Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 866


1) AG Admits To Differences In Assented Fiji Constitution
Sayed-Khaiyum: amendments only tighten up existing provisions

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Sept. 17, 2013) – Fiji’s Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum admits there are some differences between the copy of the constitution which was released on 22 August and that which came into effect two weeks ago.

He said the amendments made to the constitution that was assented to by the President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau two weeks ago only served to tighten up the already existing provisions.

One of these included the change in titles of section 28 and section 29 from “Protection of iTaukei, Rotuman and Banaban lands” to Rights of ownership and protection of iTaukei, Rotuman and Banaban lands and from “Protection of rights and interests in land” to “Protection of ownership and interests in land.”

Another aspect he said the amended document protected like never before in any constitution is the interest of landowners and tenants which sees an additional three subsections added onto Section 29 to strengthen it.

One of these is subsection four which states that all parliament and cabinet must ensure that the landowners get a fair and equitable return while protecting the land lessees and land tenants capturing “in a much wider sense the provisions in ALTA.”

He reiterated that the land provision like every other provision included in the Bill of Rights, are protected, and cannot be challenged by anyone.

“Whatever is in the Bill of Rights, binds the legislature, parliament cannot do anything that goes against this provision.

“The executives, the cabinet, the PM, they cannot do anything that goes against any of these provisions in the Bill.

“The judiciary cannot come up with a ruling that is in conflict to this.

“Any administrative decisions they make must adhere to the Bill of Rights.

“We’ve never had this kind of protection put into the Bill of Rights before.

“Some people talk about the entrenched provisions, that was a law, this is in the Bill of Rights. It’s not a stand alone law; this is encapsulating every single law that was made. Its a lot firmer, a lot more entrenched.”

Sayed-Khaiyum also brushed off comments made by some politicians that government could change the constitution by the stroke of a pen.

“No we can’t. We can’t just take out clauses.”

Sections 160 and 161, which contain provisions on the amendment of the constitution, state that from 7 September when the constitution was assented to by the president and 31 December, should there be any amendments made, in respect to correcting any inconsistency or errors, the cabinet must obtain a certification from the Supreme Court.

After 31 December, the only way any amendment can be made, as highlighted in section 160, is that if at least three quarters of parliament approves it and then three quarters of the registered voters approve it.

If so, then the president must assent to the change which may be effective immediately or on a prescribed date. Sayed-Khaiyum said the stated provisions for amendment are to ensure the protection of the Bill of Rights.


2) Fiji Regime Refuses Comment On Alleged Pay Raises
Report alleges some department heads’ salaries raised by 200%

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Sept. 17, 2013) – The Fiji government has refused to comment on a report that shows the salaries of heads of government departments have been increased by up to 200 percent.

The head of the Fiji Labour Party, Mahendra Chaudhry, says a PriceWaterhouseCoopers report was released to him, showing the new salaries of permanent secretaries of government departments.

Fiji’s Ministry of Information has told Radio New Zealand International it has no response to the reports.

Earlier this year the Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, said the government salaries, including his own and that of the Prime Minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama, would be made public once the new constitution was finalised.

Mr. Sayed-Khaiyum was responding to accusations by political parties that Commodore Bainimarama receives more than US$700,000 a year.

Fiji’s president assented to the constitution on September the 6th.

[PIR editor’s note: Fiji’s Public Service Association has also criticized alleged reports on the pay raises. PSA General Secretary Rajeshwar Singh says he is shocked by the reports, which he feels are an insult to civil servants who earn below minimum wage.]

Radio New Zealand International:

3) There are Changes in Fiji’s Constitution: AG

By Online Editor
10:30 am GMT+12, 18/09/2013, Fiji

Fiji’s Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum admits there are some differences between the copy of the constitution which was released on 22 August and that which came into effect two weeks ago.

He said the amendments made to the constitution that was assented to by the President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau two weeks ago only served to tighten up the already existing provisions.

One of these included the change in titles of section 28 and section 29 from “ Protection of iTaukei, Rotuman and Banban lands” to Rights of ownership and protection of iTaukei, Rotuman and Banaban lands and from “Protection of rights and interests in land” to “Protection of ownership and interests in land”

Another aspect he said the amended document protected like never before in any constitution is the interest of landowners and tenants which sees an additional three subsections added onto Section 29 to strengthen it.

One of these is subsection four which states that all parliament and cabinet must ensure that the landowners get a fair and equitable return while protecting the land lessees and land tenants capturing “in a much wider sense the provisions in ALTA.”

He reiterated that the land provision like every other provisions included in the Bill of Rights, are protected, and cannot be challenged by anyone.

“Whatever is in the Bill of Rights, binds the legislature, parliament cannot do anything that goes against this provision.

“The executives, the cabinet, the PM, they cannot do anything that goes against any of these provisions in the Bill.

“The judiciary cannot come up with a ruling that is in conflict to this.

“Any administrative decisions they make must adhere to the Bill of Rights.

“We’ve never had this kind of protection put into the Bill of Rights before.

“Some people talk about the entrenched provisions, that was a law, this is in the Bill of Rights. It’s not a stand alone law; this is encapsulating every single law that was made. Its a lot firmer, a lot more entrenched.”

Sayed-Khaiyum also brushed off comments made by some politicians that government could change the constitution by the stroke of a pen.

“No we can’t. We can’t just take out clauses.”

Sections 160 and 161 which contains provisions on the amendment of the constitution states that from 7 September when the constitution was assented to by the president and 31 December , should there be any amendments made, in respect to correcting any inconsistency or errors, the cabinet must obtain a certification from the Supreme Court.

After 31 December, the only way any amendment can be made, as highlighted in section 160, is that if at least three quarters of parliament approves it and then three quarters of the registered voters approve it.

If so, then the president must assent to the change which may be effective immediately or on a prescribed date. Sayed-Khaiyum said the stated provisions for amendment is to ensure the protection of the Bill of Rights.


4) Umbrella group of Fiji churches supports strong words on democracy

Posted at 05:21 on 18 September, 2013 UTC

The Fiji Council of Churches has supported a push for a peaceful path to democracy in Fiji and an end to a culture of silence.

The Council, which includes Fiji’s main Christian churches, has agreed with religious leaders’ call last week to transform the present system of power and allow people to take part in political affairs freely and responsibly.

Their call came following a strong statement by the Catholic Archbishop of Suva Peter Loy Chong who said the present government was perpetuating a system that had brought about divisiveness and a coup culture.

A Council spokesman, Reverend James Bhagwan, says unity is important so individual churches aren’t victimised.

“This is a call to look at what democracy means for us and the values we believe in in terms of our Christian faith and to ensure that as we move towards elections we affirm these things and we continue to ensure that the journey that is being taken is one that is particpatory.”

Reverend James Bhagwan says churches plan to reiterate their message over the next year.

Radio New Zealand International

5) Fiji civil servant association slams alleged report of pay hikes

Posted at 05:21 on 18 September, 2013 UTC

The body representing Fiji’s civil servants has criticised an alleged report on pay hikes for permanent secretaries of Government departments.

The General Secretary of the Fiji Public Service Association, Rajeshwar Singh, says he is shocked at the reports of up to 192 percent pay rises, with some department heads earning more than $US119,000 a year.

The Fiji Government has said it will not comment on the report.

Mr Singh says civil servants no longer have a course of action as they have been removed from the main labour legislation by a regime decree.

He spoke to Alex Perrottet:

RAJESHWAR SINGH: We were shocked that a salary rise of about 192% as been given to about eight of the permanent secretaries and the rest of them got a salary increase ranging from 110.9% to 164.21%. So that was a real shock, and this is really unbelievable. But why is the government not prepared to issue any statement is something that baffles us. If they have given this salary rise why aren’t they saying it’s ’yes’. If they haven’t done it they should say ’nay’.

ALEX PERROTTET: And what are your concerns in terms of how these salaries compare to the average salary in fiji, which I imagine at the moment is less than Fiji $4,000 a year?

RAJESHWAR SINGH: We’re talking about civil servants.The lowest-paid civil servants now receive $10,292. In 2007 we had a 5% paycut, and that paycut hasn’t been really paid to the civil servants. The civil servants receive 3% payrise. Particularly the public servants and the teachers, the two teachers organisations, which comprises about 10,000 civil servants, teachers and us. We got 3%, the discipline service 10%, 12%. We’re even not sure how many went more than 10%, 12%. So that was the last pay rise and we know the cost of living has risen, the poverty is on the increase and members are not able to deal with this inflationary hike. And you know the public service has been taken out from the main labour legislation of the country – Decree Number 21, which is an amendment decree to employment relations provocation, which takes out the civil servants from the labour legislation. The civil servants don’t have any mechanism to file their grievances. There is no collective bargaining. And we thought when the constitution came these Draconian decrees would go away. But, no, the decrees are part of the constitution now. And the other thing is, the cost of living adjustment, there’s no salary increase as such. Really, the real wages are down by 40%. And of course there is also, between the permanent secretary and his deputy, there is a gap of about 260%. How do we justify it? There is a serious pay gap between the deputy permanent secretary and the permanent secretary. Relativity in the public sector is out the window.

Radio New Zealand International


6) Body of American Samoan soldier returned from Afghanistan

Posted at 02:17 on 18 September, 2013 UTC

The body of an American Samoa soldier killed in Afghanistan last month arrived back in the territory last night.

1st Lieutenant Jason Atuatasi Togi of Fagasa had died of injuries caused by an improvised explosive device.

The soldier’s body was accompanied by US Army Brigadier General Daniel Karbler, American Samoa’s US Congressman Faleomavaega Eni Hunkin, and family members.

He is to be buried at his home village tomorrow.

Radio New Zealand International

7) New Tuvalu Govt to release road map for first 100 days in power

Posted at 22:33 on 17 September, 2013 UTC

The new Tuvalu government plans today to release a road map laying out its policy over its first 100 days in power.

The government was voted in five weeks ago and prime minister Enele Sopoaga says it got a boost last week with the winner of the Nui by-election committing to their side.

He says the road map will present the government’s priorities, covering governance issues, economic growth, stability, and foreign and social policy.

“There are things that can be delivered within 30 days, within 60 days, within 100 days. There are things that we cannot deliver in whole, but we can deliver at least an initiation of those in terms of consultation and planning for proper delivery during the following year. And this is timely because we are currently producing our national budget for next year.”

Mr Sopoaga says it is extremely important that they communicate these ideas to the people of Tuvalu and the country’s development partners and other stakeholders.

Radio New Zealand International

8) Move in American Samoa to re-open registration of chiefly titles

Posted at 22:32 on 17 September, 2013 UTC

There has been another move in the Fono in American Samoa to reopen the registration of chiefly or matai titles.

A bill is now before the House of Representatives that, if enacted into law, will reopen the matai title registration for a period of six months next year.

Current statute states that every matai in American Samoa must have registered his title and designated name with the Territorial Registrar before 1969.

Similar amendments have been proposed in the past, including one introduced in 2011, but none made it out of the committee stage.

The push to reopen registration comes because several matai titles currently vacant or being used today were not registered by the January 1969 deadline.

More than six years ago, some traditional leaders argued that re-opening the registration period will allow new chiefly titles that were never part of a family clan to be registered.

A House committee hearing is set for later this week to hear testimonies on the bill.

Radio New Zealand International

9) Righting French Polynesia’s economy top priority for new representative

Posted at 02:17 on 18 September, 2013 UTC

France’s new High Commissioner to French Polynesia, Lionel Beffre, says he is committed to helping the territory deal with its deep economic crisis.

The new French government representative in the territory says righting the economy and encouraging growth was the number one priority.

Mr Beffre arrived in the territory on Friday and takes over from Jean-Pierre Laflaquière.

He is a public finance specialist, and former regional administrative chief in France.

Radio New Zealand International


10) Kiribati search and rescue find no sign of missing fishermen

Posted at 04:15 on 18 September, 2013 UTC

The Kiribati marine search and rescue team is not holding out much hope for locating two remaining fishermen lost at sea.

One fisherman’s body was pulled from the water, three days after the crew were reported missing on August the 30th.

A New Zealand plane located the damaged and upturned boat the following day.

“The Director of Marine, Captain Ruoikabuti Tioon, says it’s clear the men did not have any emergency equipment with them, and the man was found 3 kilometres from the remote island of Arorae (Aro-rai) .”

“The ship that assisted us in the search and rescue mission exhausted their resources, they were running out of fuel. The nearest island is also very far from the place where they did the search, so we continue to broadcast to nearby fishing ships passing by the vicinity of Arorae island to keep or maintain a lookout for two missing men.”

Captain Ruoikabuti Tioon says tough new regulations for fishing crews are still being drafted and will not be ready until late this year or early next year.

Radio New Zealand International

11) Cancer-Related Deaths High For Guam’s Small Population
144 reportedly lost to cancer annually, based on past statistics

By Mar-Vic Cagurangan

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Marianas Variety Guam, Sept. 18, 2013) – Guam sees an average of 144 cancer deaths a year, an alarming number for a very small population, according to local cancer care providers.

Chalorna Freitas Lauron, marketing and project coordinator at Guam Cancer Care, said the non-profit organization has provided services to more than 550 local cancer patients since the facility opened two years ago.

“We lose 1 percent (of the cancer patient population) every two to three days. That’s a huge number for such a small island,” Lauron said.

Guam Cancer Care is a non-profit organization, whose mission is to bridge the gaps in cancer case services on Guam. With a full-time staff of seven, Guam Cancer Care depends on grants and donations from the community.

“We offer services in navigation, financial assistance, a patient transfer program, cancer screening and outreach programs,” Lauron said.

Cancer has been identified as the second leading cause of death on the island.

Guam, however, does not have updated cancer statistics. The most recent statistics provided by the local and U.S. governments were based on figures from 2003 to 2007.

According to a Department of Public Health and Social Services 2011 report, “Every year approximately 316 people were told by their doctor they had cancer, and 144 died. That’s one person every two to three days.”

“Comparing the five-year period 1998-2002 with 2003-2007, cancer deaths increased 10 percent, and new cancer cases diagnosed increased 19 percent. From 2003-2007, 1,580 Guam residents were diagnosed with cancer, and 720 died of this disease,” the department said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics, the Guam cancer death ratio is 133.6 per population of 100,000 based on the 2010 census.


The Cancer Center of Guam and Island Cancer Center recently formed the Pacific Cancer Care Alliance, a new organization that unites cancer care specialists and stakeholders under one name to build teamwork and coordinate care for patients with cancer.

The alliance was organized to improve patient care, raise cancer awareness, and deliver integrated, state-of-the-art cancer care.

The Island Cancer Center recently hired radiation oncologist Kin-Sing Au, from Inova Loudoun Hospital in Virginia, where he has been the clinical director of Radiation Oncology since 1991. Au began seeing patients Sept. 3, according to a press release from the Island Cancer Center.

The Cancer Center of Guam has lined up a list of cancer awareness activities next month.

Marianas Variety Guam:

12) US Ombudsman’s Office Set To Close In CNMI
End comes despite calls to maintain help for foreign workers

By Haidee V. Eugenio

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Sept. 18, 2013) – Acting U.S. assistant Interior secretary for insular areas Eileen Sobeck told U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee chair Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) that since the passage of a law placing Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands immigration under federal control, “it has been assumed” that the need for the U.S. Labor Ombudsman’s Office “would not be permanent.”

Sobeck’s letter seals the fate of the ombudsman’s office, which is set to close at the end of fiscal year 2013 on Sept. 30.

This, despite calls to keep the ombudsman’s office open, at least until the end of the transitional program for alien workers in the CNMI.

For 14 years, the ombudsman’s office has aided thousands of foreign workers in the CNMI who were victims of labor abuses, human trafficking, sex trafficking and illegal recruitment, among other things.

Sobeck said once the Consolidated Natural Resources Act (CNRA)—the federalization law—was passed, “it was anticipated that many of the immigration and labor abuses would abate, especially as the last garment factory closed in early 2009, sharply curtailing demand for foreign workers in CNMI.”

She said the number of alien workers in the CNMI has dropped from over 40,000 to some 16,000.

“Therefore, since the passage of the CNRA, it has been assumed that need for the Office would not be permanent,” Sobeck told Wyden.

Sobeck’s letter was dated Aug. 29, a response to Wyden’s May 31 letter addressed to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. She said the Interior secretary asked her to respond on her behalf.

Bonifacio Sagana, president of Dekada Movement, said last night that federalization didn’t end the problems concerning labor and immigration abuses.

“A lot of things haven’t changed since [Jack] Abramoff time, many of the workers haven’t received awarded labor claims,” he added.

The current labor ombudsman in the CNMI is Pamela Brown.

‘Dramatic shift’

Prior to the CNRA’s enactment, the Federal Labor Ombudsman’s Office was necessary to assist victims of egregious labor and trafficking violations, Sobeck said.

It has now been nearly five years since November 2009 when the federal government, through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, has taken over immigration responsibilities in the CNMI.

“In the past several years, the work of the Ombudsman’s office has shifted dramatically from working on serious labor and trafficking violations to assisting individual alien workers with more routine immigration and labor issues,” Sobeck reiterated.

She said the number of new cases opened in 2012 was approximately half the number of those opened in 2008.

In 2008, she said nearly 80 percent of the cases that the ombudsman’s office referred concerned labor violations, while in 2012, 80 percent of the cases referred related to immigration-related matters, Sobeck said.

‘Major flaw’

Florida-based human rights activist and former CNMI teacher Wendy Doromal said the argument that the U.S. takeover of CNMI immigration would solve problems is invalid because of a major flaw—the lack of a provision granting an eventual pathway to citizenship for legal long-term nonresidents.

“As long as nonresident workers are regarded as replaceable and disposable, they will remain deprived of basic rights and they will need the federal ombudsman,” Doromal said.

Doromal added that more startling is the fact that Sobeck “minimizes the current trafficking, abuse labor and immigration problems that nonresidents continue to suffer.”

13 questions

Sobeck answered 13 questions posed by Wyden related to the Interior’s plans to close the ombudsman’s office and plans for transitioning its operations to other local and federal agencies.

She told Wyden that Interior expects that immigration, law enforcement, and labor grievances by aliens within the CNMI will be properly handled by relevant federal or local agencies with jurisdiction over the claim.

As for the number of open cases that the ombudsman’s office now has, Sobeck said the office is currently in the process of updating its list.

The office’s review of trafficking cases has shown some 35 open cases, and no new trafficking cases have come into the office since September 2012.

Sobeck said it is important to note that all cases on the docket have been referred to appropriate federal or local agencies for disposition.

She pointed out that the ombudsman’s office does not handle grievances.

The office intakes complaints and assists aliens in filling out the paperwork that is then submitted to the appropriate local or federal entity for investigation or if appropriate, adjudication, Sobeck said.

Sobeck added that the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs will fill the vacant CNMI field representative position, who will absorb some of the duties that the ombudsman currently handles.

She said the $250,000 provided by the closure of the ombudsman’s office will provide much needed resources to insular areas.

Saipan Tribune


13) Tony Abbott sworn in as Australia’s 28th Prime Minister

By Online Editor
4:42 pm GMT+12, 18/09/2013, Australia

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has promised his Government will “strive to govern for all Australians” as the new ministry was sworn in at Government House in Canberra.

Governor-General Quentin Bryce has officially commissioned Abbott and his 41 ministers, assistant ministers and parliamentary secretaries.

Abbott has presented his frontbench team to the Governor-General, saying: “We pledge ourselves to serve the people of Australia, for their benefit, to the very best of our ability.”

“We will be a problem-solving government based on values, not ideology,” the new Prime Minister added.

“We will strive to govern for all Australians, including those who didn’t vote for us.

“We won’t forget those who are often marginalised; people with disabilities, Indigenous people and women struggling to combine career and family.

“We will do our best not to leave anyone behind.

“We hope to be judged by what we have done rather than by what we have said we will do,” PM Abbott said at the ceremony.

“And we will not spare ourselves – we will not spare ourselves – in order to deserve the trust placed in us this day.”

Abbott will preside over the first ministerial meeting and first Cabinet gathering of the new government this afternoon.

Meanwhile, three high profile public service department heads have been sacked by the incoming Abbott government.

The departures of Andrew Metcalfe at Agriculture, Don Russell at the Industry Department and Blair Comley at Resources, Energy and Tourism are all set to be announced on Wednesday.

Metcalfe had been in charge at the Immigration Department from 2005 to 2013 in a tenure that spanned Liberal and Labor governments.

He had been Secretary at Agriculture since January.

Comley had only been at Resources since March 2013 after a stint as Secretary of the now defunct Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency.

Dr Russell, a former advisor to former Labor Prime Minister Paul Keating, is also understood to have lost his job as head of the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research.

It is understood that the three men are the only departmental secretaries to lose their jobs at this time.

Treasury Secretary Martin Parkinson, whose position had been the subject of much speculation, appears to be safe.

The government says that the Treasury Secretary Martin Parkinson, whose position had been the subject of much speculation, is safe for now.

Parkinson remains Treasury head until mid-2014 the Government says it will discuss a further appointment with him next year.

There will be two new Departmental Secretaries with Gordon de Brouwer heading up environment and Renee Leon to take over that Employment Department.

14) New PM Tony Abbott sacks three public service bosses as first act

Updated 18 September 2013, 17:33 AEST

By chief political correspondent Emma Griffiths

Tony Abbott has announced the sacking of three public service chiefs and a major shake-up of the federal bureaucracy in the first few hours since being sworn in as Prime Minister. Mr Abbott and his 41 ministers, assistant ministers and parliamentary secretaries were officially commissioned by Governor-General Quentin Bryce this morning. The ceremony had barely finished when the Prime Minister’s office issued a press release, announcing that three departmental secretaries had had their contracts terminated and the Treasury Secretary would stand down next year. A raft of changes to departmental structure were also unveiled, including the integration of AusAID, Australia’s overseas aid agency, into the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, to make diplomacy and aid delivery “more closely aligned”. The ABC understands AusAID’s director-general Peter Baxter has resigned, but the Government says he has only taken extended leave.

Tony Abbott has taken the oath of office and been sworn in by Governor General Quentin Bryce as . (Credit: ABC)

Tony Abbott has announced the sacking of three public service chiefs and a major shake-up of the federal bureaucracy in the first few hours since being sworn in as Prime Minister.

Mr Abbott and his 41 ministers, assistant ministers and parliamentary secretaries were officially commissioned by Governor-General Quentin Bryce at Government House in Canberra this morning.

The ceremony had barely finished when the Prime Minister’s office issued a press release, announcing three departmental secretaries had had their contracts terminated and the Treasury Secretary would stand down next year.

“Each of these secretaries has made a substantial contribution to public life in Australia and I wish them well for the future,” Mr Abbott said in the statement.

Dr Don Russell lost his job as head of the Department of Innovation, Industry Science and Research; Blair Comley was the head of the Resources, Energy and Tourism Department; and Andrew Metcalfe, a former Immigration Department chief, has been sacked as head of the Agriculture Department.

While I am naturally disappointed that I will no longer be working with you, I of course accept and respect the Government’s decision.

Andrew Metcalfe, who was sacked as head of the Agriculture Department

The ABC has obtained an internal departmental email from Mr Metcalfe, who has worked just under 34 years in the public service.

“While I am naturally disappointed that I will no longer be working with you, I of course accept and respect the Government’s decision,” he said.

The Treasury Secretary, Dr Martin Parkinson, has also told new Treasurer Joe Hockey he will stand down in the middle of 2014.

The statement says the Abbott Government will discuss a “further appointment” with him next year.

Former deputy prime minister and Labor leadership aspirant, Anthony Albanese, says there is a political agenda behind the dismissals.

“These jobs should not be political playthings. These jobs are important,” he said.

“We have professional public servants – they should be respected.”

Former Treasurer and now Labor backbencher Wayne Swan has praised Dr Parkinson for this work.

Treasury Secretary Martin Parkinson is a talented public servant who will be a loss to Treasury when he steps down next year

— Wayne Swan (@SwannyQLD) September 18, 2013

Changes made to departmental structure

Mr Abbott has also announced significant changes to the public service following a reorganisation of several portfolios.

AusAID, Australia’s overseas aid agency, will be integrated into the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), to make diplomacy and aid delivery “more closely aligned”.

The ABC understands AusAID’s director-general Peter Baxter has resigned, but the Government disputes this.

A spokeswoman for Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop says Mr Baxter has taken extended leave, adding the Government looks forward to his continued service in another senior official role.

DFAT will also take on responsibility for the overseas promotion of Australia as a tourist destination.

Archie Law, executive director of charity ActionAid Australia, says the AusAID move will see the aid budget used to promote Australia’s national interests.

“The Government’s short-sighted decision to integrate AusAID into DFAT will have massive and devastating effects on Australia’s aid program and on the people living in poverty that the program supports,” he said in a statement.

“AusAID has been delivering an aid program that eradicates poverty in the world’s poorest communities, while DFAT’s objective is to promote and protect Australia’s national economic and political interests.

“We want to see this Government stand by its foreign policy and deliver an effective aid program.”

As flagged earlier, the Customs and Border Protection Service will move from the Attorney-General’s portfolio to new Immigration Minister Scott Morrison.

The Immigration Department will lose responsibility for settlement services for refugees and migrants; that will move to Social Services, under Kevin Andrews.

Mr Andrews will also take on responsibility for aged care and programs for people with a disability.

It is unclear what impact the changes will have on public service staff levels.

The Coalition has promised to cut 12,000 Commonwealth public service jobs over the next four years, through natural attrition, with the aim of saving $5 billion from the federal budget.

Tony Abbott’s day of ‘action’ on carbon tax, TPVs

The Prime Minister has described today as “an action day” and also declared he would “immediately” begin work to repeal the carbon pricing scheme, and bring back the Howard-government style temporary protection visas (TPVs) for asylum seekers who arrive by boat.

At the swearing in ceremony, Mr Abbott promised his Government would “strive to govern for all Australians, including those who didn’t vote for us”.

Who’s in Team Abbott?

Tony Abbott has revealed the make-up of his first ministry, including some “significant promotions” but a “disappointing” number of women.

“We won’t forget those who are often marginalised; people with disabilities, Indigenous people and women struggling to combine career and family.

“We will do our best not to leave anyone behind.

“We hope to be judged by what we have done rather than by what we have said we will do.

“And we will not spare ourselves… in order to deserve the trust placed in us this day.”

Many of the new ministers arrived at Government House with their families, including some very young children.

The new Agriculture Minister, Barnaby Joyce, arrived in a taxi with his family, after he quit the Senate to reclaim the Lower House seat of New England for the Nationals.

The Prime Minister’s chief of staff, Peta Credlin, and her husband Brian Loughnane, who is the Liberal Party’s federal director, also attended the ceremony.

After the ceremony, Mr Abbott presided over his first ministerial meeting where he told his frontbench “the responsibilities start now”.radio Australia

15) Major government shakeup includes AusAID move

Updated 18 September 2013, 16:46 AEST

Australia’s agency responsible for coordinating the country’s international aid program, AusAID will be integrated into the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s released a statement saying he’s recommended AusAID be integrated into DFAT to make diplomacy and aid delivery “more closely aligned”.

AusAID, which focuses on delivering aid to the Asia Pacific region, has been an executive agency within the Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio.

It’s one of many departmental changes announced by the new Abbott government announced shortly after the official swearing in at Government House.

The ABC understands AusAID’s director-general Peter Baxter has resigned as a result, with his deputy Ewan McDonald stepping in as Acting Director General.

However, the government disputes that, with a spokeswoman saying Mr Baxter has only taken extended leave.

The spokeswoman says the government looks forward to Mr Baxter’s continued service in another senior official role.

Concern over changes

Former AusAID Deputy Director-General and research fellow at the Lowy Institute, Anne-Marie O’Keefe told Pacific Beat while the details are still to be released, she has some concerns about the proposed changes.

“Ground breaking isn’t really the right term, it’s really ground trembling,” Ms O’Keefe said.

“This is going to have big ramifications for Australia’s aid program. How it is going to be managed really remains to be seen.”

“There is tension from time to time between AusAID and DFAT in terms of how development can support foreign policy objectives and I think that’s where from time to time, people get a bit enthusiastic about how much development assistance can actually support broader foreign policy objectives,” she said.

The Canadian government recently merged its foreign aid agency, CIDA, into the Foreign Affairs department.

Ms O’Keefe says it seems the new Abbott government seems to be taking the lead from Canada and New Zealand.

“Both countries with conservative governments and perhaps Australia’s government has decided to take a leaf out of the Canadian and New Zealand books,” Ms O’Keefe said.

“That would be a shame because I do think it does have a big impact and effectiveness of development programs if it’s not really clearly focussed on development outcomes.”radio australia


16) Solomon Islands papa graon i laikim bikpla moni long graon

Updated 18 September 2013, 15:39 AEST

Paulus Kombo

Guadalcanal plains landowner trustee itok emi no wanbel wantem Guadalcanal Plains Palm Oil Ltd na Guadalcanal Plains Resources Development Association long kamapim tok oraet long baem liklik moni tasol long iusim graon blong ol

Odio: Benedict Garimane bilong Guadalcanal plains landowner trustee itoktok wantem Paulus Kombo

Benedict Garimane bilong Guadalcanal plains landowner trustee itoktok wantem Paulus Kombo (Credit: ABC)

Benedict Garimane bilong Guadalcanal plains landowner trustee itok Guadalcanal Plains Resources Development Association em ol namel lain tasol, na ol ino papa bilong graun.

Mr Garimane i  mekim despela toktok ,bihain long Guadalcanal  Plains Palm Oil Limited na Guadalcanal Plains Resources Development Association ibin sainim wanpela land rental payment  agreement.

Emi  itok, Guadalcanal plains landowner trustee em ol papa tru bilong graun ino bin kisim wanpela toksave long land rental payment agreement em despla tupla laen  ibin sainim.

Em itok, Guadalcanal plains landowner trustee ino hamamas long tupela samting , wanpela em mak bilong moni despela tupela grup i agree longen i liklik tumas na namba tu samting ,Guadalcanal Plains Resources Development Association em ol namel lain tasol na ol ino papa bilong australia

17) Ol Bougainville pipal bai makim UN peace day

Updated 18 September 2013, 11:03 AEST

Caroline Tiriman

Ol pipal blong Bougainville long Papua New Guinea nau i redi long makim na selebreitim United nations International Day of Peace em bai kamap long despla sarere ikam.

Odio: Helen Hakena direkta blong Leitana Nehan divelopman agensi long Buka itoktok wantem Caroline Tiriman

Olgeta kantri long wold bai makim despla bikpla dei we bai oli holim ol bikpla bung olsem festivals, ol konset na ol narapla awenas long luksave long peace oa bel isi namel long ol pipal.

Siameri blong Bougainville Human Rights Committee, Helen Hakena itok oli redi-im ol skul pikinini na ol pipal long makim despla bikpla dei long sarere.

Mrs Hakena itok tu olsem, despla international day of peace i wanpla gutpla taem tu blong ol pipal long Bougainville long tingting long bikpla wok em oli mas mekim iet long bringim gutpla bel isi long ailan.

Mrs Hakena itok tu olsem despla dei bai mekim ol pipal long Bougainville i lukluk sopos oli bihaenim gut despla wok blong kamapim na strongim gut ol bel isi long Bougainville oa olsem wonem tru.

Emi tok ol pipal blong Buka iet bai bung long Bel Isi park long makim despla australia


18) Tony Abbott dilantik jadi Perdana Menteri Australia

Diperbaharui 18 September 2013, 12:52 AEST

Tony Abbott mengindikasikan bahwa pelantikannya sebagai perdana menteri Australia, Rabu (18/9/2013) bukanlah sekadar upacara biasa, tetapi sebagai awal pelaksanaan janjinya selama masa kampanye.

Tony Abbott dilantik oleh Gubernur Jenderal Quentin Bryce di Government House, Canberra. Abbott resmi menjadi Perdana Menteri Australia yang ke-28.

Sementara pemimpin dari Partai Nasional, Warren Truss menjadi Wakil Perdana Menteri, yang juga akan bertanggung jawab dengan pembangunan regional dan infrastruktur. 42 menteri, asisten menteri, dan sekretaris parlemen juga ikut dilantik.

Abbott  sebelumnya menegaskan, pelantikan bukanlah acara seremonial semata, tapi sebagai awal pelaksanaan janji-janji kampanye Koalisi.

Rencananya, PM Tony Abbott akan segera menginstruksikan kepada Departemen Perdana Menteri dan Kabinet untuk mempersiapkan landasan hukum untuk mencabut peraturan mengenai pajak karbon.

Ia juga akan meminta Bendarahara Negara, Joe Hockey untuk memberikan instruksi kepada pimpinan Korporasi Energi Bersih untuk menghentikan operasinya.

Badan Otoritas Perubahan Iklim dan Komisi Iklm juga rencananya akan dihapuskan.

Sementara untuk masalah lainnya, Abbott akan meminta Kementrian Imigrasi untuk menghentikan pemberian visa perlindungan permanen.

Besar kemungkinan juga sejumlah departemen akan digabung dan sejumlah pejabat pelayanan publik akan dipangkas, terutama yang sudah berada di level pejabat australia


19) Propriétaires traditionnels aborigènes contre écologistes

Posté à 18 September 2013, 8:27 AEST

Pierre Riant

Les propriétaires de la région du Cape York ont signé un accord historique pour l’exploitation de la première mine de charbon dans  cette péninsule située à l’extrême nord du Queensland.

Un désastre environnemental pour les écologistes qui soulignent que le charbon devra être transporté à travers la Grande barrière de corail.

Baptisé le Projet Wongai, cet accord a été signé avec la société minière Bounty Mining qui détient 51% des parts. Un projet qualifié de petite envergure  qui devrait produire aux alentours d’un million de tonnes de charbon par an.
Nous avons contacté les deux camps : la société minière et les défenseurs de l’environnement. Rob Stewart est le directeur de Bounty Mining.

STEWART : « Ils [les propriétaires traditionnels] recevront des revenus à travers la vente du charbon et il y aura aussi de opportunités d’emploi. Nous nous sommes engagés à fournir une formation pour qu’ils puissent devenir des opérateurs de la mine et accéder à d’autres fonctions.

Pendant la construction il devrait y avoir entre 250 et 270 emplois et subséquemment quand la mine sera en opération, dans les 200 emplois. »

Ce projet d’exploitation ne nécessite pas la construction d’un port, une bonne chose pour Rob Stewart puisque la région n’aura pas à subir d’importants travaux d’excavation et de dragage. L’idée et de charger le charbon sur des camions qui le transporteront vers la côte. Le charbon sera ensuite transférer sur des barges qui l’achemineront vers des navires de transport ancrés au large.

STEWART : « Nous avons choisi ce système parce que c’est un projet de petite envergure. L’idée est de mettre le charbon sur des barges en eau peu profonde pour l’amener en eau profonde où attendront des bateaux à un point de transbordement. C’est une pratique courante dans de nombreux pays à l’étranger, mais ce n’est pas le cas en Australie.

Certains écologistes se demandent à juste titre comment fait-on pour transborder le charbon sans en renverser dans les eaux. Et bien cela se fait de manière très efficace dans de nombreux pays, notamment en Indonésie qui affiche de nombreux points de transbordement. »

L’UNESCO considère actuellement la possibilité d’inscrire la Grande de corail sur la liste du Patrimoine mondial en péril et a déjà lancé des appels contre la construction de port et l’augmentation des transports maritimes dans cette région.
Tim Seeling de la Wilderness Society, le Projet wongai est un carton rouge pour l’UNESCO.

SEELING : « C’est évident que l’UNESCO va avoir de grands problèmes avec toute proposition qui prévoit d’acheminer du charbon sur des barges pour le transborder sur des porte-conteneurs dans la région de la Grande barrière de corail. C’est une folie environnementale, et c’est inconcevable de penser que l’UNESCO puisse l’approuver. L’UNESCO qui s’inquiète déjà de l’avenir de la Grande barrière de corail.»

Rod Stewart nous a confié qu’il ne se souciait pas pour l’instant des préoccupations de l’UNESCO et qu’il avait d’autres problèmes.

Affaire à suivre…radio australia

20) Saibai: les boat-people oubliés

Mis à jour 13 September 2013, 14:41 AEST

Caroline Lafargue

Dans le Détroit de Torrès, tout au nord de l’Australie, l’île de Saibai est située à seulement 8 kilomètres des côtes de la Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée.

Le Détroit de Torrès est la seule frontière « directe » de l’Australie, le seul passage poreux par lequel les migrants peuvent se faufiler et poser le pied sur le sol australien. Une frontière volontiers oubliée alors que le gouvernement australien se penche sur l’immigration illégale de boat-people venus d’Indonésie et qui sont interceptés bien plus au nord, dans les eaux australiennes.

Les pirogues transportent des Papous qui viennent se faire soigner dans les cliniques australiennes, ou chercher du travail au noir. Mais surtout, chaque jour des dizaines de villageois papous chargent leurs pirogues de poissons et autres nourriture, ainsi que d’objets d’artisanat, pour venir les vendre aux Australiens.

Brad Marsellos, un reporter de l’ABC, a passé plusieurs jours avec ces villageois papous au marché de Saibai. Radio australia


21) We want to reshape the development agenda beyond 2014: Pacific leaders

By Online Editor
4:24 pm GMT+12, 18/09/2013, Thailand

The Pacific delegation to the 6th Asian and Pacific Population Conference (APPC) will speak with a strong collective voice for its regional priorities.

The region stamped its presence yesterday with a strong statement of its intentions to contribute substantively to the reshaping of the global development agenda beyond 2014, when the existing 20-year Programme of Action (PoA)of the International Conference on Population and Development  (ICPD) comes to an end.

With a delegation of civil society and state representatives, including ministers and a head of state, the statement was a reaffirmation of the Moana Declaration; the declaration which summarized the deliberations on progress with key actions to follow up on the ICPD PoA borne out of a Pacific conference of parliamentarians in Suva (Fiji) in August this year (2013).

Speaking for Pacific delegates, Cook Islands Minister for Health Nandi Glassie said Pacific Countries were committed a further strengthening of a rights-based approach in advancing the ICPD agenda.

“We would like to contribute to reshaping the ICPD beyond 2014 and post 2015 development agenda at the regional and global levels and we will speak with a strong collective voice around these priority issues for the Pacific,” Hon. Glassie said.

“Given that teenage pregnancy is an issue in many of our countries, we intend to prioritise adolescent and sexual reproductive health and rights, including through comprehensive sexuality education, and establish accessible SRH and mental health services for youth in schools and other educational institutions, youth organisations, faith based organisations and communities, ensuring their meaningful participation.

“We endorse the prioritization of couples’ and individuals’ access to contraception and information to make free and informed decisions about the number and timing of children, thereby preventing unwanted and unplanned pregnancies and reducing the need for abortion.”

Making reference to recent studies on gender-based violence in the Pacific, which revealed high levels of violence in all forms against women and girls, Hon. Glassie recommended on behalf of Pacific leaders an integrated response to gender-based violence in all sexual and reproductive health programmes and services.

The Pacific delegation reiterated the key elements of the Moana Declarations which Hon. Glassie said pertained to ensuring sexual and reproductive health and rights for all our people, without discrimination on the basis of age, sex, gender identity or sexual orientation, economic status, religion and or ethnicity.

The APPC is a once-in-decade gathering which shapes the regional population agenda; this year however it coincides with the review process of the ICPD PoA, a development agenda accented to by 179 countries in Cairo, in 1994. A Ministerial Declaration at the end of the week will serve as the Asia-Pacific input to the United Nations General Assembly special session on the ICPD beyond-2014. The review aims to put the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women, girls and marginalized groups at the heart of future development goals.

UNFPA Executive Director Dr Babatunde Osotimehin reminded delegates when delivering his address during the formal opening of the conference, that with half the world’s population comprising young people “the future is quite literally in your hands”.

“Nineteen years ago in Cairo the global community laid out a ground-breaking vision for the well-being and dignity of all people. That vision provided the basis for the right of individuals to make choices to live in dignity and enjoy well-being, and for the world to achieve sustainable development. This week you have the power to decide on the steps necessary to make this vision a reality for current and future generations,” Dr Babatunde said.

“This conference is our opportunity to determine how best to respond to existing and emerging challenges, and also your opportunity to provide ground-breaking leadership.

“It is clear that this region will continue to be at the forefront of the population challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. Asia – already the most populous region in the world – is projected to add a billion people over the next 40 years. Therefore, the course you set for responding to population dynamics and the challenges and opportunities of our modern populations will have a global impact.

“And while the challenges are many and complex, we can draw from and build on the rich experiences and resources in the region – the dynamism of your economies, opportunities for South-South and triangular cooperation, and the findings and conclusions of the global ICPD beyond 2014 review.

“Strengthening partnerships at every level, especially with civil society and the private sector, and empowering individuals enhances the effectiveness that we can bring to changing and shaping our world.”.


22) Greenpeace calls on Pacific governments to ensure tuna development brings benefits to coastal communities

By Online Editor
4:20 pm GMT+12, 18/09/2013, Solomon Islands

At the 4th Pacific Tuna Forum in the Solomon Islands, Greenpeace is alarmed that despite the increased drive for domestic investment and value adding in the region’s tuna sector, Pacific Island nations face the risk of losing out on real sustainability and development for their people.

“The Forum is packed with delegates from distant water fishing nations who continue to profit from and deplete Pacific tuna stocks. Their business models are based upon paying as little as possible for the right to fish, and taking as much of the profit as they can out of the region,” said Duncan Williams, Greenpeace Australia Pacific Oceans Campaigner.

Yesterday Greenpeace organised a successful workshop attended by over 40 participants from government, the private sector, investors and other stakeholders to discuss alternative smaller scale fisheries development in the region and the next steps needed to drive this forward.

The workshop was designed to drive implementation of Greenpeace’s recently released report, ‘Transforming Tuna Fisheries in Pacific Island Countries: An Alternative Model of Development.’ The report makes detailed recommendations for how to develop smaller-scale and locally owned fisheries that maximise economic returns, create local jobs and better protect countries’ precious tuna reserves for the long term.

“Pacific Island countries need to adopt a new model of fishery development and start saying ‘no’ to those who use the most destructive methods and have a track record of pirate fishing,” Mr Williams said.

“Export markets are crying out for more sustainable tuna. Governments should be supporting local businesses and communities to develop fisheries along a sustainable, locally-owned model.”

The workshop identified that support from Pacific governments is key to revitalise more local sustainable industries such as pole and line fishing. This can be achieved by reserving the most productive fishing areas for pole and line, creating a favourable investment and taxation environment and by promoting sound resource management. Countries like the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea have pole and line fisheries ready to start and expand, given the right support.

“This transformation is not a matter of building a cannery for every island. It is about working together regionally to pool resources and establish a new model for Pacific fisheries, where the fishing, processing and profits are kept local and management returns to Pacific hands,” Williams said.

For interview, contact: Duncan Williams, Oceans Campaigner, Greenpeace SuvaNPEACE, [email protected]  (679) 9926232


23) Pacific Islands Development Forum briefs PSIDS in New York

By Online Editor
4:45 pm GMT+12, 18/09/2013, United States

Fiji’s foreign ministry deputy Secretary, Penijamini Lomaloma this week briefed Pacific ambassadors to the United Nations on the Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF).

As the deputy secretary responsible for the forum, Lomaloma pointed out that it provided a critical role in advancing the affairs of “Pacific Small Islands Developments States”.

Held at the Permanent Mission of Papua New Guinea to the United Nations in New York, Lomaloma highlighted that the successful inaugural meet held recently in Fiji demonstrated the commitment by Pacific leaders towards the objectives of the forum.

Pacific Islands Ambassadors present at the meeting welcomed the initiative as an opportunity to strengthen their voice as Pacific Islanders in international forums. In particular, they commended the focus of the PIDF on sustainable development and the green/blue economy which complements the current discussions at the United Nations on sustainable development and the post-2015 Agenda.

The convening of the PIDF was endorsed at the third consecutive “Engaging with the Pacific” meeting that was held in 2012. The PIDF brings together leaders from the public, private sectors and civil society to address regional sustainable development challenges, through mutually beneficial innovative partnerships.

The PIDF is in New York, upon the special invitation from Timor Leste to attend the g7+ meeting. While in New York, PIDF will continue to dialogue with PSIDS Ambassadors in New York and also be engaged in other side events during the High Level week of the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Deputy Secretary Lomaloma was welcomed to the meeting by the Chair of PSIDS (Pacific Small Islands Developing States), Robert Aisi, Permanent Representative of Papua New Guinea to the United Nations.



24) Vanuatu Govt rejects claims it’s unsupportive of scholarship students

Posted at 05:21 on 18 September, 2013 UTC

The Vanuatu Ministry of Education has denied claims it has not been supportive of scholarship students sent to the University of South Pacific in Suva.

The Scholarship Office announced last month the termination of about twenty scholarships because of students’ poor performance in the first semester.

The Daily Post reported that the Scholarship Office had ignored a provision in the contract which exempts first year students from termination.

It reported that students arrived at the campus two weeks late, with no text book allowances, which contributed to their failing some courses.

But the director general of education, Yoan Noel Mariasua, says the claims are ill-informed.

Mr Mariasua says the ministry made a decision in early August that all first year students would continue studying in the second semester, regardless of whether they failed courses.

He says other scholarships were terminated because of information from USP that students were not handing in assignments or showing up to class.

He says the Vanuatu Scholarship Office met with the students to tell them they would be withdrawn if their grades did not improve.

Radio New Zealand International

25) Corporal Punishment In Samoan Schools Now Risks Jail Time
Education authorities firm: hitting students is unlawful

By Pai Mulitalo ‘Ale

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Sept. 16, 2013) – Samoan education officials are sticking to tough new policies that end decades of strict physical discipline in schools.

Hitting students is against the law.

“Under the new act on corporal punishment of students, there are no longer any fines as there used to be,” said Polataivao Manutagi Tiotio, Assistant Chief Executive Officer of the Corporate Division of the ministry.

Instead, she said, teachers risk being sent “straight to prison for one year.”

And they’re not backing away from that policy even as concerns arise about students also being guilty of assaulting teachers.

Last week saw the ministry finished consultations with teachers of schools across Upolu and Savaii, reviewing the new act for teacher assault against students.

The consultations were aimed at reminding teachers about the punishment they face.

The ministry remains concerned about assaults in the classroom.

“It is still happening in schools, and there are many reasons why teachers always beat up students,” said Mrs. Tiotio.

The ministry is looking at starting other programmes to help teachers respond to challenges from students.

Mrs. Tiotio said schools were well known for corporal punishment.

“That was the way to teach the students in the past – by beating them – but now we are in modern days. Everyone understands the law,” she said.

Falana’ipupu Tanielu Aiafi, Chief Executive Officer admitted that the problem is not all one way – that students can be “very disrespectful.”

Last week, a 17 year old student of Vaimauga college was charged with assaulting a teacher after she pulled her hair.

Falana’ipupu confirmed that the student is being given another chance to continue her studies.

“There are conditions regarding this: she will be expelled if she does it again, because it is not right, making fun of teachers,” said the CEO.

Ministry officials are working to put together new policies to handle problem students.

Another option to discipline students is to take them to a village council to decide what, if any, punishment should apply.

Teaching discipline at council level could also see the village deciding on when a student is allowed to come back to school, he said.

The Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture are working together with the Ministry of Police and Prison on this programme.

Samoa Observer:


26) Solomons Journalist Hits Back At Government Allegations
Sasako claims state’s response ‘an act of desperation’

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Sept. 17, 2013) – Veteran journalist Alfred Sasako has hit back at accusations that he fabricated the story about the appointment of a new Police Commissioner in the Solomon Islands.

In a statement issued in Brisbane last night, Alfred said the story that he had authored which pre-empted the appointment of a new commissioner had actually caught the Office of the Prime Minister and staff napping.

“I stand by my story and the courageous sources who like me want to see an end to corruption,” Alfred said.

“The denial by the Office of the Prime Minister is an act of desperation by a man caught and napping. He was cornered in his own scheming. Where else would he go, let alone what to say, but to deny and to use me as a scapegoat,” Alfred said.

“Well, I am sorry Sir. I am not taking you seriously nor am I doing so lying down. As people know so well, I don’t carry a bag of lies,” the veteran journalist with more than 40 years of international and local media reporting experience said.

Alfred said the Office of the Prime Minister was recovering from a shock syndrome that no one including his Chief of Staff was game enough to put his name to the statement of denial.

“I take comfort in the overwhelming support that I have received from members of the public as well as social network commentators. The Prime Minister’s Office would be foolish not to heed dire warnings being aired on the social network, Forum Solomon Islands International (FSII),” he said.

“In pre-empting the appointment as I have, I am proud that I had squeezed the air out of blatant scheming that has gone on unchecked for far too long. You can only fool people some of the time, but not all the time,” Alfred said.

Alfred said one thing that the people of Solomon Islands have acknowledged is that since the leadership change in November 2011, Solomon Islands has lost any strand of credibility it might have. Corrupt practices have grown rampant to the point where even CDOs have dipped their fingers into the national honey pot.

“The so-called discovery of fraud within the Ministry of Health and Medical Services last week was a mere pre-meditated cover-up intended to divert public attention from the real issues pertaining to the recent trip to Indonesia, the fact that many Ministries have had their utilities such as telephones, electricity and water disconnected and so on.

“We cannot go on like this forever, Mr. Prime Minister. Some day someone has to answer for this and I think, judging from comments posted on the FSII network website, your watch is up.”

Meanwhile, Alfred said the comment by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that I had concocted the story is again something coming from people who are either not doing their work or know nothing at all about their work.

“All I can say is Fiji is serious about the ramifications of the Prime Minister’s recent visit to Indonesia. In Suva’s view, the visit undermines the solidarity of the Melanesian Spearhead Group as a sub-regional group.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs should simply prepare, because a written ‘please explain’ demand will be on its way soon.”

[PIR editor’s note: According to an official with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade, the Solomon Islands government has condemned the claim that Fiji feels the recent trip to Indonesia undermines relations. Permanent Secretary Joy Kere says, following consultations with the Fijian government, Fiji has no intention to raise such an issue as alleged by Sasako. The Solomon Islands Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (OPMC) has also condemned claims by Sasako that members of the delegation that traveled to Indonesia were given envelopes containing money as bribes. OPMC has also slammed both the Island Sun and Solomon Star newspapers for publishing Sasako’s articles.]

Solomon Star


27) Tourism boom continues in CNMI

Posted at 04:14 on 18 September, 2013 UTC

Tourist arrivals in the Northern Marianas have exceeded 400 thousand for the year – the first time such figures have been hit since 2006 – before Japan Airlines stopped flying to the territory.

The Marianas Visitors Authority says tourists from China are over 102 thousand for the year for the first time, while Russian numbers are also at record levels at just over ten thousand.

August arrivals were up 12 percent on last year at nearly 45 thousand.

Radio New Zealand International

28) U.S to run out of cash in November

By Online Editor
1:47 pm GMT+12, 18/09/2013, United States

The United States will hit its legal borrowing limit and run out of cash around the first two weeks of November, the independent Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday.

With Congressional Republicans and the White House girding for yet another battle over borrowing to finance the deficit, CBO director Douglas Elmendorf said the government could be forced into sudden cuts or defaulting on its debt as early as six weeks from now.

Based on expected cash flows, he told reporters, “We think that the Treasury will probably run out of cash sometime between the end of October and mid-November, without some changes in the borrowing limit.”

A political stalemate over fiscal policy has locked the government’s debt ceiling at US$16.7 trillion since early this year.

The Treasury until now has been able to operate under that level, but spending commitments mean that by the end of October it will need to borrow more or default on obligations.

In August 2011, a battle over the ceiling nearly forced the government to default on its debt and, despite a last-minute deal between Republicans and the White House, led to the first-ever downgrade of the US credit rating, by Standard & Poor’s.

Earlier Tuesday, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew — who has said the money could run out as early as mid-October — warned that another fight over the budget and raising the ceiling could damage the economy.

“The repercussions could be serious,” he told the Economic Club of Washington.

“Meeting our nation’s financial obligations — including Social Security and Medicare benefits, payments to our military and veterans, and contracts with private suppliers — will be put at risk.”

“Failing to meet our financial obligations should be an unthinkable event. Never in our history has the United States defaulted on our debt obligations,” he said.

29) Virgin transtasman flights go wireless

By Online Editor
10:24 am GMT+12, 18/09/2013, New Zealand

Virgin Australia has launched wireless inflight entertainment on its transtasman flights for smartphones, laptops or tablets.

The airline will stream 300 hours of movies, TV shows and music to those who download a free app before flying on short-haul international flights between New Zealand and Australia, the Pacific Islands and on Australian domestic routes.

Virgin did have some devices to loan to those without them but research found 90 per cent of passengers did have one, chief customer officer Mark Hassell said.

Traditional inflight entertainment systems are one of the most costly parts of a plane after the airframe and engines, they are heavy, and can be unreliable. Virgin’s 737-800 and Embraer E190 fleet doesn’t have the traditional systems installed so there was no cost taking them out.

“Inflight entertainment is a key driver of choice of airline. It was an area for us that we realised we needed to come up with a very competitive and strong solution.”

The system had been tested and fitted to 37 planes, including 10 that fly across the Tasman. “We haven’t bought an off-the-shelf system that is going to be redundant in five minutes.”

Hassell said the airline would not be charging extra for the service.

The system works on Wi-Fi-enabled Apple and Android devices and Windows laptops.

30) Diversification crucial for private sector development in Timor Leste: ADB

By Online Editor
4:25 pm GMT+12, 18/09/2013, Timor-leste

Economic diversification must be an essential part of the growth strategy for resource dependent Timor-Leste, if it is to develop a prosperous private sector and sustain broad-based growth,” the Chief Economist at the Asian Development Bank (ADB) told participants at the “Harnessing Natural Resource Wealth for Inclusive Growth and Economic Development” conference today.

“Investments in infrastructure, agriculture, institutions and skills are needed as a foundation for private sector growth and economic diversification,” ADB’s Changyong Rhee said.

In many countries industrialization is essential for growth and prosperity, according to a recent ADB report. In fact, no economy has reached high-income status without reaching at least an 18% share in its manufacturing output and employment over a sustained period. In small countries rich in natural resources – such as Timor-Leste – policy and investment measures are needed to move economies up the value-chain and beyond a dependence on primary commodity production.

Rhee’s presentation focused on the evolution of the private sector in Timor-Leste and other resource-rich countries in the region. He noted that Timor-Leste’s private sector is largely dependent on public sector expenditure and urged the country to create opportunities for diversified investment and employment and ensure relevant skills are available.

The conference looks at policies for promoting sustainable and inclusive economic growth in countries with abundant natural resources.

Infrastructure improvements and private sector development to drive inclusive economic growth are priority areas for ADB in Timor-Leste. Increasing access to finance opportunities is key to the initiative. ADB assistance has already produced results, helping the Institute of Microfinance Timor-Leste (IMTL) become the country’s first locally-owned commercial bank. It now has 12 branches across the country and has boosted local entrepreneurship, jobs, and investment, with 40% of loans going to women.

Secured Transactions Reform and business registry development are also key private sector development activities in Timor-Leste.

To address human resources needs in the growing economy, the ADB-funded Mid-Level Skills Training Project provides skills training in construction and automotive trades by supporting selected training centers with upgrades to their facilities and equipment. The project is also supporting the Dili Institute of Technology at Baucau and the Tibar Training Center to expand training of mid-level construction skills.

31) PNG PM justifies mine takeover

By Online Editor
4:29 pm GMT+12, 18/09/2013, Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has denied a suggestion that he was trying to get his hands on Ok Tedi Mining Ltd because of a budget blowout.

He said the Government had already found the money to fund a deficit (that has been put at K2.65 billion).
The Government was not desperate for cash and it had stopped PNGSDP chairman Sir Mekere Morauta from declaring dividends for 2012.

“I put a stop to that declaration,” he said told reporters yesterday when asked if the government was trying fund its budget deficit by expropriating the mine.

“Does that show that we are desperate to get money out of Ok Tedi mine … grab hold of money to fund our deficit?

“We have stopped the declaration of dividends so that when we take over, it will not be broke.”

The dividends would be shared between PNGSDP and national government, he added.

Sir Mekere had said in a controversial statement on Monday that the Government was trying to “steal” the assets of the people of Western by expropriating the mine.

“The central claim that we are trying to expropriate Ok Tedi Mining is simply false and very, very misleading,” O’Neill said.

“This is coming from a person who held the position of prime minister. It is of concern that a person of his nature can make deliberately misleading statements to justify his own interests and his own issues.

“The people of PNG already own these assets, so how can you steal from yourself?

“The people of Western and PNG own the resources, own the mine, own the shares that were gifted by BHP, so how can you accuse people of stealing their own property?

“Sir Mekere is very much incapable of divorcing his vested interests, and personal interests in this matter,” O’Neill said.

“His claim is self-serving and a very deliberate attempt to mislead our people as he did in 2002 when he was prime minister.

“He misled the people, he gave immunity from prosecution to BHP for the huge environmental damage caused to the Fly River system.

“Of course, we all know that he has been rewarded with a very plum job of being chairman of PNGSDP, which in turns makes him … chairman of OTML.

“He does not represent the people of PNG, he does not represent the people of Western.

“His interests are very clear – he represents foreign interests, he represents BHP. Sir Mekere needs to tell the people whose interests he is protecting.”

The prime minister said it was time for the Government and the people of Western to take over the operations of the mine as PNGSDP had failed to do its job.

“This is why we are now saying that after 10 years of continued mismanagement … the PNG Government and the Western provincial government will play a direct role in management,” he said.

Meanwhile, PNG Sustainable Development Program Ltd chairman Sir Mekere Morauta says he fears for the future of the Ok Tedi mine and the flow of benefits to Western under Government ownership.

“Under the majority ownership of PNGSDP, it had become a very successful mining company, professionally managed, transparent and accountable and highly profitable.

“It is unique in the world in the way it uses its money for extensive environmental remediation and community development – schools, clinics, airstrips, housing for health workers and teachers, agriculture projects, roads, bridges, wharves and so on – through PNGSDP and Ok Tedi Development Foundation.

“The prime minister’s proposal to expropriate without payment the PNGSDP shareholding of 63.4%, which the company holds on behalf of Western, is very destructive to the nation, to Western and to investor confidence,” Sir Mekere said.

“It would jeopardise the capacity of OTML to continue its environmental and developmental work and its contribution to the state in taxes and dividends.

“OTML would become yet another state-owned enterprise, joining all the others in the ward for the chronically ill, without a cure in sight.

“People should be aware that the major reason that PNGSDP has been so successful is that it has a strong governance structure which ensures it remains free from political interference,” he said.

“Majority state ownership of OTML, as the prime minister is proposing, would leave it wide open to political interference and all the consequences we know so well.”.


32) Delana coin a legal tender: Reserve Bank of Fiji

By Online Editor
4:31 pm GMT+12, 18/09/2013, Fiji

Fiji’s Paralympic gold medalist Iliesa Delana commemorative coins issued into circulation today can be used to pay for goods and service, says Fiji’s Reserve Bank Governor Barry Whiteside.

He said the coins which is specially designed to mark Delana’s gold medal feat at the 2012 Paralympics is a legal tender. The obverse (front) of the commemorative 50 cent coin features the Fijian Coat of Arms while the reverse (back) features the portrait of Iliesa Delana at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

Whiteside said the coins will ensure Delana’s gold medal achievement at the global games will always be remembered.

Just as he stamped a first for Fiji on the Olympics arena, Delana also becomes the first sportsperson to be featured on a circulation coin.

“This is the first time though we have had them on stamps, but never on a circulation coin,” Whiteside said.

“Only 500,000 coins have been struck and will be issued into circulation from today. “Due to the coin’s limited quantity, it is expected that collectors both locally and abroad may keep it as part of their collections.”

In unveiling the new coin, Delana said he hopes it will inspire the younger generation and remind them that nothing is out of their reach if they put their hearts into it. Work on the coin began in September 2012.

Meanwhile, Delana said it was a great privilege and honour to be recognised on one of Fiji’s circulation coin.

Speaking at the unveiling of the specially designed 50cents coin to mark his 2012 Paralympics feat, Delana said he did not expect to be accorded the “honourable” recognition.

“I went out to perform for the country not to bring honour to myself. So, I am deeply honoured.

“Today I delicate this win to the Almighty for without his support I wouldn’t have achieved this.

“I hope the win will motivate other youths and the future of Fiji in the country to work hard, be committed.”

Delana’s jump cleared the bar of 1.75 metres breaking the Oceania record for the event and became the first Fijian ever to win gold medal at Paralympics which was held in London in 2012.

LAW&ORDER/Problems faced by Pacific Society today.

33) New measure designed to deter pokie machine users in PNG

Posted at 05:21 on 18 September, 2013 UTC

It’s hoped the increase in the minimum bet fee for Pokie machines in Papua New Guinea, will discourage low income earners from blowing their money on the gambling machines.

From the start of this month the fee to play on slot machines in PNG went from 50-to-100 kina or US$40.

The chairperson of the National Gaming Control Board, Qwentan Chollai, told Bridget Tunnicliffe that research found most of the problem gamblers are low to average income earners.

QWENTAN CHOLLAI: Based on the recent research on problem gambling it affects 3% of the population. I think it’s around 200,000 to 225,000 gamblers in the country. 70% are problem gamblers – those are the ones that we are targetting.

BRIDGET TUNNICLIFFE: So 70% of the 200,000 to 225,000 are low-to-average income earners.

QC: Oh, right. The average is around 4,500 kina per fortnight.

BT: OK. So you hope that increasing the minimum bet fee will discourage people from using these machines?

QC: In fact, the increase is effective on 1 September. There is a decline in review, compared to the previous two weeks. So that’s a good sign for our average-income families.

BT: So they’ve seen a decline in revenue?

QC: Revenue, yeah. Since the first two weeks of implementing that 100-kina minimum bet.

BT: What were you finding was happening. Were some people spending nearly their whole pay check on the gaming machines?

QC: Yes, definitely. And when they get their pay they use it all up at the gaming machines. Thereafter they go and get some private loans. And it becomes the norm. They live on credit borrowing. The government workers get paid on Tuesday pay-day, the government workers, the public servants. By the next day there’s nothing left. So what they do, they ask for what we call ’booking money’. Those booking money [providers] charge 30%, 40% interest.

BT: Are there any counselling services for gambling addicts in Papua New Guinea?

QC: At the moment we’re looking at creating a public counselling office within the department of community development. And hopefully that will minimise the problem gambling in Papua New Guinea.

Radio New Zealand International

34) A peaceful PNG still a dream: Former AG

By Online Editor
2:00 pm GMT+12, 18/09/2013, Papua New Guinea

After 38 years of independence, the country still depends on a foreign authority to solve its law and order problem, according to Rabaul MP and former Papua New Guinea Attorney General, Dr Allan Marat.

He told the people during independence celebrations at Rabaul Yacht Club on Monday that the country still had serious law and order issues which it could not solve.

“A number of conclusions can be made from this,” he said.

“First, we cannot think right and clearly and so we are not fit to lead the nation because everything rise and fall on leadership.

“Secondly, since we are not fit to lead nation, we do not know completely or partially to resolve law and order problems.

“Thirdly, our mental capabilities accept defeat at the hands of the law and order problems and we become dependent on foreign control and authority.

“Fourthly, we accept that we can never be independent because we are a failure no matter what little good we may have achieved.”

He said during the past 38 years, various governments had topped up the rate of development progress and achievements.

“But that has only been half the truth,” he said.

“The other half of the truth is the negative ethical undercurrent belying the little games we have attained in the last 38 years which include uncontrolled population growth, misdirected application of funds for the production of specialist quality in human resources output, law and order issues and corruption generally.”

Marat said PNG had matured but still lacked wisdom “because if everybody is wise, the negative ethical undercurrents will be greatly reduced and the rate of development progress would greatly surpass the growth rate of all negative undercurrents”.

Meanwhile, Dr  Marat has questioned the government’s decision to disallow petroleum and mining autonomy to provinces as the nation celebrates 38 years of independence.

He said Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Kerenga Kua, had told parliament that the government would not entertain any plans by provinces to be partially independent through autonomy.

It meant only the Autonomous Region of Bougainville would be granted autonomy while provinces such as East New Britain and New Ireland miss out.

“So what kind of independence now are we celebrating?” Marat said.

“We can never be economically independent and it now seems we can never be politically independent as we allow other democratic countries to solve our law and order problems.

“This clearly means that we do not have the brains to be independent and solve our law and order problems.

This inability is generally in other areas of development in Papua New Guinea.”

Kua had said the government should hold back the powers and ownership of mining and petroleum if it continued to collect revenues for the country.


35) New Crime boss for PNG

By Online Editor
1:55 pm GMT+12, 18/09/2013, Papua New Guinea

An investigative Task Force will soon be put into place, to review operations of the Crimes Division of the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary.

New Crimes Head, Assistant Commissioner Thomas Eluh said this, soon after taking up the post recently.

“Unfortunately, the Crimes Division is in disarray at the moment.

“There are a lot of issues affecting the Crimes Division.

“To start off with, you look at the systems, the training, structure, resourcing, funding.

“Unfortunately, that has not been attended to for quite some time.

“So, in so many ways, this is affecting the effectiveness of the Crimes Division.

“So I have tried to embark on establishing a review task force, to have a look at all the divisions, and see how best we can be able to improve each one of them, to improve their capacities to deal with crimes issues effectively,” Assistant Commissioner Eluh said.

Eluh who was former Assistant Commissioner for the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, takes over from former acting Crimes Divisional Head Chief Superintendent Mark Kanawi, whose been moved back as Director Prosecutions.

The Crimes Division comprises the National Fraud and Anti-Corruption Directorate, Forensic Services, Prosecutions, Intelligence, and the general Criminal Investigative Division.

Eluh says there is a long list of crimes especially fraud related which the Division will have to look into, apart from general criminal offences of murder, rape and others.


36) Former Fiji Audio Visual Commission boss found guilty of corruption

By Online Editor
4:36 pm GMT+12, 18/09/2013, Fiji

The Suva Magistrates Court has ruled that former Fiji Audio Visual Commission (FAVC) chief executive officer Taniela Bolea is guilty on charges of Abuse of Office.

Bolea was charged with four counts of Abuse of Office.

The Fiji Independent Commission against Corruption (FICAC) proceeded the case against Bolea after he absconded from the trial.

The trial ran as an Absentia case.

Bolea had pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Bolea on count one, allegedly had approved the payment of $7,248.48(US$3,892.46)to ANZ Bank for Visa Business Account Number 4999-6400-0007-3187 without the approval of the FAVC chairman thereby causing prejudice to the rights of the FAVC.

On count two, on or about April 8, 2004 allegedly approved the payment of $4,286.13 (US$2,301.66)

to the same account without the chairman’s approval.

On count three, on or about August 8, 2005 allegedly approved the payment of $2,930.94(US$1,573.92) to the same account and on count four, on or about July 31, 2007 Bolea allegedly approved the payment of $823.59 (US$442) to the same account without the chairman’s approval.

This morning Magistrate Somaratne found Bolea guilty and will sentence him on 16th of next month.


37) Former Fiji National Provident Fund Head Found Guilty
Foana Nemani charged with extortion, abuse of office

By Pravin Narain

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Sept. 17, 2013) – The three assessors and presiding judge in the case of former Fiji National Provident Fund (FNPF) executive Foana Nemani have found her guilty for two counts.

Nemani has been charged with extortion by public servant and abuse of office during her term as the Deputy General Manager of the FNPF.

She was not present in the court when the three assessors delivered their verdict before Judge Janaka Bandara in the Suva High Court today.

She is believed to be in New Zealand without the approval of the court and she also chose not to exercise her right to be present in person in the court and without any legal help.

Sentencing is scheduled for this Friday at the Suva High Court.


38) Fiji national super fund long mismanaged – Shaista Shameem

Posted at 05:21 on 18 September, 2013 UTC

A former human rights commissioner of Fiji says the Fiji National Provident Fund has long been accused of poor administration.

Shaista Shameem was speaking after the conviction yesterday in the Fiji High Court of a former deputy director general of the FNPF, Foana Nemani, who is currently living in New Zealand.

Nemani was found guilty of abuse of office by paying allowances to herself and the former CEO of the fund in 2006 and not following proper procedure.

Shaista Shameem says she represented pensioners in a class action against the fund.

“I found that the Fiji National Provident Fund had been run for a very long time without proper oversight. The board had made investments that had very little substance to them and money had deteriorated. The quality of the fund had deteriorated over decades.”

Shaista Shameem says due to the improving relationship between New Zealand and Fiji, an extradition application for Nemani may be more likely to succeed.

Radio New Zealand International

39) American Samoa considers tighter laws to combat child abuse

Posted at 05:21 on 18 September, 2013 UTC

A parliamentary hearing in American Samoa has been told that nearly 130 cases of child abuse have been reported to the Department of Human and Social Services so far this year.

For the full 12 months last year between 140 and 160 cases were reported.

This is according to data cited by the territory’s Children and Family Services during a House hearing considering new legislation covering child abuse and neglect crimes.

There have been concerns the current laws are unconstitutional because they are too vague.

The deputy attorney general, Mitzie Jessop, says the purpose of the new bill is to distinguish between disciplining and abuse of children.

“In the bill you are talking about unreasonable force, where they are burning, they are biting, they are cutting their own children. And as difficult as it may be for us as Samoans to believe, but I have had these types of cases.”

Radio New Zealand International


40) Asylum Seeker Children Provided With Classes On Nauru
Classes include math, English, Nauru cultural activities

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Sept. 17, 2013) – The Nauru government says school classes are now being provided at the asylum seeker detention camps.

There are now more than 50 children among the 600 people being held at 3 locations on the island.

In an effort to paint the much-criticised camps as benign environments, the government says classes have begun in mathematics, English and cultural studies.

An official with Australia’s Department of Immigration and Citizenship says the classes are being conducted by Save the Children staff.

The Nauru government is also giving instruction in Nauruan culture, including the weaving of grass skirts and flower headbands.

It says it also allowed families and children to spend time last week at a beach on the island for the first time.

The government says after school hours the young asylum seekers were allowed to play in the playground at the Aiwo Primary School.

Radio New Zealand International:


41) Japan kindergarten ordered to pay parents of children who died in tsunami

Updated 18 September 2013, 11:39 AEST

By North Asia correspondent Mark Willacy and staff

A Japanese court has ordered a kindergarten to pay almost $US2 million to the parents of children who died after being put on a bus that drove towards the 2011 tsunami.

A Japanese court has ordered a kindergarten to pay almost $US2 million to the parents of children who died after being put on a bus that drove towards the 2011 tsunami.

It’s the first ruling of its kind over deaths resulting from the earthquake and tsunami disaster.

Just minutes after the giant magnitude-nine earthquake of March 2011, children at the Hiyori Kindergarten in Ishinomaki city were put on a bus and sent home.

As the bus left the hilltop kindergarten and drove along a seaside road it was hit by a colossal tsunami, killing five of the children and a woman onboard the bus.

In the landmark case, the Sendai District Court ordered the kindergarten and its then-principal to pay 170 million yen, or $US1.8 million, to the parents of four of the children.

The judge rejected the kindergarten’s claims that it was impossible to know there would be such a big tsunami.

The kindergarten argued the decision to send the children home had been sound.

Chief judge, Norio Saiki, disagreed, saying the kindergarten was “obliged to collect information actively after workers felt a giant earthquake lasting three minutes”.

“The kindergarten head failed to collect information and sent the bus seaward, which resulted in the loss of the children’s lives,” Mr Saiki was quoted as saying on Japan’s NHK news.

Ishinomaki was one of the cities worst-hit by the giant tsunami that killed more than 18,000 people, in Japan’s worst post-World War II disaster.


42) Water tanks in Cook Islands being misused, says engineer

Posted at 05:21 on 18 September, 2013 UTC

The contractor of the new water mains system for some Cook Islands villages says the government needs to crack down on the use of water tanks attached to water mains.

Ben Parakoti says the water tanks were introduced to supply water in times of drought, using rainwater caught from the rooves of houses, but many tanks are attached to the water mains and put too much pressure on the system.

He says the purpose of the water tanks is not for them to be filled from the mains.

Ben Parakoti says there is very little policing of these matters in the Cook Islands and even if it was outlawed, it would be difficult to stop people from doing it.

“I would remove everybody from the mains, with the water tanks, and have that as a backup system to the normal one of persons being connected to the mains. And at the same time it is quite difficult to police these things because people do their own thing over here.”

Ben Parakoti.

Radio New Zealand International

43) UNICEF renews Millennium Development Goal commitment to cut child mortality by two-thirds

By Online Editor
1:56 pm GMT+12, 18/09/2013, Fiji

The United Nations children’s fund UNICEF says 90 million lives have been saved in the past 20 years from a pledge to reduce child mortality, but more action is needed.

The Millennium Development Goal, to reduce by two-thirds the risk a child will not live to see his or her fifth birthday, was meant to be achieved by 2015.

UNICEF says despite the gains at the current rate, the goal won’t be reached until 2028, and delay could see as many as 35 million more children dying.

Pacific Representative Dr Karen Allen has told Pacific Beat there has been a huge impact, but more work is needed.

“We’re down to the last mile, the hard to reach populations and the more complicated cases of government that need more than just a lot of supplies and money thrown at them,” she said.

“The good news is 90 million lives around the world have been saved – that’s amazing progress.

“In the Pacific, I cover 14 countries and they’ve all made progress, but we still have to reach the poorest of the poor, the people in the outer islands, the people away from the capital cities.”

A UNICEF report says the number of deaths fell to 6.6 million in 2012, down from 12.6 million in 1990.

It says that’s still approximately 18,000 deaths a day.

UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake says the figures are both a cause for celebration and for renewed commitment.

“How can we celebrate when there is so much more to do before we reach the goal?” he said.

“We can speed up the progress – we know how, but we need to act with a renewed sense of urgency.”

The report says about half of under-five deaths occur in only five countries: China, Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, Nigeria, and Pakistan.

It also says some high-mortality, low-income countries, including Bangladesh, Nepal and East Timor have already reduced their under-five mortality rates by two-thirds or more.

Dr Allen says despite the gains, parts of the Pacific face continuing challenges.

“Just to put it in perspective, Australia has an under-five mortality rate of around four (out of 1000 births); Japan around three,” she said.

“The countries here, we’re trying to get them down from rates like 45, 30, 40 in different countries – in countries like Nauru, Kiribati, Solomons, Tuvalu the rates are still high because of these hard to access populations.

“If even the poorest children can make it up to age five, the death rates do fall, because they’re sturdier and stronger.”

The leading causes of death among children aged less than five years include pneumonia, prematurity, birth asphyxia, diarrhoea and malaria.

Globally, about 45 per cent of under-five deaths are linked to under nutrition.

Dr Allen says procedures for dealing with neo-natal issues are also crucial, particularly for remote communities.

“I was in Kiribati three weeks ago and I went into the main hospital and they’d just medivac a woman,” she said.

“While she was in the helicopter, one leg of the baby was already out of her and she was in agony.

“They managed to save her and the baby, but that’s a very expensive thing and a very risky thing, and it could have gone the other way.”

Director-General of the World Health Organisation, Dr Margaret Chan, says newborns are at particular risk.

“Care for mother and baby in the first 24 hours of any child’s life is critical for the health and wellbeing of both,” she said.

“Up to half of all newborn deaths occur within the first day.”

UNICEF says the eventual goal should be to continue progressing until no child dies if it can be prevented.


44) UN official: World failing over climate change

By Online Editor
2:01 pm GMT+12, 18/09/2013, United Kingdom

International leaders are failing in their fight against global warming, one of the United Nations’ top climate officials has said, appealing directly to the world’s voters to pressure their politicians into taking tougher action against the build-up of greenhouse gases.

Halldor Thorgeirsson told journalists gathered at London’s Imperial College that world leaders weren’t working hard enough to prevent potentially catastrophic climate change.

“We are failing as an international community,” he said. “We are not on track.”

Thorgeirsson, a senior director with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), was speaking with two years left to go before the world powers gather in Paris for another round of negotiations over the future of the world’s climate, which scientists warn will warm dramatically unless action is taken to cut down on the emission of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.

One of the main points of contention is how to divide the burden of emissions cuts between industrialised nations and emerging economies such as India and China, the world’s top carbon polluter.

The lack of progress in recent years has fuelled doubts over whether a binding deal is possible at all.

Thorgeirsson seemed to strike a pessimistic note Tuesday, talking down the idea that Paris – or any other conference – would produce a grand bargain that would ensure the reductions needed to prevent a dangerous warming of the Earth’s atmosphere. He even seemed to suggest that a global solution to the issue wasn’t likely until the effects of climate change came barrelling down on peoples’ heads or flooding into their homes.

“I don’t think that an international treaty will ever be the primary driver for the difficult decisions to be made,” he warned. “It’s the problem itself that will be the primary driver – and the consequences of that problem.”

Quizzed on the repeated failure of the international community to organise a global deal on greenhouse gases, he said that the politicians involved had to be held to account.

“This is a question that needs to be asked at the ballot box,” he said. “This is a question that needs to be asked of leaders at all levels.”

Thorgeirsson was in London for the launch of a joint study by Imperial’s Grantham Institute for Climate Change and its Energy Futures Laboratory of the estimated cost of halving the world’s carbon dioxide emissions by 2050.

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