Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 839

MELANESIA:

1) Solomon Islands PM highlights importance of MSG

By Online Editor
10:38 am GMT+12, 29/07/2013, Solomon Islands

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo has highlighted the importance of strengthening the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) and its visions.

Lilo told his Vanuatu Counterpart Moana Carcasses Kalosil when the Vanuatu Prime Minister paid a courtesy call to the Prime Minister’s Office last Friday.

Prime Minister Lilo said it was important that MSG countries stand as a strong regional group in the region to help the plight of the Melanesian people.

Lilo also said that Vanuatu and Solomon Islands also share close ties through their ancestors who have connections to people from Solomon Islands.

“I believe through these connections both countries could build more tangible programs to help facilitate trade between two countries,” he said.

Prime Minister Lilo also informed his counterpart that the Government was now in the process of upgrading two airports in Temotu Province that could open up links between the two countries.

Vanuatu Prime Minister Kalosil in response also sounded similar sentiments that MSG should stand as a blueprint in the region.

Kalosil also highlighted the need to strengthen trade ties between the two countries.

“Vanuatu will always be a friend and brother to Solomon Islands,” the Vanuatu Prime Minister said.

Kalosil has also extended an invitation to Prime Minister Lilo to visit Port Vila.

Meanwhile, the Vanuatu Prime Minister has congratulated the Government and people of Solomon Islands on the RAMSI 10th anniversary celebrations.
SOURCE: SOLOMON STAR/PACNEWS

2) Indonesia called on to speak with West Papuans to identify issues

Posted at 07:24 on 29 July, 2013 UTC

A civil society leader has made a plea for Indonesia to dialogue with West Papuans to ensure their basic rights such as freedom of expression.

The comment from the head of the Papua Peace Network, Neles Tebay, comes after the UN Human rights Committee highlighted an ongoing failure to protect civil and political rights in West Papua.

At the committee’s recent Indonesia hearing, the Indonesian government delegation to the committee responded by saying that freedom of expression is not absolute.

Fr Tebay says Indonesia needs to understand the social and political context of West Papuan independence calls.

He says that’s why dialogue is imperative.

“For the government and indigenous West Papuans to jointly identify the problem and its root causes and jointly discover independent solutions so that the result of the dialogue would be that every person living in West Papua can express freely its opinion.”

Neles Tebay

Radio New Zealand International

3) Solid evidence on alleged Papua massacre still not available

Posted at 03:57 on 29 July, 2013 UTC

The West Papua-based Human rights group Elsham says it remains difficult to verify reports of a massacre by Indonesian security forces in a remote part of Papua province.

Reports surfaced in May that around forty West Papuans had been executed by military or paramilitary police in Papua’s Puncak Jaya region.

The reports were dismissed by Indonesian authorities.

Rights groups have little access to the remote region which is controlled by military and Kopassus troops.

Elsham’s Paul Mambrasar admits there remains a lack of hard evidence.

“A lot of sources quoted information from church people or people who came out from those areas, Tingginambut and in Mulia. That is why I said we cannot ascertain or confirm whether it’s the military or in this case Kopassus… But certainly there is no doubt that some killings took place there.”

Paul Mambrasar.

Radio New Zealand International

4) Papua New Guinea has a new Chief Ombudsman

Posted at 07:24 on 29 July, 2013 UTC

After a long vacancy in the position, Papua New Guinea has a new Chief Ombudsman.

Rigo Lua has been sworn in as the permanent head of the Ombudsman Commission – a position left vacant when his predecessor, Chronox Manek, died in October.

The Chair of Transparency International Papua New Guinea, Lawrence Stephens says the corruption watchdog is pleased the position has finally been filled after the ten-month wait and he hopes the new Chief Ombudsman will consider the good examples set by some of his predecessors and give thought to what is needed now. He spoke to Beverley Tse.

LAWRENCE STEPHENS: I’m very happy that it’s finally happened, because there had been a long delay since the death of the previous Chief Ombudsman. We were becoming concerned at the delay, and were pleased when there was finally an appointment made.

BEVERLEY TSE: What do you know of this new Chief Ombudsman?

LS: I understand that he comes from a background in the public service and has been working most recently, we understand, in the public service commission. We’re not aware of wider experience than that, although we take it he must have. He’s not someone well-known in the general community, but clearly must be well-known in the public service.

BT: Now, just going back to the fact that it’s taken a while for a new Chief Ombudsman to be sworn in, is this a reflection of the government perhaps not being serious enough about this role of the Chief Ombudsman?

LS: One of the problems we have in Papua New Guinea with many of the things that people take for granted – ’That should have happened’ or ’This should have happened’ – is that we don’t get around to it. It’s difficult to judge why there was such a long delay in this appointment. It could be seen as deliberate, but probably more realistic to see it as just one of those examples of inefficiency leading to something not taking place.

BT: Do you think the fact that there’s been a long vacancy for this position, has that been detrimental in any way?

LS: It is pretty difficult to run an ombudsman commission of three people with only two in office, so I imagine that there have been many difficulties for the people in the office as a result of the absence of one person or one occupant of these positions.

BT: And it seems this position needs someone who’s going to be tough and strong in their stance, to tackle the issues of the country. So what sort of characteristics or what do you think this new Chief Ombudsman needs to do in order to do his job well?

LS: Probably examine the tradition that’s been there before him. We’ve had some marvellous people in that role. I imagine that Mr Lua could look back at some of the records from those times and give some thought to what we really need now.

Radio New Zealand International

5) Construction of new Provincial administration complex launched in Mt Hagen

By Online Editor
1:16 pm GMT+12, 29/07/2013, Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill has officially launched the construction of a K120 million (US$52 million) provincial administration complex for the Western Highlands.

The former provincial administration complex called the Kapal Haus was gutted by fire in 2009.

When performing the ground breaking ceremony in Mount Hagen yesterday O’Neill appealed to the Western Highlanders to look after infrastructure developments in the province as they come once in a lifetime.

The ceremony was also attended by former prime ministers, Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare, Sir Julius Chan, Sir Rabbie Namaliu and Paias Wingti.

The Provincial Government declared a public holiday for the province so that the public can turn up to witness the occasion. More than 5,000 people witnessed the occasion.

O’Neill also committed K50m (US$21.7 million) for several road projects in Western Highlands including the four-lane highway to Togoba.

Today, the delegation will witness the launch of several projects in Dei district hosted by local MP Weslyn Kundi.

The projects include the upgrading of two primary schools to high school level and the upgrading of the Kompna Health Centre to a district hospital.
SOURCE: NBC PNG /PACNEWS

6) PNG’s Founding Prime Ministers Give O’Neill Blessing
Wingti, Chan, Namaliu, Somare ‘pass on baton’ at Mt. Hagen ceremony

By Isaac Nicholas

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, July 29, 2013) – Papua New Guinea’s four founding Prime Ministers have publicly bestowed their blessing on current Prime Minister Peter O’Neill to lead the country into the next era of PNG politics.

The historical event happened in Mt Hagen on the weekend which for the first time saw the founding Prime Ministers including Western Highlands Governor Paias Wingti, New Ireland Governor Sir Julius Chan, former PM Sir Rabbie Namaliu and founding father of the nation Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare all present to pass on the baton to current Prime Minister Peter O’Neill to lead the nation.

The event was witnessed by one of the biggest crowd in Mt Hagen on Saturday that has received high commendations from leaders including Finance Minister and Member for Tari Pori James Marape.

The Tari-Pori MP offered his commendations to Governor Wingti for showing humility in staging a public event that nationally symbolises a combine pass of blessing to Prime Minister O’Neill.

Mr Marape said the manner in which a great leader like Mr Wingti who passed on the baton of national leadership in front of the highlands’ biggest gathered crowd, leaves an imprint on the minds of all that truly national leadership has been passed on to Prime Minister O’Neill. “And for me as a leader of Hela and Southern Highlands province — seeing the warmth and kind gesture of respect to our leader PM O’Neill — would like to thank Governor Wingti for staging this event that will go down in history as the time national leadership transition was publicly transferred by our independence era Prime Ministers to the leader who will us now into the modern era for PNG.” Mr Marape said.

“One message that was apparent from the speech of the former Prime Minister (Wingti) was for the nation and our people to unite and respect leadership in place for development to take place.”

“If our leaders can call for stability and unity amongst our people, it is now incumbent for us all to rally behind leadership and allow leadership to fund our development plan.”

“The greatest want of this nation right now is political stability. When that stability is presented — then will we call for performance accountability of our leaders.”

“I have great confidence in the ability of our Prime Minister to lead our country and I ask for all of us to follow the example of our founding fathers.”

“Truly we are facing a new era of politics and a future — where economic growth and prosperity looks more certain and politicians are showing less greed for the office of Prime Ministership.”

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

7) PNG Election Commission May ‘Nullify’ Highlands Elections
High level of ballot highjacking, violence in local level polls

By Shirlyn Belden

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, July 29, 2013) – Electoral Commissioner Andrew Trawen is under pressure to nullify the 2013 local level government elections in the Highlands region be­cause of illegal activities and malpractice.

A statement from the Electoral Commission yesterday said Trawen was seriously considering the possibility of nullifying the elections in the affected LLGs, electorates and provinces and withdrawing the election writs under Section 96A Part XIA (Election Cancellations and Failure) of the Organic Law on National and Local-level Governments.

The provinces high with discrepancies are Southern Highlands, Western Highlands and Jiwaka.

The statement indicated that “pressure is mounting on the commission to exercise its powers under the Organic Law on national and LLG election to take appropriate action on LLGs and electorates in the Highlands where undemocratic activities in recent days and weeks have jeopardised the theme of free, fair and safe elections”.

Attempts to get comments from Trawen yesterday were unsuccessful.

According to the statement, the electoral officers on the ground in these provinces reported that there were high incidences of hijacking and destroying of polling booths by candidates in Poroma and Erave LLGs in Southern Highlands, uncontrolled election related violence resulting in destruction of ballot papers and continued fights interferring with polling postponed in Mul, Hagen urban and rural, Kotna and Baiyer LLGs.

In Jiwaka, ballot boxes had been hijacked in three wards at Nondugl LLG but the police pursued the perpetrators and retrieved them.

The National: www.thenational.com.pg/

8) Vanuatu Prime Minister Pays Courtesy Call To Solomon Islands
PMs Lilo, Carcasses discuss historical close ties, strengthening MSG

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, July 29, 2013) – Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo has highlighted the importance of strengthening the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) and its visions.

Mr Lilo told his Vanuatu Counterpart Moana Carcasses Kalosil when the Vanuatu Prime Minister paid a courtesy call to the Prime Minister’s Office last Friday.

Prime Minister Lilo said it was important that MSG countries stand as a strong regional group in the region to help the plight of the Melanesian people.

Mr Lilo also said that Vanuatu and Solomon Islands also share close ties through their ancestors who have connections to people from Solomon Islands.

“I believe through these connections both countries could build more tangible programs to help facilitate trade between two countries,” he said.

Prime Minister Lilo also informed his counterpart that the Government was now in the process of upgrading two airports in Temotu Province that could open up links between the two countries.

Vanuatu Prime Minister Kalosil in response also sounded similar sentiments that MSG should stand as a blueprint in the region.

Mr Kalosil also highlighted the need to strengthen trade ties between the two countries.

“Vanuatu will always be a friend and brother to Solomon Islands,” the Vanuatu Prime Minister said.

Mr Kalosil has also extended an invitation to Prime Minister Lilo to visit Port Vila.

Meanwhile, the Vanuatu Prime Minister has congratulated the Government and people of Solomon Islands on the RAMSI 10th anniversary celebrations.

Solomon Star

9) Children’s Day Kicks Off Vanuatu Independence Celebration
Parade through Freshwota area included 100 children

By Thompson Marango

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, July 26, 2013) – Independence celebration activities have begun for Freshwota area yesterday morning as over 100 children from the area, from very young babies carried by their parents to secondary school kids took part in a parade to celebrate Children’s Day.

The colourful parade led by a Seventh Day Adventist boys’ brass band started near Survival School through Malasitapu Presbyterian Church to Fresh Water Park then back to Fresh Water Field where the celebration program was officially launched.

Joined by parents, community leaders of the area the children paraded around the celebration site before gathering in front of the AVL Stage where invited guests including Acting Prime Minister, Edward Natapei, delivered speeches to mark the Children’s Day, and also the opening of celebration activities in the area.

The official opening was followed by a number of activities including caking and sharing of cake and food for the children and other social and cultural activities.

As of yesterday food stalls in the celebration site were also opened and numerous activities including music and sports will be staged every day until July 30.

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

10) New Caledonia’s MPC holds inaugural Congress

Posted at 03:57 on 29 July, 2013 UTC

New Caledonia’s recently formed MPC Party has held its inaugural Congress in a bid to foster a united stance for the territory to remain French as it nears a possible referendum on independence.

The party is the result of a split in March within the Rassemblement-UMP Party.

Its leader, Gael Yanno, who is a former member of the French National Assembly, says it has secured the support of France’s opposition UMP Party, whose leader, Jean-Francois Cope, joined the Noumea gathering via video link.

Mr Yanno has told local television that his party envisages the decolonisation process which will see New Caledonia federated with France, similar to the state of Queensland being part of Australia.

He says he is of the view that key sovereign powers should stay with France.

Mr Yanno says should there be no consensus solution on the territory’s institutional future, he would support a referendum for or against independence.

He says a majority of New Caledonians want to remain French.

Radio New Zealand International

11) French PM criticises New Caledonia banks on fees

Posted at 21:14 on 28 July, 2013 UTC

The French prime minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, has strongly criticised the banks in New Caledonia for charging exorbitant fees and warned them that they may face stricter regulation.

Speaking during his stay in Noumea, Mr Ayrault said he was given figures which show the fees are up to five times higher than in France.

In May, a 12-day general strike against the high cost of living ended with a government-backed agreement for a price freeze until the end of next year.

Addressing unions and employers, Mr Ayrault said tax exemption provisions would be maintained but urged that this should be channelled into social housing as thousands in the Noumea area live in shantytowns.

During his New Caledonia visit, the French prime minister confirmed the support by Paris for the final phase of the Noumea Accord, which provides for a self-determination referendum between 2014 and 2018.

Radio New Zealand International

12) Fiji Constitution out next month

By Online Editor
3:39 pm GMT+12, 29/07/2013, Australia

Fiji will unveil its new constitution next month.

The announcement has been made by Foreign Affairs Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola at the 20th Australia-Fiji Business Forum in Brisbane Australia.

Ratu Inoke told delegates at the forum that the new constitution would guarantee “for the time, political, economic and social rights for all Fijians, including access to basic services”.

At the same time Ratu Inoke has taken a swipe at Canberra and Wellington.

“We imagined – perhaps naively – that our bigger neighbours – Australia and New Zealand – might at least try to understand what we were trying to achieve. But they turned their backs on us and set about trying to damage the country in the hope that they would destroy our reformist government,” he said.

“It is not easy to forget Australia’s efforts at the United Nations to bring an end to our three-decade long commitment to UN peacekeeping.

“It is not easy to forget the Australian Government’s action in severing our access to loans from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.

“It is not easy to forget the travel bans that are still in place and have led to inconvenience and heartbreak and deprived us of the ability to attract the best people to run our government departments and even serve on the boards of our public enterprises and utilities.”

He says Australia-Fiji relations have taken a new turn.

“When Australia stops trying to damage Fiji – which it is still doing – only then can we can begin to rebuild the political relationship, including the restoration of full diplomatic ties. But it will be a different relationship. The events of the past seven years have made it so,” he said.

“When it comes to global and regional politics, we have taken a different path and forged new relationships with countries that proved to be more understanding and less prescriptive, who understood what we were doing rather than telling us what to do.

“Fiji no longer looks to just Australia and New Zealand as our natural allies and protectors, we look to the world. Jolted from our complacency by the doors that were slammed in our faces, we looked North – to the great powers of Asia, especially China, India and Indonesia and more recently to Russia. We looked South, to the vast array of nations, big and small, that make up the developing world and we currently chair the G77, the biggest voting bloc at the United Nations. And we looked to our Melanesian neighbours, to forge closer ties with them and use our collective strength to make our voices heard in global forums and secure better trading deals for us all.

“So while whoever wins the Fijian election next year will doubtless find a more accommodating attitude in Canberra, on the Fijian side our attitudes have changed irrevocably.

“We are keen to rebuild the relationship but not on the same basis. We want mutual understanding and respect and to be regarded as equals, just as we pursue all of our international relationships under our overarching policy to be “friends to all”.”
SOURCE: FIJI SUN/PACNEWS

13) Fiji Sugar Workers Vote To Strike
Wages have declined 40% in seven years

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, July 29, 2013) – The Fiji Sugar and General Workers’ Union says two thirds of members that are sugar mill workers have voted to take strike action.

The union leadership says the workers earn below the poverty line, with wages declining by 40 percent in real terms in the past seven years.

It says when it held secret ballots of workers last week the Fiji Sugar Corporation threatened workers while soldiers and police were at all polling stations, sometimes interferring in the voting process.

The union says it has a strong endorsement for industrial action and will now consider how to proceed.

Last week, the Corporation agreed to give workers a rise of 5.3 percent.

Also last week the attorney general, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum accused the general secretary of the union, Felix Anthony, of abusing his power in a vain attempt to survive at a time when his relevance in the economy has become questionable.

Mr Anthony says he will not respond to personal attacks but rather talk about what are straight forward issues concerning the plight of the sugar mill workers.

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

POLYNESIA:

14) Tonga Lawmakers Debate Anticorruption Measures
Parliamentary debate leads to deferral of several proposed bills

NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, July 26, 2013) – Tonga’s lawmakers are struggling to agree on what kind of anti-corruption mechanism might be put in place for Tonga.

After three days of vociferous debate over three bills the Tongan Parliament on July 24 deferred the bills back to its Standing Law Committee for further amendments:

Good Governance Commission Bill,
Commissioner for Public Relations Bill and
Anti-Corruption Commission Bill.

The three bills were originally tabled into the House by government in November 2012, and had gone out with three other bills for public consultations.

An intensive consultation program was scheduled to be held in 16 locations throughout Tongatapu, ‘Eua, Ha’apai and Vava’u between November 2012 and January 2013.

If enacted, the Good Governance Commission Bill would mean the termination of the Public Relations Act 2008 and the Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2007, and the formation of a Good Governance Commission with a number of divisions, including an Anti-corruption Division and an Ombudsman Division.

Public consultations

A report of the public consultation meetings was presented to the House by the parliamentary Standing Law Committee, when the House reconvened on Monday, 22 July, after about a month’s break which included a two-weeks tour by the People’s Representatives of their constituenciess.

The six Bills that were presented for public consultation were:

Good Governance Commission Bill 2012,
Commissioner for Public Relations (Amendment) Bill 2012,
Anti-Corruption Commission (Amendment) Bill 2012,
Legal Aid Bill 2012,
Water Resources Bill 2012
Bill for an Act to amend the Constitution 2012.

Armed with a strong anti-bills reaction from the public, the People’s Representatives were empowered to make the wishes of “the people” come true.

The point of contention by the People’s Representatives was that the Anti-corruption Commissioner and the Ombudsman would come under the authority of the Good Governance Commission and not be independent.

It so happened that only the People’s Representatives attended these consultation meetings, and not one Cabinet Minister had attended any of the public consultations.

The Acting Prime Minister, Hon. Samiu Vaipulu on the behalf of Cabinet, pointed out that the decision by government to introduce the Good Governance Commission Bill, came after a regional meeting that was held in Vava’u on Good Governance last year, and was based on financial considerations. He said that though Australia funded the drafting of the Anti-corruption Commission Act and would pay for the salary of the Anti-corruption Commissioner, but the Tongan government would have to pay the salary in the future.

He also reminded the House that Australia does not have an Anti-corruption Commission Act.

When the Good Governance Commission Bill was presented to the House in November 2012, the office of the Attorney General pointed out that both the proposed Anti-corruption Division and an Ombudsman Division had the same needs for investigators, enforcement, monitoring, and specialized accounting skills, and if combined “then they will all have a proper job to do, directed and supervised centrally, rather than numbers of separate offices all doing similar things at a great expense and struggling on a Tongan budget.”

This week at the end of three days of debate, the three bills were returned to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Legislation for further amendments.

Matangi Tonga Magazine: www.matangitonga.to/home/

15) Samoa Finance Ministry Releases 5 Year Sector Plan
Plan to cost millions, meant to achieve ‘macroeconomic stability’

By Sophie Budvietas

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, July 28, 2013) – The Ministry of Finance launched its five year sector plan this week – a plan that will cost the taxpayers millions over the next five years.

In its foreword, Minister of Finance, Faumuina Tiatia Liuga says the development of sector plans is one of the key Government initiative implemented to ensure sector priorities, issues and challenges are considered in a coordinated and holistic manner.

“The Finance Sector Plan for the period 2013/14 – 2017/2018 which is the first ever plan for the finance sector is intended to serve that purpose,” he says. “It is a continuation of the reform program to ensure that public finances and the operation of finance related institutions do support the overall goal of macroeconomic stability.

“The overall goal of the Finance Sector is to support overall macroeconomic stability through strengthening public finance management systems and supportive fiscal policies, an effective regulation of banks and other private financial institutions, and a competitive external sector.

“The development of an innovative and competitive capital market in Samoa is one of the key outcomes to be pursued during the plan period.

“Without a doubt, an effective and efficient finance sector is a necessary and sufficient condition for financial stability in any economy regardless of scale.”

The Minister says the Plan was approved by Cabinet in December 2010.

“A Finance Sector Advisory Committee was established to oversee the development of the Plan involving the Ministry of Finance, the Central Bank of Samoa, the Ministry for Revenue, the Samoa Bureau of Statistics, and the Audit Office,” he says.

“I am pleased to note that this Plan is the product of extensive consultations with stakeholders from within and outside the finance sector.

“I acknowledge the contributions everyone has made towards the preparation of the Plan.”

He says from a cursory look at it, I can say that this is indeed a very good start given this is the first time.

“Like any other plan, lessons will be learnt during the implementation stage,” he says.

“That said, the Plan will be reviewed annually to provide the opportunity to review progress and performance and to recommend necessary changes to ensure the Plan remains relevant and responsive to current and emerging developmental challenges.

“I acknowledge the support of our development partners towards the preparation of this Plan. And I call on all stakeholders and partners for their continued support during implementation to ensure this Finance Sector Plan can contribute positively to the development of Samoa.”

Reading further into the report the executive summary reads the Government supports ongoing reforms in public financial management and in the financial sector.

It also highlights some of the “key” reforms implemented in the past two decades, including the introduction of VAGST in 1994, the sector liberalisation reforms in 1997/98, the tariff, tax and revenue reforms introduced in 1997/98 and the Public Finance Management Act 2001.

“Since 2008, the Ministry of Finance in collaboration with the Audit Office and the Ministry for Revenue has been implementing the Public Finance Management Reform Plan (PFMRP),” the report reads.

“In December 2010 the 2nd Phase of the PFM Reform Plan, 2011 -2013 was submitted to Cabinet for approval together with a proposal to form an expanded higher level committee [Finance Sector Advisory Committee) to oversee the development of an expanded scope of the Finance Sector Plan.

“Incorporating the roles of the Ministry of Finance, the Central Bank of Samoa, the Ministry for Revenue, the Samoa Bureau of Statistics; and the Audit Office.”

According to the report, the Finance Sector covers public finance management (PFM) systems [including revenue management and external audit), management of monetary policy; and the operations of commercial banks and other non-bank financial institutions; building a stable external sector position to ensure macroeconomic stability, whilst at the same time building financial institutions and systems which are resilient, efficient and competitive and proactive to stimulate, support and sustain inclusive economic growth for Samoa.

“All elements of the Finance Sector rely heavily on timely and accurate statisticsp roduced by the Samoa Bureau of Statistics,” according to the report.

The summary also reads that a Finance Sector Performance Assessment was carried out.

“The Samoa economy continues to face uncertainties in the rapidly changing global financial and economic environment, with high vulnerability to natural disasters such as the 2009 tsunami,” the report reads in regards to key findings from document review and consultations.

“Plus growing concerns about the effectiveness of the special external development financial mechanisms and systems to stimulate and sustain economic growth.

“These concerns have again highlighted the need to continually re-examine the appropriateness and effectiveness of current macroeconomic policies and key fiscal, monetary.

“And external strategies while at the same time providing an environment supportive of developing the financial institutions and systems which are critical to achieving sustainable economic growth and stability in the longer term.”

The report’s summary provides a “Sector Framework of Action” which it says is to address the identified opportunities and constraints in the sector, the framework of action for 2013/14-2017/18.

Focusing “on the overarching development goal ‘to strengthen public finance management systems, provide effective regulation of banks and other private financial institutions, and to enhance competitiveness of Samoa’s external sector to achieve and sustain inclusive growth and macroeconomic stability’,” the report reads.

“A prioritised 5-year programme based on the three following key objectives provides a roadmap aimed at achieving the overall goal,” the summary reads.

“Development of a relevant, effective and sustainable fiscal position, development of relevant, effective and sustainable financial institutions and supportive monetary policies, and development of relevant and effective institutional and policy frameworks for a competitive and stable external position.”

The cost for the delivery of this plan will be SAT 42.6 million for new development initiatives and an estimated SAT 42.2 million per annum for the ongoing running sector costs, according to the report.

“The new development initiatives are inclusive of national and project funds against total committed resources of about SAT 36.98 million,” the report reads.

“Approximately 72 per cent of the committed resource envelope is provided through AusAID and New Zealand budget based support which, together with GOS funding makes up around 80 per cent of national funding commitments.”

According to the report, the summary of key programme expenditure is: an enhanced fiscal sustainability framework to guide and sustain fiscal developments will cost roughly SAT 35.4 million over the next five years; Improved monetary and financial stability to sustain monetary developments will cost the sector approximately SAT 6.2 million over the next five years; and Enhanced external position to increase access and improved provision of external resources will cost the sector approximately SAT 1.1 million over five years.

“Based on the level of resources available and planned sector expenditures over the next five years, the sector will face moderately significant funding gaps from 2014-15 onwards,” the report reads.

“The extent of funding gaps will be reviewed at least annually to take account of further initiatives that have not yet been identified, which is particularly the case in the latter years of the Plan where further initiatives are likely to emerge based on developing needs.”
Samoa Observer: www.samoaobserver.ws/

16) Weak Samoa Opposition Party Positive About Future Prospects
Palusalue Fa‘apo looks forward to strong showing by Tautau in 2015

By Sophie Budvietas

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, July 27, 2013) – With only two and a half years until the next General Election, Palusalue Fa’apo II believes he can lead his party to victory from their new Tautua headquarters.

Things are looking up for the Party which had almost no presence at the 2010 election, losing six potential candidates to the Human Rights Protection Party.

“It is going to be hard, it’s going to be very hard,” he says of the task ahead.

“(But) we are very fortunate now that we are established. Before we did not have any chance – I believe we have achieved so much in these two and a half years.

“We will be able to prove to the country what we stand for and also our role as the opposition to ensure that we are recognised as the alternative government.”

The first step towards this recognition – a brand new block of land provided by the Government in Vaitele for the Party headquarters.

Palusalue said the request was put in for the land at the start of the last term of Parliament.

“They came through with an ideal piece of land for our head office and the centre for the Tautua,” he said. “We are just finalising the lease now and we are very happy with that.

“I believe we will be able to have an office up and running by the end of this year.

“I want to express my appreciation to the Samoan government and to the Prime Minister for leasing us this land for our head office.”

He says they will use their new headquarters as a campaign centre for the upcoming election.

“We should be able to work from there,” says Palusalue.

Now fielding 12 members the Party is gathering strength.

“(We are now) made up of very professional people,” he said.

“They have their own principles to protect and I believe that we will build on this foundation and we will be able to get more candidates for the next general election.”

Palusalue touched on the lead up to the last election saying there were six or seven candidates that are now within the HRPP that were supposed to be with the Tautua.

“But the government has the power to offer them incentives – a new car, an associate minister position, telephone, travel and all this and they ended up switching to government before the election,” he said.

“So we believe we must work on that to ensure we have candidates available for us.

“In terms of their principles and whatever they think contribute for the benefit of this country, not to come here and get the new car and pay rise and all these incentives.

“But we want is what we’ve got now (speaking about the current members) – we want these people to come here with their principles intact.”

Palusalue said for now the Party will focus on moving forward, working on the foundation they have built.

“In our role as the opposition trying to raise these issues with the government,” he said.

“To promote ourselves, also work on our manifesto try and to win then next election.

“(It’s) important because now the people are listening.

“Even though it’s very hard for us because the government has employed a lot of top chiefs from every village in terms of their advisory roles, however, we can see the cracks within the government now within the HRPP party so we take full advantage of that.

“We will win the next election. That is why it is very important for us to perform and to ensure that our role is recognised by the people.

“But I believe God will appoint whoever will be the next government, if it is not us then maybe it is not God’s will [for us to govern].”
Samoa Observer: www.samoaobserver.ws/

17) Am. Samoa Governor: Fisheries, Construction Key To Economic Growth
Lolo address Global economic trends in budget letter

By Joyetter Feagaimaalii-Luamanu

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, July 27, 2013) – The Global economic forecast remains guarded even though signs of economic recovery are being experienced, said Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga in his cover letter for the budget sent to the Fono earlier this week. He noted the political unrest in the Middle East, the potential of faltering European economies and a slowing of China’s economy; dampening the forecast for economic growth.

“On the Federal level, the Congress and the President are still at odds on how to address the national debt, which signals a continuation of tight fiscal policies and that creates further uncertainty with respect to federal funding. The effects of sequestration have significantly impacted our fiscal year 2014 financial plan, shifting some of the financial burden on to local revenues and away from Federal grants.”

According to Lolo, in spite of international political and financial trends, at a local level there is resurgence in the fisheries industry and that is a positive indicator that the local economy may be headed in the right direction. “We must be aware, however of aggressive investments in fisheries development by China and European countries which continue to threaten the competitive advantage of our canneries.

Because of the unilateral application of the federal minimum wage, it will be necessary to secure federal incentives to safeguard the competitive advantage of our canneries, said Gov Lolo.

He further noted that capital injections into the economy as outlined in this budget plan, through construction projects targeting improvements in our basic infrastructure, would stimulate economic activity in the construction industry. “This will translate into the creation of jobs that will in turn increase levels of personal consumption, along with increasing government revenues through personal and business taxes.”

According to the cover letter, direct employment initiatives in the next FY will contribute to the growth of consumption, which will in turn strengthen business sales, and this can lead to the potential for higher tax collections due to increased profits and expanded payrolls. “More importantly, business confidence will improve, which could spur new investment.”

“The government will aggressively pursue the implementation of its economic development program with a focus on promoting import substitution to reduce financial leakage resulting from our high reliance on imports. Import substitution increases the multiplier effect of dollars spent on the local economy which contributes to stimulating other economic activities within the private sector.”

According to the cover letter, the recently announced establishment of a coalition among the major foreign-owned businesses operating in American Samoa (led by the canneries and the shipping lines) to collaborate with the government and congressman is a major positive development. “It will take all of us working together to generate greater sensitivity from the congress with regard to the creation of effective incentive schemes to convert American Samoa into a more desirable investment venue,” the governor wrote.

“This signifies a new mindset and the acknowledgement that we must unite and collaborate on promoting the development of our economy,” said Governor Lolo. He also noted that he established an economic development implementation plan task force targeted to complete their work within 120 days and upon completion its report will be submitted to the Territorial Planning Commission and the Legislature for review and formal adoption.

Lolo said this Legislatively approved economic development plan will then be formally transmitted to the Department of Interior and to the Congress of the United States.

Also included in the cover letter is a total number of ASG positions for FY 2014 of 6,533 in contrast to 6,205 in FY 2013 and this reflects an increase of 238 positions or 3.78%.

The change results from an increase in the number of contract positions by 198 and an increase in career service positions of 40. The increase in contract positions reflects the commitment to place political positions on contracts to avoid necessary growth in budget as career service positions are protect by the career service system.

Governor Lolo in his cover letter noted the overall goal of the financial plan is to aggressively advance the move toward self-sufficiency and self-reliance by forcefully expanding the economy with the underlying intention that jobs will be created.

“For 113 years since joining the American family, we have placed too much stock on expecting the Federal Government to do for us what we should be doing ourselves. This change of mindset is reflected in the forceful posture in which FY 2014’s financial plan has been developed,” said Governor Lolo.

The Samoa News: http://www.samoanews.com/

MICRONESIA:

18) U.S. Military Eyes 50-Year Lease Around Saipan Airport, Seaport
CNMI official prefer location on Tinian

By Haidee V. Eugenio

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, July 25, 2013) – The U.S. military is eyeing at least a 50-year lease of lands within and around the Saipan airport and seaport covering some 33 acres for a U.S. Air Force alternative airfield on Saipan. CNMI officials, however, insist on having the divert airfield on Tinian, barely a few weeks before the release of a final environmental impact statement, officials confirmed with Saipan Tribune.

Although the EIS and the Record of Decision have yet to be released, the U.S. Air Force’s Legislative Liaison said the Air Force still prefers to build the divert airfield on Saipan and that “the phases cannot be separated between two different locations” such as Saipan and Tinian.

Some of the lands on Saipan that the military plans to lease are part of historic sites, including the pre-war Japanese airfield in As Lito.

Many of the Saipan lands being eyed for lease, however, are not being used right now.

Two-thirds of public lands on Tinian are already leased to the U.S. Department of Defense for 99 years.

“A planned 50-year land lease by the military on Saipan is something that the CNMI is carefully reviewing. There are legal questions, and questions about impacts on the commercial activities at the airport, the environment and mitigation, historic sites and social impacts,” Lands and Natural Resources Secretary Arnold Palacios told Saipan Tribune when sought for comment yesterday.

Palacios, along with other officials, said the CNMI, particularly the Commonwealth Ports Authority and the Department of Public Lands, has not decided yet on any military plan to lease Saipan lands.

Press secretary Angel Demapan, in responding to Saipan Tribune questions yesterday, said the administration would like further discussion on this with all the stakeholders, “including the people of the Commonwealth and most especially the residents of Koblerville and Dandan.”

“There is no commitment at this point. The administration will exercise due diligence in any discussion of this nature to ensure that the concerns of the community are prioritized before a final decision is made,” Demapan said.

As to whether Covenant 902 talks could be invoked, Demapan said, “All options are on the table at this time.”

Palacios said a lot of questions were raised during last week’s briefings, including the continued insistence to put a divert airfield on Saipan rather than on Tinian, but the military representatives who met with CNMI officials were not in a position to answer many of those questions.

Other questions included whether CPA or the CNMI people want to lock down expansion of the Saipan airport for 50 years, and who and how will the decision to lease these lands be made, and whether the Legislature, for example, would have a role in this.

The military has yet to formally request a 50-year lease at this time but already briefed the CNMI about the plan last week.

House Speaker Joseph Deleon Guerrero (Ind-Saipan) separately said yesterday that CNMI officials still prefer a divert airfield on Tinian, and that it’s time for the United States to honor its commitment to develop Tinian.

“When they leased the lands on Tinian, there was an understanding they would invest in developing the island for the military and for the local economy. If you go back to the Covenant, the United States still has not lived up to its commitment to develop Tinian. Here is an opportunity for them to do so,” the speaker said.

Gov. Eloy S. Inos and other CNMI officials, including his Cabinet members and lawmakers, received briefings from the U.S. Pacific Air Forces or PACAF representatives on the divert airfield and other issues on Thursday but some details were kept under wraps for days, including the military’s 50-year lease plan.

PACAF oversees all U.S. Air Force commands in the Pacific region.

Among the PACAF representatives in the briefings were Carol Guadette, Christine, Pascus, and Robert Cambell. They provided a follow-up brief to the CNMI Military Integration Management Committee, which is composed of CNMI leaders and various department heads, of the divert airfield project’s status.

Outgoing MIMC coordinator Jose P. Mafnas Jr. told reporters last week that it was “strictly an informative briefing. No decisions were made.”

The governor and other local officials received a different set of military briefings the following day.

Public Lands Secretary Pete A. Tenorio, who was also at the briefings, said yesterday that CPA owns the lands that the military plans to lease.

Tenorio, a member of the Marianas Political Status Commission that negotiated the Covenant that established the relationship between the Northern Marianas and the United States, also said the United States has the right under the Covenant to lease lands, and that negotiation to lease lands applies without 902 talks.

Still, some officials are wary about the impact of leasing acres of lands to the U.S. military outside of Tinian.

Pagan in the Northern Islands is also being eyed for the U.S. military’s live-fire training areas, in addition to Farallon de Mendinilla.

The CNMI, however, is weighing its options. On one hand, it supports the U.S. military’s moves to strengthen its readiness capabilities but at the same time, it does not want significant socio-economic impacts.

Palacios and Deleon Guerrero said that based on the briefings they received, the U.S. Air Force plans to build a fuel tank, maintenance hangar, additional parking areas for tankers, and a munitions storage area, among other things.

Both reiterated that investing in the construction of these facilities would benefit Tinian more.

Saipan is the “preferred Alternative 1” for a divert or contingency airfield for the U.S. Air Force in the western Pacific in the event that access to Guam’s Andersen Air Force Base is limited or denied.

The divert airfield final EIS is scheduled for release sometime August 2013 and the Record of Decision will follow 30 days after. More information on the divert EIS is available at www.pacafdivertmarianaseis.com.

Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) earlier said the Department of the Air Force Office of Legislative Liaison stated that although there are two phases for the exercise/divert facility, the phases cannot be separated between two different locations.

Phase 1 represents the minimum funding needed to develop an airport in the CNMI as an exercise/divert location.

Phase 2 is for the improvements to that airport, if additional funding becomes available.

Sablan also said H.R. 1960 or the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2014 that the U.S. House passed on June 14 authorizes funding for all three Air Force construction projects on Saipan as requested in President Barack Obama’s 2014 budget.

But the NDAA requires that the U.S. Air Force acquire the necessary land where these projects will be built prior to the release of any funds, Sablan said.

A 110-page “Draft Environmental Impact Assessment for Proposed Divert Activities and Exercises, Guam and Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands” listed Saipan as “preferred alternative 1” and Tinian as “preferred Alternative 2” in June 2012.

The Air Force considered four locations: Guam, Saipan, Tinian, and Rota.

An evaluation of the four possible site alternatives identified Saipan and Tinian as meeting or having the ability to meet most of the five selection standards.

Rota and Guam were dropped because they do not meet the selection standard for “storm radius.”

Saipan has access to fuel vessels, unlike Tinian.

Both Saipan and Tinian have limited capability to meet the selection standard of “adequate land and existing infrastructure with expansion potential to satisfy proposed action requirements.”

The Federal Aviation Administration has also raised concerns about the impacts on the CNMI of using Saipan or Tinian as an alternate airfield for the Air Force.

Saipan Tribune: http://www.saipantribune.com

TOK PISIN:

19) PNG GG bipo i wari long bigpela populesen

Updated 29 July 2013, 15:37 AEST

John Papik

Wanpela long ol olpela Gavena Generol long Papua New Guinea, Sir Paulias Matane i autim wari long populesen bilong kantri iwok long kamap bigpela tumas.

Odio: Sir Paulias Matane olpela Gavena General bilong PNG i toktok

Sir Matane itok,population bilong kantri nau i wok long kamap bigpela hariap tumas na em itok pipol blong Papua New Guinea imas stat skelim tingting long saiz bilong famili oli laikim.

Em i tok, makim birth rate bilong Papua New Guinea wantaim ol narapela hap bilong South West Pacific, Papua New Guinea istap antap tru.

Long mun April bilong despela yiar PNG Gavman i tok populesen bilong kantri nau i moa long 7 million.

Olsem na Sir Paulias Matane i askim PNG national gavaman tu long imas gat plan long traim kotrolim famili long noken igat
bikpela famili tumas.

Sir Paulias itok, taim kantri igat bigpela population planti ol kainkain heve bai kamap, olsem sot long ol graun, un-employement, ol social problem na planti ol narapela heve moa.

Long askim blong PNG bai kisim ol refugi em oli kam long Australia, Sir Paulias ino sapotim tru dispela tingting. http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/

BAHASA:

20)Fiji kritik persetujuan pencari suaka Australia-PNG

Diperbaharui 29 July 2013, 14:14 AEST

Pemerintah Fiji telah mengritik persetujuan pencari suaka Australia dengan Papua Nugini (PNG) dalam sebuah forum bisnis di Brisbane.

Menteri Luar Negeri Fiji Ratu Inoke Kubuabola menuduh Australia menggunakan kekuatan ekonominya untuk membujuk PNG agar mau menerima ribuan pencari suaka, yang notabene bukan dari rumpun Pasifik ke negara itu.

Menurut Melnu Fifi, persetujuan itu dibuat untuk menyelesaikan masalah politik dalam negeri Australia, demi keuntungan politik jangka pendek, dan tanpa konsultasi.

Menlu Kubuabola menyebut kesepakatan itu suatu “Melanesian Solution”, dan akan menggoyahkan keseimbangan sosial ekonomi yang memang sudah rentan dalam masyarakat mereka.

Hubungan antara Fiji dan Australia masih tetap dingin sejak kudeta 2006 pimpinan Frank Bainimarama.  http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/

FRENCH:

21a) Le plan Rudd pour les migrants est-il applicable ?

Mis à jour 29 July 2013, 15:34 AEST

Caroline Lafargue

C’est la question que soulève l’opposition libérale. Car la Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée a ratifié la Convention de l’ONU sur les réfugiés, à l’exception de sept articles cruciaux.

Le 19 juillet, le Premier ministre australien a annoncé sa nouvelle politique de lutte contre l’immigration. C’est le fameux plan papou, tout migrant arrivé par bateau dans les eaux australiennes se retrouvera en centre de rétention en Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée, le temps que sa demande d’asile soit examinée. Et s’il est reconnu comme un authentique réfugié, il aura le droit de refaire sa vie… en Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée, mais il n’aura jamais de visa pour l’Australie.

C’est ce qui est écrit dans l’accord signé entre les Premiers ministres australien et papou. Mais pour le moment, cette politique n’est pas applicable, légalement. Scott Morrison est le porte-parole de l’opposition libérale chargé de l’immigration :

« Pour installer en Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée des migrants reconnus comme réfugiés, il faut changer les lois papoues. Le gouvernement peut très bien lever ses 7 réserves sur la Convention de l’ONU relative au statut des Réfugiés, mais on n’en n’est pas encore là, il faut déjà modifier les lois papoues pour autoriser l’installation de réfugiés. Parce qu’en l’état, l’accord signé entre Kevin Rudd et Peter O’Neill, qui prévoit le placement des réfugiés en Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée, ne peut pas être appliqué. Pour l’instant on ne sait pas si ce sera possible. Mais si c’est faisable, alors oui nous soutenons cette mesure. Mais le Premier ministre prétend que l’accord est scellé, que les réfugiés vont être installés immédiatement en Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée, or ce n’est pas vrai. »

La Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée a ratifié la Convention de l’ONU relative au statut des réfugiés en 1986, mais avec sept réserves importantes, le pays n’accepte pas pour l’instant d’accorder aux réfugiés des permis de travail, des logements sociaux, l’éducation publique, la liberté de circulation dans le pays, la citoyenneté, etc. Kevin Rudd lui-même a dit qu’il faudrait quelques mois avant que sa politique ne puisse entrer en vigueur.

« Toutes les solutions méritent d’être testées, mais le placement des réfugiés en Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée ne peut pas se substituer à toute une batterie de mesures que nous défendons, comme repousser les bateaux de demandeurs d’asile hors des eaux australiennes, accorder des visas de protection temporaires, agrandir les centres de rétention de Manus et Nauru, ainsi que créer un groupe de 15 ONG qui travaillent en amont pour démanteler les filières de passeurs dès le pays de départ des demandeurs d’asile. Nous nous proposons du concret, nous ne nous limitons pas aux effets d’annonce. »

Scott Morrisson, le Monsieur immigration du parti Libéral, au micro de Barrie Cassidy sur l’ABC.

Les visas de protection temporaire ont déjà existé sous l’ancien Premier ministre libéral John Howard. Le dispositif permettait de libérer les migrants reconnus comme réfugiés, mais si la situation s’améliorait dans le pays du réfugié et ne présentait plus de danger, alors il était expulsé. Avec ce visa temporaire de protection, les réfugiés avaient le droit de travailler, mais pas le droit au regroupement familial. http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/

21b) Londres: la Chambre des Lords défend la Papouasie

Mis à jour 29 July 2013, 15:32 AEST

Caroline Lafargue

Inviter le Président indonésien à assister à l’organisation du référendum sur l’indépendance de l’Écosse en 2014, telle est la proposition de Lord Avebury, de la Chambre des Lords.

De gauche à droite: Lord Harries; Benny Wenda, une figure du mouvement indépendantiste papou en exil au Royaume-Uni; et Lord Avebury, juste après le débat à la Chambre des Lords, le 25 juillet 2013.

Mercredi dernier, la chambre haute du Parlement britannique a débattu de la situation de la Papouasie et de la Papouasie occidentale, et appelé le gouvernement à promouvoir un référendum d’autodétermination sous surveillance internationale, et à s’opposer aux arrestations des indépendantistes et aux abus des droits de l’homme dans la province indonésienne.

Lord Richard Harries a cité des informations de l’ONG Tapol, qui surveille les violations des droits de l’homme dans toute l’Indonésie depuis quarante ans. « Tapol » signifie « prisonnier politique » en indonésien.

Le parlementaire britannique a aussi dénoncé le cofinancement du Détachement 88, l’unité indonésienne de lutte antiterroriste, par le Royaume-Uni, qui est accusée de torturer et d’abattre des indépendantistes en Papouasie et en Papouasie occidentale.

La ministre des Affaires étrangères, la Baronne Warsi, s’est bornée à déclarer que la liberté d’expression était trop souvent « bafouée » en Papouasie et en Papouasie occidentale.

NDLR: En 2003, l’Indonésie a divisé en deux provinces la moitié ouest de l’Île de Nouvelle-Guinée: la Papouasie et la Papouasie occidentale. Utiliser uniquement le terme de « Papouasie occidentale » n’est donc pas géographiquement correct, même si l’expression est d’usage courant. . http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/

21c) Fidji-Australie: la réconciliation n’est pas pour demain

Posté à 29 July 2013, 15:19 AEST

Caroline Lafargue

Vendredi Franck Bainimarama a déclaré qu’il n’accepterait pas de nouveau haut-commissaire australien (l’équivalent d’un ambassadeur), tant que l’Australie critiquera son pays.

Interrogé sur la radio néo-zélandaise Tarana, le Premier ministre fidjien a dénoncé le manque de considération et de respect de l’Australie envers Fijdi et les autres pays mélanésiens.

S’il gagne les élections de 2014, Franck Bainimarama se dit néanmoins prêt à reconstruire la relation australo-fidjienne, « mais uniquement si Fidji est traité en égal », a-t-il souligné.

L’année dernière, Fidji, l’Australie et la Nouvelle-Zélande avaient annoncé la reprise de leurs relations diplomatiques, mais depuis, les trois pays n’ont toujours pas nommé leurs ambassadeurs respectifs. http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/

AUSTRALIA:

22) Australia hosting bilateral business meeting with Fiji

By Online Editor
10:46 am GMT+12, 29/07/2013, Australia

In a sign Australia’s fractured relationship with Pacific nation Fiji may be on the mend, Brisbane will today host the first bilateral business meeting allowed here since a coup d’etat seven years ago.

The 20th Australia Fiji Business Forum comes as the region counts down to Fiji’s planned 2014 elections – its first since a military takeover in December 2006.

Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs Matt Thistlethwaite and Fijian Foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola will jointly open the two-day forum, while Shadow Foreign Minister Julie Bishop was a guest at a trade expo launch on Sunday night.

Australia Fiji Business Council executive Frank Yourn agreed it was a clear sign of a shift in the relationship between the two countries.

“The key thing in terms of the bilateral relationship that’s enabled us to have this forum is the decision made by foreign ministers in July last year to just be a bit more pragmatic about the issuing of visas for people on the travel bans that they had,” he said.

“So that’s enabled us to invite some key (Fiji) government people whose portfolios are directly related to business, like industry and commerce, minerals and resources and Investment Fiji – and also the Fiji Foreign Minister. They are all people that we have had difficulty being able to get visas to come to Australia up until this year.”

Australian companies are some of the biggest employers in Fiji, including banks such as ANZ and Westpac, and more recent investors such as Queensland firms Virgin Australia and Buderim Ginger.

“The business relationship has continued despite the fractured relationship between the governments over those seven years,” Yourn said. “Business-to-business relationships have continued.”

He said trade between Australia and Fiji had “fallen away a bit” in the period.

“But some of that’s related to pricing and the high Australian dollar which has affected a lot of Australian exports. So Fiji importers have been able to find cheaper sources of supply from other markets,” he said.

Around 100 people were expected to attend talks at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, which the Australia-Fiji and Fiji-Australia business councils said would include overviews on political and economic conditions as well as growth opportunities in resources, tourism, agriculture and manufacturing.

Apart from investment opportunities, the meeting was also expected to allow both governments to identify “issues which business groups in each country regard as requiring government policy or administrative action”.

SOURCE: COURIER MAIL/PACNEWS

NEW ZEALAND:

23) New Zealand engineer helps solve water supply issues in Vanuatu

Posted at 07:24 on 29 July, 2013 UTC

A New Zealand engineer is helping villagers on Tanna Island in Vanuatu get better access to clean water.

Adam Pearse, working with UNICEF New Zealand, has developed a reliable system using traditional hydraulic Ram Pump technology.

He says he got involved after making friends with ni-Vanuatu seasonal horticulture workers in Hawkes Bay.

Mr Pearse says the workers wanted to improve water systems in their home villages. He’d been trying to buy systems in New Zealand when he decided to help out.

He says four and a half years ago he installed his first system made from plumbing parts.

ADAM PEARSE: But after our first experience of doing that, even though we found it worked well initially, long-term it wasn’t lasting very well. So we went through about a two-year product development process of designing and trialling different ideas until we came up with the final system that we have now, that has proven to be reliable and is working well, especially in the tropical climates. And this is a volcanic island, too. It has volcanic ash, which is quite corrosive and wears away materials quite quickly, so we had to overcome these obstacles.

DON WISEMAN: You’re working with communities who, for the most part, are living far above their water source.

AP: Yes. The communities are all up on the top of the island, and a lot of that is to do with… it’s far more pleasant to live up in the high regions of the islands because you’ve got a sea breeze, it’s cooler, you don’t get the mosquitoes that you have around the coastline of the islands. So it’s a healthier place to live, but, of course, the disadvantage is to get your water you have to go down into ravines. To get drinking water and cooking water they have to go down into these valleys which, on average, is about half a kilometre walk, and down slippery banks and areas I find very difficult to access, most of them. It’s normally the women and children, of course, that get allocated the task of doing that, and that’s about two or three times a day they would have to go and collect water, carrying it in containers and buckets, scrambling up banks and that to get back to their homes.

DW: As you say, something you’ve been working on for the best part of five years. You’re about to go back and install this improved prototype.

AP: We’ve done 14 so far over there already. Now UNICEF who has been monitoring our progress and have seen the success of the designs have come on board and are now supporting us to install a further 19 complete systems. So that will take three years. We’ve got a three-year period to install the systems. That’s not just the pumps, but that’s including water tanks and piping systems to take the water as close to the communities as possible. We don’t supply taps to every single home, but we supply taps in a group of homes, so that community members can only have to walk 10, 20 metres or so. ’Cause quite often they’ll live in groupings of homes, so therefore we’ll run it to the centre of that group and they can collect the water from there, which is a big improvement on what they have been doing.
Radio New Zealand International

PASIFIK:

24) US Vice President Joe Biden tells troops ‘America is a Pacific power’

By Online Editor
1:25 pm GMT+12, 29/07/2013, Singapore

The United States will remain a Pacific power, American Vice President Joe Biden vowed yesterday as he credited his country with maintaining peace and stability in the region for decades.

JBiden, ending a two-day visit to Singapore, said the US presence there has allowed Asia-Pacific nations to focus on growing their economies.

“I state without apology that we are a Pacific power. America is a Pacific resident power and we will remain so,” President Barack Obama’s number two told sailors of the US Navy’s littoral combat ship USS Freedom.

“The truth of the matter is our resident power status is the reason why this area of the world is able to grow and be stable,” he said.

“Our mere presence in the Pacific is in and of itself the basis upon which stability of the region is built. You are the glue that holds all this together.”

The USS Freedom is a modern vessel designed to fight close to shore in areas typical of Southeast Asia’s maritime geographical features.

Deployed to Singapore and the surrounding region, the ship is seen as a symbol of Washington’s strategic re-balance of its military presence towards Asia following long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In another speech at a facility of US aerospace giant Pratt & Whitney, Biden said “he increase in maritime incidents and assertive action which we see lately in the South China Sea represents a threat to the security of the region”.

He did not mention any country but Vietnam and US treaty ally, the Philippines, have accused China of mounting aggressive actions in the sea.

Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam have laid partial claims to the sea, which hosts vital commercial and strategic shipping lanes. Taiwan is the other claimant.

China seized the Scarborough Shoal, a South China Sea outcrop just 230 kilometres (140 miles) east of the main Philippine island of Luzon, last year after Manila backed down from a lengthy stand-off.

This year Manila has complained about the presence of Chinese navy vessels near Second Thomas Shoal, which is occupied by Filipino troops.

Biden also warned that the risk of a miscalculation in the sea is real and urged claimants to hasten talks on legally-binding rules to prevent conflict.

“It would not take much of an incident to escalate, and tensions can turn into conflict,” he said.
SOURCE: AFP/PACNEWS

MEDIA/FILM:

25) PIPSO and PINA set up first Media Focus Group on Trade

By Online Editor
10:32 am GMT+12, 29/07/2013, Fiji

The Pacific Islands Private Sector Organisation (PIPSO) has entered into a partnership with the Pacific Island News Association (PINA) to set up the first Pacific Media Focus Group on Trade, in the lead up to Trade Pasifika 2014.

“This trade expo takes place next year from 02 to 04 April, in Suva, Fiji and will see more than 100 Exhibitors from the region and a good number of Buyers from Australia, New Zealand, Asia and the Middle East attend,” said Mereia Volavola, Chief Executive Officer of PIPSO.

The Trade Pasifika 2014 Ambassador and former Fiji diplomat and politician, Kaliopate Tavola said that as part of the Communications and Promotional Strategy for the Expo, the Secretariat has identified the need to set up a Pacific Media Focus Group specifically on trade.

“The Focus Group will meet virtually online for the next ten months and will be chaired by PINA in conjunction with the TP2014 Secretariat to encourage dialogue and feedback on trade from senior journalists in the region as well to provide key updates on the preparation for the Trade Expo,” said Matai Akauola of PINA.

He said PINA is providing communication support for this event and has also selected experienced Pacific writers and producers to be part of this Pacific Media Focus Group.

Trade Pasifika 2014 will be officially launched on Monday 29 July at the Pacific Private Sector Trade Workshop in Nadi, Fiji and this will be followed by the rollout of an extensive Marketing and Promotional Strategy for the Trade Expo over the coming months.

Trade Pasifika is a trade expo where the Pacific’s Private Sector comes together to showcase their goods and services to enhance trade within the region and beyond. It provides an excellent opportunity for the region’s businesses to come together and foster business relationships to facilitate trade both regionally as well as internationally. For buyers, it is an opportunity to meet suppliers and producers of highly valued Pacific products, destined for niche markets. Trade Pasifika distinctly features Pacific Women Entrepreneurs.
SOURCE: PIPSO/PACNEWS

HEALTH:

26) American Samoa funding drive for heart problem children

Posted at 01:49 on 29 July, 2013 UTC

The StarKist Samoa cannery has donated 15,000 US dollars to American Samoa’s LBJ Hospital Pediatric Clinic to help with the treatment of children with heart problems.

The donation was made possible through Charlies Heart to Heart One dollar Donation Drive, which aimed to have each of the territory’s estimated 59,000 people donate one dollar each.

Each of the cannery’s 2,000 workers donated a dollar each and the company matched their donations dollar for dollar.

Starkist Samoa General Manager, Brett Butler, thanked businesses and community groups like the Pago Pago Rotary Club, which donated 1,000 dollars to the cause.

“This is an effort as part of our 50th anniversary. We selected a community charitable drive to raise funds to support a volunteer team of doctors from Oregon to come in and help the pediatric unit treat 247 kids with heart troubles. So this is a need effort we thought would be significant and with the help of the LBJ hospital to make this happen.”

Brett Butler says it took four weeks to collect the funds.

Radio New Zealand International

27) Solomons’ main hospital desperate for doctors

Posted at 07:24 on 29 July, 2013 UTC

The manager of the emergency department at Solomon Islands’ main hospital says a severe shortage of doctors is stopping the unit from properly functioning.

Dr Kenton Sare says there should be nine doctors rostered on for each shift but his department has to make do with two, because there are only four doctors in total, and they all work six days a week.

But he says other parts of the National Referral Hospital in the capital Honiara are also under extreme pressure, such as the labour ward.

Dr Sare says each month there are enough babies born at the hospital to fill a school roll.

“They have about one, two, three birthing suites. At the moment they have closed down one birthing suite to try and keep mothers who have given birth while waiting to go to the post-natal ward. And you have mothers giving birth in the first-stage room, you have mothers giving birth in the corridor.”

Dr Kenton Sare says at a conservative estimate, the emegency department treats more than 150 patients every day.

Radio New Zealand International

28) AusAID boosts Pacific blindness prevention

By Online Editor
10:33 am GMT+12, 29/07/2013, Fiji

An Australian aid agency has announced it will help fund a program designed to prevent blindness across the Pacific.

AusAID will give $US2.3 million dollars over the next three years to the Pacific Regional Blindness Prevention Program, adding to an ongoing partnership between the New Zealand Aid Programme and the Fred Hollows Foundation in New Zealand.

Andrew Bell, executive director of the Fred Hollows Foundation New Zealand, has told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat the program will make significant social gains.

“The benefit of people receiving their sight back is undisputed,” he said.

“In the Pacific and in other developing countries around the world the impact of blindness on just one member of the family is dramatic.”

Bell says often a member of a family in the Pacific is designated the task of caring for a person who is blind.

He says this type of situation is detrimental to Pacific economies.

“If you think of a small subsistence village economy, you’ve got more and more people who should be working in that economy that are taken out to care for the person who is blind,” he said.

Bell says the responsibility of care is often handed to women and, in many cases, young girls.

“Eradicating avoidable blindness has been identified as one of the best investments in poverty alleviation,” he said.

Now in it’s third phase, the program says it will allow more than 30,000 patient consultations and 8,000 sight-restoring operations to take place in the Pacific region.

Training for the program runs out of the Pacific Eye Institute in Suva, Fiji.

Bell says doctors can train to be ophthalmologists, or specialist eye doctors, while nurses will study in eyecare.

It is expected that 56 nurses and 16 community health workers will be trained at the institute.

Solomon Islanders make up the largest number of students and graduates from the Pacific Eye Institute – a fact Bell credits to the quality of their doctors.

“The Solomon Islands is a star performer,” he said.

“We have what we call the ‘dream team’ which are Solomon Island doctors who are exceptional in every way.”

Bell says graduates have returned to Solomon Islands to build a system there, alongside a team of trained nurses.

“It’s really very exciting to see what is a country that in many ways is struggling with all sorts of difficulties,” he said.

“In eyecare they’re actually streaking ahead.”

Training also takes place in Madang, Papua New Guinea and will be established in East Timor next year.

The program started in 2008, funded by the New Zealand Aid Programme.

Australia announced its commitment to the next step in the program while in Solomon Islands for the 10th anniversary of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI).

SOURCE: RADIO AUSTRALIA/PACNEWS

EDUCATION:

29) Solomon Island Teachers End Strike, Return To Classroom
SINTA says government must meet deadline for outstanding wages

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, July 29, 2013) –Teachers in Solomon Islands have returned to school after ending a two week strike over relevelling dues.

The Solomon Islands National Teachers Association or SINTA was ordered by Justice Rex Foukona to call off the strike by last Thursday night, after the government took the issue to the High Court.

The Industrial relations officer for SINTA, Samson Faisi, says some striking teachers returned to school on Friday and the remaining are back in classes today.

He says SINTA agreed to call off the strike provided the government honours a court order to meet all outstanding wage commitments by August the eighth and for any problems to be rectified by the 22nd.

“We also put to the government in that High Court order that all teachers who were involved in the strike, their salaries will not be deducted, as well as they will not be disciplined for this strike that they’ve taken.”

Samson Faisi says some teachers are resentful as they have not achieved all they set out to do in the strike.

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

BUSINESS/TRADE+:

30) Vanuatu company waiting for agreement to drill for energy

Posted at 07:24 on 29 July, 2013 UTC

The Managing Director of a Vanuatu company looking at drilling for geothermal power says the challenge is obtaining a power-purchase agreement.

David McDonald, in charge of Kuth Energy Ltd, says the government supports the proposed programme at Takara Hotel Pools in North Efate, and wants them to start drilling as soon as possible.

But he says they can’t get the drilling rig to Vanuatu until they have an agreement with the country’s utility company, Unelco.

Mr McDonald says once Unelco signs Kuth is confident it will provide environmentally friendly energy at 50 percent less than present costs, which are among the highest in the world.

Radio New Zealand International

31) Private sector trade workshop

By Online Editor
1:10 pm GMT+12, 29/07/2013, Fiji

The Pacific Islands Private Sector Organisation (PIPSO) in collaboration with the Institute for International Trade at the University of Adelaide, is holding a workshop focused on building the capacities of the private sector on the trade agreements and to be able to maximise on the opportunities that they offer.  This workshop has been made possible with the kind support of the AUSAID.

The workshop will work with private sector business people from across the Pacific on how they can make use of trade agreements to promote Pacific exports and imports.  It will tackle such issues as complex rules of origin and to how to ensure their voices are heard in trade negotiations.

There will be a series of practical case studies from around the Pacific as well as an opportunity for participants to share their experiences on various trade associated matters.  Below is an outline of the planned workshop:

• Overview of Trade and Trade Agreements (from Multilateral – WTO to Regional and Bilateral);

•Trade in Goods-Tariff liberalisation, Rules of Origin, Agriculture, SPS, TBT, NAMA;

•Trade in Services;

•Trade and Development-Special and Differential Treatment and Aid for Trade;

• Update on PICTA implementation, EPA and PACER+ negotiations.

Ultimately, this workshop should enable PIPSO and the business people attending to identify some key areas where the private sector can contribute to trade negotiations including where the business sector needs support to overcome local capacity problems.  The workshop will discuss these constraints and see if there are other training needs which need to be addressed in the future and enable them to make more informed contributions to the formulation of both national and regional trade policies.

As PIPSO looks forward to participating more actively in deliberations on multilateral and regional trade agreements, this workshop also provides an ideal opportunity to  be able to consult with members’ as to how best we can further our engagement with regional partners as well as best represent private sector interests at such Forums.

SOURCE: PIPSO/PACNEWS

32) SPC urges islands to be informed about deep sea mining

Posted at 07:24 on 29 July, 2013 UTC

The director general of the Pacific’s technical advisory body says island governments need to have as much information as possible about deep sea mining before granting licenses for exploration in their waters.

The Secretariat of the Pacific Community has developed a legislative guide for island governments on deep sea mining.

Jimmie Rodgers told Johnny Blades it’s essential to be informed before deciding whether to proceed with deep sea mining.

JIMMIE RODGERS: We started off five years ago when no country in this region has enough information whether it’s regulatory, whether it’s policy. And since deep sea minerals have actually come to the fore, many of the governments would actually like to translate some of the potential into real possibilities. The big difficulty is that because they didn’t have the information available to actually help them develop their policy frameworks and their legislative frameworks, this European Union-funded programme that SPC implements actually helps develop that information base. So, for me, the best advice we can give is use that guide because it provides most of the information that the government would need to go through, whether it is in terms of valuing their deposits, whether in terms of how do we engage with mining, what are the policy information and policy consequences if we don’t actually do this well, who do we need to communicate with, how do we get community engaged in a conversation so that this becomes a country-wide supported activity? So most of that guidance is provided in a two-volume document that has been developed by the SPC through European Union funding, which is a policy framework and a legislative framework.

JOHNNY BLADES: PNG is, though, already pressing on with something, and it looks like, in a way, they’re going to be the guinea pig for this deep sea mining development. Are you concerned about that and about how companies can approach a government one-on-one and play it off, rather than the whole region looking at this as a region pooling resources and knowledge?

JR: I think that’s where the issue is. If the countries are ill-informed and companies come in to try and negotiate a deal because they know that the country has a lot of deep sea minerals, the countries are at a disadvantage. I think the Papua New Guinea negotiations actually preceded the beginning of the work that we did. Now, coming in to whether it should be an action for each country because it’s their own jurisdiction, their own EEZs, also there’ll be a regional kind of approach because it involves a number of island countries. Whether it is an individual country or a regional approach, the key issues remain the same. What is the best way to actually engage in a policy format? What is the best model for legislative framework that allows the extraction industry to actually take place in a country in a way that conserves the environment, in a way that actually maximises, if you like, the value of what is being extracted. And then down the track, I think, how that resource should actually be captured and how the benefits are shared.

Radio New Zealand International

33) Three islands in Fiji declared organic islands

By Online Editor
1:12 pm GMT+12, 29/07/2013, Fiji

Three islands in Fiji have been declared organic islands by the country’s agriculture ministry.

They are the islands of Cicia in Lau, Mago between Taveuni and Lau and Wakaya in the Lomaiviti group.

Deputy Secretary for Agriculture Uraia Waibuta told FBC News, the islands will be producing organic food products.

“We think organic is the way forward for Fiji and this is an areas we’re focusing on because we cannot really compete with production so with the niche market that we have and the environment that exist the Ministry of Agriculture thinks this is an area that we need to strengthen.”

The Agriculture Ministry is expected to declare more organic islands in the Fiji group.

SOURCE: FBC/PACNEWS

34) Big prospects in Solomon Islands: Maru

By Online Editor
1:13 pm GMT+12, 29/07/2013, Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea’s private sector and the small-to- medium enterprises (SMEs) must target the investment opportunities in the Solomon Islands (SI), Trade, Commerce and Industry Minister Richard Maru says.

He said this when presenting a cheque for K250, 000 (US$108,000) to subsidise the cost of travelling and hosting the trade fair in Solomon Islands

More than 70 business delegates representing 53 local companies from various industries will leave this week for the trade mission.

Maru said: “Private sector and SMEs must know that the government is behind the Solomon Islands trade fair and has thrown its support by giving K250,000.

“The PNG SMEs and private sector must target investment opportunities in the Solomon Islands as they have the full support and backing of the government.

“Let us (PNG) go there as big brother to explore their market, expand our investment opportunities and help grow their market.”

He acknowledged the support and sponsorships from the Solomon’s and PNG governments, Farmset Ltd, BSP, SP Brewery and the British American Tobacco (BAT).

Investment Promotion Authority (IPA) managing director Ivan Pomaleu told the delegates last Friday that the SI Chamber of Commerce and Industry has also received a show of interest from its network for the event.

He said: “Businesses from Solomon Islands have expressed interest in PNG companies in a number of sectors.

“SI businesses want to tie up with companies who are in field of domestic air and sea transport services, legal, education, auditing and accounting services, building and civil works and engineering, tourism, information and communication technology (ICT) services, food and beverages, manufacturing and retail sector, business consultancies, heavy duty industries, fisheries, handicrafts, tabu shell trade and petroleum.

The business forum and the trade exhibit will begin on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Maru sternly warned the delegates to behave as professional business entrepreneurs while representing the country in SI.

“I do not want drunkards … you have to be in your best behaviour … you will represent your companies and PNG.

“Anyone who misbehaves will never be on any other trade mission as long as I am the minister”, he added.

SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS

35) Lolo cites fisheries and construction as best options for economic expansion

By Online Editor
1:15 pm GMT+12, 29/07/2013, American Samoa

The Global economic forecast remains guarded even though signs of economic recovery are being experienced, said Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga in his cover letter for the budget sent to the American Samoan Fono last week. He noted the political unrest in the Middle East, the potential of faltering European economies and a slowing of China’s economy; dampening the forecast for economic growth.

“On the Federal level, the Congress and the President are still at odds on how to address the national debt, which signals a continuation of tight fiscal policies and that creates further uncertainty with respect to federal funding. The effects of sequestration have significantly impacted our fiscal year 2014 financial plan, shifting some of the financial burden on to local revenues and away from Federal grants.”

According to Lolo, in spite of international political and financial trends, at a local level there is resurgence in the fisheries industry and that is a positive indicator that the local economy may be headed in the right direction. “We must be aware, however of aggressive investments in fisheries development by China and European countries which continue to threaten the competitive advantage of our canneries.

Because of the unilateral application of the federal minimum wage, it will be necessary to secure federal incentives to safeguard the competitive advantage of our canneries, said Gov Lolo.

He further noted that capital injections into the economy as outlined in this budget plan, through construction projects targeting improvements in our basic infrastructure, would stimulate economic activity in the construction industry. “This will translate into the creation of jobs that will in turn increase levels of personal consumption, along with increasing government revenues through personal and business taxes.”

According to the cover letter, direct employment initiatives in the next financial year will contribute to the growth of consumption, which will in turn strengthen business sales, and this can lead to the potential for higher tax collections due to increased profits and expanded payrolls. “More importantly, business confidence will improve, which could spur new investment.”.

SOURCE: SAMOA NEWS/PACNEWS

36) Singapore company to build Vanuatu Airport

By Online Editor
3:31 pm GMT+12, 29/07/2013, Vanuatu

Work on Vanuatu’s new $350 million (about VT33 billion) international airport, along with remedial work on Baurfield Airport, and upgrading of Pekoa Airport on Santo, plus improvement works on Norsup and Whitegrass airports, are set to begin following a signing agreement ceremony between th e Vanuatu government and the Singapore group known as Vanuatu Trade Development Private Limited (VTDPL).

The cost is twice the annual budget of Vanuatu.

Signing on behalf of the Vanuatu government on Saturday evening were the Prime Minister Moana Carcasses and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Edward Natapei.

The Executive Director of the Singaporean ‘Vanuatu Trade Development Private Limited’ David Mak and General Manager Eric Ong signed on behalf of VTDPL Group.

Speaking during the signing ceremony Carcasses said this is a single major infrastructure project of this magnitude before and after Independence.

The prime minister said there will be direct flights into and out of Vanuatu without having to transit to Australia,New Zealand, Fiji or New Caledonia to other parts of the world.

“This is an answer to our people towards a major significant economic progress,and therefore awareness must reach the population of Vanuatu that everyone will be part of single most important economic infrastructure development of this magnitude.

“We understand that there are pros and cons from some people and quarters regarding the project but we proceed with it for the benefit of all,” Carcasses said.

He said a formal government statement will be issued about the project this week.

Prime Minister Carcasses also stressed the magnitude and extension of the project in creating job opportunities for the unemployed ni-Vanuatu people, more tourism industry infrastructure such as hotel,motels, restaurants, local food supplies and tourism and related activities when the new Vanuatu International airport is completed in 2016.

SOURCE: VANUATU DAILY POST/PACNEWS

37) Regional Organization Releases Deep Sea Mining Video
Various viewpoints presented to inform Pacific people

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, July 29, 2013) – In an attempt to shed a little more light on the subject of deep sea mining, the SPC-EU Pacific Deep Sea Minerals Project launched a new 25-minute film earlier this month.

This was revealed in a statement issued by SOPAC which explained that the short film, titled ‘Under Pressure’, was aimed at increasing public awareness around the topic.

The video sites opinions from different organisations anti-deep sea mining NGOs, politicians, government agencies, deep sea mining companies and SPC.

It is available to the general public on the SOPAC website.

Fiji Times Online: http://www.fijitimes.com.

38) Wakaya invest $5million on luxury aircraft

By Online Editor
1:09 pm GMT+12, 29/07/2013, Fiji

The Wakaya Group has invested $5million (US$2.6 million) for the acquisition of a brand new top-of-the-line luxury aircraft in Fiji.

The aircraft, an 11-seater Cessna Grand Caravan Ex, would be based in Nadi and available to the public for charter.

Owner and FIJI Water founder David Gilmour said the latest addition to its assets would allow travellers to arrive at their destination calm, cool and collected.

“People come to Wakaya on a private plane but mostly commercial. Now Fiji has this magnificent new aircraft and when you get off the aircraft, there’s a bit of a void in the continuity of quality of transport within Fiji,” he said

“So I felt it was very important to bring in the latest technology where our visitors feel totally comfortable in this luxurious and fast airplane — it takes 35 minutes to fly from Nadi to Wakaya. We brought in a trainer, who is a top teacher with Cessna, and he’s staying here for several months to train the pilot and copilots. I only want to use local pilots, which is the same as the Wakaya Club where I only have Fijian chefs.

“We want this to be a wonderful indigenous experience. Anyone who comes to Fiji is not stacked with Europeans who are totally capable. But I’d rather teach a Fijian to do the same job because we need employment in this country.” He said this investment would generate a lot of interest and government did not have to invest in anything.

“It’s our job to do that. All government does is create favourable conditions that make things happen quickly. We have nothing but total praise for government. We’re asking for whatever help that is not an expense to the government, get on with business and create export dollars,” he said.

Gilmour, who recently featured in Forbes Magazine March 2013 issue for his latest ginger product, Wakaya Perfection, said delays in business processes often created an impediment to real growth.

Meanwhile, central bank governor Barry Whiteside said investment activity was extremely buoyant.

SOURCE: FIJI TIMES/PACNEWS

39) Taumeasina Island resort being built in Samoa

By Online Editor
10:29 am GMT+12, 29/07/2013, Samoa

A $60 million resort is being built on a man-made island in Samoa.

When complete, Taumeasina Island will have 80 rooms and 25 villas, shops, restaurants, a bar, water sports pavilion, day spa, gym, beach and wedding chapel.

Construction on the island resort, near the capital Apia, began last month and the resort is expected to open in early 2016.

The project is being funded by Papua New Guinea company The Lamana Group, which also operates the Heritage Park Hotel in the Solomon Islands and is renovating the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva, Fiji, and designed by architectural firm Thomson Adsett.

It will be a huge drawcard for the South Pacific nation, which was devastated by a tsunami in 2009 and a cyclone in December.

SOURCE: NEWS.COM.AU/PACNEWS

LAW&ORDER:

40) Bougainville’s glitch

By Online Editor
10:40 am GMT+12, 29/07/2013, Papua New Guinea

Failed money scam operator and renowned con-man Noah Musingku and his U-Vistract has been described as an ‘obstacle’ to the peace process and Bougainville’s aspiration to referendum for independence.

This was echoed by several leaders and ex-combatants in Panguna during the reconciliation of three factional leaders, Ishmael Toroama, Chris Uma and Moses Pipiro.

Former BRA commander for Buin in South Bougainville Thomas Tarii led the onslaught, saying U-Vistract is another obstacle and it’s about time the ABG addresses the issue as more Bougainvilleans are being fooled by this con-man Musingku. Tarii, who has once tried to flush out the U-Vistract organisation in Tonu, Siwai, said people like Musingku and his failed money scam must be dealt with by authorities.

Tarii said while he was trying his best to set the foundation for unification amongst ex-combatants and the people of Buin and South Bougainville, people like Musingku and his money scam were becoming an obstacle to the process.

He said unification was the key for peace on Bougainville, adding that unification amongst Bougainvilleans was not just a thing of today but it had been in our minds and hearts ever since we started fighting the war.

“It is people like Musingku who brainwash ordinary illiterate Bougainvilleans to have negative thoughts and minds about respect for authorities and the purpose of our struggle, and why we fought this war.”

Tarii said only through unity and reconciliation would we be eligible to go into referendum and achieve ultimate independence for Bougainville.

“Let’s not curse the referendum of Bougainville because unification and unity is the key to our political journey.”

ABG vice president Patrick Nisira also challenged Bougainvilleans not to practice cultism and a free-money mentality.

“Bougainville will be built and developed on pure hard work and sweat and not on free handouts, free millions. No plane or ship will carry millions of kina to our shores. We’ve learnt to work hard from our ancestors, parents and from the Holy Bible teachings.”

James Onato, another former BRA commander from Kieta, Central Bougainville, blamed organisations like U-Vistract for misleading innocent Bougainvilleans.

He said the late Francis Ona met his fate after he listened to Musingku and his failed money scheme U-Vistract –which promised goods and money coming from vessels and planes. If he had not listened to Musingku, he would be alive today and be with us. He had come right down – lowered himself to the level of the failed money scheme after being conned by Musingku.

SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS

41) West New Britian Military base on target

By Online Editor
1:22 pm GMT+12, 29/07/2013, Papua New Guinea

Talks on setting up a military base in Papua New Guinea’s West New Britain province is on target.

A PNG Defence Force team headed by First Assistant Secretary, Norman Donigi held dialogue with Governor Sasindran Muthuvel and acting Provincial Administrator, Steven Raphael.

The Provincial Government has assured of its support towards the setup of the PNGDF Engineering Base.

Once complete, about 200 soldiers will be the first to settle there.

Several sites in the Kandrian/Gloucester and Talasea districts were visited apart from the initial proposed site of Amiu.

Outer State lands are preferable by the PNG Defence Force where the land site must determine access to receive ships that are 80 to 120 meters in length where soldiers, police, customs and fisheries officers will be on board.

Donigi said funding is from the military aid’s 68 million Kina and public investment program and law and justice sector development budget.

SOURCE: NBC PNG/PACNEWS

42) Bribery still high in PNG : TIPNG

By Online Editor
3:34 pm GMT+12, 29/07/2013, Papua New Guinea

The latest survey by corruption watchdog Transparency International shows bribery is still high in Papua New Guinea but people are ready to fight back.

The latest Transparency International Global Corruption Barometer (GCB) survey this year found a majority of Papua New Guineans are paying bribes in order to get services.

76% of the survey respondents in PNG say corruption is a serious problem in the public sector with most saying they’ve been asked to pay a bribe when interacting with key public institutions like the police, registry and permit services, and land services.

85% view that the police were the most affected by corruption, 70% said public servants and political parties were corrupt, while 63% felt the Parliament was also affected by corruption.

TIPNG Chairman, Lawrence Stephens, says public institutions, law enforcement agencies and politicians have a lot to do to regain the trust of citizens.

He said the PNG Government needs to make sure there are strong, independent and well resourced institutions to prevent and redress corruption, also commending its efforts in the fight against corruption through the development of the National Anti Corruption Strategy.

Citizens, he said also have a social responsibility to minimizing corruption by saying “no” to bribes and reporting an incident of corruption to appropriate authorities.

The Global Corruption Barometer 2013 is the world’s largest opinion survey on corruption from Transparency International. It is a survey of 114,000 people in 107 countries and it shows that corruption is widespread.

In Papua New Guinea, 1,044 people participated in the survey and nearly half of the respondents agreed that ordinary citizens have the will to combat the abuse of power, secret dealings and other forms of corruption.

SOURCE:NBC-PNG/PACNEWS

43) Fijian Peacekeepers Arrive safely In Syria
Final batch of soldiers departed on Saturday

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, July 29, 2013) – The 159 Fijians soldiers who left the country for their peacekeeping mission in Golan Heights, Syria have arrived safely.

Speaking to FijiLive from Golan Heights Warrant Officer Sailosi Gonedua said they have all arrived safely and have started to settle down.

“We have just arrived and everyone is still trying to settle down before we start our work,” he said.

Meanwhile the last batch of 160 soldiers left on Saturday to join the 341 Fijian soldiers who are already in Syria.

The Fijians will be serving for one year and have replaced the now withdrawing Austrian soldiers. Fiji is joined by other overseas countries in peacekeeping duties in Syria.

Fijilive: http://www.fijilive.com

REFUGEE+:

44) Thousands protest against PNG asylum plan

By Online Editor
1:24 pm GMT+12, 29/07/2013, Australia

Thousands of people have gathered in Sydney to demand the Australian government scrap its Papua New Guinea plan about processing and resettling asylum seekers, the Greens say

Up to 3,000 people congregated at Sydney Town Hall before marching along George Street on Sunday to protest the government’s handling of asylum seekers, Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon said.

“The purpose of today … was to send a clear message that what they (the government) are doing is wrong,” she told AAP after the rally.

“It’s also to enable people to come together. There is a lot of stress in the community about how our country is treating people.”

Rhiannon said one of the topics raised during the protest was concerns over the use of the security firm G4S to run the Manus Island facility.

Describing the company as an “unaccountable multi-national”, she said there were concerns among the community that the frontline staff aren’t trained to deal with the problems already experienced at the centre.

She pointed to G4S’s failure to provide all of the 10,400 contracted guards for the 2012 Games, which forced the British government to step in with military personnel.

The rally comes as a Galaxy poll published by News Corp Australia on Sunday found people rated Prime Minister Kevin Rudd better than Opposition Leader Tony Abbott at handling the asylum seeker issue, 40 to 38 per cent.

Under the federal government’s deal with PNG, people arriving by boat will be denied resettlement in Australia, taken to Manus Island for processing and and may be settled there if found to be genuine refugees.

The Refugee Action Coalition (RAC) will be holding another rally in Sydney’s inner west next month.

SOURCE: AAP/PACNEWS

45) Somare Decries Australia Using PNG As ‘Dumping Ground’
Former PM says asylum plan destined to fail

By Shirlyn Belden

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, July 29, 2013) – Former prime minister Sir Michael Somare has denounced Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s asylum-seeker deal, accusing Rudd of using Papua New Guinea as a dumping ground for displaced people.

Sir Michael told The Financial Review that while Rudd was his friend, what he was doing to PNG was wrong.

“These people coming on boats want to go to Australia, so why send them to Papua New Guinea? It looks as though Australia is dumping them into Papua New Guinea,” Sir Michael told the Australian newspaper last Thursday.

“I know Rudd well and he is a friend of mine, but what he is doing to PNG is not right.”

Sir Michael’s comments were his first since Rudd and O’Neill announced the deal a week ago under which all asylum seekers arriving in Australia by boat will be sent to PNG in an effort to break the people-smuggling trade and stem the flow of asylum-seeker boats.

The deal also includes a rejigging of Australia’s $500 million annual aid budget, the expansion of the Manus Island detention centre’s capacity from 600 people to 3,000, and the potential for a second centre near Port Moresby.

But Sir Michael said the difference between O’Neill’s deal and the Manus Island deal he had entered with former Australian prime minister John Howard as part of Howard’s Pacific Solution was that it was always understood the detention centre would be a “place of transit until Australia found a place for them (refugees) rather than resettling them in Papua New Guinea”.

“How can we resettle them? Papua New Guinea has its huge problems. 80% of the country’s population lives in rural areas,” he said.

“We need to find enough food to feed people in the villages, provide education and health services, without having to provide this to refugees and, in addition, we may have to find the refugees land.’

He did not share Rudd’s and O’Neill’s confidence that the arrangement would stop the boats.

“These people are desperate to get to Australia and to live the lifestyle Australia provides and I believe they will keep coming,’’ he said.

“Dumping people on PNG is not a good arrangement . . . we need to stop this programme.’’

O’Neill had also made a unilateral decision without consulting the PNG Parliament or the people and it was clear even now that the PNG public was opposed.

“The proposal should have been publicly debated, the Parliament should have been consulted.’’

The National: www.thenational.com.pg/

46) Solomon Islands Open To Talking About Hosting Asylum Seekers
Australia expended to call on country to support regional solution

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Times, July 26, 2013) – Solomon Islands is expected to play a role in the Australian government’s plan to send asylum seekers to Papua New Guinea for processing and resettlement.

In the wake of the multi-billion agreement to resettle Australia-bound refugees in PNG, the Solomon Islands, Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo said his country was prepared to consider a proposal.

Mr Lilo said he expected the Solomon Islands to be asked to contribute to dealing with the record numbers of asylum seekers.

“We stand ready to talk about it because a regional solution is very important,” Mr Lilo said after a meeting with Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr in Honiara. There is space for us to be engaged to make sure we have a strong, secure region.

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.

Solomon Times

47) Fiji lashes out at Australia over asylum issue

By Online Editor
3:45 pm GMT+12, 29/07/2013, Australia

Fiji has demanded that Australia holds thorough consultation with countries in the region before going ahead with plans to relocate and possibly resettle hundreds of refugees in Papua New Guinea.

Divergent political positions on the manner in which Fiji’s ruling administration came to power have long cauterised political relations between Fiji and Australia, the latest swipe by Fiji clearly aimed at its perception of Australia as a heavy handed player that rides roughshod over the sovereignty of Pacific island countries.

In a strongly worded speech at the Australia-Fiji Business Forum in Brisbane this morning, Fiji’s Foreign Affairs Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola accused Australia of proposing a ‘Melanesia solution’ to an ‘Australian problem’, claiming it ‘threatens to destabilize the already delicate social and economic balance in our societies.’

“The Australian Government has used its economic muscle to persuade one of our Melanesian governments to accept thousands of people who are not Pacific Islanders, a great number of them permanently,” Kubuabola said.

“This was done to solve a domestic political problem – and for short-term political gain – without proper consideration of the long-term consequences.

This was done without any consultation, a sudden and unilateral announcement, which is not the Pacific Way and has shocked a great many people in the region.”

As boatloads of refugees, mostly from Asia, enter Australian waters each year, Australia is continually faced with a humanitarian problem of what to do with the refugees and where to put them before processing their cases.

A “Pacific Solution” policy that dates back to the Howard government was reintroduced by the Julia Gillard leadership last year and saw the establishment of detention centers in PNG and Nauru.

Although that policy was met with much criticism, especially from within PNG, the PNG and Australia recently committed to stronger cooperation on the issue.

In Brisbane two weeks ago, PNG’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and his Australian counterpart Kevin Rudd signed what’s now known as the Regional Resettlement Arrangement Between Australia and Papua New Guinea.

Under the arrangement, in the case where asylum seekers enter Australian waters, they will be shipped to PNG’s Manus islands to be processed and “persons found to be refugees will be resettled in Papua New Guinea and any other participating regional, including Pacific Island, state. Persons found not to be refugees may be held in detention or returned to their home country or a country where they had right of residence.”

This has obviously not gone down well with the Fijian government.

Said Kubuabola: “Why – you may ask – is this any of Fiji’s business? This was a deal with Papua New Guinea, a sovereign government surely entitled to make its own arrangements. Well, we regard it as our business because we see ourselves as part of a wider Melanesian community through the Melanesian Spearhead Group.

“We are striving for more cohesion, more integration in the MSG, including the formation of a Melanesian Common Market with a free flow of goods, services and labour. This deal – and those mooted with Solomon Islands and Vanuatu – clearly threatens our interests by altering the fundamental social fabric of any member country that accepts a deal with Australia.”

Fiji, he added, is troubled by the consequent threat to the stability of these countries – and the wider Melanesian community – by the scale of what is being envisaged.

“Indeed, we are alarmed to read some of the accounts of what is evidently being canvassed in Australian policy circles. In the words of the respected Foreign Editor of The Australian newspaper, Greg Sheridan: ‘Imagine what the South Pacific would be like in five or six years’ time if there were 50,000 resettled refugees in PNG, and perhaps 10,000 in Vanuatu, 5000 in Solomon Islands and a few thousands elsewhere in the Pacific.

“These refugees would be Iranians, Iraqis, Afghans, Pakistanis, Palestinians, perhaps some Sudanese and Somalis, and most of them getting some Australian financial support. This population would constitute a recipe for social instability and a significant security problem for the region.’

Very similar sentiments have been expressed by Indonesia, the Salvation Army and a growing number of Australian interest groups. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees has warned that settling subsidised asylum-seekers in PNG under the deal could spark local resentment among a population already suffering significant disadvantage, thus leading to instability.

History has shown us that such instability will have far reaching ripple effects for not only PNG but the rest of the region. As business people you are well aware of the potential for the negative spillover effect of this Australian Government policy throughout the region, given that our Pacific economies are inextricably connected.

So Ladies and Gentlemen, it IS our business and before this goes any further, we want thorough regional consultation. We want – no, we demand – to have our voices heard.

It is not our concern who wins the coming Australian election. That is a matter for the Australian people. But we are deeply concerned about the impact of Australian politics on our own affairs,” Kubuabola said.

He also raised concerns over ongoing political standoff between Fiji and Australia, expressing disappointment that despite Fiji’s reform progress, Australia continued to ‘punish Fiji’.

“We remain deeply disappointed that instead of constructive engagement, Australia chose to punish Fiji for finally addressing the deep divisions in our society, the lack of equality and genuine democracy and the corruption that was destroying our country from within,” Kubuabola said.

“When Australia stops trying to damage Fiji – which it is still doing – only then can we can begin to rebuild the political relationship, including the restoration of full diplomatic ties. But it will be a different relationship. The events of the past seven years have made it so,” he added.

SOURCE: ISLANDS BUSINESS/PACNEWS

48) International Organisation for Migration starts disaster plans in PNG

By Online Editor
3:36 pm GMT+12, 29/07/2013, Papua New Guinea

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM), in partnership with the national and provincial disaster centres, has started a project to increase the resilience of vulnerable communities against disasters.

The one-year project, which is funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) aims to empower rural communities to cope with natural disasters and the effects of climate change.

IOM chief of mission to PNG Giuseppe Crocetti said last Friday the project targeted about 30,000 people living in Northern and Morobe.

He said the levels of disaster risk in those communities were compounded by socio-economic and environmental factors.

“The remote, rugged terrain leaves them isolated from resources and assistance, knowledge of the causes, results, and possible preventative measures is extremely limited,” Crocetti said in a statement.

“We are prioritising community involvement as we have seen in the past decade that top-down strategies fail to address the needs of vulnerable communities on the frontline of disasters.”

IOM said the project would provide small grants for support to local non-governmental organisations and community groups for community-based disaster risk management initiatives.

National Disaster Centre director Martin Mose commended IOM for “offering PNG the best choice of programme for the benefit of rural communities, where the bulk of the population lives”.

US Ambassador Walter North highlighted the United States commitment to support the PNG Government’s efforts was not only in times of crises.

North said instead, US efforts strove to build more resilient communities in PNG in the face of increased risks and impacts from natural disasters due to climate change.

PNG was exposed to many natural hazards, including flooding, drought, typhoons, wave surges, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis.

Crocetti added that PNG experiences cyclical effects of the El Niño (heavy rain conditions) phenomenon and the resultant floods have led to decreased agricultural production, damage to infrastructure, displacement of communities and loss of property and livelihoods.

“To fill these gaps at the provincial, district and village level, IOM will establish appropriate community learning systems in which IOM, government and community groups will work together to enhance the understanding of individuals and social groups on disasters.”.

SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS

49) Burke flags Nauru and PNG investigation

By Online Editor
10:37 am GMT+12, 29/07/2013, Australia

CANBERRA 29 JULY 2013 (AAP) — An independent investigation into riots that destroyed accommodation at the Nauru detention centre and allegations of asylum seekers being raped on Manus Island will be set up this week.

Immigration Minister Tony Burke flagged the review on Saturday as it emerged the number of asylum seeker boat arrivals had risen to 16 since the Rudd government announced its hardline asylum seeker policy a week ago.

Under the federal government’s deal with Papua New Guinea, people arriving by boat will be denied resettlement in Australia, be processed on Manus Island and resettled in PNG if refugee status is approved.

More than 1000 asylum seekers who have arrived since the announcement are undergoing health checks at Christmas Island ahead of transfers to PNG which are expected to start at the end of next week.

Burke, who returned on Saturday from visiting Nauru and PNG, said people smugglers would continue to “test the resolve” of the government, but the capacity to increase accommodation on Manus Island was “way, way, way in front of the rate of boat arrivals”.

Just over 100 asylum seekers on Manus Island, apart from 26 facing criminal charges, had been transferred to detention centres in Australia to make way for people who come under the new arrangements, Mr Burke said.

He said conditions at Manus Island were “adequate”.

Burke inspected sites earmarked for “rapid expansion” and discussed other possible sites with PNG officials.

The federal government has hired a logistics company specialising in setting up mining camps.

Burke said in coming days the immigration department secretary would be announcing an independent review into the Nauru riots and Manus Island rape allegations.

The review would establish facts, pass on relevant information to Nauru and PNG authorities and recommend improvements to avoid repeat incidents, he said.

Last week, whistleblower security guard Rod St George claimed on SBS TV asylum seekers had been raped and tortured at Manus Island and had not be separated from the alleged perpetrators.

Burke said there would now be segregated areas set up so “individuals involved in forms of intimidation” could be separated.

The Nauru detention centre was all but burned to the ground a week ago, when a large group of asylum seekers torched a health centre, accommodation blocks, offices and cars.

Burke said 151 asylum seekers on Nauru were facing criminal charges and potentially long prison terms following the riots which caused an estimated $60 million damage.

“(They) torched buildings, sprayed fire extinguishers in the eyes of authorities and turned metal bars into weapons,” Burke said.

“It would be wrong to assume that everybody who has (refugee) claims in Nauru was part of the action,” he said.

He rejected links between the rioting and the condition of accommodation facilities and said the rioters should not be painted as victims.

Burke vowed to rebuild the facilities.

Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison accused Mr Burke of making lots of “big bold claims”, a mantra he repeated eight times in three minutes at a press conference in Sydney on Saturday.

Morrison said even delivering enough beds for half the number of arrivals would be a tough challenge at 600 beds a week.

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said dumping asylum seekers on Manus Island was “a humanitarian time bomb”.

SOURCE: AAP/PACNEWS

50) Rudd defends PNG deal as more boats arrive

By Online Editor
10:35 am GMT+12, 29/07/2013, Australia

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has refused to say when his hardline plan to banish boat asylum seekers to Papua New Guinea will work, as another refugee vessel is intercepted en route to Australia.

Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare on Sunday confirmed a boat with 83 passengers was spotted on Thursday northeast of Christmas Island.

That takes to 17 the number of boats that have been intercepted since Rudd’s declaration on July 19 that new arrivals will never be settled in Australia and will instead be sent to PNG for processing and possible resettlement.

The new approach is aimed at discouraging people from taking dangerous sea voyages to Australia.

Repeatedly pressed on whether he expected the PNG deal would slow the boats before the federal election, Rudd has refused to bite.

“It is the implementation of that policy direction over time, resolutely, which will yield results,” he told Network Ten’s Bolt Report.

“In the interim, people smugglers will test your resolve.”

The prime minister said he had always expected people smugglers to test the government’s resolve on its new PNG arrangement.

“(But) we are not for turning. Our policy is very clear,” he said.

“Our policy is very clear … you will not be settled in Australia.”

A Galaxy poll published by News Corp Australia found people rated Mr Rudd better than Opposition Leader Tony Abbott at handling the asylum seeker issue, 40 to 38 per cent.

The poll was taken between July 23 and 25, within a week of Mr Rudd’s PNG announcement.

Labor frontbencher Kim Carr said Australians had very strong views on asylum seekers.

“They’ve got a right to have those attitudes,” Senator Carr told Network Ten.

“We are, however, concentrating on stopping people from drowning.”

Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said the real test for the PNG arrangement would be whether asylum seekers would be resettled in that country.

“I know people want to believe that this thing is the answer,” he told ABC television.

“But the truth here is there is a long way to go both in the implementation and legal issues.”

Abbott said it had taken Rudd five years and almost 50,000 people arriving by boat to support offshore processing.

“This government is all announcement and no delivery,” he told reporters in Sydney.

“It’s all talk and no action.”

Meanwhile, the immigration department says it’s ramping up efforts to expand Australia’s processing centre on Manus Island.

The department on Sunday released photos of a cargo plane touching down in Port Moresby to deliver supplies for the facility..

SOURCE: AAP/PACNEWS

CLIMATE CHANGE/CONSERVATION & ENVIROMENT:

51)Fiji engineer says there will be consultation on diversion canals

Posted at 03:57 on 29 July, 2013 UTC

The Fiji engineer in charge of the plan to dig diversion canals to alleviate flooding in Nadi says stakeholders will be consulted before works begin.

The Council announced last week that the Japanese International Consultancy Agency, or JICA, will carry out the project, which is a joint effort of the Japanese and Fijian governments worth 150 million US dollars.

Stakeholders have complained of little consultation so far, and that the most recent proposal is based on a dated 1998 report.

Meli Koroitamana says landowners and other interest groups will have their concerns raised at the next JICA visit, which will assess whether the project can proceed on the 1998 recommendations.

“Talks with the landowners will come into play. At the moment we are awaiting the Japanese expert team to come in, have a look at the 1998 report, and then we’ll go on from there. If there’s any new recommendations or changes that need to be made then all the stakeholders will be informed.”

Meli Koroitamana.

Radio New Zealand International

52) Villagers in remote Fiji islands still recovering from cyclone damage

Posted at 07:24 on 29 July, 2013 UTC

Remote villages in Fiji are still recovering from one of the country’s harshest cyclones, which struck last December.

There is still plenty of damage visible in the remote Yasawa island group, including simple structures used as family homes.

Alex Perrottet visited one of the two villages on Matacawalevu Island six months on from the devastating natural disaster.

The island is one of the most northern in the long Yasawa group of islands to the north west of Viti Levu, Fiji’s main island. Emosi Ravato is an elder in the village of Vuaki and has come to pick me up. Some, like his sons and daughters, find work in nearby resorts, but most work on plantations.

“EMOSI RAVATO: Everything was damaged in the plantation, whatever we need, like cassava, yams and kawai. They were all damaged on the hurricane, when the hurricane came. And 20 houses flew away when the hurricane came.”

“ALEX PERROTTET: And how many of them have been repaired so far?”

“EMOSI RAVATO: We still need some repaired, but maybe only five or six were repaired at the moment.”

Cyclones are something they deal with every few years, but as Emosi Ravato explains, they can’t remember one that went this long.

“EMOSI RAVATO: Nine in the morning until four o’clock the next morning. One whole day and one whole night. And that house was, taken out, all the stuff from the posts. Posts, and holes and everything… gone. No house there. Only the foundation for the house was there, but nothing else.”

“ALEX PERROTTET: And were people inside?”

“ER: People inside they ran away. They ran to this house.”

No one in Fiji died, but Gabriel Dalivalu told me they were lucky, as people had to run from house to house to take cover and avoid flying pieces of corrugated iron.

“GABRIEL DALIVALU: Corrugated iron flew off. When the wind direction came this side, and flew off. And some trees from there. It changed direction, but lucky we came down here. You see the low gravity of this one saved us from the wind.”

“ALEX PERROTTET: And what was on these posts here, was that also part of the house?”

“GABRIEL DALIVALU: This one was the old house.”

“ALEX PERROTTET: The old house, OK.”

“GABRIEL DALIVALU: All gone.”

There are many children on this island. A local Catholic school caters for over 100 students. Gabriel’s aunt Lowata has six children and they have all been huddled in an iron shack for six months, and have had to call their daughter back from university studies in Suva while they save to pay for a new house. The foundation stones are there but nothing else.

“LOWATA: My house here and my small kitchen, both of them, taken off by the hurricane. After two weeks we, or my husband built this house, then we sleep and we stay here till this day.”

“ALEX PERROTTET: And is that house there a temporary one? You will end up living in this one when you build it properly, is that right?”

“LOWATA: Yes.”

“AP: But you are waiting on the materials and money to finish?”

“LOWATA: Yes.”

“AP: When do you think it will be built?”

“LOWATA: We need your help. (Laughs) We need your help.”

The government provided initial aid and have offered to subsidise a company’s proposal to install solar power in the village, but for now the urgent issue is the building of proper homes for these people. But just how they build them may be a point of contention. All new buildings are made of concrete blocks and corrugated iron roofs, but as Gabriel explains, that’s not how their ancestors built them, and in times of emergency, the traditional bures are much better.

“GABRIEL DALIVALU: If you have back pain, then the cold reaches the cement or the concrete very fast, but for Fijian bure, you don’t have the concrete. You have the straws that binds, that keeps you to your normal body temperature. When it rains it’s very warm inside, you don’t have to have a blanket. And if you lit a small fire on it, the straw sucks and you won’t suffocate inside.”

There are, in fact, some novel ways these villagers can make some money. Loata is sending her children to catch mud crabs and then sell them to the resorts nearby who pay handsomely for them. And some of those resort managers who visited after the cyclone have pledged to help. But time is ticking away while people live in very basic conditions. They’re hoping something will be built for them before the next cyclone season begins.

Radio New Zealand International

53) Two Samoas to meet and dicuss reef resilience in Pagopago next week

By Online Editor
1:20 pm GMT+12, 29/07/2013, Samoa

The Samoan Cabinet has approved the participation of a government delegation from Apia to attend the Two Samoas Reef Resilience Workshop hosted by American Samoa next week.

The workshop from 5-10 August in Papopago was initiated last year.

A ten member delegation from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries is expected to attend the weeklong meeting

A statement from the Press Secretariat said the workshop is an opportunity for the two countries to work together and share and enhance knowledge of reef resilience, marine managed areas and conservation.

SOURCE: PACNEWS

SPORTS:

54a)iki Toa near end of marathon European beach soccer tour

Posted at 07:24 on 29 July, 2013 UTC

The Tahiti beach soccer team is approaching the end of a marathon tour of Europe as they continue to fine-tune their preparations for September’s World Cup in Papeete.

The Tiki Toa have spent the past few months in the Northern Hemisphere, chalking up a number of major victories against the likes of Austria and European League Champions, Switzerland.

The Tahiti coach, Angelo Schirinzi, who guided the Swiss to second place at the 2009 World Cup, told Vinnie Wylie the team made sure it’s build-up was as thorough as possible.

ANGELO SCHRINZI: Tahiti Federation, they supported the players a lot. I was there in December for four weeks for preparation in Tahiti, then I was there in April. We played three matches against France, we won three matches, then we played, I think, in May three matches against Holland in Tahiti. We won all three matches. Then it was the plan to come to Europe. The team is here. We went to Croatia for a tournament, we won an Austrian tournament, we were in Iceland and we won a tournament in Iceland. Now the team is here. The players are playing in the Swiss league in several teams, which is important for having experience at this new sport. It’s a win-win situation for the federation because players can improve here. In Europe they have a lot of experience, they can play a lot of matches, and the team will improve.

VINNIE WYLIE: Is this the busiest period of matches that some of these guys have ever played?

AS: I think this is one of the best preparations they’ve had in their lives, yes. Because we are working very professionally. For the last six months we trained almost every day. We played on a high level and now the (Indistinct) is at the end to maybe go to World Cup, to go to maybe quarter-finals, maybe then semi-finals and make some surprise at the World Cup. But it’s still very difficult because the Tahiti players, they have not this experience like other players in Russia or in Brazil or maybe Switzerland. So it’s important to play here in Europe and to make this experience.

VW: Obviously, the World Cup is in September and it’s in front of Tahiti’s home fans, so what are the expectations of the team going into the World Cup? What do you think you can achieve?

AS: I think we can reach a lot, ’cause the team is well-prepared. With this experience now with the three months in Europe, I think we already will make the World Cup. And, of course, my objective is to go to the quarter finals and maybe to have a surprise. But, of course, we cannot say that we want to win the World Cup. It’s a dream, of course.

VW: You’ve been away for a long time in Europe, of course, with this preparation. For a number of these players, is this effectively their full-time job at the moment, playing for the Tiki Toa?

AS: Yes, this is a full-time job at the moment. They get off from their jobs for the last three months, so we are training every day two times. We are doing matches, we are going all over Europe to play matches and to make a professional preparation. At the end, I hope this will be paid off with good results.

Radio New Zealand International

54b) Australia mark return to OFC with victory

By Online Editor
1:33 pm GMT+12, 29/07/2013, New Zealand

Australia have claimed the OFC Futsal Championship Invitational 2013 title on their return to the region after beating Malaysia 5-1 in a thrilling final between the two visiting AFC sides at The Trusts Arena in Auckland.

Malaysia’s Qaiser Abdul Kadir, one of their standout players throughout the tournament, gave his side an early lead scoring less than two minutes into the first half. However a determined Australia were not interested in going home runners up and heaped the pressure on their Asian counterparts with the tactic paying off after just nine minutes when captain Toby Seeto found the back of the net to bring his side back in line with their opponents.

Australia came out after the break with the same intensity as they searched for the winner and they finally got the advantage when Adam Cooper found the top corner. Wade Giovenali added a third for the Futsalroos followed by a second for Seeto to give them a three-goal cushion with three minutes remaining.

Despite a comfortable lead Australia continued to attack while Malaysia refused to give up either. Khairul Mohd Bahrin was brandished with a red card late in the match and it allowed the Australians to drill in the final nail with Seeto netting in the dying seconds to earn his hat-trick and the victory for his side.

Seeto says it a great feeling to lift any trophy and he is incredibly proud of his boys after they were made to work hard for this one.

“They put in a really good effort and we’re really happy to win obviously. Malaysia are a good team and they’re very much on the improve,” he says. “We’ve always had tough battles against them, last year we played out a 4-all draw. But the game is about taking your chances and we managed to take more of ours today.

“Our objective was obviously to come here and win but also to improve. A couple of boys are new to the squad so it was about blending them in and it augurs well for us in the future.”

Malaysia technical director Marcelo Serpa Coelho feels the side put in a good performance but were made to pay for their lack of a finishing touch.

“I was happy with the way we played, we scored early on and then controlled the game for a while but it was a tough game from then on,” Serpa Coelho says.

“I thought we played well in the second half and had a lot of chances to score but if you don’t score then you can’t win. That was the difference between the teams. Once Australia went 3-1 up they defended well and it was hard for us to get back into the game.”

Meanwhile in the day’s earlier match New Zealand’s 1-0 win secured them third place ahead of Tahiti to earn the only podium finish for an Oceania side.

The Futsal Whites seized the opportunity to avenge a 3-0 aggregate series loss to the Tahitians during their tour of French Polynesia earlier this year taking hold of the match with an early effort from Daniel Burns.

Tahiti found themselves on the back foot just give five minutes into the match when Burns found himself in the right spot at the far post to knock the ball in and give the local side an advantage. With both sides having demonstrated their ability to defend during the previous four days of action, Tahiti were always going to find it a hard task to come back.

The Futsal Whites kept their shape well frustrating the visitors who never gave up their fight for an equaliser. Mote Tino once again stood out for the Aito Arii as he constantly challenged the Kiwis’ defensive line with goalkeeper Elias Billeh forced into action on a number of occasions. However it was by no means a vacation at the other end for Tahiti keeper Teva Durot who was called into action on more than one occasion as the Kiwis launched a number of counter attacks of their own. But it was the New Zealanders time to shine on this occasion as they managed to hold their opponents out to secure third place.

It was a disappointing result for Tahiti coach Heitapu Hunter after his side performed outstandingly in the previous day’s semi-final against Malaysia.

“New Zealand defended well against us. They waited for us and unfortunately they scored early and kept waiting for us. We just weren’t able to score a goal,” Hunter says.

“Compared with when we played them at home New Zealand are more serious on defence, they attack less in the open and give away less but they have really improved in defence.”

Futsal Whites coach Scott Gilligan says a sensational performance from his side gave them the edge on this occasion.

“I think we kept possession superbly in the first half, we got the goal which helped us of course, but our concentration was making sure we didn’t concede,” Gilligan says.

Looking ahead to the qualifiers for the 2016 FIFA Futsal World Cup, Gilligan says his team will have to continue building on the foundations they have laid during this tournament.

“The qualifiers are a whole different ball game again. It’s been a tremendous job by these guys but they have to keep working at it because I know Tahiti are going to come back even stronger in 2015.”

In the tournament’s individual awards, New Zealand’s Dylan Manickum secured the Golden Boot with nine goals, five of which came in his first match against Solomon Islands. Australia’s Angelo Konstantinou was awarded the Golden Gloves while his captain Toby Seeto won Golden Ball for most outstanding player in the tournament. The Fair Play award went to the NZ Invitational side.

SOURCE: OFC/PACNEWS

54c)_Pacific Sports Partnership Recipients Announced

By Online Editor
1:36 pm GMT+12, 29/07/2013, Australia

Eleven Australian national sporting organisations have been selected to receive funding through the second phase of the Pacific Sports Partnerships (PSP) program, of which Solomon Islands will also benefit from.

The Australian government has granted $14 million through Australia’s aid program to help Australian national sporting organisations work with their regional partners in the Pacific to deliver sport-based programs that achieve key social development objectives.

‘We know sport can play an important role in helping to combat non-communicable diseases by getting people more active more often,’ Minister Parke said.

Non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease and chronic respiratory diseases are growing rapidly in the Pacific and cause 75 per cent of all adult deaths in the region.

‘The variety of sports and proposed activities selected will benefit a broad cross-section of Pacific Island communities, including girls and women, young people and people with disability.’

The successful organisations selected to receive funding are:

– Australian Football League (Nauru and Papua New Guinea)
– Athletics Australia (Fiji)
– Badminton Australia (Tonga and Kiribati)
– Basketball Australia (Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu)
– Cricket Australia (Fiji, Vanuatu, Samoa and Papua New Guinea)
– Football Federation Australia (region-wide)
– Netball Australia (Tonga, Samoa and Vanuatu)
– Australian Rugby Union (Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Tonga)
– Swimming Australia (Fiji, Tonga and Samoa)
– Table Tennis Australia (Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Kiribati)
– Australian Volleyball Federation (Fiji, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Kiribati)

The PSP has been supported by AusAID since 2010. This new phase of the PSP has been extended until 2017 and gives more organisations the opportunity to apply for funding.

‘Sport plays an important part in Pacific Island communities. Australia has invested in grassroots level sport in the Pacific for a long time, and the extension of the PSP for another four years will no doubt help foster strong relationships with our Pacific neighbours,’ Senator Thistlethwaite said.

The Australian Sports Commission is working with the 11 organisations to develop their programs. Their activities and funding will be finalised in September.

‘Australia has long been seen as a leader in sport, at all levels. The PSP allows us to tap into Australia’s vast sporting networks and resources to support grassroots level sport in the Pacific. Helping promote healthier and more inclusive communities across the region is a highly rewarding result,’ Senator Farrell said.

SOURCE: SOLOMON TIMES ONLINE/PACNEWS

54d) Tributes For Tongan Rugby Player Who Died After Match Flow In
Halaifonua’s brain injury in New Zealand shocks rugby community

NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, July 26, 2013) – Tributes are flowing in for a Tongan rugby player in New Zealand who died on Tuesday July 23 in an Auckland hospital after suffering head injuries in a rugby match on Saturday.

The Tongan-born Viliami Halaifonua (27) collapsed unconscious soon after the end of a semi-final game and only moments after he was announced player of the match between Takapuna RFC and Massey RFC.

Viliami played lock for the premier Northshore rugby club team based in Takapuna and is well known by many professional rugby players for his talent and personality.

The cause of death from brain injury has shocked the rugby community, and video footage of the game is now being analysed. According to the head of the North Harbour Rugby Union, Brett Hollister, there were no signs that Viliami had suffered a concussion during the match despite several head knocks.

Viliami was described by his team mates as a humble family man and a “gentle giant”.

Matangi Tonga Magazine: www.matangitonga.to/home/

54e) Iliesa Delana wins again

By Online Editor
1:30 pm GMT+12, 29/07/2013, Fiji

A rare back-to-back Fiji Sportsman of the Year award cannot be easily forgotten.

But Iliesa Delana is willing to push that win aside and concentrate on achieving more of that kind in the near future.

Delana, who won Pacific’s first gold medal in the London Paralympics last year, was rewarded for the historic achievement at the 2012 Tattersall’s Fiji Sports Awards on Friday night at the Vodafone Arena in Suva.

The national hero said it was a proud achievement for him and the Fiji Paralympic Committee.

“For the sport of Paralympic, to win it back-to-back is a huge achievement and I thank the Almighty for that,” Delana said.

“I think it’s all about believing in yourself and setting your goals and working hard towards it to achieve great things.

“I want to forget this and achieve more like this in the future.”

Delana hoped the win would inspire upcoming athletes to produce better results than him.

“This is a big boost for upcoming Paralympic athletes to achieve things same as me or even more than what I have achieved.

“Nothing is impossible if you set your goals right. There are circumstances in life but you have to go through it in order to achieve your goals.”

Delana has started his preparation for the Queensland Championship next year and the 2015 World Championship in Qatar.

He said qualifying for the Rio Paralympics was his main goal.

Delana thanked his sponsors Digicel Fiji and DHL and all others who have been helping him with his preparations.

Meanwhile, Fred Fatiaki dedicated his historic back-to-back Coach of the Year award win at the 2012 Fiji Sports Awards to the athletes.

The national Paralympics coach who guided Iliesa Delana to the golden win in the 2012 London Paralympics has been mentoring for the past six years.

“It’s a wonderful feeling, I can’t describe but back-to-back for me is an honour and blessing. I like to thank everyone for this achievement especially to the athletes for listening and believing in me.”

Fatiaki said his win was a good lesson for people with disabilities.

“Nothing is impossible. If I can do it so can the other athletes or officials with disabilities.”

Guest speaker Eric Rush while congratulating the winners said their hard work paid off with the recognition in the Fiji Sports Awards at the Vodafone Arena in Suva.

Rush in his speech talked about his humble beginning in New Zealand to the visit to the Buckingham Palace, emphasising the importance of challenges in life.

He shared his stories from his rugby days and was honoured to be mentioned in the same league as maestro Waisale Serevi.

Chief guest Prime Minister Commondore Voreqe Bainimarama said his government was committed to help in the development of sports in the country.

SOURCE: FIJI TIMES/PACNEWS

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