Smol Melanesian na pasifik Nius Digest # 836


1) B’ville crisis claims over K3b

BOUGAINVILLE crisis-related claims have amounted to over K3 billion.
This shocking revelation was recently made by the Minister for Finance, Treasury and Planning in the Autonomous Bougainville Government, Albert Punghau.
Mr Punghau said this K3.6 billion worth of claims was raised by those in North Bougainville with only a few from Central and South Bougainville respectively.
He however said this amount could either double or triple if many in Central and South as well as others in North Bougainville start sending in their crisis-related claims.
Most of these claims stem from damages done to properties including houses, loss of businesses and other valuables that were destroyed during the decade long civil war.
Mr Punghau said though these claims were genuine, the ABG was not able to make these payments as its internal revenue earnings is just around K9 million per annum.
He said that is why it was important that the Panguna mine is reopened because the “surplus” revenue earned could be used to offset such hefty claims.
ABG is predicting that it’s revenue earnings for this year is expected to increase to about K17m, however this is still not enough to address some of these pressing issues like this billion kina worth of claims.

2) French Prime Minister Scheduled To Visit New Caledonia
Ayrault to hold talks with key stakeholders in Noumea

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, July 23, 2013) – Details have been published in New Caledonia of this week’s planned visit by the French prime minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault.

He will arrive on Friday from South Korea and spend two nights in New Caledonia before flying to Malaysia.

The program includes a formal address to the territory’s Congress and talks with representatives of key institutions in Noumea.

Mr. Ayrault will also visit the Koniambo nickel plant in the northern province and the memorial site for the police killed in Ouvea.

His visit is the first by a French prime minister in three years and comes ahead of a meeting he will chair in Paris in October to review the 1998 Noumea Accord on greater autonomy, which is to enter its final phase next year.

Noumea’s daily newspaper says the president of the territorial government, Harold Martin, will be away for family reasons while the newly formed anti-independence MPC party will hold its inaugural congress.

Radio New Zealand International:

3) New Caledonia price freeze becomes official

Posted at 05:38 on 24 July, 2013 UTC

The New Caledonian government has made official the price freeze agreed to in May to end of a 12-day general strike against the high cost of living.

The new local law provides for the prices, which were in place at the beginning of April, to be maintained until the end of next year.

The price freeze doesn’t apply to tobacco products and alcoholic drinks.

To end the strike, a 10 percent price cut was also decided to apply to 500 consumer goods.

The deal also lowered phone and internet costs as well as bank fees amid public anger that prices are about a third higher than in France.

Radio New Zealand International

4) Fiji says airport’s new biosecurity measures will not add to delays

Posted at 22:43 on 23 July, 2013 UTC

Fiji authorities say the refurbishment of Nadi International Airport is likely to begin next month, and will improve the experience for incoming visitors.

The tourism minister, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, says the airport, which has facilities that date back to the 1960s and has been known to keep visitors in long queues, will undergo a major facelift over a 12 to 18-month period.

He says the arrival and departure areas will be expanded, and a third baggage carousel will be added.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum says Fiji recently had a problem of termites coming in and eating away at homes, so new x-ray machines have been purchased.

He says he hopes new biosecurity measures will not further delay arrivals.

“We have been working on it for now, quite some time to ensure that the right number of personnel are there to process the incoming passengers. And sometimes the rostering gets out of line, but, it’s not a defence, but definitely I think there is that sensitivity that needs to be there amongst those people serving at the airport.”

Fiji’s tourism minister, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

Radio New Zealand International

5) Planned industrial action a shameless attempt: Fiji AG

By Online Editor
10:20 am GMT+12, 24/07/2013, Fiji

Fiji’s Attorney -General and Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has slammed the planned industrial action by Fiji Sugar and General Workers Union.

In a media release issued yesterday, Sayed-Khaiyum said union general secretary Felix Anthony was putting his own personal interests ahead of the wellbeing of the workers he claimed to represent.

“Any industrial action, especially in the middle of crushing season, is a shameless attempt to damage the sugar industry at a time when reform and hard work are showing concrete results in improving its financial health, reversing a long decline,”  Sayed-Khaiyum said.

“This progress made possible the raise announced last week.

“These steps forward have also meant that sugar cane farmers are now paid more and paid sooner for their crops.”

Sayed-Khaiyum said by inciting industrial action at a critical time for the sugar industry, the union head had no regard for the welfare of his members.

In a statement issued on Saturday, Anthony said despite a 5.3 per cent pay increase announced by the Fiji Sugar Corporation on Friday, the union was going ahead with a secret ballot to determine industrial action by mill workers.

Anthony claims with the wage adjustment workers were earning far below the poverty line and for a shorter period due to the reduced mill crushing season brought on by a decline in crop production



6) Former Samoan Cabinet minister dies

By Online Editor
3:31 pm GMT+12, 24/07/2013, Samoa

Former Samoan Cabinet minister Mulitalo Siafausa Vui has died from heart failure.  He was 67.

“That was the main cause,” daughter Elalaumate Tunupopo said of her father’s death .

Mulitalo suffered other health problems that saw him confined to a wheelchair from before May this year.

He served two complete terms as Member of Parliament for Fa’asaleleaga No.4, a constituency at Savai’i Island, in 1996 – 2001 and 2001 – 2006.

In his first term Mulitalo was Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Assembly and became Minister of Health in his second term.

He retained his seat in the 2006 general elections and was Minister of Communication and Information Technology, but a court petition saw him lose his seat.

A widower after he left Parliament is survived by eight children.



7) Locals against foreigners

The newly formed Northern Marianas Descent Corporation expressed its “strong” opposition to federal legislation that would allow long-term nonresidents to have permanent status in the CNMI.
This proposal has been included in the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act passed by the U.S. Senate and supported by President Obama. The bill, S.744, is now in the U.S. House of Representatives whose Republican leaders have said they will not pass the measure.
The legislation has a provision that is not beneficial to the indigenous people of the CNMI, according to NMD Corp. president Ana S. Teregeyo, a former House member. Section 2109 of the bill, she added, “will alter and disrupt the social, political, and economic livelihood and aspirations of the indigenous peoples of the Northern Marianas who are of Northern Marianas descent.”
In a press conference, Teregeyo presented their group’s resolution which states that the bill “stands to take away their rights to local self-government as agreed upon and guaranteed under Section 103 of Article I of the Covenant Agreement and their Constitution which was adopted by the indigenous people of the Northern Mariana Islands and approved by the President of the United States of America on October 24, 1977.”
It added, “[The bill] further made it extremely difficult for the indigenous people of the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands who are of Northern Marianas descent to meet and advance themselves.


8) Tenpla yia blong RAMSI na sampla i gat strongpla tingting iet long en

Updated 24 July 2013, 12:27 AEST

Sam Seke hed blong Radio Australia Tok Pisin stream i stori long ronowei blong en long trabal long Solomon Islands na wok emi bin kisim hia long Australia.

Tede emi makim stret, tenpla yia blong “Regional Assistance Mission igo long  Solomon Islands”  oa  RAMSI – em Australia igo pas long en ibin kamap long Solomon Islands.

As tingting blong kirapim RAMSI we emi gat ol sekiuriti fosas na militari blong ol memba kantri blong Pacific Islands Forum istap long en, em blong bringim peace na gutpla sidaon long Solomon islands bihaenim bikpla trabal na fait long kantri.

Despla trabal ibin stap namel long ol pipal blong Malaita provins na Guadalcanal provins we biktaon Honiara istap long en.

Sam Seke, blong Radio Australia Tok Pisin Sevis ibin wok olsem wanpla niusman oa journalist long despla taem nogut, na emi save bin salim ol nius igo long planti nius laen long wold wantem tu  Radio Australia.

Long yia 2000 sampla laen trabal ibin laik kilim em, olsem na emi bin ronowei ikam long  Australia.

Emi bin kamap long Australia olsem wanpla polical refugee na bihaen emi bin helpim  Australian Defense Force na ol soljia na polis blong Pacific rijan husat ibin wok wantem RAMSI.


9) Manus: des demandeurs d’asile violés

Mis à jour 24 July 2013, 12:28 AEST

Caroline Lafargue

Des détenus auraient été violés plusieurs fois sans que les gardiens n’interviennent. Telles sont les accusations d’un ancien gardien du centre de rétention.

Interrogé sur SBS hier soir, Rod St Georges, de l’entreprise de sécurité G4S, affirme que les victimes, des hommes, ont été sciemment laissées dans les mêmes quartiers que leurs violeurs.

L’ancien gardien témoigne de tentatives de suicide et d’automutilation quasi quotidiennes dans le centre de rétention.

La réponse du ministère australien de l’Immigration ne s’est pas fait attendre : il reconnaît 23 tentatives d’automutilation depuis l’ouverture du centre en novembre. Et un demandeur d’asile a finalement retiré sa plainte pour agression sexuelle après avoir parlé à la police papoue. D’après le ministère, il n’y a jamais eu d’accusations de viol dans le centre.

De son côté, Rod St Georges dénonce aussi les conditions d’hébergement, selon lui, si on était en Australie, le centre « ne pourrait même pas faire office de chenil, les propriétaires seraient mis en prison ».


10) Indonesian Police Stop Distribution Of Magazine In West Papua
PFF claims police breaching local freedom of press laws

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, July 23, 2013) – The Pacific Freedom Forum says police actions to stop distribution of a new magazine in West Papua break press laws of Indonesia and must be condemned.

The forum has joined the Indonesian Press Council in criticizing police for their actions against the magazine, Papua Pelita.

The magazine dedicated its first issue to reporting on the Organization of Papua Freedom, with a cover featuring the West Papua pro-independence flag – which is banned by authorities in West Papua.

Magazine publishers had already distributed 2,000 copies of the inaugural edition when police arrived and instructed them not to distribute any further copies.

The chairperson of the Pacific Freedom Forum, Titi Gabi, says there are specific laws that back press freedom and expressly prohibit police from banning media organizations in Indonesia.

Papua police have denied there was any ban, saying it was just a check up to see if there was any seditious material.

Radio New Zealand International:


11) Qld Health Minister Lawrence Springborg raises TB fears amid resettling asylum seekers in PNG

Posted 24 July 2013, 12:23 AEST

By Melinda Howells and Kirsty Nancarrow

The Queensland Government says it does not receive enough federal funding to treat patients coming from Papua New Guinea (PNG) and the problem could be compounded by plans to resettle asylum seekers there.

The Queensland Government says it does not receive enough federal funding to treat patients coming from Papua New Guinea (PNG) and the problem could be compounded by plans to resettle asylum seekers there.

It says a new funding agreement with the Commonwealth will leave an $8 million shortfall this year.

The Torres Strait Island Regional Council has been refusing entry to PNG Nationals from 13 treaty villages, after the death of a local elder from TB.

Queensland Health Minister Lawrence Springborg says the Commonwealth is not providing enough funding to treat PNG patients.

He says the Federal Government’s new asylum seeker transfer deal will see even more illegal arrivals.

“If we can’t keep our borders secure against people from Papua New Guinea, then how can we keep illegal people smugglers from using that as a very, very easy conduit to the Australian mainland?” he said.

Mr Springborg says six asylum seekers sought treatment in Queensland in the last six months, including a Syrian man with suspected tuberculosis (TB).

“We would never have known about this Syrian – who had made his way from Syria into Indonesia into Papua New Guinea likely – then a canoe ride down through the islands, if he hadn’t been detected and actually brought to our facility,” he said.

“How many of these people have been actually been caught in there and taken elsewhere that we don’t know about.”

12) LBJ hospital in American Samoa to receive more funds

Posted at 01:04 on 24 July, 2013 UTC

The cash strapped LBJ Medical Center in American Samoa is getting a funding boost from the territorial government for fiscal year 2014.

The subsidy for the government-owned hospital for the current fiscal year, 2013, is four million US dollars but the new fiscal year calls for an additional two million.

The governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga says the additional funding subsidy qualifies the hospital for an additional two million from the federal government’s Medicaid funds, therefore yielding four million of additional revenue to finance healthcare services in the territory.

Governor Lolo says the higher subsidy compliments the work of the hospital’s board and management, in its attempt to reduce the administrative costs of the healthcare system.

According to budget documents, the medical center’s budget for the new fiscal year is 44 million dollars.

News Content © Radio New Zealand International


13) Am. Samoa Directs Teachers To Attain Education Degrees
DOE reports only 37% have BA, only 8% have MA

By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, July 22, 2013) – Local Department of Education (DOE) Director Vaitinasa Dr. Salu Hunkin-Finau has issued a directive for all public school teachers in American Samoa to have a Bachelor of Education degree in four years time, a move that comes as the Lolo Administration battles to improve low student performance rates in public schools.

According to statistics presented by ASDOE during a Senate hearing in April this year, more than 50% of teachers hold an Associate of Arts (AA) degree or less. ASDOE also says only 8% of teachers hold a masters degree; 37% hold a bachelors; 26% hold an AA, while 29% hold less than an AA degree.

“I have put out a directive that I expect all teachers currently in the system to complete their Bachelor of Education degree by 2016. I have also stated in our leadership meeting that DOE will not hire anymore teachers with less than a bachelors degree by the year 2016,” Vaitinasa said over the weekend responding to Samoa News questions.

She explained that ASDOE has “ongoing professional development contracts” with the College of Education at the University of Hawai’i (UH) for “our teachers to obtain their Bachelor of Education degree and just recently a 4-year bachelor degree program at the American Samoa Community College as well.”

According to the director, these two degree programs will help achieve the ASDOE’s directive and goal.

“DOE is required by federal grant programs to hire only ‘qualified teachers’ or teachers who have had the training and credentials from a 4-year accredited college/university,” she explained. “I expect all teachers who are currently in the system to complete their programs by that year or at the least, be in the pipeline.”

“Consideration will be given to teachers who have served the department faithfully and are about ready to retire. They will be ‘grandfathered’ in the system,” she added.

When asked why she set this goal for 2016 and the importance of it to the department, Vaitinasa explained, “Research has reported time after time that the single most important factor in the academic achievement of students is the teacher — therefore the preparation of teachers is critical.”

Additionally, for close to 30 years in American Samoa, assessment of student academic performances report that 70% of local students tested below basic in reading and math.

“We know that this is due largely because over 50% of our teachers have not completed their undergraduate programs,” she said. “We want to change this academic outcome of students’ performances by first concentrating on the quality of our teachers preparation programs and then the teacher’s performance in the classroom.”

Vaitinasa emphasized that a teacher must have a Bachelor degree in Education under the initiative by the department to have all teachers hold BAs by 2016. “Inclusive in the attainment of a bachelors degree are the content courses which will be required: English, Math, etc.,” she said. “Our new curriculum standards demand in-depth knowledge in the content areas.”

“I am of the belief that the language of instruction used in the classrooms for grades ECE to Grade 5 is another critical factor. We are currently looking into these critical factors in the education services of students,” Vaitinasa added.

Asked how ASCC being accredited with a 4-year Bachelor of Education degree program will help ASDOE achieve its goal by 2016, the director replied, “We have an agreement with ASCC to prepare our elementary teachers who are assigned to teach children in grades K-6.”

She added that “UH is contracted to prepare our teachers who will teach grades 7-12. All teachers are required to take courses to teach content areas, especially English as a Second Language (ESL) and Samoan language arts.”

Vaitinasa first revealed her directive during the July 11 cabinet meeting saying, “over half of our teachers have only an AA degree or less” while in the U.S., “no one can teach without a bachelor and [teacher] certification.”

“Here in American Samoa we’re trying to make that change. We just don’t have lines of American Samoan people with bachelors [degree] waiting for us to hire them,” she said, noting that DOE “tries to get the best of them and the best of them are coming out” of ASCC.

“So we hire community college graduates and while they are teaching, we’re trying to help them teach appropriately,” she told cabinet members. “The teacher is the most critical person in the classroom.”

Vaitinasa said ASDOE would help teachers without a bachelor’s degree who are already in the ASDOE system obtain their degree. “We are working on getting our teachers ‘highly qualified’ and certified,” she concluded.

The Samoa News:

14) Solomons’ Teachers May Resign Over Pay Cut Threat
SINTA claims ‘all avenues to negotiate exhausted’

By Daniel Namosuaia

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, July 23, 2013) – Industrial relations officer of the Solomon Islands National Teachers Association (SINTA) secretariat Samson Faisi said SINTA still stand by the four resolutions agreed upon by teachers at their meeting last Friday which includes:

That teachers’ strike continues until the government fully addresses the whole teachers issue by 8 August 2013-the re-leveling and incremental outstanding payments be paid to those who are entitled;
That the Solomon Islands government come out clear on this exercise to avoid further confusions on teachers;
That all 29 Education Authorities (EAs) be paid before they could resume duties on the 12 August 2013;
And that concerned EAs who have contributed to the malfunctioning of the whole re-leveling exercise be given disciplinary actions immediately.

Mr. Faisi said now that the government is taking another political twist to these resolutions, SINTA members will stand together to take a mass resignation.

“The stand by SINTA to this latest government’s threat to cut teachers’ pay by this Thursday is we will do a mass resignation. That is our position. We are a responsible body and a union. The reason why teachers decide to take the strike action is because all the avenues to negotiate with the government have been exhausted,” Mr. Faisi said.

He added that the latest threat by the government will never stop them from maintaining their stand.

General secretary of SINTA Walter Tesuatai further calls on the government to be responsible on its part and don’t beat around the bush with the teachers’ issue.

“There is nothing for the government to beat around the bush with. The teachers’ issue is clear and simple. What the government should do is to address the issue head on rather than continuing to dialogue and twisting the issue around,” Mr. Tesuatai said.

He stressed that the government should bear in mind they are dealing with human beings who have feelings and these feelings can be expressed through various means.

“Teachers don’t trust the government anymore because they have not fulfilled their promise as agreed on from the past two MOA’s.”

He added that the publication of teachers’ name in the print media is a further blow to the government who should have kept that as a confidential document.

“Teachers are unhappy to see their names released to the public domain a document that should have remained confidential. But this only shows an irresponsible government trying to politicize the issue of teachers to divide SINTA,” Mr. Tesuatai said.

But Tesuatai said this move of the government will never divide SINTA.

“It will only strengthen SINTA and to gain more support from teachers throughout the country.”

Solomon Star

15) CNMI Students Favor Off-Island Work Opportunities
Survey reveals lack of interest tied to wage perceptions

By Moneth Deposa

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, July 24, 2013) – While the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands’ private and public sectors are heightening efforts to craft programs that will develop the island’s future workforce, the latest survey among public middle and high school students show that careers available on the islands are not among their top choices.

The results of the Public School System’s (PSS) Occupational Survey have dismayed education officials, who discovered that most students dream of “big-money jobs” that they believe they will find outside the Commonwealth.

The expected exodus of foreign workers from the CNMI next year due to new immigration policies has spurred efforts to prepare the local workforce to take over jobs that will be left vacant. With tourism being the islands’ main industry, the field of food preparation and service is one area that directly ties with tourism. However, majority of those surveyed, who are on the cusp of being the islands’ next generation of workers, are not interested in these lines of work.

This then begs the question: Who will take over the jobs of the islands’ foreign workers when these workers are phased out come December 2014?

Also, with tourism on the rebound and more hotels expected to open up in the years ahead, the need for cooks, waiters, bartenders, and other entry level positions are expected to surge and the lack of interest for these jobs among the young could affect the ability of tourism-related businesses to find sufficient workers for their operations.

According to Michaelle Muña, the students’ representative on the Board of Education (BOE), the low interest for some of the career choices may be due to the students’ limited knowledge and exposure to these fields.

She said that many students want to pursue higher education to achieve their dream careers, which she described as “big-money jobs.”

Although the data speaks about the intention of many students to pursue higher education, Education Commissioner Rita A. Sablan, Ed.D., said there remains a concern that many of them want to pursue fields and careers that are not either available on island or are not much needed in the CNMI.

Low wages

According to the survey, the student’s lack of interest in many of the career options were tied directly to their perception that these jobs offer low pay compared to the amount of effort put in to the actual work.

Because PSS offers various career technological educational courses at its secondary schools, BOE chair Herman T. Guerrero pointed out the need to “go deeper” into the result of the survey in order to better gauge students.

Survey results

The PSS survey was conducted among 7th to 11th graders in all middle and high school in the CNMI.

The survey provided student-respondents 10 different occupations that are not only available but are very much needed by existing industries in the CNMI. These include food preparation and serving related; management; installation, maintenance, and repair; office and administrative support; construction and extraction; building, ground cleaning and maintenance; sales and related; major title production; protective service; and business and financial operations.

Of the total 2,956 respondents, the results show that only 165 students want to be in the food preparation and serving related field. In comparison, 474 respondents want to be in protective service, which includes fields such as police and investigation agents.

Another notable result is that only 60 students out of the nearly 3,000 respondents are willing to work in construction with.

At Marianas High School, out of 940 respondents, a total of 511—or 54 percent—say they want to pursue postsecondary education and have no plans of immediately working in any of the given occupational opportunities.

Generating the most interest among the occupational choices was “protective service” where 127 students—or 14 percent—say they want to work in the future.

Those who reported that they want to work in installation, maintenance, and repair work totaled 83 students—a mere 9 percent. Other areas like business and financial operations got only 7 percent while food preparation and serving related got a minuscule 4 percent, Management had 3 percent; sales, 3 percent; and construction and building/ground maintenance, 1 percent each.

At Saipan Southern High School, out of the 398 respondents, a large bulk of 181 students—or 45 percent—say they will pursue college; 63 students (16 percent) want to be in protective services; 40 respondents said they want to work in business and financial operations; while 26 students want to work in the field of management.

The results for Kagman High School also showed a similar trend, with 41 percent of respondents wanting to pursue higher education and many students picking the field of protective service among their top option. In KHS, 360 students responded to the survey.

In middle schools, a total of 216 out of 720 students say they want to pursue college while 91 aim to be in protective service one day. Chacha Oceanview had a total of 213 respondents, of which 51 want to pursue higher education while a big bulk of students (72) want to become police and investigative agents. Only 23 students want to be in food preparation.

Students in Rota and Tinian secondary schools also want to pursue higher education and, no surprise here, protective service also came out as their top career choice.

Tinian Junior & Senior High School had 134 respondents, of which 56 want to go to college; 22 want to be in protective service. Only 10 want to be in food preparation, while only a few want to be in other fields such as construction, sales, and maintenance.

In Dr. Rita Hocog Inos Jr. & Sr. High School, 191 students took part in the survey, of which 72 want to pursue education; 39 in protective service; 24 in business and financial operation; 13 in food preparation; 10 in office and administrative work; and very few want to be in construction, sales, and maintenance.

Saipan Tribune

16) Samoa Government Lengthens Public School Hours
Increase part of wider education reform program

By Alan Ah Mu

APIA, Samoa (Talamua, July 23) – Timetables are to be reset to account for the longer hours decided for Government schools in Samoa.

They’ve begun to work with schools on that, Ministry of Education Sports and Culture (MESC), Chief Executive Officer, Matafeo Tanielu Aiafi, said today.

Completion of the task should occur by the fourth quarter of the school year, Matafeo said.

Officially when Term 3 began this month start times for all Government schools remained at 9am but Year 1 to Year 3 finished half an hour later at 2pm, while Year 4 to Year 8 finished an hour later at 3pm.

High schools and colleges finish an hour and a half later at 4pm.

Primary schools have seven subjects in the curriculum.

“There isn’t enough time to teach these subjects,” Matafeo said.

Under the old hours, kids in primary spend four and half hours at school but with assembly, prayers and recess it meant only four hours were spent on lessons, he said.

The new school or “contact hours” were set after a survey of teachers and parents by MESC’s policy and planning section.

The ministry advised Cabinet to extend the school hours.

In announcing the changes last Saturday Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet’s press secretariat said:

“The changes were initiated for the following reasons:

An Education Reform Programme is currently underway in Government schools to improve and raise the standards of reading, mathematics, literacy as well as development of sports and culture.
A full implementation of the Primary Curriculum started this year where seven subjects are taught in schools.
Additional school hours will provide enough time for both teachers and students for their learning programs.”



17) Legalise labour scheme under PACER Plus – Forau

By Online Editor
12:46 pm GMT+12, 24/07/2013, Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands Foreign Affairs and External Trade Minister Clay Forau has urged Australia and New Zealand to make legally binding commitments on labour mobility.

Minister Forau who is also the Lead Spokesperson for the Forum Island Countries (FICs) on PACER-Plus said member countries want labour mobility to be legally binding in the PACER-Plus Agreement or a side agreement.

He told Australia and New Zealand during the Forum Trade Ministers’ Meeting in Apia, Samoa last week, that FICs will be making legally binding commitments to reduce and eventually remove duties on ANZ imports.

Forau said Australia and New Zealand will not be making such commitments since their import duties are already down to zero.

He is concerned that Forum Island Countries will be losing revenue derived from import duties in PACER-Plus.

The PACER Lead Spokesperson said labour mobility was important for FICs, urging Australia and New Zealand to bridge differences and agree on a development-oriented programme that will contribute to peace, security and prosperity in the region.

Meanwhile, Solomon Islands has been congratulated as the first Forum Island Country to make a voluntary contribution of SBD$100,000 to the Office of the Chief Trade Adviser (OCTA) based in Port Vila.

The payment was made in April this year via a Cabinet approval in response to appeals by Solomon Islands Foreign Affairs Minister Clay Forau for voluntary contributions from Forum countries to support the independent office that is spearheading negotiations on PACER Plus for Pacific countries.

The Office of the Chief Trade Adviser was established in 2010 to provide support and assistance to Forum countries in their negotiation of trade, development and economic cooperation arrangements with Australia and New Zealand currently referred to as PACER-Plus.


18) Facilities to store cultural data lacking: PNG MP

By Online Editor
3:26 pm GMT+12, 24/07/2013, Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea lacks proper facilities to store cultural information and data, according to Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Boka Kondra.

He said at the National Mask Festival in Kokopo last Thursday, many countries had facilities to store cultural information and data in archives and libraries.

“Given this lack of proper storage facilities in this country, the best way of preserving and protecting the cultures of the indigenous people in PNG is in live form.

“The main vehicle at present that is being promoted by my ministry through the National Cultural Commission are the festivals at the national, provincial and local levels,” he said.

Kondra said the main aim of the festivals was to strengthen and promote cultures among the people. It was also important to promote tourism.

He said the Warwagira Festival was a provincial initiative set out to pursue the same aims and goals as the Mask Festival but at the provincial level.

“I commend the ENB government for its continued commitment to this important activity, one that should be replicated by all provinces.”

Kondra raised concerns that with the onset of globalisation, many cultures faced the risk of erosion and eventually disappearing.

“There is a dire need to provide inspiration to the holders or custodians of these cultures to maintain them.” Kondra said.

“In fact, many aspects of PNG culture have disappeared in the last 130 years and among these are important components of the indigenous people’s cultures.

“There is a dire need to provide inspiration to the holders or custodians of these cultures to maintain them”


19) Oil Search: New gas deposit in PNG

By Online Editor
3:28 pm GMT+12, 24/07/2013, Papua New Guinea

Oil Search Ltd said it has discovered modest quantities of natural gas during a new exploration job in Papua New Guinea and the find had encouraged it to continue drilling.

According to its second quarter report, Oil Search’s Flinders and Hagana wells in the Gulf of Papua intersected good-quality geological properties that may indicate the presence of larger resources nearby.

Oil Search said: “Although the volumes at Flinders and Hagana are likely to be relatively modest, the company has been sufficiently encouraged to take up a further well option and will drill the Kidukidu prospect once Hagana-1 is completed.”

The Australian company also said oil and gas output in the three months to June 30 fell 9.7% from a year earlier to 1.63 million barrels of oil equivalent.

“But we kept our annual guidance of between 6.2 million and 6.7 million BOE.

“Revenue in the quarter fell 3% from a year earlier to US$204.9 million (K460 million), the company said.
Some of the company highlights during the quarter:

*The PNG LNG project is nearly 90% complete and remains on track for first LNG sales next year;

* PRL 3 JV studies for the potential development of the P’nyang gas field were ongoing during the quarter, with engineering scoping work continuing;

*1.64 million barrels of oil were sold during the period, which helped drive total operating revenue for the quarter to US$204.9 million.

Managing director Peter Botten said: “The highlight of the 2013 second quarter was a series of successful exploration wells, each of which, subject to successful appraisal/development, has the potential to add materially to our production base.”

In the Highlands, oil was discovered in both the Toro and Digimu sandstones at the Manada 6 well, he said.
Botten said reparations are underway to apply to the PNG Government for an oil field development licence next month.

Oil Search had a cash balance of US$292.1 million (K656 million)  at the end of last month and its US$500 million (K1.1 billion) corporate facility remained undrawn resulting in liquidity of US$792.1 million.


20) Suspension of NZ tourism aid to Tonga will have long-term effects – Minister

By Online Editor
3:30 pm GMT+12, 24/07/2013, Tonga

Tonga’s tourism minister says he expects the effects of New Zealand’s suspension of tourism aid to hit the Kingdom in the next two months.

The New Zealand government has suspended millions of dollars of tourism aid to Tonga amid concerns an MA-60 aircraft gifted to the Kingdom from China is not safe.

Viliami Latu says New Zealand provides 70 percent of total funding to the marketing and promotion of Tonga’s tourism, and its pulling out will have long-term effects.

“According to the statistics that we have received it hasn’t been really affected, but I’m conscious of the fact it will affect in the next two months. The tourism partnership programme that we are having with New Zealand aid is planning for the long-term, for the next three to five years. It’s part of the plan to promote and market Tonga as a tourism destination. I am afraid that it will highly affect what we have planned for.”

Latu says the Ministry has no say on whether the aircraft should be used, and is caught between those making the decisions and the New Zealand government.

He says the MA-60 aircraft in question is not yet in service.

SOURCE: RNZI/PACNEWS ( Phils Note: Interesting come to think of it, I was in Nukualofa 2011 and majority of Caucasian I saw there were from NZ New Zealand! Not much Aussies/Australians or other western Nationals! )

21) Pacific meet to improve shipping services

By Online Editor
12:43 pm GMT+12, 24/07/2013, Fiji

The Pacific region can have the best shipping services because there is a high standard of domestic ferry services.

This is the focus of a high-level meeting aimed at strengthening inter- island shipping in region.

Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Director Economic Development, Captain John Hogan says twelve Pacific countries are attending the meeting.

“Some of the important issues that we will be looking at are the improving of the efficiency of the shipping routes. So we will be looking at the direction the cargo flows on port efficiency.”

Hogan says the meeting will also look at improving maritime safety laws and training seafarers about best practices.

“Shipping safety is the basic underlying tenet for everything we are doing when we talk about sustainable shipping services we are meaning shipping services that are safe and secure not only for cargo but also for the passenger.”

The meeting will also look at the number of passengers and cargo travelling across the Pacific, port infrastructure and fleet size in the region….

22) New Pacific- US trade and development agreement underway

By Online Editor
10:11 am GMT+12, 24/07/2013, Fiji

The Pacific Island nations are working towards a new trade and development agreement with the United States.

At a meeting in Samoa last week, Pacific trade ministers told the forum secretariat to make discussions with the US a priority for Pacific leaders.

Shiu Raj, Director of Economic Governance at the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, says the Pacific region can’t afford to stay isolated from the global trade environment

“There are other regions which have been able to successfully conclude quite an interesting trading arrangement with the United States of America,” Raj said.

“As a consequence, they have been able to get their products into the respective markets, including deals which actually allows for investments.”

Jerry Finin, Co-director of the East-West Center’s Pacific Islands Development Program, says Pacific interest in a trade deal will fall on fertile ground in Washington.

“During the course of the last four years of the Obama administration, there has been a very serious effort to engage more with the Pacific region,” Finin said.

“That was evident, for example at the last Pacific Islands forum meeting when Secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, attended and had a chance to meet with many of the leaders.”

With more than half of the world’s tuna caught in the Pacific region, the United States is keen to get access to the Pacific region for its fishing rights.

Dr Transform Aqorau, Director of the office representing the 8 nations with the richest tuna resource, says it was the difficult negotiations with the US for an extension of its tuna treaty that led to plans for a broader trade and development agreement.

“When we started off with the negotiations, because the US was given preferential access to 16 exclusive economic zones, we wanted them to reciprocate by also giving preferential access to our tuna products into their market,” he said.

Dr Aqorau says he believes the new deal has the potential to increase the investment in fishing.

“If we can develop a trade and development agreement with the United States, I am sure it is going to add value to investment and make investments worthwhile,” he said.

While the Pacific has found it hard to grow its trade and investment links with the US, the trade ministers are keen for that to change.

They told the forum secretariat to secure funding for a study to look at what issues should be tackled in the new agreement.

“We are going to undertake quite a comprehensive assessment to determine what this trade arrangement should actually contain,” Raj said.

“In any trade agreement, it is very important for us to structure that agreement in such a way so that the private sector is able to capitalise on the opportunities for such as deal.

“For the Pacific Island countries to be able to export to the USA, they need to overcome quite a few hurdles and many of these are actually non-trade barriers,” he said.

Pacific Island leaders will hold talks with United States officials during their annual summit in Majuro early September.


23) US army eyes Australia for training

By Online Editor
12:50 pm GMT+12, 24/07/2013, Australia

The US Army would find Australia an attractive option for increased training, a senior Australian officer attached to the US military says.

Major General Rick Burr, deputy commanding general for operations in the Hawaii-based US Army of the Pacific, said that would not extend to a base or extended training as the US Marines now do for six months a year in northern Australia.

But it could extend to leaving some training equipment in Australia.

He stressed that none of this was yet on any table for consideration and neither had there been any cost-benefit analysis.

“Is Australia an option? It is certainly attractive because of its location but that all has to be figured out and discussed at a higher level,” he told reporters on Tuesday.

“It is always attractive whenever we can train together in other countries and that’s what we are trying to do all over the region. Australia as one of those nations is always something that is attractive.”

Under the deal announced when United States President Barack Obama visited in 2011, US Marines conduct six-month training rotations in the Northern Territory.

Initially this started with groups of 200 and will rise to 2500 in 2016-17.

Major General Burr is in Australia to observe the Talisman Saber Exercise now under way in Queensland involving 28,000 Australian and US personnel.

The main US Army participation occurred on Saturday when 400 soldiers parachuted into the Shoalwater Bay Training Area after flying non-stop from Alaska.

With the drawdown of forces from Afghanistan and President Obama’s rebalancing of the US strategic focus towards the Asia-Pacific region, the US military is looking to expand engagement with regional nations.

Major General Burr said there were now more options and more capacity to take engagement to another level.

“We are looking for smaller ways to train together at the moment and that is certainly happening with jungle training and specialist training,” he said.

“In terms of larger scale exercises, the Talisman Saber exercise is really the focus at the moment.”

24)Solomon Islands marks 10 years of regional military intervention

By Online Editor
12:57 pm GMT+12, 24/07/2013, Solomon Islands

Five Prime Ministers, including  New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, and two Presidents are in the Solomon Islands today to mark ten years of regional military and police intervention.

While there will be celebration, there is also some unease amongst the people as the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands, which was brought in to protect them, is reducing its numbers with the ultimate aim of pulling out.

The decade commemoration marks highs and lows of the mission which was deployed in 2003 at the request of the Solomon Islands Prime Minister Allan Kemakeza.

Five years of conflict between warring ethnic groups had taken its toll on the country with a breakdown of law and order, widespread corruption and the non-delivery of basic services.

More than two thousand mostly military and police personnel were deployed from fifteen Pacific forum countries.

Australia and New Zealand, who led the mission, were keen to emphasise the regional input sensitive to criticism they played the big brother in regional politics.

“We must be sympathetic to the interests and needs of the Solomon Islands people, our approach must be low key and helpful” Prime Minister Helen Clark told departing personnel.

RAMSI’s first move was to establish law and order, disarm and arrest militants. Success wasn’t long in coming with the arrest of notorious warlord Harold Keke, a militant implicated in the murders of dozens of people, who had been holed up on the Weather Coast.

The news of his arrest came as Pacific Forum leaders met in Auckland – for New Zealand it couldn’t have been better timing.

“I’m just so pleased that it has been resolved on the Weather Coast peacefully and that sets a very good tone for the mission,” Helen Clark told journalists.

More than 3000 arrests were made in RAMSI’s first few months.

A 21 day firearms amnesty in the early days of RAMSI resulted in 4000 weapons being surrendered or confiscated.

The public were invited to ceremonies where they could watch the firearms, which had been confiscated or surrendered by the rebels, being destroyed.

This combined with huge numbers of arrests did much to win public closely with the Royal Solomon Islands Police force with strong support .

But it hasn’t all been plain sailing.

In December 2004 Australian policeman Adam Dunning was shot and killed while on patrol in Honiara. No one has ever been convicted of his murder.

In 2007 Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare’s relationship with RAMSI deteriorated as he strongly believed the regional body had too much influence and a “desire to control” his Government.

The standoff came after he appointed Julian Moti as Attorney-General, a man Australia wanted extradited to face charges of raping a 13 year old Vanuatu girl.

When Police Commissioner Shane Castles objected to the appointment he was dumped and Fijian Jahir Khan took his place.

His first move was to announce he wanted to re-arm police which, combined with  Sogavare’s proposal to strip RAMSI personnel of immunity from prosecution, sent chills of alarm through Australian and New Zealand officials.

Winston Peters, who was Foreign Minister at the time, held a tense meeting with Sogavare where he hinted that aid could be affected.

“Our objective was to make sure there was no doubt about where New Zealand stood..whilst we were committed to being a good neighbour, that wasn’t at all cost,” he said.

As the Solomons leadership changed, so too did the relationship.

In the ten years since the mission began New Zealand has committed $140 million to RAMSI. Its multi-national police force has been popular amongst communities.

A number of independent surveys conducted with Solomon Islands people show an overwhelming number support RAMSI’s presence. Many are worried that the peace it has achieved too fragile for it to withdraw, albeit slowly.

Last year when New Zealand troops pulled out, Anglican Priest Deacon Erick Tevaiola said there was widespread uncertainty about what will happen when the military finally leaves.

“I only wish that the soldiers will stay for a little bit more longer, maybe for another four to five years,” he said.

However while the last of the Australian military will pull out in the next month the police will stay on, continuing to improve the capacity of their Solomon Islands counterparts.

Prime Minister John Key is travelling to the Solomons today with Ministers, MP’s, Defence Force, Police representatives and media.

“The strength of the New Zealand delegation signifies the importance of our RAMSI contribution to the Solomon Islands. New Zealand will continue to support the mission as it transitions from a military and police mission to a police-only mission,” he said.

The challenges in the Solomons should not be under-estimated.

It has high unemployment rates, one of the highest growth rates in the world at 2.5% and forty percent of the population is under the age of fifteen.

While the RAMSI anniversary is bitter-sweet for many, there is hope that the country will move forward to face the challenges ahead.

25)Solomons peacekeeping force pulls back after 10 years

By Online Editor
3:47 pm GMT+12, 24/07/2013, Solomon Islands

The largest military operation in the Pacific since World War II winds up in the Solomon Islands on Wednesday after a decade working to end deep-seated ethnic violence in the poverty-stricken nation.

The Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI) deployed in a fanfare of publicity in 2003 after a desperate appeal from Honiara for international assistance.

Since then, it has adopted a low-key approach to bringing stability to the nation of about 600,000 people, which lies 2,000 kilometres (1,200 miles) northeast of Australia.

At a ceremony in the capital on Wednesday RAMSI mark the 10th anniversary of the mission and the end of its military phase, with future operations concentrating on policing and governance.

“I think it has to be rated a success, certainly in terms of restoring law and order,” Jenny Hayward-Jones, a Melanesia expert at Sydney-based foreign affairs think tank The Lowy Institute told AFP.

“However, there’s still not the level of trust from the Solomons population in their police that would have been achieved in 10 years.”

When RAMSI was formed, the Solomons government was at the mercy of warlords, ethnic militants and a corrupt police force, with virtually no control outside the capital Honiara.

More than 200 people had been killed and tens of thousands left homeless as gangs from rival islands terrorised local populations, with Australia’s then-prime minister John Howard warning the situation posed a risk to regional stability.

“A failed state in our region, on our doorstep, will jeopardise our own security. The best thing we can do is to take remedial action and take it now,” Howard said at the time as the situation looked set to spiral out of control.

The answer was RAMSI, a peacekeeping force led by Australia with support from New Zealand and 13 other nations from the Pacific Islands Forum.

Its troops landed near Honiara on July 24, 2003, at Red Beach, symbolically selecting the site where US Marines stormed ashore in 1942 to launch the bloody Guadalcanal campaign against the Japanese.

Unsure of the reception the militias planned, they had shoot-to-kill clearance if engaged in a firefight.

However, resistance never materialised and within a few months most warlords had been arrested and their followers disarmed.

There have been isolated outbreaks of unrest since, including riots after elections in 2006, but New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) said the situation had stabilised.

Hayward-Jones said RAMSI had acted as a “quasi government” in the Solomons since then and was keen to have the administration in Honiara take responsibility for the country again.

“This 10th anniversary ceremony is sending a message that the Solomons is ready to stand on it’s own two feet again,” she said.

26)NZ Police will remain in Solomon Islands : PM Key

By Online Editor
3:50 pm GMT+12, 24/07/2013, Solomon Islands

New Zealand’s military forces in the Solomon Islands are withdrawing but a police contribution will remain in place, Prime Minister John Key has told the 10 anniversary celebrations in Honiara of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI).

Key is with other Pacific leaders whose nations sent forces into the country in 2003 – with the notable exception of Fiji Prime Minister  Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama.

The Australian-led RAMSI was gamble to end a brutal civil war which had seen 200 people die in the conflict on Guadalcanal.

The conflict was between the people of Malaita, an island across Iron Bottom Sound, whose culture was at complete odds with those of Guadalcanal who, by an accident of history ended up hosting the new nation’s capital, Honiara.

Key hailed RAMSI for bringing peace.

“This transition is a clear indication of the progress made. New Zealand is proud to have been one of 15 countries working alongside the Solomon Islands Government in a coordinated, Pacific-wide response”” he said.

“New Zealand has been a significant contributor to RAMSI. Our police, New Zealand Defence Force, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Inland Revenue and other personnel have made a lasting contribution to Solomon Islands.”

Key said the military component was withdrawing.

“A participating police force will stay to aid the Solomon Islands Government in the training and capacity building of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force, who will continue to maintain law and order.”

To mark the anniversary Key presented a playground to the people of Solomon Islands.

“This gift appropriately looks towards the future of Solomon Islands – the younger generation who will lead this nation in the years to come.”

RAMSI’s worth has been questioned by academics and locals, amidst fears that as the soldiers leave the nation of 500,000 will slip back into ethnic conflict.

Bishop Terry Brown who served through the civil war wrote recently for the Australian National University Development Policy Blog that he had supported RAMSI initially as it bought immediate peace.

“Instead RAMSI expanded enormously,” he said. Their headquarters is a virtual Australian military base in disguise.

“Armed troops patrolled the streets of Honiara and back roads of Malaita for many years, even when there was no necessity whatsoever.”

A huge prison was built while the hospital remains a health hazard.

Ashley Wickham, a policy analyst for the Office of the Leader of the Opposition, says RAMSI has failed and there will be “further turbulence in Solomon Islands”.


27a) O’Neill: West Irian refugees separate issue


THE National Executive Council has approved to exempt West Papuans from paying K10,000 as required when applying for Papua New Guinea citizenship.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill on his arrival from Brisbane on Monday told a media conference that the West Papuan refugees are a separate issue that is covered under the current arrangement between PNG and Indonesia.
The Prime Minister made it clear to queries raised about the PNG government’s capacity to resettle refugees in the country after signing an expanded resettlement agreement between Australia to hold asylum seekers and boat people for processing.
“The West Irian issue is a separate issue.”
“Those that need to be processed are always welcome to live across the border as they have done for some time under our current arrangement with the Indonesian government.”
“As part of that decision cabinet has taken a very deliberate decision that for those who have been here for over 8 years, we will exempt the fee of K10, 000 that is required to apply for citizenship and we welcome them to apply — and if they do-we will process them as citizens of our country.”
“This is a new initiative that this government is taking,” Mr O’Neill said.
The Prime Minister said Papua New Guinea like all other Pacific Island countries has got issues with illegal immigrants and the country’s move towards establishing a regional processing center was conducive to addressing the issue for the region as a whole.
“Of course we took advantage of the issues which are before us and negotiated these outcomes with the Australian government.
“I think it is very good for the country that we show some compassion.”
“We show some humanitarian sympathy to many of the suffering genuine refugees.
“This is why we have agreed to fast tracking the construction of the permanent facilities in Manus and I believe that in the long term it will of great benefit to the region and the Papua New Guinea, he said.”
Prime Minister O’Neill said the current capacity of facilities on the ground in Manus can take 600 but this is being upgraded and expanded to take in more – at least to 3000 as per the projected arrangement.
“We are hoping this will stop the non-genuine refugee and asylum seekers coming into our region and of course if they are genuine refugees we will process them accordingly.”

27b) Solomon Islands to play role in Australia’s PNG asylum seeker solution

By Online Editor
10:17 am GMT+12, 24/07/2013, Solomon Islands

The small Pacific nation of the Solomon Islands is expected to play a role in the federal government’s plan to send asylum seekers to Papua New Guinea for processing and resettlement.

The country’s Prime Minister, Gordon Darcy Lilo has been in talks with Australia’s Foreign Minister Bob Carr and the pair plan to make a joint announcement on the matter from the Solomon Islands on Tuesday, a well-placed government source has told Fairfax Media.

This follows last week’s announcement that no asylum seeker who comes to Australia by boat will ever be resettled in Australia, instead they will be sent to Papua New Guinea for processing and, if found to be refugees, will be resettled there.

Pacific nations that are signatories to the United Nations Refugee Convention, such as the Solomon Islands, which neighbours Papua New Guinea, could be asked to accept asylum seekers processed on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island who are found to be genuine refugees.

Back in 2011, under former Prime Minister Danny Philip, the Solomon Islands was keen to host a refugee processing centre on behalf of Australia.

In order to implement the Papua New Guinea policy, facilities in the country would require large-scale expansion.

If this asylum seeker policy fails to stem the arrival of 3000 people to Australia by boat each month, detention facilities in Papua New Guinea could be swamped within days.

The government has admitted that asylum seekers will be held in Australia for the time being as it races to expand PNG’s facilities and bring them up to United Nations-mandated standards on health and education provision.

27c) Aid budget concerns for PNG refugee scheme

By Online Editor
3:41 pm GMT+12, 24/07/2013, Australia

A leading Australian Aid organisation says it fears foreign aid funds may by syphoned away from traditional projects to fund the new Papua New Guinea refugee policy.

While funding for the detention and processing facilities will come from immigration, ActionAID says it’s the extra “sweeteners” of deal that need to be questioned.

Archie Law, Executive Director of ActionAID Australia told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat the Rudd Government needs to make clear its plans for funding Australia’s new deal with Papua New Guinea.

“I think the foreign minister’s comments yesterday that the work in PNG, as far as both processing and resettlement would not be financed by aid, goes some way to allaying concerns,” he said.

“But at the same time there’s talk there’s going to be more roads, they’re going to refurbish a new hospital, going to do work on university,

“This all sounds like extra work, and then the question is where’s that going to be resourced from?”

Law says a large chunk of the aid budget has contributed toward detention centres in Manus Island and Nauru.

“There’s precedence in that the centre’s in Manus Island and Nauru have both been resourced out of the aid budget,” he said.

“$375 million dollars that is meant to be aid has gone on establishing detention centres.”

Under the new deal announced on Friday, all asylum seekers who arrive by boat, without a visa, will be sent to Papua New Guinea and would never be settled in Australia.

27d) Australia wants more Pacific nations to host asylum seeker processing centres: Carr

By Online Editor
3:46 pm GMT+12, 24/07/2013, Solomon Islands

Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr says Australia is looking for another Pacific nation to host an offshore asylum seeker processing centre in addition to those already located in Papua New Guinea and Nauru.

Senator Carr has been holding talks with the prime minister of Solomon Islands, marking the end of Australia’s military involvement in the regional assistance mission to stop the Solomons’ slide into becoming a failed state a decade ago.

Under the plan announced by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on Friday, people arriving at Christmas Island will be processed offshore, but there are fears the existing centres on Nauru and PNG will not be big enough.

Senator Carr says it is up to Pacific nations to volunteer to help Australia and not for him to “twist anyone’s arms” to demand they participate.

“If, as it develops with Papua New Guinea, it appeals to other nations in the Pacific to talk to us about them participating, then we stand ready to engage with them,” he said.

“I’m not here to make a submission to the prime minister, I’m not here to raise it with him.

“But if it comes up because we’re talking about regional issues, I’ll most certainly explain that Australia is coping with a sharp spike in the number of people brought to our waters by people smugglers, and that this regional resettlement arrangement is a practical and humane solution to that.”

He says it is already on the record that Australia wants to talk to other nations in the Pacific about the regional resettlement arrangement.

“I’m not here to attempt to twist anyone’s arms or to mount a case,” he said.

“If other nations in the Pacific see the value in what we’re doing, especially as they participate in conferences and discussions about the impact of human trafficking and people smuggling, then we stand ready to talk to them about it.

“[Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo], like other leaders in the Pacific, can observe that our relationship with Papua New Guinea on regional resettlement works to the advantage of both Australia and PNG, and to the advantage of a more regular and human migration program, enabling Australia to do the things we want to do.

“That is, end the practice of people smugglers causing these disasters at sea, and enabling us to consider expanding further our humanitarian intake, drawing people from the camps around the world where they want a chance to come to Australia by regular means.

27e) PNG refugee plan: Border porous, says Springborg

By Online Editor
3:44 pm GMT+12, 24/07/2013, Australia

A “canoe, two plane trips and a taxi ride” is all that separates asylum seekers settled in Papua New Guinea “from western Sydney”, the Queensland Health Minister has claimed.

Lawrence Springborg said a federal government compensation package, designed to help offset the costs Queensland incurs treating Papua New Guinean nationals who legally cross the Torres Strait for health services, was “recognition” the Queensland-Papua New Guinea border could not be secured.

Springborg said the federal government had all but confirmed it was aware there was nothing stopping people illegally crossing into Australia from PNG “and going anywhere”, which he said revealed a major flaw in Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s PNG Regional Settlement Arrangement.

He said the “porous border” would provide a way for people smugglers to “continue their illegal trafficking of humans through a different route”.

“It [the border] is as porous as a spaghetti colander, it really is,” Springborg told a budget estimates hearing on Wednesday.

“At least in Mexico, they have a fence.”

Springborg said the federal government’s $18 million compensation package, approved on June 30 and to be paid over four years, was proof the Commonwealth knew the border could not be secured.

Springborg did not have the figures for how many people had illegally crossed into Australian territory from PNG, but said Torres Strait Island Regional Council Mayor Fred Gela had raised with him the issue of closing the border, fearing a TB outbreak.

Following a line laid down by Premier Campbell Newman on Saturday, Springborg said the state government’s stance was borne from concern.

“This warning is firstly about the seriousness we have in regards to the porous borders and the porous borders are putting Queensland and Queenslanders’ health at risk, there is no doubt about it,” Springborg said outside the estimates hearing.

“But it is also a very, very serious warning that once people come into the country through these lax borders, they can go anywhere and we have enough experience with that.”

The Torres Strait Treaty has allowed free movement, without the need for visas or passports, between Australia’s outlying territory and PNG for “traditional activities” since the mid-80s.

Over recent decades, sick Papua New Guineans have made the boat ride to the Torres Strait islands of Saibai and Boigu for treatment, usually for tuberculosis.  Those found to be the most ill have been flown to Cairns for further treatment.

Last June, the state government closed the island TB clinics citing advice from the World Health Organisation that the clinics “were actually making things worse”.

“The problem of course with regards to the TB clinics on Saibai and Boigu island was when these people came across from PNG, we had no way of properly treating them,” Queensland Health Minister Lawrence Springborg said.

“They would come over, they would get their medication, we couldn’t contain them, they weren’t our citizens, they would get into a canoe, they would go home, they wouldn’t take their medication properly and therefore we had a growth in multi-drug resistant TB, that’s why they were closed and an arrangement was entered into by the commonwealth government, to try and treat those PNG citizens in their own homeland.  Now that is also not working.


28a) Defending champs Solomon Islands stunned in Futsal opener

By Online Editor
1:06 pm GMT+12, 24/07/2013, New Zealand

The OFC Futsal Championship Invitational 2013 got underway at The Trusts Arena in Auckland, New Zealand with four goal-filled matches, including a 7-3 loss to New Zealand for defending champions Solomon Islands

The opening match of the tournament saw 2011 OFC Futsal Championship runners-up Tahiti take an early lead over Vanuatu with the first goal coming in the first 30 seconds courtesy of an on-form Mote Tino.

Vanuatu equalised mid-way through the first period and seemed happy to retain possession passing the ball around the Tahiti circle waiting for an opportunity to present itself. However the score remained locked at 1-1 going into the break.

Vanuatu returned to the court fired up and slipped two unanswered goals past substitute goalkeeper Teva Durot before Tahiti launched their counter-attack with eight minutes remaining. Tino knocked two goals in to earn his hat-trick before teammate Teivarii Kaiha got in on the action. However it was Tino who secured the win with a goal 28 seconds from time earning Tahiti a 5-3 victory.

Tahiti coach Heitapu Hunter was elated to get an early victory under the belt and was happy with the way his players responded to their pre-match stress.

“It was always the strategy to wait in the back and launch the counter attacks but against Vanuatu this didn’t work because they didn’t attack while we were waiting,” Hunter says. “When they were leading we had to go looking for the goals and that’s what I told the players. We aren’t used to defending like that but we also played with a lot of heart.”

Vanuatu coach Louis Dominique was disappointed with the loss but says his young charges played well, giving their all against a tough opponent.

“Most of the players are young and it’s their first tournament, and it’s my first tournament as a coach too. I think the boys have done well but there are a few things left to work on,” Dominique says.

The second match of the day saw AFC side Australia, fresh from an appearance at the 2012 FIFA Futsal World Cup in Thailand, take on a NZ Invitational squad.

The NZ Invitational side were always going to be up against it and Australia were soon in the lead thanks to a Mark Symington strike. The Invitational side defended well but still entered the break behind by three goals.

With a healthy cushion the Australians used the second half to trial the flying goalkeeper tactic they’d also called on against the Futsal Whites during last weekend’s Trans Tasman Cup, with captain Tobias Seeto assuming the role. It clearly worked as the Australians asserted their dominance netting six times in the second period to take a 9-0 victory.

Australian coach Steve Knight says his side still have a lot of things to work on due to their inexperience, with only a few of the team’s players having attended the World Cup.

“It’s an opportunity for us to bring some of the players that missed the cut for the World Cup and see how they go under some pressure,” Knight says. “The main thing we want to get better at is maintaining possession of the ball and then being able to capitalise on that possession.”

Invitational coach Simon Mead says he is proud of the side especially as they have only been together less than a week.

“We’re here to learn and become better players, some of these younger guys have a much bigger picture ahead of them with the World Cup qualifiers in a couple of years,” Mead says. “If we can give them international experience at this level then that’s what we’re here for.”

Match three had New Caledonia coming face-to-face with newcomers to the region Malaysia of AFC, who came out firing as they aimed to stamp an early mark on the match. Abu Hasan was the one to get the scoring underway as they jumped to a 4-0 lead. New Caledonia pulled one back thanks to Malik Paulet before Malaysia extended the lead to 5-1 through Nizam Mohd Ali before New Caledonia took the sides into the break with the score at 5-2.

Malaysia continued to dominate the second period netting two more before New Caledonia pulled them back with a goal to Yvan Pourouoro from a penalty. Malaysia found the back of the net once more for a final score of 8-3 to the Asian side.

New Caledonia co-coaches William Bret and Steeve Laigle were happy with their team’s performance despite a disappointing loss.

“Malaysia is a very strong team which has played in some big competitions. We haven’t had a chance to test our team against an international side yet so they’ve done well in the first international,” Bret says.

“We were missing some experience in the first half and by the second period the boys were starting to understand the level and the speed of the game and they made up for it,” Laigle adds.

Malaysia futsal technical director Marcelo Serpa Coelho says while happy with the result he is certain the side can do better.

“We have to take care of some little details for the rest of the competition but overall I think we did well and I’m happy,” Serpa Coelho says. “We play New Zealand next so we will need to prepare well for a tough game ahead.”

In the final match of the evening reigning Oceania champions Solomon Islands faced a New Zealand smarting from their three-match Trans Tasman Cup loss to Australia over the weekend. The Futsal Whites came out faster and more accurate on the ball than the Kurukuru, whose last international was a win over Guatemala in their final group match at the FIFA Futsal World Cup in November.

Dylan Manickum was a standout for the Kiwis as he earned a hat-trick in the first half to give his side a commanding 3-0 lead coming into the second period when he once again found the back of the net three minutes into play and again two minutes later.

The night only got worse for the Kurukuru when Jack Wetney was given his marching orders for a second bookable offence. New Zealand were quick to capitalise as James Vaughan slotted in the side’s sixth goal and they soon had their seventh through Kareem Osman.

Solomon Islands finally got into the game in the last minute of the match scoring three consecutive goals but it wasn’t enough to catch the Futsal Whites, who had created a comfortable lead for themselves, with the final score 7-3 in the Kiwis favour.

Solomon Islands coach Dickson Kadau says his side’s late arrival hampered their ability to prepare and get used to the court ahead of the match but conceded New Zealand came out looking to win.

“The big difference was that they always pressed us and played a very good game tactically, they used their target very well,” Kadau says. “The next match against New Caledonia will be tough but we now have to make sure we win that game.”

New Zealand coach Scott Gilligan was incredibly pleased his side could notch up a win after a tough string of international losses.

“We’re superbly happy, what can I say? It was a great game from us, we were 7-0 up and I think we lost our heads a bit at the end there but it was a fantastic performance,” Gilligan says. “I think that it helped that we had played a few games against Australia leading up to the tournament because Australia are much faster than most of the teams in Oceania.”

The OFC Futsal Championship Invitational 2013 continues today at The Trusts Arena in Auckland with another four action-packed matches on the schedule. Solomon Islands and New Caledonia are first on the card at 2pm followed by Tahiti and the NZ Invitational side at 4pm. Australia will then face Vanuatu at 6pm before Malaysia take on New Zealand at 8pm.

29a) Rugby Plus for Fijian ruggers

By Online Editor
1:04 pm GMT+12, 24/07/2013, Fiji

Rugby is more than just playing the sport — it’s to discipline and impact the nation through rugby.

That is the message Rugby Plus and Sports Chaplaincy is trying to convey to players and officials.

And how to develop better sports people both on and off the field — to have an invaluable contribution to the society by incorporating values they learnt in the sport.

Rugby Plus has conducted several workshops and clinics around the country since January.

They are part of the Rugby Plus program initiated by the Australian Rugby Union.

With specialists such as former Flying Fijians coach Ilivasi Tabua, Epeli Lagiloa, Pastor Lasarusa Nasenivalu and Waqa Baravilala of Island Breeze from Brisbane forming the group, Rugby Plus has attracted attention from various clubs around the country.

Last month, they returned from Cakaudrove and had already conducted clinics with top clubs such as Westsfield Babarians.

This week, they are in Ovalau helping out the Ovalau Rugby Union weeklong rugby festival.

RPSC director Lasarusa Nasenivalu said the program was to train players to be more than just rugby players.

“This program is here to help rugby players manage their lives both on and off the field,” he said.

“We want to mentor and teach them how to value their life apart from rugby alone. We want to help players build a good character and how to control their emotions.”

Nasenivalu said they had specialists to prepare players physically and spiritually and how to manage their resources well.

“We have Tabua who assists players about rugby, Lagiloa comes in the physical preparation and I help in the spiritual preparation.

“All of these complete a rugby player. We want them to have a good character off the field.

“We started in January and already we have gone around the West and the Northern divisions.

“We have returned from Vanuatu and more clubs and districts have shown interest to invite us.”

He said they had seen some fruits of their work.

“One player has got a contract in Melbourne but he calls us back to ask for advice on how to manage his money,” he added.

29b) Storm looming for NZ Warriors, Jason Bukuya

By Online Editor
1:00 pm GMT+12, 24/07/2013, Australia

When it comes to Sunday’s game against the Storm, Ngani Laumape is the only unsurprising change to the team.

A bigger issue is the future of Jayson Bukuya at the Warriors. Bukuya has signed for the club for next season.

However, Australian newspapers were yesterday reporting him as one of the eight Cronulla Sharks who has been in talks about accepting a six-month ban.

The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) is investigating whether performance-enhancing drugs were taken by players at the club in 2011.

The other players are Paul Gallen, Wade Graham, Nathan Gardner, Nathan Stapleton, Stewart Mills and the Auckland-born Matthew Wright.

The players have reportedly been offered deals which would result in them copping six-month bans in return for accepting these suspensions.

The Sharks players reportedly demanded that their current contracts be honoured while they serve out the bans, no-one gets sacked, a one-year extension for players coming off contract and a percentage of the salary increase for 2014.

Sharks captain Gallen is reported to have requested three State of Origin payments, at A$30,000 (NZ$35,000) each and an Anzac test payment of A$20,000, along with A$100,000 of sponsorship, plus two cars and a motorbike.

The players believe they are innocent victims in this saga.

If Bukuya was to serve a six-month suspension it would likely run over some of his time with the Warriors.

Warriors chief executive Wayne Scurrah declined to comment on Bukuya and said he hadn’t been contacted by ASADA.

Meanwhile, the NRL have announced 30 players will be interviewed by ASADA as part of their investigation and the Newcastle Knights have refused to confirm whether Kiwis stalwart Jeremy Smith is one of those players. Smith was with the Sharks in 2011.

Fairfax Media does not suggest any player has acted inappropriately.

There is plenty more water to run under the bridge yet with this story and of more pressing concern for the Warriors will be Sunday’s game against the Storm.

The come-from-behind 24-14 win over Wests Tigers on Friday kept the team in the hunt for a finals spot, but with Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk all back in the Storm side they’re a tough proposition.

The 20-year-old Laumape is likely to feature on the wing for the Warriors for the rest of the season, with Glen Fisiiahi out with a torn pectoral muscle that requires surgery.

“It’s a shattering end to the season for Glen and we all share his disappointment,” said Warriors head coach Matthew Elliott.

“He has been a key player for us but we also have great confidence in Ngani who has done a terrific job for us every time he has been called on at this level.

“Through Glen’s misfortune, Ngani now has the chance to put some games together.”

NZ WARRIORS: Kevin Locke, Ngani Laumape, Dane Nielsen, Konrad Hurrell, Manu Vatuvei, Thomas Leuluai, Shaun Johnson, Sam Rapira, Nathan Friend, Ben Matulino, Feleti Mateo, Simon Mannering (c), Elijah Taylor. Interchange: Suaia Matagi, Jacob Lillyman, Todd Lowrie, Dominique Peyroux.

30) Fiji Rugby Union clears air on women’s rugby

By Online Editor
1:16 pm GMT+12, 23/07/2013, Fiji

The Fiji Women’s Rugby Union is not a defunct body and is in operation according to the Fiji Rugby Union.

FRU chairman Filimone Waqabaca says the FWRU is in the process of sorting themselves out and they want this to be done as soon as possible especially after a stellar performance in the Rugby World Cup.

“No it’s not a defunct body, they are still very much active. They are re-organising themselves and they have been holding meetings. They are looking at a review of their constitution so it’s a happening body.”

FRU also expects administrative changes once the constitution is in place.

FWRU is hoping that some confusion which exists between them and the national team management is over for the betterment of the game.

Meanwhile,  the Fiji Deaf team is preparing to depart for Bulgaria for the Deaflympic Games at the end of the month.

The 13-member team will be participating in table tennis and beach volleyball.

Fiji Association of the Deaf official Gayle Seru says some members of the squad have participated in recent tournaments such as the Fiji Games, which has served them well for the upcoming tournament.

“With participation at national and regional games, the team have had some exposure and we believe they are now ready for the Deaflympic Games.”

The team is made up of secondary school students, with experienced reps Vivienne Bale and Philip Wing expected to lead the side.


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