members of the Tinian and Aguiguan Legislative Delegation at yesterday’s meeting, separately confirmed the investor’s interest in buying Tinian Dynasty.
All he could say about the meeting was that there was a “clear understanding” of the concerns faced by Dynasty.
“We’re being cautious in addressing these issues, including another investor looking at buying Dynasty. There is no guarantee at this time,” he added.
Matthew Masga, chairman of the Tinian Casino Gaming Control Commission, separately confirmed that there is another investor “interested in purchasing Dynasty” even as Howarm continues to negotiate to buy Dynasty too. He declined to comment further on the matter.
Dynasty management could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Masga, meanwhile, said at least one payroll for Tinian Casino Gaming Control Commission will be delayed-the one set for this Friday-because they don’t expect to collect local gaming tax from Dynasty until July 7.
Tinian Dynasty Hotel and Casino, one of the biggest private employers on Tinian, is the only one on island that offers five-star hotel facilities and casino that is the first of its kind in the Western Pacific.
It opened on April 25, 1998, with a total of 412 guest rooms, including 22 executive suites and two presidential suites.
In April, federal agents arrested one of two Dynasty executives for an alleged failure to file a currency transaction report, and executed warrants to seize Tinian Dynasty property and its money in bank accounts.
Agents of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation spearheaded the operation after a complaint was filed last April in federal court, charging the defendants with conspiracy to allow gamblers to conduct transactions involving more than $10,000 without filing the required paperwork with the U.S. government.
Federal law requires that a currency transaction report or CTR be filed with the IRS by financial institutions, including casinos, for any currency transaction over $10,000.
Saipan Tribune http://www.saipantribune.com
24) Ups and downs in PNG real estate
By Online Editor
10:03 am GMT+12, 25/06/2013, Papua New Guinea
After several years of rapid growth in Port Moresby’s residential real estate sector, the market is in consolidation mode. In response, investors are eyeing commercial and retail segments for new opportunities.
Government data show that the finance, real estate and business services sector grew by 10% in 2012, down from 20% the prior year. In 2013 expansion is projected to fall further to 1.5%, according to the Department of Treasury.
Another indicator of a slow-down in the residential market is a decline in the rate of growth for home loans, which fell from 150% for the year ended March 2012 to 41% for the year ended September 2012, according to the World Bank. While this is still fast-paced expansion, caution among lenders is rising. Equity demands for loan approval have reportedly risen from 10% in 2009 to more than 30% in 2013.
Fewer projects are being launched, but on-going market deceleration is not all bad news. It has provided the first opportunity since 2009 for renovations in mid-tier properties, and market conditions have not yet affected the top-end residential market, which has held its ground, according to Ingrid Richardson, general manager at Strickland Real Estate, a local realtor. “We have found that the good properties are still able to lease quite readily and sustain the rents that they have been achieving. It shows that there are still companies that are prepared to pay higher rates of PGK4000-5000 per week for the right property,” she told OBG.
Yet throughout the market there is a visible retreat from further residential investments. Focus has instead begun to shift toward the commercial and retail sectors, which are expected to retain their momentum.
Demand for retail properties is growing as incomes rise and urbanisation continues, loosening the informal market’s hold on the economy. “Retail shopping centres could be another area of interest. There has been activity in this asset class lately with three new supermarkets in Port Moresby. As customer demand matures and shopping expectations rise, there may be more opportunities in this segment,” Andrew Esler, acting managing director of Nambawan Super, one of PNG’s largest pension funds, told OBG.
Initial investments are already indicative of developers’ confidence in the sector. Garamut Enterprises’ PGK100m retail complex Waterfront Foodworld opened in August 2012, the first phase of a seven-stage, 20,100-sq-metre Waterfront Mall that will eventually include residential, commercial and retail facilities.
In 2012, the owners of PNG’s largest retailing network, CPL Group, also broke ground on the 9300-sq-metre Waigani Central Retail Complex. This project is set to be completed in 2014 and will include a supermarket, shops and a cinema. These developments will join Port Moresby’s first major retail success story, the PGK1bn 45,000-sq-metre Vision City mall.
Looking ahead, developers are expected to focus on smaller projects in both the retail and commercial segments.
Nambawan Super’s 9900-sq-metre OPH Tower is the largest tower under construction today, far smaller than the already completed 14,000-sq-metre Deloitte Tower and the 15-storey Pacific Place. Other developers, such as Pacific Palms Property and CB Builders, are working on projects that will lease office space to tenants looking for less than 200 sq metres.
Such design trends are likely the future of PNG’s real estate development, but there is a possibility of price movement. Port Moresby’s commercial sector has maintained record market rates of PGK1300-1600 ($577-710) per sq metre, up from PGK600 five years previously. However, with about 25,000 sq metres of additional space set to come onto the market by the end of this year, prices are expected to decline.
SOURCE: OXFORD BUSINESS GROUP/PACNEWS
25) Manus Allegedly Lacks System To Process Asylum Seekers
Group claims Australia evasive on number of refugees offshore
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, June 24, 2013) – Human rights groups say there is no processing system in place for asylum seekers on Manus Island and the process on Nauru could take up to five years. People on the islands as a result of Australia’s new refugee policy are not included in its published refugee statistics. In a week when the Nauru Supreme Court denied a claim by refugees that their detention was unconstitutional, refugee advocates say Australia is neglecting its responsibilities and refugees could self harm.
Alex Perrottet reports.
There was some good news this week for refugees on Manus Island. The Australian and Papua New Guinea governments capitulated to pressure to move children and their parents to Australia’s Christmas Island, where the group of 70 is more likely to be processed as refugees. Back on Manus Island, human rights groups say conditions are basic, and there is no sign of any processing system for those who remain. Alex Perrottet spoke to the Director of Australia’s Asylum Centre Resource Centrem, Jana Favero.
“Some processing has started to happen on Nauru, but it hasn’t started happening on Manus Island yet. That pretty much means that their claims haven’t started to be heard, so they haven’t been assessed as to whether or not they are refugees,” she said.
It’s hard to get information of people currently in Nauru and PNG as asylum seekers there are not counted in Australia’s published statistics. Jana Favero says the government is not being upfront.
“They reported saying they don’t report on those numbers because they’re in offshore facilities, they’re not in the Australian detention network. Whereas other people in the department have said yes we can get the figures if we call them but they don’t make them publicly available so there’s misinformation coming from the department as to why those figures aren’t available.”
On Nauru, Australian journalists say they can’t have access to the detention centre. Only the BBC has reported from the facility, but they only spoke to an Australian guard who said conditions were dire, and detainees were self-harming. A group of 12 people there were charged with rioting but their case was stopped by an action of habeas corpus, brought by Australian human rights lawyer Julian Burnside. During the week the Supreme Court judge ruled against the application to find their detention unconstitutional based on an exception allowing it for the sake of imminent removal. But Julian Burnside said that could take up to five years and he welcomed the judge’s decision to revisit the issue should the processing system lag.
“Most of the people being detained on Nauru are people who have suffered torture or trauma, people who have escaped persecution, people who have risked their lives to get to a place of safety and now they are told, in effect, you’ve got virtually no hope. Now that’s going to drive people crazy, that’s why people start harming themselves,” Burnside said.
Kate Schuetze, the Pacific researcher for Amnesty International, says courts in PNG are still looking at an action brought by the parliament’s opposition MPs against the detention centre on Manus Island. She says if a similar action was brought for people on Manus, there could be a different decision.
“Nauru’s a very small island, and I understand that there is only one Supreme Court judge who heard that decision, whereas if it went to the Supreme Court in Papua New Guinea it may be heard by several judges so there is definitely that potential to raise similar issues,” she said.
But the remoteness of Manus Island and the difficulties getting there means those left detained there have very little hope of movement, and advocates say they fear for their mental health.
Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com
26) Samoa MP Criticizes New Zealand Immigration Policies
Muagututagata: applicants should not be treated like refugees
By Lanuola Tupufia
APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, June 24, 2013) – Immigration in New Zealand should make procedures for job application in the country simpler and not treat applicants like “refugees.”
That’s the opinion of Sagaga le Usoga Member of Parliament, Muagututagata Peter Ah Him. Speaking in Parliament last week, Muagututagata said the procedures are too strict and costing people too much.
He said one woman claimed that she spent $6,000 on her application.
“It seems like they see us as refugees when we bring in our job applications,” said Muagutu. “But my only request for the office of New Zealand is to help our people and try to make the process simple for us.”
Earlier this month New Zealand overdrew the annual quota to meet a shortfall in recent years, drawing 1,350 applications.
Usually New Zealand draws 1,100 annually.
According to the MP he heard most complaints about the burden of getting job applications through New Zealand while listening to talk-back on the radio.
He said that some people are easily scared when they see stern facial expressions from employees of the office.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi welcomed the concerns.
He said the MP made a valid point but that he should also note “there are counting millions of people who are looking for work.”
“If it wasn’t for the scheme, New Zealand would’ve told us long time ago that, that is enough,” explained Tuilaepa.
“There are a lot of people in New Zealand with others leaving the country to find work in Australia. “New Zealand is trying to meet its agreement that was signed with Samoa in 1982 to allow 1,000 people (to go to NZ under quota).”
Tuilaepa suggested perhaps they should send only “breadwinners.”
“A lot of our people who go there they just sit there and their families end up telling (Immigration) on them. “They left to look for work but instead they just sit around without any jobs.”
The Citizenship (Western Samoa) Act 1982 granted New Zealand citizenship to all Samoans living in New Zealand at that time.
It also granted a quota system, a pipeline used by many Samoans to New Zealand.
Samoa Observer: www.samoaobserver.ws/
27) 540 Fijian soldiers to be sent to Syrian Golan Heights
By Online Editor
10:21 am GMT+12, 25/06/2013, Fiji
A total of 540 soldiers from the Republic of Fiji Military Forces will be sent to the Syrian Golan Heights.
This was announced by Prime Minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama while attending the farewell Church Service for the 171 soldiers Monday afternoon.
The Prime Minister said an official announcement regarding the 540 troops will be made next month.
Meanwhile, a Middle East expert says Fijian peacekeepers deployed to the Golan Heights between Israel and Syria will encounter a “perilous” situation.
Fijian troops will join the UN’s peacekeeping mission in the area, which has become far more volatile during Syria’s Civil War.
The Fijians will replace peacekeepers from three countries that have withdrawn because of fierce fighting near the border.
Professor Barry Rubin, director of the Global Research in International Affairs institute, has told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat the Fijians face potential threats from both sides of the Syrian conflict.
“As Western help for the rebels build, it gives incentives for the regime side to look at these peacekeepers as enemies and to see them as basically people who want to overthrow the regime,” Rubin said.
“They’re people who just wonder what are these non-Muslims doing here, they want to stop the revolution.”
Rubin says the Fijians will encounter problems with Al-Qaeda who make up 15 per cent of the rebels.
“They’re lawless and disorganised and kidnapping can be attractive,” he said.
“They’re going to meet guys with guns and they don’t know if they’re going to shoot at them.
“They’re going to have to do a very delicate mission.”.
SOURCE” FIJI VILLAGE/ RADIO AUSTRALIA/PACNEWS
CLIMATE CHANGE,CONSERVATION & ENVIROMENT:
28) Former Fiji Capital Named UN World Heritage Site
Levuka’s application made in 2011 by heritage minister
By Maika Bolatiki
SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Sun, June 24, 2013) – The announcement that Levuka – Fiji’s first capital – has been listed as the country’s first World Heritage Site has been described as “historic” and “a wonderful day for Fiji.”
Levuka is among 14 new sites declared by the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO – the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – at its current meeting in Cambodia.
The committee described Levuka – with “its low line of buildings set among coconut and mango trees along the beach front” – as a “rare” and “outstanding example of late 19th century Pacific port settlements.”
It said the combination of “development by the indigenous community” and “integration of local building traditions by a supreme naval power” – Britain – had led to “the emergence of a unique landscape.”
At a press conference held at the Attorney-General’s office yesterday, the Minister for National Heritage, Filipe Bole, and the Attorney-General and Minister for Tourism Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, said it took only two and half years for Fiji’s application on Levuka to be successful.
Mr. Bole said they lodged the application in 2011.
“The announcement on Saturday night is the beginning of Fiji’s application for other sites around Fiji to be declared a World Heritage site,” Mr. Bole said.
As Minister for National Heritage, Mr. Bole said a large part of the credit for the listing rested with the National Trust of Fiji and he thanked the chairman, Robin Yarrow, who was in Cambodia for the announcement.
“This has been a wonderful example of co-operation between the citizens of Levuka, the National Trust and the Bainimarama Government, which has supported this nomination from the start.
“All stakeholders – the Government, the Trust, local government in Levuka and local businesses – will now be working hand in hand with the citizens of Levuka to fulfill the obligations that we now have to preserve and protect the town for future generations. Levuka has a wonderful future ahead of it.”
The Attorney-General said work would now be carried out in Levuka to prepare for tourists coming in to see Fiji’s World Heritage.
“We have to increase the rooms to cater for the tourists as in the last count there were only 120 hotel rooms in Levuka,” Mr. Sayed-Khaiyum said.
“The declaration is a tribute to the people of Levuka, who have worked hard and lobbied tirelessly for the World Heritage classification.
“This means that Levuka – in its present state – will remain as a snapshot, frozen in time, of a crucial part of our nation’s development and a permanent reminder of our unique history. It is a day for every Fijian to celebrate.”
The Attorney-General said Levuka could now look forward to a brighter economic future because the listing was bound to generate more international interest in the town.
The World Heritage Committee, inscribes Levuka Historical Port Town, Fiji, on the World Heritage List on the basis of criteria (ii) and (iv).
Criterion (ii): Levuka Historical Port Town exhibits the important interchange of human values and cultural contact that took place as part of the process of European maritime expansion over the 19th century in the geocultural region of the Pacific Islands. It is a rare example of a late colonial port town, which illustrates the cultural hybridity of non-settler communities in the Pacific, with an urban plan that merges local settlement traditions with colonial standards. As such, the town exhibits the processes of the late, industrialized stage of colonization, which was based on maritime extraction and export processes.
Criterion (iv): The urban typology of Levuka Historical Port Town reflects the global characteristics and institutions of European colonisation in the 19th century. As a specific type of Pacific port settlement, which reflects the late 19th century stages of maritime colonization, Levuka provides insights to the adaptation of European naval powers to a specific oceanic social, cultural and topographic environment.
The combination of colonial settlement typologies with the local building tradition has Nominations to the World Heritage List WHC-13/37.COM/8B, p. 26 created a special type of Pacific port town landscape.
This is the citation of levuka that accompanied the world heritage listing announcement:
The town and its low line of buildings set among coconut and mango trees along the beach front was the first colonial capital of Fiji, ceded to the British in 1874.
It developed from the early 19th century as a centre of commercial activity by Americans and Europeans who built warehouses, stores, port facilities, residences, and religious, educational and social institutions around the villages of the South Pacific Island’s indigenous population.
It is a rare example of a late colonial port town that was influenced in its development by the indigenous community which continued to outnumber the European settlers.
Thus the town, an outstanding example of late 19th century Pacific port settlements, reflects the integration of local building traditions by a supreme naval power, leading to the emergence of a unique landscape.
Qatar and Fiji had their first World Heritage sites inscribed during the afternoon session of the World Heritage Committee on Saturday, as the intergovernmental body added six properties to UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
29) Unknown value of PNG’s threatened biodiversity
Posted at 01:49 on 25 June, 2013 UTC
A biologist studying weevils from Papua and Papua New Guinea says it is critical to save as much biodiversity as possible as farming and development take over the landscape.
Alexander Riedel says species of flightless insects like weevils are often found in only one location so scientists are working hard to make their taxonomy or species description available online for conservationists and others to use.
He says although removing primary rainforest can bring economic benefit to local people, the biodiversity it protects could hold the key to new medicines or biotechnology.
“I mean, if you had asked somebody a thousand years ago on the value of penicillium fungi for example, nobody would have thought of the possibility that these fungi may produce some medicines that can save the lives of millions of people – and the situation now is similar.”
Alexander Riedel says extinction of species in Papua and Papua New Guinea is occurring at about one thousand times the natural rate.
Radio New Zealand International
30) Petition against Chinese fish factory signed in Vanuatu’s Luganville
Posted at 23:22 on 24 June, 2013 UTC
In Vanuatu, more one thousand people living in Luganville town on Santo have signed a petition against a Chinese fish processing factory.
The Vanuatu Investment Promotion Authority, VIPA, approved Tuteng Group’s application to operate a fish processing factory in north of the town.
VIPA says the approval followed a preliminary Environment Impact Assessment conducted at the beginning of last year.
But local fishermen, who make money out of deep sea fishing, are worried about what type of fish the processing plant will be targetting.
Luganville mayor, Maurice Emboe says his council is aware of the petition but the project is yet to be discussed by the council.
He says the council encourages employment development in the town but they must ensure that procedures were followed and the environment of Luganville harbour is protected.
He says that his council is yet to examine the project before councillors can take a final decision.
The petition is expected to be handed over to the government some time this week.
Radio New Zealand International
31) Nauru’s species and environment surveyed by world experts
By Online Editor
09:59 am GMT+12, 25/06/2013, Nauru
One of the smallest countries in the world, Nauru, has had its marine and land species surveyed by a team of 12 international experts.
Having a land area of just under 22 square kilometres, Nauru is renowned for the phosphate that has seen two-thirds of the land being mined. This large scale industrial disruption has caused significant loss of land species and may have contributed to the introduction of many exotic species.
The team of experts arrived on the island on 17 June for 10 days of intensive survey work. The team was assembled and coordinated by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) in collaboration with the Government of Nauru and Conservation International.
“SPREP is pleased to be able to put together these scientists all of them are well recognised in their field of expertise, to assist with surveying of marine and terrestrial fauna and flora of Nauru,” said Bruce Jeffries of SPREP and the team coordinator.
“What the scientists have been doing is a rapid survey or assessment of as many species found in Nauru. This is what we call a biodiversity rapid assessment or BIORAP,” Jeffries added.
“The Nauru Government is pleased to work with SPREP on this survey, which will include staff from Department of Commerce, Industries and Environment, Nauru Fisheries Authority and the Nauru Rehabilitation Corporation. They will assist and learn from these experts on some of the survey techniques,” said Asterio Appi, Nauru Project Coordinator.
The scientists from the United States, Hawaii, Samoa, New Zealand and Australia are looking at birds, lizards, insects, plants, corals and fishes, as well as the general state of the environment.
“The coral reefs of Nauru are one of the healthiest in the world, with very high live coral cover that is comparable or much higher that Australia’s Great Barrier Reef,” said Dr Sheila McKenna the coral reef health expert.
The team found one skink that has not been recorded from the island which could be a new introduction or a new species that has not yet been described. Backlin is hoping that further genetic research will provide the answer on the skink’s status.
“Our surveys confirm six skink species for Nauru and an exotic snake that may have recently been introduced through soil or pot-plants,” said Dr Adam Backlin, the reptile expert.
The endemic and charismatic Nauru reed warbler is being surveyed with other birds to ensure that the numbers are in a healthy condition.
“There are also concerns on the declining population of noddies, as they are being targeted for food. So an important part of my work is to assess the state of the birds and suggest some options for their recovery,” explained Rebecca Stirnemann, the bird expert.
“Locals were telling us that they used to harvest on average 100 birds a night, but now they are lucky if they catch five. It shows that the harvesting is causing the numbers of noddies to decline. Everyone needs to do something now to stop the loss of Nauru noddies,” added Stirnemann.
The preliminary findings from the survey will be presented to the community prior to the team’s departure from Nauru and a detailed report will be given to the Nauru Government once the findings are analysed.
32a) Fiji 7s player Nagusa stopped
By Online Editor
11:39 am GMT+12, 25/06/2013, Fiji
Fiji’s rugby sevens campaign at the Rugby World Cup Sevens this weekend suffered a huge blow after tough forward Nemani Nagusa was stopped by immigration officials at the Nadi International Airport Monday.
FRU operations manager Vilikesa Rinavuaka said the Nadroga rugby player was placed on a Stop Departure Order by the Sigatoka Magistrate’s Court over a case classed as Family Action and dating back to March 14.
He said the FRU was disappointed that Nagusa was prevented from travelling with the Digicel Fiji 7s team for the 2013 IRB Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow
“We are trying our best to settle the case so Nagusa can leave on Wednesday (tomorrow),” said Rinavuaka.
“Fingers crossed now until we settle the issue before Wednesday.”
A statement by Rugby House stated that according to Sigatoka Magistrates Court, all payments due were paid by Nagusa to the female applicant.
It claimed there was no order made by the court preventing Nagusa from travelling with the team.
“While the FRU is yet to ascertain the full truth in the matter, if indeed comments from the Sigatoka Magistrate’s Court are accurate, then it shall be seeking an explanation and recompense for the cost of a new air ticket for Nagusa’s travel to join the team in Moscow,” the statement said.
The Director Immigration Nemani Vuniwaqa said his department was looking into the matter of Nagusa’s Stop Departure from Nadi airport and “will respond to the allegations put forward by the FRU once the relevant facts have been ascertained.
Meanwhile, former national 7s skipper Seremaia Burotu is calling on the public to support the Fiji 7s team that jetted out of the country yesterday for the Rugby World Cup Sevens.
The France-based forward who received a lot of fans support for a place in the national side, said he had faith in the chosen players and management.
He said he was optimistic the players would do wonders for the country.
“Personally, I give my 100 per cent support for the boys and the coach,” said Burotu who was at Nadi International Airport yesterday.
He returned to France yesterday to join his Biarritz team in the France Top 14 competition for off- season training.
“Nothing changes for me and I will cheer for the boys during the world cup.
“We may have our plans but the Almighty Lord has the final say and I respect the decisions made by the coach.”
Burotu said the onus was on the players to give their best for the country and its people.
“These 12 boys are the best from the all the other Fijian rugby players and they need our support,” he said.
“They have proven themselves and they are representing our country against the best in the world.”
“I am confident they will do Fiji proud.”.
SOURCE” FIJI TIMES/PACNEWS
32b) David Tua shaping up for do-or-die clash
By Online Editor
11:37 am GMT+12, 25/06/2013, New Zealand
David Tua has crowned himself a “giant killer” ahead of his do-or-die boxing clash in Hamilton with two-metre tall Russian Alexander Ustinov.
Tua has been studying videos of his opponent and has already identified weaknesses that he will seek to exploit when they meet in the ring at Hamilton’s Claudelands Arena on August 31.
The event is called David v Goliath, and in an exclusive interview Tua, 40, said he would have to become boxing’s “giant killer” and win by knockout in order to make a statement.
“I’m going for a good win. If that opportunity opens up I’m going to take it. Absolutely,” he said.
“I’ve seen him fight. There’s always holes and everything. I think there’s a few there I can pick up.”
Ustinov stands 2.02 metres tall and weighs 136 kilograms, compared to Tua’s 1.78 metres and most recent fight weight of 110.8kg.
But in his latest fights the Russian – who has 27 wins, 21 by knockout and one loss – has been sluggish and he holds his hands low, providing plenty of openings for Tua to target if he comes into the ring in better mental and physical shape than his last appearance in August 2011.
At his Onehunga gym yesterday, Tua was already looking much slimmer and more toned than he was six months ago.
There’s still plenty of flab hanging off his torso, but his shoulders are taking shape and his legs, his main source of power, are morphing into thick muscle.
“Not bad for an old fella,” he said, flexing his arms.
Tua’s said to have lost more than 20kg over the past six months and he credits a return of trainer Lee Parore, who got him in the best shape of his career for his fight against Shane Cameron in 2009, for his drastic transformation.
“I got killed for the first week, but no matter what he put out there I’d always come back,” Tua said.
“I need to stay on top to get myself in the best possible shape so I can give myself the best possible chance in this fight.
“It’s ugly, absolutely ugly, man. It’s terrible. There isn’t any happy, great thought that crosses my mind when I train because I get killed every day.
“Some days I die three times, four times.”
He’s said to be training two times a day, six days a week with Parore and has also cleaned up his diet, which means no more Burger King.
“The most important thing is not to stay focused on the weight, but it’s the feeling, because you can lose weight and not feel good.”
He said he turned up unprepared for his last fight with Barrett, a mistake he has no plans of repeating.
“If I’m willing to take care of what I need to do … I really believe the rest will take care of itself.”
SOURCE” FAIRFAX NZ/PACNEWS
32c) Ashes: Darren Lehmann wants legends like Shane Warne more involved with Australian Test side
Updated 25 June 2013, 10:20 AEST
By James Maasdorp
Darren Lehmann wants legends like Shane Warne to play a bigger role in guiding Australia back to world cricket’s summit.
Darren Lehmann says he wants past legends like Shane Warne to play a greater role in guiding an inexperienced Australia side to reach the summit of world cricket once more.
Lehmann replaced Mickey Arthur as Australia’s head coach after Arthur was sacked following off-field discipline issues and a disastrous tour of India.
Meanwhile, Test captain Michael Clarke has stepped aside as a team selector in the wake of Arthur’s sacking.
And the new coach says having the likes of Warne more involved in a mentoring capacity for his side will help the team mature ahead of a tough, marathon Ashes campaign.
“We’d love him in the room, wouldn’t we?” Lehmann said of Warne at a Monday night news conference.
“The past legends is what we’re about as well, having guys involved in our current structure, and having some sort of input.
“You don’t have a guy take 700 Test wickets and not use him if he’s around the place.
“He’s always welcome as is anyone who has represented Australia in our dressing rooms.
“We’ll be looking at the past players and using their knowledge and looking for guidance and advice along the way.”
Australia’s winless exit from the one-day Champions Trophy this month was overshadowed by big-hitting batsman David Warner punching England’s Joe Root in a Birmingham bar.
[Shane Warne] is always welcome as is anyone who has represented Australia in our dressing rooms.
Lehmann says he plans to bring an open, honest approach to tackling discipline problems.
“It’s all about honesty, dealing with anything that comes up straight away, leaving no stone unturned and making sure you’ve dealt with every issue straight away,” Lehmann said.
“I care about the players, there’s no doubt about that. You must make sure you’re looking after the players in the best way you can.”
Lehmann’s challenge with Ashes a fortnight away
Darren Lehmann factbox
Born February 5, 1970 in Gawler, South Australia. Better known as “Boof”
Coached Queensland since 2010
Won the Sheffield Shield and one-day title with Queensland
Coached Brisbane Heat to the Twenty20 Big Bash League championship
Won Indian Premier League title with Deccan Chargers in 2009
Coached Kings XI Punjab in 2013
Coached Australia A side on current tour of England
Lehmann has been in charge of Australia A’s tour of the British Isles, guiding the side to wins over Scotland, Ireland and Gloucestershire over the past two-and-a-half weeks.
His appointment and Arthur’s axing comes just a fortnight from the first Ashes Test at Trent Bridge, but Lehmann says he is unfazed by the proximity of the series.
With the Ashes so close, Lehmann believes the timing of the appointment is a challenge he is raring to meet and says the long-term aim is resurrecting Australia’s penchant for aggressive, entertaining cricket.
“It’s a challenge for all the playing group and everyone involved in Cricket Australia,” he said.
“The team is going to play a certain way, we’re going to play an aggressive brand of cricket, that entertains fans but also gets the job done on and off the field.
“I’m excited by the challenge and certainly looking forward to working with Michael [Clarke] closely, and the rest of the team and looking forward to them to having success throughout this tour.”
Clarke demands improvement
…the most important thing for me and this team is that we stay very focussed on our performances and make sure we are performing a lot better than we have done so far on this tour.
Test captain Clarke, sitting alongside Lehmann, said he and his players shared the responsibility of improving standards to become the world’s number one team again.
He says losing experienced players over the years is no excuse for the team’s dramatic drop in performances.
“We have no excuses. It’s very simple, I think the Australian public and us as players want to have success,” Clarke said.
“We know what the expectations and standards are off the field as well with regards to behaviour and we have no excuses for not upholding those values.
“No doubt we have a young team, a less experienced team after losing Michael Hussey and Ricky Ponting but that’s not an excuse.”
Clarke said he was shocked by Arthur’s sacking, but that it is time to move on under Lehmann’s leadership.
“Everybody was shocked at the time,” he said.
“It was about allowing that to sink in and for me personally to keep my focus on what’s important as a player and what our priority is and why we’re here – and that’s having success on this Ashes tour.
“That’s the most important thing for me and this team is that we stay very focussed on our performances and make sure we are performing a lot better than we have done so far on this tour and a lot better than we did on our recent tour to India.”
Video: Bryce McGain discusses Mickey Arthur’s sacking as coach of Australia (ABC News)