Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 868

MELANESIA:

1) Reports on land leases reveal corruption: PM O’Neill
By Online Editor
4:32 pm GMT+12, 20/09/2013, Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea’s Commission of Inquiry (COI) report into the special agriculture business leases has revealed a shocking trend of mismanagement and corruption in all stages of the process.

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, who presented the report to Parliament  this week, said it was very disappointing that the COI was asked to examine 75 Special Agricultural Business Leases (SABLs) but the final report examined only 42.

“Out of the 42 leases reported on, only in four leases were there bona fides landowner consent and a commercially viable agricultural project being undertaken,” O’Neill said.

He said the remaining leases were seriously compromised and the success rate appalling.

“The only conclusion that I can draw is that the policy on SABL’s has failed miserably. However, despite these findings the Commission has recommended that SABL’s be continued,” he said.

“The Commission has instead made a number of recommendations in an effort to improve the integrity of the process. This is not acceptable. Something drastic needs to be done.”

O’Neill also expressed disappointment at the COI, claiming it was established by then acting Prime Minister Sam Abal on July 21, 2011 and provided an interim report outlining the legal authority and processes of issuing SABLs and an assessment of the legal authority.

“In the May session of Parliament I made a statement to Parliament highlighting my dissatisfaction for its failure to produce a final report and gave them a deadline of June 24, 2013 to produce the final report, ” he said.

On June 24, he received the final report that comprised the COI into SABLs and business leases final report prepared by Commissioner John Numapo and another document of inquiry into SABL by Commissioner Nicholas Mirou.

He said the commission examined 42 of the 75 due to the fact that Commissioner Alois Jerewai failed to contribute any material to the final report.

“It would appear that the commissioners failed to work together as a team and their own personal differences have had a direct impact on the quality of the report produced,” O’Neill said.

He said although recommendations by the COI to continue SABLs, it cannot continue in the current form and the government is going to start protecting landowners and the environment.

“We will no longer watch on as foreign owned companies come in and con our landowners, chop down our forests and then take the proceeds offshore,” he said.

He said the Minister for Lands and Physical Planning will be appointing a task force to identify a new legislative framework to provide for the conversion of customary land into lease hold land for the benefit of landowners, protect the interest of landowners and ensure sustainable land use.

“For too long landowners have been taken advantage of and had their land stolen from under them,”  O’Neill said.

He said the task force will be consulting widely.

“The use of customary land is sensitive and this government is committed to getting it right,” he said.

SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS

2) Former PNG PM wary of changes to motions of no confidence

Posted at 18:46 on 20 September, 2013 UTC

A former Prime minister of Papua New Guinea says a new law that changes the way a motion of confidence can be brought agains the Government could lead to a disaster.

Sir Julius Chan, the governor of New Ireland Province, says the extension of the notice period from one week to one month may give rise to more bribes and institutions like police and the army taking sides.

The law was passed on Thursday, and introduces a rule that at least 21 members of parliament have signed the motion before it is debated.

81 MPs voted for the amendments, and two voted against it.

The prime minister Peter O’Neill told PNG Village the amendments were not about protecting himself.

Sir Julius says he supports the changes, but questions the one month period.

Radio New Zealand International

3) 8 Guadalcanal Provincial Officials Resign In Solomons
Premier Panga, left with 2 executives, petitioned to step down

By Charley Piringi

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Sept. 19, 2013) – Guadalcanal Province in the Solomon Islands has found itself in yet another political crisis.

This followed the resignation of eight executive members on Tuesday night, leaving premier Stephen Panga with only two on his side.

The mass resignation was accompanied by a petition urging Mr. Panga to step down.

They accused him of mishandling land issues and alleged misappropriation of provincial funds.

Mr. Panga, who came into power in February this year after he and his group overthrew former premier Anthony Veke, is now facing the same fate.

Guadalcanal Provincial Speaker Abel Arambola told the Solomon Star yesterday his office received the petition and resignation letter from the executive members at around 8pm on Tuesday.

“My office received the letters last night (Tuesday night) that eight of the executive members resigned. This left only the premier and two executive members in the government,” Mr. Arambola said.

He said the resignations came as the provincial assembly was having its meeting at Doma, which started Monday this week.

“Due to this latest development within the executive, we have adjourned the assembly meeting until Monday next week so that the premier can make up his mind as to whether he is going to resign or not.

“Indirectly, this petition is actually a motion of no confidence, although it was not qualified to be called that because the premier has yet to be in office for a full year,” Mr. Arambola explained.

Contacted for comments yesterday, Mr. Panga confirmed that he received the petition and resignation letters.

“I’ve accepted the resignation letters,” Mr. Panga said. “But I will not comment further on the petition.”

Panga was elected as premier for the second time, February this year, defeating his rival, Walton Naezon by only one vote. He polled 11 votes To Mr. Naezon’s 10.

Guadalcanal Province has 21 members in its provincial assembly.

Solomon Star

4) Civil Society Group To Petition For Solomons PM’s Resignation
Groups say either NCRA or Opposition could bring in interim leader

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Sept. 19, 2013) – In the Solomon Islands, the Joint Civil Society Group (JCSG) says it has completed the proposed Peoples’ Petition and will be endorsing it in their meeting on Thursday.

JCSG’s interim chairman Barnabas Henson explained the petition has been structured to highlight the level of corruption in government under the leadership of Prime Minister Lilo.

“The petition will bring to light breaches of parliamentary processes and laws governing the national budget and development funds committed under Lilo’s leadership,” Mr. Henson said.

“It will also seek to inform ordinary people of the manner in which their development resources were abused and misused by the political elite for political expediency over their interests.”

Mr. Henson said the critical issue for the country is the corruption in the current leadership and not so much the timing or time left in the life of the current parliament as skeptics love to quote.

“The critical issue for the nation to immediately address is ‘corruption’ in the current political leadership and not so much time left in the life of the current house.

“We cannot afford to allow a corrupt leadership to continue to run the country, albeit for another 15 months.

“It is just too long a spell to allow bad governance to continue to ruin the country.

“As a matter of fact, the manner in which PM Lilo is currently running the country can potentially bring it down in a matter of days; he does not need 15 months to achieve that.

“We therefore cannot allow that to happen and will do everything within our democratic rights under the Constitution to prevent it from ever happening,” Mr. Henson said.

He added JCSG believes that there are good capable Solomon Islanders both within NCRA itself or the Opposition, who with support from the people can run the country in a stable and proper manner for the remaining period, be it 15 or less months.

“Take a good look at the recent leadership changes in Australia.

“The people spoke and the government listened – Kevin Rudd took carriage of leading the Labor Government from Julia Gillard only for a matter of months then brought the choice of government and leadership back to the people.

“This is what responsible, considerate, and capable leadership is all about – listening to the people and doing what’s best for them regardless of any other circumstances.”

Mr. Henson said the people of Solomon Islands know there is but a short time remaining to create and/or implement new policies.

“But they also know that the nation can go bankrupt within a very short span of time if Lilo’s political leadership is allowed to continue its corrupt management of the country.

“The critical issue for the people is to get rid of the ‘corruption’.

“The skeptics can say all they want but are only seen to be supporting a corrupt government.

“Lies one after the other, bullying politics, abuse and misuse of public funds, infidelity, and so forth.

“Enough is enough. The Petition will speak for the people and we beseech the Prime Minister to listen and step aside.

“Other world leaders, men of great respect have done it, why can’t you?”

Solomon Star

5) Minister Seeks Changes For Vanuatu Land Legislation
New legislation changes scope of land dispute processes

By Bob Makin

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Sept. 19, 2013) – Earlier reports on the series of land law reform consultations that are being held in Vanuatu’s provinces have highlighted the widely differing viewpoints between Minister Ralph Regenvanu and his predecessors.

The 2006 Lands Summit urged that the powers of a minister to intervene in a dispute and issue a lease over disputed land must be removed.

Indeed, last week’s Shefa meeting rather emphasized that land ministers on Efate have often broken the constitution by assuming they have certain powers and acting as they have often done.

Under the new legislation, disputes will be resolved in the nakamal, nasara or farea. Only when they are resolved will there be any kind of progress – in the Island Court if necessary. That will then leave room for mediation, if the dispute continues. Then the matter could go to the Area Land Tribunal, the Island Land Court and even to the Supreme Court as a final step. Ministers and politicians will not be involved.

Minister Regenvanu also felt that the Public Solicitor’s Office could be expanded to offer legal services to land clients.

Even the few harsh critics at the meeting in Port Vila last Tuesday seemed to agree, by and large, that the reforms in the pipeline were mostly on the right track. One custom owner could not accept group ownership of land, and that will likely be an important aspect of the new legislation: land belonging to custom and family groups rather than single individuals.

But this custom owner was, even so, positive that “the reform is good.” He was quite prepared to say that man Efate has lost much land because lands ministers give wrong leases over land to the wrong people. “Problems only come from the government,” he said. Another added “the more we leave such matters open, the more likely it will be that there are subdivisions everywhere.” He was referring to housing estates where the land has been effectively alienated for 75 years with nothing being done for the custom owners or their descendants, their land being sold off to the so-called developer extremely cheaply and not bringing the custom owner anything like the price he could enjoy in the countries of the investors.

On Efate, 44% of land has been leased out and 56.5% of the total coastal area. This further explains why custom owners were so vexed at the 2006 Lands Summit.

One chief at the Shefa consultation urged the government to take away the possibility of 75-year leases.

The provincial consultations are intended to advise the minister of the island or village location where custom decisions on land are taken – whether the nasara or nakamal. In Shefa it was clearly agreed that the farea is the place which should be mentioned in legislation. Another question – and all the questions were answered on a regional basis (for example by groups from South Efate, North West Efate, Nguna/ Pele, Shepherds) – concerned whether the minister could, or should, sign a lease where a dispute is concerned, and the answer was a definite “No.”

The dispute must be resolved in custom first of all. There was also a question as to the desirable number of people who might represent any land-owning or land-claiming group and 15 seemed to be the preferred number. A question was also asked concerning who might be able to decide on behalf of others, like a child for an elderly parent.

A Nguna/Pele chief observed, “We didn’t have disputes in the past. New people came in to our areas as users of the land, not owners. Sometimes there were ‘mankam’ (foreigners to that island), but all land always belonged to the indigenous owners, and that continues until today. Lawyer Timakata agreed saying that custom cannot change. “Amendments can only affect the law, not custom.”

One man from Malekula pointed out why the consultations are necessary now. “In 2006, there was agreement over all sorts of questions. But in 2013, we are still wrong. Governments have done nothing to take up the resolutions of the Lands Summit.”

The questions are now being answered, and the Minister’s visit to all provinces, along with his legal and Malvatumauri advisers, continues. This makes sure all the questions remaining are answered. Thereafter, we in Shefa were led to believe, there will be some of the most important legislation since independence on MPs’ tables in the November sitting of parliament.

We do well to remember that land was one of the most important things for which independence was fought: ‘all land must go back to its custom owners’ was the cry 33 years ago.

The explanatory 20-page booklet in Bislama, ‘Plan blong ol jenis,’ which everyone attending the provincial consultations receives, and which details the proposed changes to the land laws, can be downloaded at the government website: http://www.gov.vu/.

It is recommended reading for anyone with an interest in land.

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

6) Vanuatu Airport Deal Allegedly Linked To Mewah Chairman
PM Carcasses has claimed Singapore company backs project

By Ricky Binihi

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Sept. 19, 2013) – Vanuatu’s new international airport, which almost cost Prime Minister Moana Carcasses his government last August, is reportedly linked to Singapore billionaire, 68-year-old Cheo Tong Choon.

Dr. Cheo is the Chairman of Mewah International and is ranked by Forbes magazine among the 50 richest men in Singapore.

But Mewah International, which specialises in the edible oils and fats business and has had Dr. Cheo as its Executive Director since October 2010, has denied any connections with the Vanuatu International Airport Project.

Tan Kim Tew from Mewah Corporate Services Department has told Australia Network News that Vanuatu Trade Development (VTD) is not a Mewah Group company, that Mewah has no involvement in the project, and it is not underwriting the new Vanuatu international airports project.

The Concession Agreement between the Vanuatu government and the Vanuatu Trade Development was signed by Prime Minister Carcasses with his Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister, Edward Natapei and the Executive Director of the Vanuatu Trade Development, David Mak and its General Manager Eric Ong on July 27.

VTD says the company is supported by a multi-million dollar palm oil Singapore company and the Vanuatu government has identified the company as Mewah International.

PM Carcasses has spoken highly of the project saying there will be direct flights from Asia into and out of Vanuatu without having to transit in Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and New Caledonia.

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

The government-signed Concession Agreement would see the VTD build a new international airport and upgrade Bauerfield international airport and other airports in the islands.

Under the agreement VTD will build and operate the airports for 50 years but the Vanuatu Parliament has to approve promissory notes guaranteeing the repayment of Vt33 billion if any future Vanuatu government breaches the agreement with VTD.

Government sources said the airport deal is backed by the Singapore multi billionaire Dr. Cheo who was educated in Canada and practiced as a registered medical practitioner from 1975 to 1986 with a group of medical specialist and later helped establish the Mewah group of companies in Malaysia and Singapore.

Meanwhile, Vanuatu Opposition is taking the government to Court over the deal it signed with VTD while the government has delayed the Concession agreement for a further two months so that the deal could be scrutinized.

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

7) MP Slams Proposed Dual Citizenship For Investors In Vanuatu
Luganville’s Moli says people of Vanuatu must have final say

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Sept. 19, 2013) – MP for Luganville Kalvau Moli says that the idea being sponsored by people behind the Capital Investment Immigration Program (CIIP) that dual citizenship is the way forward for Vanuatu is misconceived and wrong.

Vanuatu as a sovereign independent state through its people has to take pride of its existence, and the vision led by the pioneers of the Country’s Constitution and Independence in 1980, MP Moli said.

He said the struggle for Independence was not an easy one and a look at the Preamble of the Constitution says it all where it says we people of New Hebrides proud of our struggle for freedom and defend to safe guard the achievements of this struggle.

“Having dual citizenship would be selling our national pride and vision of pioneers of our country’s Independence without proper consideration.”

MP Moli says if such an idea is to be promoted then the people of Vanuatu must at least decide it either through a referendum and currently as it is the Provincial Authorities or Government Institution promoting this idea do not have the mandate to speak on behalf of the people let alone over 80% of people that live in the islands.

“Chapter 3 of the Constitution is clear on entitlement of citizenship.

“Article 12 of the Constitution provides that a national of a foreign state or a stateless person may apply to be naturalized as a citizen of the country if he or she has lived continuously in the country for at least 10 years immediately before the date of application.

“The organic law being the Constitution is clear on citizenships. As such unless there is a Constitutional Amendment, there cannot be dual citizenship scheme whatever form it is,” he said.

MP Moli further says that, this government or any responsible government must review the operations of the Residency Scheme in Hong Kong as far as one is aware, the Government gets only US$3,000 on Residency Permits from an agent there that does work on behalf of the Government but little is known as how much the agent gets paid.

“Further there is the issue of complication of a number of legal issues.

“It would seem that the Vanuatu Financial Services Commission who has a separate law governing its operations and functions as Registrar of Companies but is now fully performing the functions of the Immigration, VIPA and so forth.

“There must be a clear cut policy on these issues the day prior to any further decision taken as to the future status citizenships and other related issues,” Luganville MP, Kalvau Moli said.

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

8) Minister Calls For Appropriate Land Management In Fiji
Proper practices a ‘win-win’ for landowners, tenants: Seruiratu

By Reginald Chandar

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Sept. 19, 2013) – Proper land management is important for Fiji where land, an important resource, is scarce and needs to be balanced with the different demands placed on it, says Minister of Primary Industries and Rural and Maritime Development Inia Seruiratu.

Speaking at a two day Geospatial Information Management workshop at the Novotel Convention Centre in Lami today, Seruirati highlighted the importance of land in context of economic development.

He said good land management practices sets the platform for effective sustainable land development and is vital to create a win-win situation not only for the tenants and landowners but also for the nation.

“Unless land professionals practice good governance in land dealings, there are no bounds to unscrupulous activities where not only the landowners and tenants are affected but more importantly the impact on Government’s socio-economic activities,” Seruiratu said.

Geospatial information refers to data describing the location and attributes of features beneath, on or above the earth’s surface including the proper governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forest.

These are in the form of policies and activities such as survey of land for legitimate tenure-ship of land for the sake of food, security and livelihood.

Seruiratu said this geospatial information management was a tool for sustainable development planning, as it sets the platform on which policies can be formulated, implemented and sustained.

The workshop is a joint collaborative effort of the Fijian Government through the Ministry of Lands, the International Federation of Surveyors (FIG) and the United Nations Global Geospatial Information Management (UNGGIM).

The meeting will focus addressing inadequacy in knowledge and in technical expertise, particularly expanding on technical approach and efficient processes and good governance in land management.

Regional and global experts including FIG president Chee Hai Teo are attending the meeting.

Fijilive: http://www.fijilive.com

9) Recusal Of Judge In Fiji Labour Leader’s Case Denied
Mahendra Chaudhry’s defense ‘playing games’: judge

By Farisha Ahmed

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Sun, Sept. 19, 2013) – Justice Paul Madigan yesterday turned down an application for him to withdraw from hearing charges against Fiji Labour Party (FLP) leader Mahendra Chaudhry.

He ruled the grounds have no merit, and the defence is playing a game to cause a delay. The recusal application allegations made by Chaudhry’s lawyer were incorrect and do not come with any substantiated evidence, Justice Madigan said.

Appearing for Chaudhry, Suva lawyer Anand Singh made an application last week that Justice Madigan recuse himself on two grounds of possible bias.

He alleged that Justice Madigan was present at a workshop organised by the DPP to discuss charges against Chaudhry and that he offered assistance to improve the charges.

Secondly, that Justice Madigan had failed to disclose to the court and to parties involved in the case an alleged close personal relationship with the prosecution’s lead counsel Clive Grossman QC and junior counsel Elizabeth Yang.

Justice Madigan said he could not recollect attending such a workshop.

In her affidavit filed in response to the recusal application, Seini Puamau, the senior State prosecutor, said the DPP’s office sometimes invited Mr. Madigan to workshops but was not sure whether he was present at that particular workshop.

And as for his relationship with Mr. Grossman and Ms. Yang, Justice Madigan said it was professional.

He said Mr. Grossman and he had been social acquaintances and not close friends and this was before becoming a judge.

He said what was important in this case was that since becoming a judge, and a presiding judge for Chaudhry’s case, he had not associated with Mr. Grossman. And for Ms. Yang, Justice Madigan said they had been workmates and in the same social circle.

Chaudhry denies charges in the Suva High Court relating to breach of the Exchange Control Act.

The trial has been set for January 20 to 24 in 2014 with the pre-trial starting from December 10 this year.

On another application for disclosure and application for variation of bail made by Chaudhry’s lawyer, the matter has been adjourned until October 16, 2013.

FijiSUN: http://www.fijisun.com.fj/

10) Fiji Government refuses to publish election panel report

Posted at 06:36 on 20 September, 2013 UTC

The Fiji Government has refused to publish a report by an international panel helping Fiji prepare for democratic elections.

The panel included Carl Dundas, a former director of elections of Jamaica, Melissa Thorpe from the New Zealand elections office and Etienne Clay, a representative of the EU.

They submitted their report to the Minister for Elections, Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum, who says he will not publish it, as he fears political parties and the media will “politicise” it.

Mr Sayed Khaiyum told the Fiji Sun the elections office must be completely apolitical, and unfortunately, politicians and the media have been politicising it.

The group looked at where funding for the 2014 elections could be effectively spent.

The report is currently being circulated to foreign missions so they can identify the sort of assistance they can provide.

Radio New Zealand International

11) Fiji’s Buadromo head People’s General Assembly
By Online Editor
4:40 pm GMT+12, 20/09/2013, United States

Fiji’s human rights activist Virisila Buadromo has been appointed to head the People’s General Assembly, a historic gathering of civil society representatives from around the globe.

While she may be an observer inside the official United Nations building, outside Buadromo will be the first female General Secretary as she convenes the People’s General Assembly (People’s GA) this Saturday.

The 68th UN General Assembly, focused on development issues is set to start on Monday in New York and will be preceded by the People’s GA to be held in Foley Square in Thomas Pain Park.

Buadromo said the People’s GA brings together civil society organisations from around the world to share their experiences and demand justice, human rights and accountability.

The executive director of the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement said the event is an opportunity to demand that development be transformed to focus on people, not profits.

The People’s GA will provide the people’s perspective on current development models and the model of development that people demand of their governments.

Speakers from grassroots organisations and social movements from all the continents and regions of the world will speak of their experiences of development policies and present challenges for government leaders and officials to address the most pressing issues affecting the wellbeing of the people and the environment.

The People’s GA is being organised in New York by the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development, Campaign for People’s Goals for Sustainable Development, Ibon International, Association for Women’s Rights in Development, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment and Center for Women’s Global Leadership.
SOURCE: FIJI LIVE/PACENWS

12) UN to discuss Constitution

Nasik Swami
Sunday, September 22, 2013

FIJI’S progress towards the much-anticipated 2014 elections and the new 2013 Constitution will be discussed at the 68th session of the UN General Assembly in New York.

Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, who will address the assembly next Wednesday, will also discuss the island nation’s growing responsibility in the region and the wider international community.

Fiji’s permanent representative to the UN, Peter Thomson, said while Commodore Bainimarama’s visit is to deliver Fiji’s statement to world leaders at the annual UN meet, he will also attend meetings relevant to Fiji’s chairmanship of the group of 77 and China.

A statement issued by the Ministry of Information said that while in New York, he will participate in the high-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development and a separate meet that follows up efforts made towards achieving the millennium development goals.

At both events, it stated, he will be one of the leading speakers in his capacity as chair of the group of 77.

“On September 22, shortly after his arrival in New York, the Prime Minister will be the keynote speaker at the ‘High-level Forum on South-South Economic Cooperation for Sustainable Development – Investing in Broadband’,” Mr Thomson said.

“This gathering will be attended by government leaders and business representatives who will address planning for sustainable development through broadband and technology.”

The visit to the UN will also see the Prime Minister and his Foreign Minister, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, attend a series of bilateral meetings with counterparts and other dignitaries during the week.

During the Leaders Week, Ratu Inoke, will be representing Fiji at a number of PSIDS ministerial meetings where he will also chair a day-long G77 ministerial meeting on September 26 and attend the ministers meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement on September 27.

The Commodore Bainimarama-led delegation left Fiji last night.Fijitimes.

AUSTRALIA:


13) What the Australian aid cuts mean for the Pacific… and Kiwis
By Online Editor
4:30 pm GMT+12, 20/09/2013, New Zealand

From the New Zealand Council of International Development, www.cid.org.nz

In announcing his first cabinet, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Monday confirmed international development and Pacific island affairs will not be a priority for his government, at ministerial and even parliamentary secretary level.

The announcement comes on the heels of Abbott’s proposed cuts to the foreign aid budget, which are expected to affect not only AusAID-funded development projects in the Pacific, but also neighbor and fellow donor New Zealand.

New Zealand will soon start to feel the pressure to fill in the void, especially in the Pacific island nations, according to the local chapter of TEAR Fund, a British iNGO. Australia’s southeastern neighbor may thus be left alone at the forefront of development in the region, where several poor nations risk reversing course on the progress made so far in education, health or disaster resilience.

“[The aid cuts] are a cause for concern as they puts more pressure on the New Zealand government to step up its aid commitment [in the Pacific region] in order to achieve the same outcomes,” TEAR Fund New Zealand education and advocacy representative Frank Ritchie told Devex.

Australia’s new conservative government under Tony Abbott have been under intense scrutiny days after its electoral victory over its firm stand on pursuing domestic development over foreign aid. Cutting aid in a region like the Pacific, where small island nations are largely dependent on official development assistance from Canberra, may spell disaster in the next few years.

Even before the elections, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key warned that slashing the aid budget would stunt the development of countries such as the Marshall Islands, which this year suffered a severe drought that left most of the archipelago without drinking water for weeks on end. TEAR Fund New Zealand CEO Ian McIness went even further and noted Australia’s policy decision means Pacific island nations are not a priority anymore.

With countries in the region slightly behind their sub-Saharan Africa counterparts in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, pressure is rapidly building up to gain results, and New Zealand Aid, with its limited budget, will find it tough to do it alone.

Ripple effects

The aid cuts will have massive consequences to all stakeholders in every level in all the countries involved, making a ripple effect with a not-so-good outcome in sight, according to Ritchie.

If Australia decides to push through with the proposed cuts, the TEAR Fund expert said these will put more pressure on aid recipients, which will likely have to reduce development programs from their national budgets and even incur in higher debt. For NGOs, it will mean that they will get even less funding than now, while programs with unclear outcomes but essential to development such as governance may be scrapped in favor of other with more tangible results.

As for the people of the Pacific island nations, the reduced ODA will slow down their momentum toward meeting the MDGs, and increasing poverty.

Some academics believe the cuts clearly send a message not only to the Pacific region but to the entire aid community that Australia has now embarked on a road that to some may not include the development of these aid-dependent nations.

“It is a concern in the sense that Australia is an important player in Asia-Pacific and will look selfish and inward-looking by the international community,” University of Auckland professor Jennifer Curtin told Devex.

So what can the aid community do to avoid this likely scenario from happening?

Ritchie said it’s all about putting the same pressure to the Australian government: “Both in Australia and abroad, pressure can be put on the new Australian government to keep its promises and to see the risk they run to their own economic well-being should the nations they have been assisting see a developmental decline

SOURCE: WWW.CID.ORG/PACNEWS

14) Solomons fraud predicted to have dire impact on Australian aid

Posted at 18:46 on 20 September, 2013 UTC

There is concern in Solomon Islands that Australian aid funding will be curtailed following the discovery of more than one million US dollars worth of fraudulent activity in a health programme supported by AusAid.

So far eight people have been suspended following the discovery of financial irregularities involving Australian aid funding within the Ministry of Health and Medical Services.

A government investigation into the fraud is underway and it is understood that AusAid is also looking into the matter.

The interim head of the Joint Civil Society Group, Barnabas Henson, says Australia may start thinking differently about helping Solomon Islands.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a serious cutback on the funding programme, on the aid programme in the country because one of the major risks in terms of accountability and transparency is the way the Solomon Islands government has been managing funds and donor-funded projects.”

Barnabas Henson says the health sector can ill-afford misuse of funds.

Radio New Zealand International

TOK PISIN:

15) North Korea i stopim Femili bung

Updated 21 September 2013, 17:58 AEST

Ol femili blong North na South Korea em Korea War ibin brukim ol femili blong ol ino nap bung nau inap long sampla taem bihaen

North Korea itokaut pinis olsem emi stopim pastem ol wok blong larim ol femili memba husat istap long North Korea long bungim ol femili memba blong ol long South Korea husat ibin lusim wanpla narapla bihaenim bikpla fait oa war namel long despla tupla kantri.

Oli bin makim despla bung long stat long trinde na olsem bai oli stap wantem inap long sikispla dei tasol nau North Korea i senisim ken.

Sampla ibin lukim despla wok olsem wanpla gutpla wokbung namel long North na South Korea em long despla taem ino save wanbel wantem wanpla narapla.radio australia

BAHASA:

16) Pemenang World Muslimah: “Kami bukan ratu kecantikan”

Terbit 22 September 2013, 10:50 AEST

Tidak seperti kontes kecantikan lainnya, World Muslimah, justru ingin menekankan kecantikan sesungguhnya, yakni inner beauty. Lewat slogan Sholihah, Smart, danStylish, World Muslimah justru mempromosikan intelektualitas dan spiritualitas sebagai gaya hidup modern.

Audio: Simak laporan Iffah dari ajang World Muslimah 2013 di Jakarta

Obabiyi Aisha Ajibola, gadis berusia 21 tahun asal Lagos, Nigeria berhasil menyabet mahkota ‘Crown of Modesty’ dalam ajang kontes World Muslimah 2013 yang digelar pekan di Jakarta, pekan lalu.

Mahasiswi yang sedang mengambil studi Perencanaan Kota, di Universitas Ibado, Lagos, Nigeria ini berhasil mengungguli 19 finalis lain dalam 3 tahap penjurian.

Di negaranya Obabiyi dikenal sebagai seorang motivator, khususnya bagi remaja dan perempuan.

Saat ditemui Radio Australia di Jakarta, Obabiyi mengaku siap mempromosikan nilai dan karakter yang harus dimiliki seorang World Muslimah yakni Sholihat, Smart, dan Stylish.

Sebagai duta World Muslimah, Obabiyi merasa perdamaian dunia yang harus dimulai dari rasa cinta kasih yang tulus.

“Menurut saya dunia memerlukan kedamaian agar bisa menjadi tempat tinggal semua orang. Karena jika kita baik dan tulus kepada diri kita sendiri,  maka kita akan baik dan tulus kepada mahluk lain,” ujar Obabiyi.

“Ketika anda mencintai anggota keluarga dan kelompok terdekat,  cinta itu akan tersalur kepada orang lain di lingkungan dan tidak akan ada pertikaian. Saya mencoba menunjukan dunia kalau mereka memiliki kualitas kepribadian seperti itu kita bisa melakukan banyak hal..” tambahnya.

Promosikan gaya hidup Islami

Obabiyi yang gemar merancang busana dan aksesoris, mengaku sangat terkesan dengan busana muslimah karya perancang Indonesia.

“Sebagai muslimah kita harus berperilaku islami, diantaranya tidak memakai pakaian yang ketat dan menunjukan lekuk badan kita. Dan kita harus selalu rendah hati. Karenanya saya yakin sebagai muslimah kita bisa gaya tapi tetap rendah hati.”

“Baju muslim di Indonesia sangat mengagumkan ..keren…saya lihat teman2 kontestan banyak menggunakan gaun yang melayang bebas dan juga rok. Di negara saya tidak banyak yang menggunakan rok, gaya busananya berbeda.”

Ia juga mengaku akan mempelajari gaya busana muslimah Indonesia dan akan menerapkannya di negara saya. Menurutnya gaya hidup Islami bisa dipromosikan lewat cara berpakaian muslimah.

World Muslimah bukan ajang kecantikan

World Muslimah  merupakan ajang tahunan yang sudah tiga kali digelar.

Yayasan World Muslimah selaku pihak penyelenggara mengaku jumlah peserta yang mendaftar setiap tahunnya terus meningkat.

Tahun ini misalnya, tercatat ada 500 lebih pendaftar dari 11 negara.

Yayasan World Muslimah menegaskan bahwa kontes ini bukanlah seperti kontes kecantikan yang sudah ada

Untuk bisa mengikuti kontes ini, kecantikan dan tinggi badan bukanlah persyaratan.

Sebaliknya, peserta diwajibkan bisa membaca Alqur’an dan telah menggunakan busana muslimah sehari-hari.

Beberapa aspek yang dinilai antara lain, kesalehan, pengetahuan agama dan pemahaman Alquran.

Noor Aspasia runner up world muslimah dan finalis Nur Maulidia menjelaskan perbedaan  kompetisi yang diikutinya dengan ajang kecantikan.

“Kontes ini  lebih menilai pada ahlak dan aqidah kita, selain juga kepintaran sebagai muslimah. Menurut islam itu sendiri sudah jelas, Allah menciptakan setiap manusia dalam bentuk seindah-indahnya. Tidak ada manusia yang jelek,” ujar Noor.

Menurut Eka Shanty, CEO dan pendiri Yayasan Muslimah Dunia, ajang ini bertujuan untuk memberikan wadah sekaligus mengapresiasi remaja-remaja muslimah berprestasi diseluruh dunia yang selama ini tidak terakomodasi.

Lewat slogan yang diusung, yakni Sholihah, Smart, dan stylish, hasil yang diharapkan bukanlah mencetak ratu kecantikan, sebaliknya berupaya menginspirasi muslimah yang mempromosikan inner beauty, intelektualitas, spiritualitas sebagai gaya hidup modern.

Tahun depan World Muslimah akan diselenggarakan di Brunei Daarussalam dan ditargetkan akan diikuti oleh muslimah dari 60 negara.radio australia

FRENCH:

17a) Remue-ménage à Ausaid

Posté à 19 September 2013, 8:30 AEST
Pierre Riant

Le nouveau gouvernement de Tony Abbott envisage l’intégration de l’agence australienne responsable de la coordination des programmes d’aide à l’étranger (AUSAID) au ministère des Affaires étrangères et du Commerce (DFAT).

Pter Baxter, en indisponibilité prolongée? [AuSaid]

Pour le Premier ministre, le but est d’aligner les programmes d’aide à l’étranger en fonction des stratégies diplomatiques du gouvernement.

D’après ce que nous savons, le directeur-général de l’agence d’aide, Peter Baxter, aurait démissionné de son poste à la suite de cette décision. Une information toutefois que le gouvernement réfute en affirmant que M. Baxter s’est mis en indisponibilité prolongée et que Peter Baxter sera appelé à jouer un rôle important dans d’autres fonctions.

Anne-Marie O’Keefe, l’ancienne directrice générale adjointe d’AUSAID, qui travaille maintenant avec le Lowy Institute, un laboratoire d’idées, indique qu’elle n’a pas encore tous les éléments en main, mais que cette décision d’intégrer AUSAID au ministère des Affaires étrangères suscite des inquiétudes : « La magnitude de cette décision n’est pas de 2 mais de 10 sur l’échelle de Richter. Les ramifications aux programmes d’aide australiens vont être énormes et cela ne va pas être évident à gérer.
Il y a toujours eu de temps en temps quelques tensions entre AUSAID et les Affaires étrangères en termes de comment les programmes de développement peuvent contribuer aux objectifs de la politique étrangère. Et parfois, certains s’enthousiasment un peu trop sur le montant de l’assistance au développement qui devrait servir aux objectifs de la politique étrangère. »

Selon Anne-Marie O’Keefe, le gouvernement de Tony Abbott aurait peut-être pris exemple sur le Canada et la Nouvelle-Zélande : « Deux pays avec des gouvernements conservateurs alors peut-être que l’Australie a décidé de calquer  le Canada et la Nouvelle-Zélande.
En tous les cas, ce serait vraiment dommage car cela aura beaucoup d’impact sur l’efficacité des programmes de développement puisque l’on ne se concentre plus sur les résultats de ces programmes de développement. »radio australia

17b) L’UNICEF renouvelle son appel pour le 4ème OMD

Posté à 19 September 2013, 8:48 AEST
Pierre Riant

Les Objectifs du millénaire pour le développement sont au nombre de 8 et en quatrième place, une réduction de 2/3 de la mortalité chez l’enfant d’ici 2015.

Selon l’UNICEF des progrès ont été faits mais les dernières constatations indiquent que l’objectif ne sera pas atteint avant 2023 ; un retard qui pourrait se concrétiser par la mort de 35 millions d’enfants.

Karen Allen, est la représentante de l’UNICEF pour le Pacifique : « Dans le Pacifique, je surveille 14 nations et elles ont toutes fait des progrès. Mais nous devons encore atteindre les plus défavorisés dans les îles éloignées, les gens loin des grandes cités. »

WORLD:

18) Air France to slash jobs

Bbc.Co.Uk
Friday, September 20, 2013

FRENCH carrier Air France has said it plans to cut a further 2800 jobs through voluntary redundancy as it struggles to cut costs.

The airline, part of the Air France KLM group, had already announced plans to cut 5100 jobs from its 69,000-strong workforce as part of a turnaround plan.

But it has now admitted it will miss its financial targets for 2013.

Air France said it was in negotiations with unions regarding the latest planned cuts.

The airline merged with Dutch carrier KLM in 2004.

European airlines have been hit by low growth in passenger numbers and high fuel costs, while older “flag carrier” airlines are also struggling to compete with low-cost carriers such as Easyjet and Ryanair.

“We are in a period of weak demand,” chief executive Frederic Gagey told a news conference.

“We have felt the full brunt of the cyclicality of air transport.”

Shares in Air France KLM fell more than 3 per cent in response to the news. In a statement, Air France said it would continue a policy of “wage moderation” alongside the job cuts.

HEALTH:

19) Top six incurable diseases

Oddtale.Com
Sunday, September 22, 2013

These are some of the most common diseases that have no cure at the present time, even though quite a bit of progress has been made throughout the years, and research has been done to progress the treatments and possible cures for future generations down the line.

1. HIV/ Aids

Quite a bit of progress has been made, but there is no cure. Medications have made it easier to live with the illness, but there are no cures as of yet. When the virus comes into contact with the body fluids, it quickly infects the body. Although there is no cure as of yet, there are medications that patients can take, which are going to help them live a longer and happier life. With millions affected each year, the illness is still spreading, and does affect many lives.

2. The common cold

Although not as intense or deadly, with all the medications we have out there, the common cold is a virus that sticks around for some time when we get sick. We know the warning signs, the weather change, and we know how to prevent it, but even with so many medications out there, and so many things we can do to try to fend it off, once we become infected, the medications that we take are only going to help possibly fend off certain pain, but we can’t cure the common cold with any of these medications on the market.

3. Cancer

Yes, there is chemo, radiation, and other forms of treatment that can possibly kill off a number of the abnormal cells that grow in the body, but these are not cures to cancer. These methods of treatment can help to create a longer life for those who suffer from it, but depending on the stage, and how far progressed the cancer is, even the most intense treatment is not going to do much for patients. There are ways to ward off the growth, but cancer, once it has progressed to a certain stage, can no longer be cured.

4. Schizophrenia

The inability to determine reality versus make believe, is what characterises this condition. As it is one of the most studied illnesses, it makes it even worst that no cure has yet to be found. Medications can help to subdue the condition, and help with some of the problems with reality, but there is no cure to the condition. More and more has been learned, and more medication has been introduced, but there is a cure for the condition that millions of people suffer from.

5. Ebola

Characterised by a severe fever, the disease is incurable, and has about a 90 per cent death rate. The virus is caused by a parasite-like creature, found in a river in Africa, that has been named for the condition. Although quite a bit of extensive research has been conducted, many medications have been researched, injections, and other treatment methods have been used to treat the condition, yet most of them only subdue the virus, but do not kill it off. The high fever is generally incurable, and those who are infected by the virus, do not recover from it, which is the reason for such a high mortality rate.

6. Asthma

Another common condition, that we have yet to find a cure for is asthma. Sure there are inhalers, to help individuals when they are short of breath, but there is no cure for those who suffer from the chronic condition. Those who suffer, are generally hypersensitive to pollen, and other allergens, meaning they get short of breath quite easily, especially during certain seasons of the year. For this reason, an inhaler is something that has to be carried by them at all times of the year, and anywhere they go to, in order to avoid a shortness, and inability to breath in certain situations.

20) Plans to decentralise health services

Mere Naleba
Sunday, September 22, 2013

THE Health Ministry is looking to decentralise its services, says minister, Dr Neil Sharma.

Dr Sharma says enhancing the knowledge and skills of all medical workers is a must and one of the key areas is upgrading the services in the rural areas.

“We are now encouraging our staff to work with the community, and to make sure that the outreach we carry out from that facility is enhanced,” Dr Sharma said.

“So if there is a group that needs screening for diabetes or cancer, we don’t have to get a team from Suva to go and do screening tests for the people in Labasa or Koro.

“We are trying to see that our own staff from medical stations closest to these people can go and conduct the tests without heavily relying on the medical people in the urban centres.”

Dr Sharma said members of the public should remind themselves that “health is everybody’s business and not just the ministry’s business”.

“We are all born with good health. However, we misuse God’s gift to us which is good health and we have to run around spending a lot of money trying to get back that good health,” he said.

“So why don’t we start from the beginning to eat right, exercise properly and ensure that you maintain your health.”Fijtimes.

MEDIA:

News Release

Secretariat of the Pacific Community
Suva, Fiji

Thursday, September 19, 2013

21) Pacific Social Media Training Workshop Held In Fiji

A five-day regional training for Pacific Island countries and territories was held in Nadi, Fiji 16–20 September bringing together 23 participants from 12 Pacific states (Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Palau, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu) to learn about the use of social media as a Web 2.0 innovation to create and share content for information exchange.

Representatives came not only from government departments but also from non-government agencies like the SPC/GIZ Pacific German Regional Cooperation (GIZ) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the Foundation for Rural Integrated Enterprises and Development in Fiji (FRIEND), Women in Development, Oxfam International and World Vision.

The Land Resources Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, in partnership with the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation EU-ACP (CTA), is hosted the Web 2.0 and information exchange training. This is in the framework of the upcoming launch of the Youth in Agriculture Blog Competition (YoBloCo Awards) organised by the CTA – ARDYIS project, of which SPC is a key partner. In the context of agricultural development, the use of Web 2.0-social media innovations encourages users to look at some examples from around the world of ways to engage youth in agriculture.

In a world of rapid change, Web 2.0 tools such as blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Google, LinkedIn and other social media networks have changed how the world works today.

In his opening speech, Fiji’s Permanent Secretary for Agriculture, Mr. Ropate Ligairi said, ‘The government, through the Ministry of Agriculture has recognised the potential of youths as they contribute immensely to the development of, not only the agriculture sector, but for the overall development of Fiji’s economy.’ He added, ‘In recognising the needs of food security, poverty alleviation, employment and economic growth, the government has set up a partnership with the Fiji National University to pioneer a new scholarship programme in Fiji that has two basic aims — to produce a new generation of farmers in Fiji, and to encourage young people to become farmers, and give them ability to do so.’

Mr. Ligairi supports the development of young people’s knowledge and skills through the use of information and communication technologies such as social media/Web 2.0.

Mr. Ligairi said, ‘The use of online tools such as Facebook can change the online environment for people to share and exchange information and ideas on agricultural practices. The Department of Agriculture, Fiji created a Facebook page which promotes the use of social media technologies to engage with the agriculture community, its stakeholders and also to empower youths to participate, share and discuss the successful ventures in the area of agriculture.’

Dr. Ken Cokanasiga of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) highlighted the SPC Pacific Youth Development Framework which is expected to be launched in December 2013 as an important document in promoting the development of young people in the Pacific region.

‘The Pacific Youth Development Framework will be guided by, and embraces the Pacific Youth in Agriculture Strategy 2011–2015, developed by the Land Resources Division of SPC. The Youth in Agriculture strategy recommends actions and initiatives that all stakeholders can pursue to encourage the active engagement of youth in agriculture across the region,’ he said.

Dr. Cokanasiga also cautioned the participants that there are responsibilities that need to be understood associated with the use of modern information and communication technologies and social media platforms.

He further added that, as a way to promote information sharing and exchange, SPC is keen to collect a wide range of experiences about how best to engage young men and women in agriculture and forestry and, in particular, to learn how social media and other information and communication technologies may be used to develop agricultural opportunities for youth.

A young agriculture extension officer from the remote island of Cicia, Fiji is participating at the Web 2.0 training workshop. Mr. Cama Tuidelaivagadra aims to enter the Yobloco competition as a challenge to showcase Cicia Island as a fully organic certified island. Mr. Cama said, ‘Sharing the stories about organic farming through the use of websites and social media networks can boost the developments of rural remote communities such as Cicia, especially in accessing niche markets.’

BUSINESS:

22) $3.5m works

Ropate Valemei
Thursday, September 19, 2013

+ Enlarge this image

A worker at a drilling site in Udu Point, Vanua Levu. A recently completed geophysical survey has identified new targets for continued exploration works for copper and zinc in the area. Picture: SUPPLIED

ABOUT $3.5million has been invested into mineral exploration works at Udu Point in Vanua Levu.

And according to Australian-based exploration company Conto Resources Limited, a recently completed geophysical survey had defined new targets for continued copper and zinc exploration in the area.

Conto Resources, an Australian publicly listed company, is in a joint venture partnership with Dateline Resources Ltd who owns and operates mineral exploration at Udu Point through its Fiji subsidiary company, Matai Holdings Exploration.

Matai Holdings Exploration manager Steward Capp said the company had been exploring for copper and zinc deposits at Udu Point since l996.

“It is an ongoing commitment. Since the joint venture was initiated last year, $3.5million has been spent on mineral exploration at Udu Point,” Mr Capp said.

He said the joint venture was pleased with the results of their recent exploration program which continued to build their knowledge-base for the region.

“This latest work has provided new targets for drilling and we expect to initiate follow-up work in the coming weeks,” Mr Capp said.

“The geophysical survey was conducted over an area of 685 hectares, over three mataqali and it took two months to complete. During the period, we employed 25 Udu Point workers per day.”

He said they would like to extend their appreciation to their workers at Udu Point for their hard work and completing the job on schedule.Fijitimes

LAW&ORDER:

23) Former Fiji pension fund manager sentenced to 26 months’ prison

Posted at 18:46 on 20 September, 2013 UTC

A former manager of Fiji’s pension fund has been sentenced to a 26-month jail term in the Fiji High Court.

Foana Nemani was found guilty of extortion by a public officer and abuse of authority on Wednesday, for authorising payments to herself and the then CEO of the fund, Olota Rokovunisei.

Rokovunisei accepted $12 000 US dollars and Nemani paid herself $14,000 US dollars, in 2006.

Nemani, who lives in New Zealand, did not return for the trial.

Our correspondent Ricardo Morris says Justice Janaka Bandara ruled the only mitigating factor was that it was a first-time offence.

“He said that Nemani had a fiduciary duty and she broke the faith of her employers and indicated that irrespective of the amount of money she was accused of obtaining inappropriately, the corrosive effect of her actions in undermining the public trust warranted a custodial sentence.”

Ricardo Morris says the court has issued an arrest warrant for Nemani and her sentence will begin as soon as she is apprehended.

Radio New Zealand International

24) Tonga Leads Multilateral Ocean Security Exercises
Surveillance meant to enforce maritime laws in Tongan waters

NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Sept. 19, 2013) – Ika Moana 2013, a new multi-national maritime surveillance exercise led by the Tonga Defence Services (Navy) to combat illegal fishing and crime at sea, had over the past 10-days enforced law in Tonga’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

The surveillance could become an annual exercise, after it ends on Friday, September 20.

The Tonga Defence Services stated today that the Tongan Navy Patrol Boat VOEA Pangai with patrol boats from Cook Islands Police and Samoa Police worked together to enforce law at sea in Tonga’s EEZ, assisted by the Royal New Zealand Airforce and a French Military Guardian aircraft in the aerial search.

The three patrol boats had combined efforts to locate and intercept many foreign vessels and the VOEA Pangai conducted a large number of boarding and checking of compliance with license conditions.

“The preservation of fishing stocks and adherence to licence conditions is of great importance in Polynesia and throughout the Pacific. Exercise Ika Moana 2013 has shown how well the forces in this region can work together to combat illegal fishing and other crime at sea. Subject to the agreement of all participants, Ika Moana could become an annual exercise series, with rotating leadership.”

The exercise began last week with the patrol boats gathering in Niue for preparation and training with a brief patrol in transit through the Niue’s EEZ before arriving in Tonga on Thursday, for refueling and provisions. Senior officers were also briefed by the Tonga Fisheries and Police last Friday.

The multi-national combined police, military and civilian exercise was also supported by Niue, Australia and the Forum Fisheries Agency in Honiara.

Regional

The Commander of the Tonga Defence Services Brigadier-General Tau’aika ‘Uta’atu said the exercise was an excellent example of close neighbours taking a regional approach to fighting crime at sea.

Tonga was proud to have led and initiated this event and he thanked all the exercise participants for their support.

The exercise concludes on Friday with the return of patrol boats to their home ports.

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

REFUGEE/ASYLUM:

25) First boat arrives as Government says it will hold weekly asylum seeker boat briefings with media

Updated 22 September 2013, 17:42 AEST

An asylum seeker boat carrying about 30 people has arrived at Christmas Island, the first since the new Federal Government implemented its border protection policy.

An asylum seeker boat carrying about 30 people has arrived at Christmas Island, the first since the new Federal Government implemented its border protection policy.

The Government is not providing any details of the boat, but the ABC has been told from people on Christmas Island that the passengers include men, women and children from the Middle East.

It is the first known boat arrival since the Government was sworn in last week and its new policy, dubbed Operation Sovereign Borders, took effect.

Since then, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has imposed new restrictions on the flow of information about asylum seeker boats.

The previous government used to alert the media every time a boat was intercepted, but Mr Morrison says he will only provide weekly briefings – the first of which will be tomorrow.

Labor has attacked the changes, warning of a “culture of secrecy”.

In a statement released before today’s arrival, Mr Morrison said information would be provided in a way that supported the objectives of “the operation to stop the boats”.

“Briefings on Operation Sovereign Borders will be initially held weekly with any changes based on operational considerations to be advised,” Mr Morrison said in the statement.

We asked whether the disclosure of information about boat arrivals should be automatic. Here’s what you had to say

“Additional briefings will be undertaken as necessary in relation to specific events. People smugglers use information as a tactic to ply their trade.

“Taking control of how that information is released denies people smugglers the opportunity to exploit such information and is just another one of the many measures we are utilising to stop the boats as the Government has promised it would do.”

Mr Morrison added the Government would release detention and bridging visa statistics.

“I have instructed the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to ensure these statistics are updated monthly, with a current report to be provided at the first Operation Sovereign Borders briefing,” he said.

Labor frontbencher Bill Shorten has ridiculed the move.

“They said they would stop the boats, then they said they would buy the boats, and now they’re saying they’re going to hide the boats,” he said.radio australia

CLIMATE CHANGE,CONSERVATION AND ENVIROMENT:


26) PNG National Fisheries Authority concerned with seabed mining
By Online Editor
1:16 pm GMT+12, 20/09/2013, Papua New Guinea

The National Fisheries Authority in Papua New Guinea has again expressed its concerns over seabed mining in the country.

And its concerns is based on the unavailability of proper legislation in the country, said Managing Director of NFA Sylvester Pokajam.

Rather more awareness should be carried out to educate the people on the impacts of the project, Pokajam told EMTV News.

The controversial seabed mining Solwara one project to be carried out by Nautilus Minerals has been approved by the government. But it has generated a lot of debate from concerned Papua New Guineans and organizations.

Many of the concerns are based on the fact, that Papua New Guinea will be the first country in the world to experiment with this project, without any proper laws governing its operation.

The potential impacts on marine life are said to be minimal, but that has not stopped the National Fisheries authority to query the project.

Pokajam hinted possible risks to the growing fisheries sector with the onset of the project, and wants proper feasibility and environmental assessment carried out to ascertain the benefits of the project.

Commercial Manager to Parties to the Nauru Agreement Maurice Brownjohn said it will become a growing problem to regional fisheries if no proper awareness is carried out.

He said, environmental aspects may be small but perception will be the biggest problem because of misunderstanding.

The issue of sustainable fisheries will one of the key issues discussed in the Pacific Tuna forum, and seabed mining will be highlighted.

SOURCE: EMTV/PACNEWS

27) Draft IPCC report predicts sea levels to rise a metre by end of century
By Online Editor
10:33 am GMT+12, 20/09/2013, Australia

Sea levels could rise a metre by the end of the century, according to the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The ABC has obtained a final draft of the report ahead of its official release next Friday.

While average land and sea temperatures will continue to rise, it shows the planet is heating at a slower rate.

The IPCC predicts anything more than 4 degrees Celsius is unlikely this century.

Professor Steve Sherwood from the University of New South Wales says the more immediate impacts of climate change are well known.

“Right now if you look at the rate of increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, it is fairly close to the worst case scenarios that have been looked at by scientists since we started looking at this problem,” he said.

“Eventually we can expect to see more intense heatwaves, stronger downpours of rain, longer periods between rain.

“They are three things that a lot of different lines of evidence tell us that’s what we can expect in a warmer world.”

The scenarios outlined in the draft report show global temperatures have risen by almost a degree since the pre-industrial era.

The report suggests sea levels could surge by a metre by the end of the century, in part because glaciers and ice sheets are melting faster.

Evidence suggests that if carbon emissions keep rising, it would lead to a near complete loss of the Greenland ice sheet and a seven-metre sea level rise by the end of the millennium.

But one thing scientists have been battling to explain is why the rate of warming has slowed.

The draft report says the rate of warming over the past 15 years (1998-2012) is likely to have been 0.05 degrees, smaller than the trend since 1951 of 0.12 degrees.

John Cook from the Global Change Institute at The University of Queensland says the planet is still heating up.

“There’s been a lot of studies that have examined the question over the last few years and what the evidence seems to be telling us is the oceans are picking up most of the heat of global warming,” Cook said.

Some who question the science have focused on the report’s apparent lack of certainty about exactly how our climate will change.

Scientists from around the world are due to gather in Stockholm next week to finalise the exact wording of the report – but the debate is likely to continue long after its release.

SOURCE: RADIO AUSTRALIA/PACNEWS

28) Typhoon Usagi batters southern Taiwan and northern Philippines, barrels toward Hong Kong

Posted 22 September 2013, 10:53 AEST

A powerful typhoon has battered coastal communities in southern Taiwan and the northern Philippines, leaving tens of thousands without power and throwing travel plans into disarray as it barrelled towards Hong Kong.

A powerful typhoon has battered coastal communities in southern Taiwan and the northern Philippines, leaving tens of thousands of people without power as it headed towards Hong Kong.

Typhoon Usagi triggered landslides and forced the evacuation of thousands of people as it swept through the strait between Taiwan and the Philippines.

It has been downgraded slightly from the strongest category of storm, a super typhoon, but it still poses a significant threat to Hong Kong and China’s manufacturing heartland in the Pearl River delta.

Southern Taiwan was battered by the storm, which rolled past the Batanes island group in the far north of the Philippines overnight and headed on towards the Chinese mainland.

With centre winds of 205 kilometres per hour and gusts of up to 240kph, Typhoon Usagi, the strongest storm to hit the western Pacific this year, was moving north-west at 19kph between the Philippines and Taiwan.

Hong Kong airport to shut down later today

In Hong Kong, the storm forced local carrier Cathay Pacific to warn that all its flights in and out of the city would be cancelled from early Sunday evening local time, as people in the city reinforced windows in anticipation of the approaching storm’s impact.

In Taiwan’s southern Pintung county, storms flooded remote villages, forcing troops to evacuate dozens of people, the state Central News Agency said.

“I thought a tsunami was hitting… I’ve never encountered this before in my life,” the agency quoted a 60-year-old woman as saying who scrambled to safety with her pet.

Taiwan, Philippines battered by ‘biggest typhoon in 25 years’

Six people were injured in Kinmen, a Taiwan-controlled island off China’s south-eastern Fujian province, after they were hit by fallen trees, according to the Central Emergency Operation Centre.

The typhoon also left 45,000 homes powerless and more than 5,000 households without water, it said. Pictures showed overturned vehicles, fallen branches and rivers of muddy water flooding the streets.

A total of 77 domestic and five international flights were cancelled and ferry services suspended, with schools and offices in many parts of Taiwan closed, especially in the south and east, authorities said.

The defence ministry deployed more than 3,000 soldiers to “high-risk” areas and placed 24,000 others on standby.

Nearly 3,000 people had already been evacuated, officials said, as the Central Weather Bureau warned people to expect up to 1.2 metres of rain.

In the Philippines’ Batanes island chain terrified locals spent the night in their houses as savage winds raged outside.

“This is the strongest typhoon to hit Batanes in 25 years,” said Dina Abad, the district’s representative to Congress.

“The howling winds began at midnight and they churned up to eight-metre waves that damaged the port and sank moored fishing boats,” she said, quoting a mayor of one coastal town.

China issues red alert warning

China’s National Meteorological Centre issued a red alert – its highest-level warning – as it forecast gale-force winds and heavy rain.

It said Usagi would affect the coastal areas of the provinces of Guangdong, Zhejiang and Fujian as it moved north-west.

The region is regularly pummelled by tropical storms. Typhoon Bopha left a trail of destruction in the southern Philippines last year, triggering floods and landslides that left more than 1,800 dead and missing and displaced nearly 1 million people.

Hong Kong rarely suffers major loss of life as a result of tropical storms, although Typhoon Rose in 1971 killed 110 people in the city.

ABC/AFP

SPORTS:
29) Fiji to host new US$1 million tournament
By Online Editor
1:35 pm GMT+12, 20/09/2013, Fiji

For the next five years, Fiji will play host to one of the biggest sporting events in the world.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama signed a memorandum of understanding with PGA Australia to host the Fiji International.

To be held at the Natadola Bay Championship Golf course, the event is guaranteed a minimum prize purse of $US1 million ($F1.82 million).

He said the signing was a significant moment for Fiji because it demonstrated that the PGA had faith in Fiji to hold one of its major events.

“Faith in our infrastructure. Faith in our economy. And faith in our people. I am here to say that we are equal to the opportunity and look forward to a strong and lasting relationship with the PGA,” Commodore Bainimarama said.

“Although Fiji has long offered some of the best golf courses in the region, both to our visitors and to our local golfers, the Fiji International will rightfully establish it as one of the world’s top golfing destinations.”

He said they expected the tournament to lead directly to a multi-million dollar boost for Fiji, with many additional flow-on benefits.

“One such benefit is that this tournament will increase the value of the FNPF-owned land in Natadola.

“As a result, after the second stage of development work there, the FNPF will achieve a higher rate of return when it sells or leases that land, profiting all of the funds’ current members, as well as all future generations of members.

“Well, the Fiji International PGA golf tournament is certainly something we Fijians can be proud of. It will give us a fantastic avenue to promote our beautiful nation and show the world what we have to offer.”

PGA Australia chief executive officer Brian Thorburn said the tournament presented an opportunity for Fiji to claim a position as one of the world’s greatest golf destinations.

He said while they could not confirm whether world renowned golfers such as Tiger Woods or Vijay Singh would attend the event, he added they were trying their best to rope in the best.

“It will have to depend on the schedule of the golfers next year but we can confirm that this tournament will contribute towards their world tour points,” Thorburn said.

SOURCE: FIJI TIMES/PACNEWS

30a) Another chance to impress for Kumuls hopefuls

Posted at 18:46 on 20 September, 2013 UTC

Local players in Papua New Guinea get another chance to press their claims for a place in the Kumuls Rugby League World Cup squad tomorrow in a trial game in Port Moresby.

The Kumul Red and Gold teams are made up entirely of locally-based players, from which the national selectors will pick the bulk of their squad for next weekend’s clash with the Australian Prime Minister’s 13.

The Interim CEO of the Papua New Guinea Rugby League Federation, Brad Tassell, says there is plenty of talent on the domestic scene and tomorrow’s match is a big opportunity.

“There’s a lot of spots still open right across the paddock and there’s a lot of players that are pushing for those spots so the depth I would say in Papua New Guinea Rugby League right now is probably the best that it’s been for the last ten or fifteen years. Some of the players that are up here – because they’re young, they’ve got the right attitude, they’ve been taught the right things – we believe that they wouldn’t look out of place in a Queensland Cup or an NRL programme overseas. I think a lot of people will be surprised by the talent and just how well prepared the Team Kumul players will be and the squad for the World Cup.”

Brad Tassell says as many as 12-14 local players could be selected in the final 24-man World Cup squad.

Radio New Zealand International

30b) Ben Ryan named as new Fiji sevens coach

Posted at 18:46 on 20 September, 2013 UTC

Former England coach Ben Ryan has been appointed as the new Fiji sevens head coach for the next three years.

The 42 year old Ryan stepped down as England boss last month after six years at the helm.

Vinnie Wylie reports.

“Ben Ryan had been out of work since leaving his England job, with reports suggesting he was going to be asked to re-apply for the post. Ryan is expected to be in Fiji in time for the International Sevens tournament in Suva next month. He will then take charge of the national team for the opening leg of the IRB World Series on the Gold Coast, where Fiji are two-time defending champions. Ryan will then return to England and move back to Fiji with his family before the start of the Dubai tournament. His appointment is for three years up until and including the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. As part of his role, he will also be required to develop local coaches and the seven-a-side game as a whole throughout the country.”

Radio New Zealand International

30c) Tonga Cricket Association suspended from ICC

Posted at 18:46 on 20 September, 2013 UTC

The Tongan Cricket Association (TCA) has been suspended from the International Cricket Council (ICC) after failing to meet membership requirements.

At its annual conference last June in London the ICC passed a resolution to suspend Tonga because its administration was not up to standard.

Matangi Tonga online says the TCA was made aware of its obligations to meet standards last year when a warning was issued by the ICC.

The TCA is headed by Sangster Saulala, who is currently Tonga’s Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

Mr Saulala was dumped in 2009 as the board chair of the Tonga Rugby Union amid concerns about financial mismanagement.

Radio New Zealand International

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