Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 912


MELANESIA:

1) West Papua case

The Guardian/Pacnews
Thursday, December 19, 2013

SYDNEY – Two high-profile lawyers involved in a “citizens’ tribunal” that found Indonesian security forces tortured and killed unarmed civilians in West Papua 15 years ago have questioned what the Australian government knew about the incident.

Scores of people on the West Papuan island of Biak were killed, mutilated and tortured by Indonesian security personnel on 6 July, 1998, the Biak Massacre Citizens Tribunal found this week.

The former NSW director of public prosecutions Nick Cowdery, who acted as counsel assisting to the Sydney tribunal, said it was difficult to believe that news of a well-planned attack had not reached Australia via defence intelligence in the days beforehand.

The tribunal found the Indonesian military had co-ordinated with the police, navy, and local and regional officials to plan a violent rampage against demonstrators for West Papuan independence.

“This was not something that suddenly happened on one day, it was something that built over a period of days,” Mr Cowdery said at the launch of the tribunal’s findings on Monday night.

“It’s impossible to think that the was not more widely known at that time.”

The Australian president of the International Commission of Jurists, John Dowd, who was presiding jurist at the tribunal, said it was clear from a previous investigation into the deaths of five journalists at Balibo in East Timor in 1975 that Australian intelligence had long monitored communications of the Indonesian military.

In his role at the ICJ, Mr Dowd was part of the investigation that led to an Australian coronial inquest into the deaths of the Balibo five.

“We know from our investigation into the Balibo deaths that the Australian Signals Directorate were listening in,” he said.

Mr Dowd said evidence heard at the tribunal from victims of mutilation was some of the most horrific testimony he had encountered in his career.

2) Former PNG diplomat slams APEC meeting co-funding agreement with Australia

By Online Editor
09:13 am GMT+12, 19/12/2013, Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea Government’s agreement to accept Australia’s involvement in the 2018 Asia Pacific Economic Countries (APEC) meeting may mean serious breaches to the national interests of the country.

This was revealed by former PNG  ambassador to the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu Brain Yombon Copio

Yombon Copio was referring to the agreement by the PNG government for the government of Australia to help fund the APEC meeting the country will host in 2018.

He said that this was a sign of incapability of the government which had voluntarily put its hands up to play host to this high profile regional meeting.

Copio said this showed that the government does not know how to manage the national interest of the country as a recognised independent state in the international arena.

He said the PNG’s agreement to  host the APEC meeting simply gave the signal to the international community that PNG had the capacity to host regional and international events.

Copio said that having the capacity in terms of resources and organisational skills would enable us to successfully stage the event. He said the PNG government should do away with the juvenile attitude and demonstrate that it has the capability to organise events and forums of big magnitude on its own.

Yombon said the decision to invite Australia to co-fund the APEC meeting would have serious impact on the regional economic partners to have any confidence in PNG as it has compromised its national interest.

He said despite Australia as a major economic player PNG volunteered to host the APEC meeting and should not ask Australia for assistance.

SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS

3) President Momis seeks Filipino help to rebuild war-torn Bougainville

By Online Editor
09:09 am GMT+12, 19/12/2013, Papua New Guinea

President John Momis of the Autonomous Bougainville Government in Papua New Guinea appealed on Saturday for Filipino expertise and capital to help rebuild his resource-rich island-province ravaged by almost a decade of civil war.

Speaking during the graduation ceremony hosted by Governor Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. for Bougainville citizens who trained here in livelihood development under Zambales’s homegrown Program of Global Excellence (Poge),  Momis said they badly needed partners to help develop their economy and arm their citizens with skills crucial to self-determination.

Momis, with his wife Elizabeth, stood as guest of honour in the inauguration of the Zambales Hotel, the newest project of the provincial government, and the Zambales Training Centre in this town, which housed the two batches of Poge-Bougainville trainees.

In his message, Momis noted that Filipinos “are educated [and] technically qualified, and they are now in a position to do something to better their own lives’’. He said that while Bougainville had rich natural resources, “we lack expertise and capital’’.  Momis was elected ABG president in 2010, after serving as member of the Papuan parliament, ambassador to the People’s Republic of China and governor of Bougainville from 1999 to 2005. He enjoined Filipinos to come to Bougainville “not only to come and help us and then move out, but to [become] partners for life so that we can enjoy the fruits of our common labour’’.

“You bring your expertise and capital – but most especially your expertise – so that we can collaborate based on the principle of equitable distribution, so that both your people and our people can benefit,” he said. “We want to learn more from you. And hopefully, together with you,” Momis said.

While calling for outside help, Momis tempered his appeal with the assertion that Bougainville, exploited as it was by foreign businesses, was now determined to chart its own destiny.He said the civil war that destroyed his homeland was “a direct result of the systematic and ongoing process of alienation and marginalisation, which led to impoverishment and dehumanisation.”

Bougainville, an island-province of the state of PNG in south western Pacific Ocean, is the site of the Panguna mine, one of the world’s largest open-pit mines in the world.

Established in the early 1970s by Bougainville Copper Ltd., an Australian mining company controlled by British mining giant Rio Tinto Zinc, the mine contributed to as much as 45 per cent of the income of PNG, but benefitted Bougainville with just about 0.5 per cent to 1.25 per cent of the total profit.This disparity in income, along with environmental and social impacts of the mining project, fueled a secessionist movement in Bougainville that became a full-blown civil war from 1988 to 1998.

“It was a bloody war that cost 10,000 to 15,000 lives,” said Mr Momis, who served as a Catholic priest from 1970 until 1993, but who rose to political prominence after being elected in 1972 as representative of the then-North Solomons to PNG’s first representative assembly.

As parliament member, Momis chaired the constitutional committee and was credited with being the co-author of PNG’s Constitution, but he relinquished his seat even before PNG gained independence in 1975, to establish a secessionist organisation in Bougainville.The secessionists, he said, stood up to defend their human rights and the dignity of the people of Bougainville.

“Unfortunately, in the confrontation, many lives were lost. Everything was destroyed because the Papua New Guinea defense forces decided to launch an attack on its own citizens,” he added. Mr Momis said the two batches of Bougainvilleans who arrived in Zambales to train, did so in order for them to liberate themselves and become incubators of change. “We aim to transform our own society,” he said.

The Autonomous Bougainville Government’s acting President Patrick Nisira in his Christmas message expressed his deepest gratitude to all Bougainvilleans who continue to support his Government’s initiatives.

“As we come to the close of another year we are reminded of our failures and triumphs and what we as Bougainvilleans have given to the progress of the region this year 2013,” he said.

“It is also a time to reflect, learn from our mistakes and plan for a better future that will benefit ourselves, our families and our community.”

Nisira said the year began well for the Autonomous Bougainville Government which still proves “to be a viable source of governance mechanism that is mandated by the people of Bougainville”.

He continued: “We as always have been a government of the people, by the people and of course for the people.

“Your Government, the Autonomous Bougainville Government has managed to secure better development deals to improve the fiscal health of the region while also pushing ahead better service delivery.

“Despite our many critics we have progressed at a steady pace to increase the development of the common Bougainvillean in all aspects of their lives, the key phrase being slowly but surely.”

The Vice President pointed out that the ABG has worked tirelessly to bring investors into the region to create a working economy that will soon prove self-sustaining for Bougainville.

“Investors are already on the ground or have shown a keen interest in investing in Bougainville’s rich resources with the intent of developing it while bringing forth economic stability and increase our development capacity within the region.

“As we progress, more foreign investment will follow suit and with the ABG’s newly enacted Inward Investment Bill we can now effectively control and maintain the investments within the region while making sure they do their business within the law.

“I must also add that it has always been the ABG’s stance that any willing investor coming to the region must be on our terms and not to exploit our people and our resources.”

Nisira said he hoped the coming year would see positive tidings with the National Government upholding its commitment to the people of Bougainville. It is through the people’s support that that the ABG is able to continue to strive to make Bougainville a better place “for our children and our children’s children”.

SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS

4) Vanuatu daily news digest | 19 December 2013

by bobmakin

Reports tomorrow will cover the visit of the Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop today.

A 200 million vatu bio-diesel operation is being built at Luganville, Daily Post announces today. Coconut Oil Production Santo Limited, COPSL, is building the factory next to their existing mill. Work should begin June next year.

The Vanuatu Police must enforce zero tolerance at Luganville in order to control firearm mis-use says prominent MP Kalvau Moli in both today’s Radio Vanuatu News and Daily Post. Moli alleges the attack at the home of Santo resident John Fordham was with a pistol or revolver, not usually employed by house-breakers in Vanuatu and therefore a cause for serious concern.

The ministry of education says teachers intending to stand for election must resign a year before the election concerned reports VBTC News. This is to ensure every child’s right to a proper education. Twelve months of notice assists the Teaching Service Commission to make replacements. Minister Loughman was answering questions in the House. He also pointed out the responsibility of the Teaching Service Commission for determining work hours of any teacher or category of educator.

The Mangorongo (Emau) pastor, Miller Albert, says certain Emau people are not being given access to five traditional boat passages on Efate mainland. A decision taken by one chief greatly affects the lives of the Mangorongo people says Pastor Albert. No clear reason was given.

5) Vanuatu passport inquiry reveals extensive abuses

By Online Editor
11:51 am GMT+12, 19/12/2013, Vanuatu

A body looking into the sale of Vanuatu diplomatic passports says de-facto partners, middlemen and people with fake titles got them.

A commission of inquiry has submitted a report to the government after three months of investigation into passport selling that began in 2002.

The report says in 2008, the current speaker of parliament acquired nine diplomatic passports that were later given to foreigners.

It says in December 2011, 33 diplomatic passports were given to a former foreign affairs official.

The Commission was told that six passports issued in 2011 were given to foreigners who paid US$5,000.

That money was used by a political appointee to fund a trip to Germany last year.

The commission also found some passports were issued under ’adoption’ meaning foreigners were adopted by a ni-Vanuatu family, who then requested diplomatic passports for themselves.

The report recommends a new colour system for the 3 types of Vanuatu passport, set application fees and tighter administrative controls.

SOURCE: RNZI/PACNEWS

6) Vanuatu Parliament Passes Land Lease Act Amendments
Lands minister says changes aim to protect landowners’ rights

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Dec. 18, 2013) – On Friday, Vanuatu’s Parliament passed amendments made to the Land Lease Act: part of a land reform package introduced to address some of the main problems concerning land in Vanuatu.

Lands Minister Ralph Regenvanu, said the changes are made based on Article 73 of the constitution, which states that all land belongs to the indigenous people of Vanuatu, and Article 74, which identifies the rule of custom as the basis of ownership and use of land in Vanuatu.

He said the changes aim to right the lease process so rightful land owners can have a say in what happens to their land, something that a lot of landowners have been deprived of since the Land Lease Act was introduced in 1982.

“There are 7 main problems of land the new laws attempt to address,” the Lands Minister told parliament.

According to Regenvanu, around 10% of Vanuatu land has been leased out, many of it without the proper agreement of the rightful custom owners.

“These changes attempt to change the lease process to ensure that rightful custom landowners agree to lease out their land, something that is not happening today,” he told parliament before the amendments were passed yesterday.

He said the new laws will also remove a Minister of Lands’ power to sign a lease on behalf of the custom owner, if the custom ownership of the land is being disputed.

“This aims to make the leasing process fairer to custom owners, by having the consent of the custom owner over intended developments to ensure the developments are good and sustainable for Vanuatu.

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

7) Additions Made To Essential Industries Decree In Fiji
Ten-percent pay hikes in 2014 for workers also announced

By Shalveen Chand

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Dec. 19, 2013) – Pine, mahogany, fire prevention services and municipal councils are four new industries listed under Fiji’s Essential National Industries Employment Decree.

Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum made the announcement yesterday afternoon.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said all workers, excluding management in the new industries, would get a 10 per cent pay rise effective January 1st next year.

Included in the pine industry are Fiji Pine Limited, Tropik Wood, Tropik Wood Products and Fiji Forest Industries.

Fiji Hardwood Corporation falls under the mahogany industry while the National Fire Authority is listed under the fire prevention services.

All municipal councils are affected by the decree which was gazetted on Tuesday.

Under the decree, there can be no strikes, slowdowns or other financially or operationally-harmful activities. It is aimed at ensuring the viability and sustainability of certain industries essential to the economy.

The decree also restricts a union’s efforts to obtain registration as a representative of a bargaining unit, to influence the outcome of collective bargaining, and be involved in disputes over the interpretation or application of any collective agreements.

While making the announcement, in regards to the pine industry, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said it was unfortunate that since the amalgamation of the union at Tropik Pine with a sugar union, sabotage of machinery at Tropik Wood had increased.

“They have found metal in the chipper and other machinery. With the decree, all such action will stop.

“It will also allow employees to deal directly with employers regarding grievances.”

Also announced was a pay rise for air traffic managers.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the air traffic managers would get a pay rise of FJ$1,000 [US$529] up to FJ$5,000 [US$2,647] on the type of licences they had.

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

8) Lord suspended after Fiji sting

By Online Editor
09:15 am GMT+12, 19/12/2013, United Kingdom

A former Ulster Unionist peer has been suspended from the House of Lords for four months.

Lord Laird’s suspension comes after he was filmed by undercover reporters offering to set up influential all-party parliamentary groups for payment.

The House agreed, without a vote, a recommendation from the Privileges and Conduct Committee to suspend Laird.

The decision followed an investigation by the Sunday Times, which recorded Lord Laird and another peer, Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate, discussing the creation of an all-party group on solar energy with reporters posing as consultants acting for a South Korean solar energy firm.

In a separate investigation by the BBC Panorama programme and the Sunday Telegraph, Lord Laird was covertly filmed discussing prospects for setting up an all-party group on Fiji.

Both men were found to have demonstrated a “clear willingness”to negotiate agreements which involved providing parliamentary services in return for payment and to have breached their duty “to act always on their personal honour”.

The Upper House agreed without a debate the suspensions for the two peers, who have both also been kicked out by their parties.

Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt, has said the sanction reflected Lord Laird’s “very serious lapse in judgement”.

He added: “When the news first broke in June, the Ulster Unionist Party moved swiftly to remove the Party Whip. This remains the case.

“The party leadership will take the necessary time to read and reflect on the report from the House of Lords Committee for Privileges and Conduct, before discussing what happens when the four month sanction period has elapsed.”.

SOURCE: UTV/PACNEWS

9) East Timor launches court proceedings against Australia over ASIO raid

By Online Editor
11:53 am GMT+12, 19/12/2013, Timor-leste

East Timor has launched proceedings against Australia in the International Court of Justice, demanding the return of documents seized by ASIO in a raid on a Canberra lawyer’s office.

It contends that the raid was a violation of its sovereignty and is asking the International Court to declare that the documents and data seized be immediately returned.

On December 3, ASIO raided the office and house of lawyer Bernard Collaery, who is representing East Timor against Australia in a case before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.

In that case, the East Timorese allege the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) spied on the Timorese cabinet in Dili during the negotiation process for a valuable oil and gas treaty in 2004.

They claim that because of the alleged spying, Australia enjoyed the advantage in the negotiations and want the treaty they signed, worth $40 billion, overturned by the Court of Arbitration.

East Timor has also asked the International Court of Justice that Australia provide a list of all the documents seized within five days and it “destroy beyond recovery every copy of such documents and data that is in Australia’s possession or control”.

It has also asked that Australia formally apologise and cover its legal costs.

SOURCE:RADIO AUSTRALIA/PACNEWS

AUSTRALIA:

10) Australia to contribute $37m to Vanuatu roads

By Online Editor
3:03 pm GMT+12, 19/12/2013, Vanuatu

Australia is set to announce a $37 million aid package to help Vanuatu improve its roads.

The Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is in Vanuatu as part of a three-day trip to Pacific countries.

She says the money will go towards funding the second phase of major upgrades to about 350km of roads.

“Vanuatu is a tourism hub,” she told Radio Australia.

“So upgrading the roads is a significant part of their ability to capture the benefits of that increasing tourism market.

“It makes up about 18 percent of their GDP.”

Bishop met Vanuatu’s Prime Minister Moana Carcasses and says he’s pleased with the ongoing assistance from Australia.

That’s despite Australia’s new Government announcing a scale back in the growth of foreign aid.

“Australia is the most significant aid donor in the region by a long way and we will continue to be so,” she said.

“Australian aid accounts for a significant percentage of public spending and GDP in most Pacific Island countries.”

Australia is currently contributing about $5 billion a year in aid to the region.

Bishop’s Pacific tour has included Solomon Islands, Nauru and Vanuatu.

A large part of her trip has focused on how Australia can help women in the region find paid work.

“Women make up sometimes more than 50 per cent of the population but there are real barriers to women taking part in the formal labour market,” she said.

SOURCE: RADIO AUSTRALIA/PACNEWS

11) Calls to cut remittance costs to Asia Pacific countries

By Online Editor
2:57 pm GMT+12, 19/12/2013, Australia

There are calls for Australia to use its G20 presidency to cut the costs incurred by migrants wanting to send money home to their relatives in developing countries.

Foreign workers in Australia send around $4.5 billion each year to friends and family living in Asia and the Pacific, with banks and money transfer companies pocketing around $450 million.

Money sent home to relatives often helps the poorest people to access food, education for their children and medical treatment.

In Asia, remittances play a vital role in helping people get out of poverty, while in the Pacific, experts say they keep whole nations afloat.

“The Pacific Islands, in particular Fiji, Samoa and Tonga, but now also other countries like Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, are big remittance receiving countries,” World Bank remittance specialist, Carlo Corazza told Pacific Beat.

“Tonga and Samoa depend on remittances for a quarter of their GDP approximately.

“That means that if tomorrow remittances stopped flowing to these countries, basically a quarter of the national GDP would be vanished.”

The costs of sending money to developing countries is high, with banks often retaining more than $30 out of a $200 payment being sent.

Don Abel, a former deputy-governor of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, and others, want the Australian Government to use its presidency of the G20 next year to bring down the cost of remittances.

“It has been on the agenda of the G20 now since 2011 but, in fact, it started with the G8 in 2009,” he said.

“This is the final year before the completion of the five years that the two organisations have been focussed on trying to reduce the costs.

“The original intent was to move the costs down to 5 per cent over five years.”

Abel says the end of the Australian G20 presidency provides a good opportunity to bring the issue forward.

He says Australia and New Zealand both have large immigrant populations who send money back home to their families.

In the last few years the cost of sending money from Australia has been cut in half as banks, money transfer companies and the government worked in their own ways on the G20 agenda.

But Abel says it is not enough.

“Yes, it has come down, but at 10 per cent it is still very high and we know that if you were to use electronic means, and use them widely, then the cost can come down even further,” he said.

Able says the G8 and the G20 both think lowering the fee to 5 per cent is “quite attainable”.

“That is a target that has been decided from across the world – not just from Australia, not just from New Zealand or the Pacific area,” he said.

Reverend Jason Kioa works with the Tongan community in Melbourne and says his parishioners, particularly factory workers and fruit pickers, are keen to see change.

“Most of them – maybe 80 per cent – would take a small amount like $200 sent to Tonga regularly, maybe weekly or fortnightly, and they still have to pay these charges,” he said.

“I would like to see the government addressing that and asking these institutions to be mindful of these third world countries wanting to get off the ground.

“These charges are just too much for them.”

Corazza says on a global scale remittances sent to individuals are an effective corruption and waste-free tool for development.

“They know better than us how to use the money,” he said.

“They know better than us how to spend it and how to invest it.”

Corazza says if the G20 goal is reached, migrants could save approximately $US35 billion every year.

“It’s a huge amount of money,” he said.

“It is money migrants would keep in their pocket.”.

SOURCE: RADIO AUSTRALIA/PACNEWS

TOK PISIN:

12) PNG Highlands Western Pacific University

Postim 19 December 2013, 16:09 AEST
Paulus Kombo

Wanpela Southern Highlands Lida hamamas long wanpela University bai girap long Provins.

Papua New Guinea Works Minista na Parliment Memba bilong Imbongu long Southern Highlands Francis Awesa itok hamamas long Prime Minista Peter O’Neill long tokaut long girapim narapela University long provins.

Mr Awesa ibin autim tok hamamas bilongen bihain long Prime Prime Minister O’Neill ibin tokaut long tilim K80 million long 2014 budget bilong wokim despela University.

Nem bilong despela University ol bai kolim Western Pacific University na ol bai wokim insait long Ialibu, we em i ilektoret blong Prime Minister O’Neill long Southern Highlands Provins.

Ikam inap nau University of Goroka wanpela tasol istap long Highlands, tasol em blong Teachers training na taim ol wokim despela Western Pacific University , em bai namba wan University i kisim olgeta sabjek.
http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/

FRENCH:

13) Entretien avec Julie Bishop

Posté à 19 December 2013, 8:53 AEST
Pierre Riant

La ministre des Affaires étrangères australienne effectue en ce moment une visite dans trois nations océaniennes du Pacifique : les Îles Salomon, Nauru et le Vanuatu. Elle a accepté de nous parler depuis les Îles Salomon.

À noter qu’il s’agit d’une visite bipartisane. La chef de la diplomatie australienne est accompagnée par Tanya Plibersek en charge des Affaires étrangères dans les rangs de l’opposition et par Natasha Scott Despoja, ancienne dirigeante des Démocrates australiens qui vient d’être nommée au poste d’ambassadrice australienne des Femmes et des Filles.

Sur le plan politique, de nombreuses questions séparent ces trois femmes, nous y reviendrons. Mais pour l’instant la parole est à Julie Bishop aux îles Salomon : « C’est l’occasion de visiter des pays dans notre région, des pays qui reçoivent l’aide australienne à l’étranger, mais aussi des pays qui représentent un intérêt en matière de sécurité.

C’est une visite bipartisane et nous avons passé la journée à Honiara [la capitale] et dans d’autres endroits de Guadalcanal. J’ai fait plusieurs déclarations aujourd’hui, notamment sur le commerce et l’investissement. J’ai annoncé l’octroi de 15 millions de dollars sur 5 ans pour un fonds d’aide aux entreprises du Pacifique qui concerne 250 entreprises de la région et des Îles Salomon pour qu’elles puissent se développer et diversifier leurs opérations.

J’ai aussi annoncé que l’Australie injectera 500 000 dollars sur 2 ans pour donner des opportunités économiques aux femmes du secteur privé.

Je me suis aussi exprimé sur la violence et sur la prévention de la violence familiale avec l’octroi de 5 millions de dollars à un programme destiné à prévenir cette violence conjugale et familiale aux îles Salomon. »

500 000 dollars ont aussi été octroyés aux Forces royales de la police salomonaises.

Le gouvernement australien après son élection en septembre dernier a annoncé une réduction de son aide à l’étranger et un changement d’orientation de cette aide. Est-ce que cette réduction aura un impact sur les nations océaniennes du Pacifique ?

BISHOP : « Notre aide continuera de soutenir les priorités de notre politique étrangère et commerciale qui concerne entre autres la sécurité de la région du Pacifique. 19 ou 20% de la totalité de notre assistance sont injectés dans le Pacifique. Nous allons continuer d’être un acteur important sur la scène du développement international dans la région du Pacifique. J’ai personnellement la volonté d’approfondir nos relations avec cette région. L’Australie est le plus grand pays donneur d’aide dans le Pacifique et nous continuerons de l’être parce que nous voulons continuer d’offrir des opportunités pour les populations de la région. »

Après les îles Salomon, la délégation bipartisane se rendra à Nauru et nul doute que la question des demandeurs d’asile dans le centre de détention australien sur cette île sera évoquée. Après Nauru, direction le Vanuatu où le développement économique est une fois de plus inscrit à l’ordre du jour : « Notre engagement avec le Pacifique est de rendre les nations du Pacifique plus autonomes pour que les relations ne se fassent plus entre un État insulaire et un pays donneur d’aide mais entre des partenaires égaux. Nous parlerons donc de PACER +, un accord de libre-échange en cours de négociations avec les îles du Pacifique. Nous parlerons des moyens à disposition pour renforcer le développement économique au Vanuatu. Et je veux m’assurer que les relations avec l’Australie reposent sur des bases solides. »

Julie Bishop aurait l’intention de faire une déclaration majeure au Vanuatu et nous lui avons demandé si elle pouvait nous donner une avant-première : « Je ne vais pas court-circuiter cette déclaration. Mais nous voulons certainement nous assurer de la solidité des relations avec le Vanuatu. Nous voulons être des partenaires de choix pour les îles du Pacifique, que cela soit dans le domaine du commerce ou de l’investissement ou de la sécurité. Nous voulons profondément que cette région soit stable et prospère et nous ferons tout ce que nous pouvons pour soutenir cela. »

Une dernière question avant de laisser la ministre. La délégation comprend Tanya Plibersek en charge des Affaires étrangères dans les rangs de l’opposition et Natasha Scott Despoja, ancienne dirigeante des Démocrates australiens, des femmes qui ne sont pas du même bord.  Alors comment ça se passe exactement dans l’avion, l’ambiance est sereine ou tendue ?

BISHOP : « Vous serez surpris d’apprendre que nous nous entendons très bien. Nous avons des intérêts en commun et nous voulons toutes que le Pacifique s’épanouit et prospère. Les différences peuvent être mises de côté et nous nous apprécions les unes et les autres. Et si Natasha Despoja, [la nouvelle] ambassadrice australienne des femmes et des filles est de la partie, c’est parce que nous voulons toutes fortement l’autonomisation des femmes et des filles dans le Pacifique.

Nous voulons que les femmes et les filles aient accès à des opportunités pour qu’elles puissent réaliser leur potentiel, prendre part au marché du travail et contribuer au développement économique de leur pays.»

la délégation était hier à Nauru pour ensuite rejoindre le Vanuatu.

Des propos recueillis par Bruce Hill.http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/

WORLD:

14) Snowden offers help

Ap/Afp
Thursday, December 19, 2013

BRAZIL – US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden offered to help Brazil defeat US spying but, in an open letter, said he needed permanent political asylum to do so.

The move was widely interpreted as a request for asylum in Brazil, including by the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper that published the letter in both English and Portuguese.

Mr Snowden, by downloading a vast trove of classified documents while working as an intelligence contractor for the NSA, has revealed a vast NSA program that culls information from telephone calls and emails around the world, including in Brazil.

In the letter, he writes that US officials justify the actions by saying they aim “to keep you safe.”

But, he says, “these programs were never about terrorism: they’re about economic spying, social control, and diplomatic manipulation. They’re about power.”

“Now, the whole world is listening back, and speaking out, too,” he said.

“The culture of indiscriminate worldwide surveillance, exposed to public debates and real investigations on every continent, is collapsing.”

Mr Snowden does not request asylum from Brazil in the letter, but notes Brazilian senators “have asked for my assistance with their investigations of suspected crimes against Brazilian citizens.”

Mr Snowden says he is willing to help “wherever appropriate and lawful” but adds that “unfortunately the US Government has worked very hard to limit my ability to do so.”

“Until a country grants permanent political asylum, the US Government will continue to interfere with my ability to speak,” he says.

Folha, which published the letter, interpreted it as confirming that Mr Snowden’s goal is to come to Brazil.

Glenn Greenwald, who has written about many of the documents released by Mr Snowden, is based in Brazil. The Latin American country has a long tradition of granting asylum.

Greenwald’s partner, Brazilian journalist David Miranda, began a campaign last month in support of an asylum request there.

“Brazil is one of the rare countries with the strength to give him asylum,” Miranda said.

He said Mr Snowden had written the letter in response to questions over why he was not co-operating with the Brazil probe.

“It’s clear that he can’t do it while he doesn’t have permanent asylum,” Miranda said.

But the Brazilian Foreign Ministry told AFP on Tuesday it had not “received any official request” for asylum from Mr Snowden.

HEALTH:

15) Long Wait Times At Marianas Health Center Decreased
New program helps to speed up emergency room processes

By Moneth Deposa

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Dec. 19, 2013) – The sight of people waiting long hours to be treated at the Northern Marianas Commonwealth Health Center (CHC) have now become a rarity with the implementation of a new program that speeds up the accommodation of patients.

The Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. has started enforcing the PCAP program, or the Primary Care Access Point, to end the long wait times at the public hospital. Staffed by physician assistants, patients that come in undergo initial treatment or screening to assess their conditions and are then referred for appropriate treatment.

Dr. Martin Rohringer, director of CHC’s Emergency Services, said the Emergency Room has always struggled to provide care for a large numbers of patients who do not have a regular doctor. As is common throughout the U.S., he said patients often use the emergency room as a convenient facility for minor problems such as coughs, colds, and for long-term illnesses such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or gout.

That often makes CHC’s emergency room the most crowded unit at the hospital, both days and nights.

Rohringer pointed out, however, that the emergency room is primarily designed to treat trauma and emergencies, not minor complaints or chronic illnesses.

“When the ER takes the place of the family doctor, patient care can be slowed down for everyone,” he added.

Dr. Paul Gahlinger, who had been designated director of the PCAP program, said that PCAP is the ER’s new patient care program and is designed to speed access while providing more complete care to patients. Under the new program, PCAP is staffed by physician assistants under the supervision of the emergency physician.

“When a patient arrives at the ER, a triage nurse determines whether the patient needs to be seen in the ER or in the PCAP. If directed to PCAP, a patient can often be seen immediately, with little or no wait times. The care is more relaxed, so general health and lifestyle issues are addressed,” according to Gahlinger.

That allows physician assistants to take the time to address high blood pressure, smoking, obesity and other general health issues, he added.

After being seen at PCAP, most patients are sent for follow-up care to the Family Care Clinic, although many still return to PCAP.

According to Gahlinger, the PCAP program has been a great success since its start at the beginning of November. Patients, he said, are delighted with the quick access and attention to all their complaints.

Meanwhile, patients who actually need emergency care face much shorter waits at the hospital’s ER.

It was disclosed that the lengthy emergency room waits are the single greatest complaint at CHC and cause of dissatisfaction among patients. Before PCAP was implemented, it was not unusual for patients to have to wait up to two hours or more.

“In fact, such waiting times are actually the norm in most of the U.S. For example, wait times average 2.3 hours in Iowa and a miserable 5 hours in Arizona. With the PCAP program, wait times have decreased to as little as minutes, depending on the time of day,” the doctor said.

Meanwhile, he said, “care is much improved for island residents who do not have the benefit of a regular doctor.”

Gahlinger is a recent hire at CHC and is a former professor at the University of Utah’s Department of Family and Preventive Medicine. He has additional specialties in occupational medicine, geriatric medicine, public health, and the management of chronic pain and addiction.

Saipan Tribune http://www.saipantribune.com

EDUCATION:

16) New University To Be Built In PNG’s Highlands: PM
O’Neill announces plans for Western Pacific University in Ialibu


PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Dec. 18, 2013) – Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill says a new university will be built at Ialibu, Southern Highlands.

He made the announcement during the Grade 12 graduation at Ialibu Secondary School on Tuesday.

It will be called the Western Pacific University. O’Neill said K80 million [US$31 million] was allocated from the 2014 budget, with funding made available through a Chinese government grant.

Preparatory work and designing are under way.

O’Neill, said the university would be built at the old Ialibu airstrip, which is on State land.

He appealed to customary landowners to free up their land for this huge development.

“The university will be enrolling 2,000 to 3,000 students and bringing in 200 to 300 teachers, which would increase business activities and development of the Ialibu township,” O’Neill said.

“To build a university is not an easy thing,” he said.

“Other provinces want a university in their districts but Ialibu is privileged to have one.

“We, the people of Ialibu-Pangia district, are fortunate to have this opportunity and must take ownership of such a project for the future of our children.”

He said Southern Highlands Governor William Powi and other highlands governors supported the university to be built in Ialibu because Ialibu-Pangia people were law-abiding and peaceful people.

At the graduation, O’Neill gave a cheque for K500,000 [US$193,799] for Ialibu and Pangia Secondary schools to district administrator Ron Yamuna.

He will buy laptops and computers for all grades 11 and 12 students next year and graduating students this year.

The National: www.thenational.com.pg/

17) Report Disappoints Pacific Language Advocates In New Zealand
Government not legally responsible for maintaining languages

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Dec. 18, 2013) – The outcome of a parliamentary inquiry into Pacific languages in early childhood education in New Zealand is being labelled a death sentence for some languages and a blow to raising Pasifika achievement.

A majority report by the education and science select committee says the Government has no legal obligation to promote Pacific languages or Pacific-language education.

Submitters describe the report as a triumph of political ideology over the evidence, and both the Labour and Green parties have written dissenting minority views.

Karen Mangnall has more:

Frustration and disappointment are the main reactions from some of the 60 groups and individuals who made submissions to the enquiry. One of them is the Head of Samoan Studies at Victoria University, Galumalemana Alfred Hunkin.

“GALUMALEMANA ALFRED HUNKIN: We’re hoping for them to recognise the power of bilingual education is the only logical solution to the problem of failure in the classroom by Pacific students. But the government has conveniently side-tracked the argument and opted to say that they’re not responsible for maintaining Pacific languages in this country and as far as they’re concerned they can die here.”

The inquiry was sparked by a petition to parliament from the Bilingual Leo Coalition, calling for the government to fully fund bilingual education and Pacific languages. An Auckland University researcher, John McCaffery, says the evidence in favour is overwhelming, including a government commissioned report by Professor Stephen May which was given to the select committee.

“JOHN MCCAFFERY: It chose not to present any evidence from that report or discuss the findings from that report or even refer to that report. So it looks as though they simply buried the research evidence that didn’t fit the ideology. And I think that’s a great shame.”

Many submissions called for the government to restore bilingual goals and resourcing to the Pacifica education plan. But the manager of Central Auckland’s A’oga Fa’a Samoa says there’s nothing in the report that indicates the government will take any action to advance languages in early childhood and on into school. Jan Taouma says most of the recommendations are weak and put the responsibility on to Pacific communities.

“JAN TAOUMA: We recommend that the government encourage Pacifica communities to encourage their schools to establish immersion and bilingual units. It’s not saying we recommend schools develop bilingual units. It’s again putting it back on the community. And some of those communities are not set up to know how to go about doing those things, so it’s sort of like an out.”

The chief executive of Auckland Council’s Education Trust, Susan Warren, says the implications are worrying for lifting Pasifika achievement and economic success.

“SUSAN WARREN: Because the evidence is really clear, and actually much of it is set out in the report. And yet the conclusions don’t take us to the actions that need to happen. So what that tells me is it’s a policy block and the policy block is going to get in the way of reaching Pacific potential across Auckland and across New Zealand.”

John McCaffery says the evidence to the select committee was clear that communities on their own can’t maintain and revive minority languages.

“JOHN MCCAFFERY: This was the last roll of dice for Cook Island Maori, Tokelau and Vagahau Niue, and without urgent intervention those languages will cease in this generation. The research evidence on that is very clear. So it is a death sentence, in essence.”

The government says it will respond to the report on Pacific languages and early childhood education early next year.

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

BUSINESS:

18) Fiji Airways to launch direct Sydney-Suva flights
By Online Editor
11:45 am GMT+12, 19/12/2013, Fiji

Fiji Airways is adding a direct flight between Sydney and Suva, the island-nation’s capital city, next year.

From May 2014 Fiji Airways will offer two direct flights each week, on Mondays and Fridays, with a midday departure from Suva and an afternoon departure from Sydney.

These will dovetail into the airlines’ current twice-weekly Auckland-Suva schedule.

The new service will complement Fiji Airways’ current flights into Fiji’s primary gateway of Nadi, a larger hub which is located on the other side of the island to Suva.

The flights will run on a Boeing 737-700 aircraft with 8 business class seats and 114 seats in economy.

Fiji Airways will also debut a new  route between Suva to Samoa (Apia) operated by its subsidiary Pacific Sun, which is soon to be rebranded as Fiji Link.

The Suva-Apia services will operate  on Mondays and Fridays, while the return Apia-Suva flights will operate in the mornings of Tuesday and Saturday. This will allow travellers from Apia to connect on a Fiji Airways service to Auckland, Sydney, Brisbane or Tonga (Nuku’alofa) on the same day.

SOURCE: AUSTRALIAN BUSINESS TRAVELLER/PACNEWS ( Phils note: Good News indeed, I spend more time in Suva than Nadi and a direct flight saves alot of time & hassle…. saraga!)

CLIMATE CHANGE,CONSERVATION AND ENVIROMENT:

19) Heavy Rain Warning Declared Across Fiji Islands
Weather office says rains, thunderstorms expected until Saturday

By Reginald Chandar

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Dec. 18, 2013) – A heavy rain warning is now in force for Fiji’ Western Vanua Levu, Yasawa and Mamnuca group, Viti Levu, Kadavu and nearby smaller islands, Lau and Lomaiviti group and periods of heavy rain may lead to flash flooding of low lying areas.

According to the latest bulletin issued by the Nasi Weather Office, a trough of low pressure with associated cloud and rain lies slow moving over Fiji and it is expected to affect the country till Saturday.

Occasional rain, heavy at times and squally thunderstorms will affect the Fiji group till tomorrow while the situation will intensify on Friday with periods of rain, heavy at times and squally thunderstorms over most places.

People living in low lying areas and mariners have been urged to take all necessary precautions and take heed of weather advisories.

Fijilive: http://www.fijilive.com

SPORTS

20) Male lines up his Fiji Warriors
By Online Editor
09:37 am GMT+12, 19/12/2013, Fiji

Several Flying Fijians have been included in the Fiji Warriors squad to strengthen the side’s Pacific Rugby Cup campaign next year.

They include Setefano Somoca, Manasa Saulo, Peni Ravai, Viliame Veikoso, Seremaia Naureure, Nemani Nagusa and Waisea Luveniyali.

These Flying Fijians all featured in the November tour of Europe.

Other former reps such as hard-hitting Samu Bola, Apakuki Vuaviri, Jaoji Dakuvula, Aporosa Kenatale, Vesi Rarawa, Kelemedi Bola, Waisale Vatuvoka, Iliesa Salusalu and Simeli Koniferedi are looking at impressing Flying Fijians head coach Inoke Male.

Former sevens reps Manueli Laqai, Ulaiasi Lawavou, Mitieli Nacagilevu, Leone Tabuarua, Vilitati Sokiveta Vilitati and Peni Vaciloa have also been included in the extended squad.

Tomorrow, Male will gauge the players’ fitness as Fiji starts its campaign to defend the PRC title.

The Warriors have been winning the competition since 2009.

The Tailevu man also made a huge call in recruiting secondary school players Kameli Dabenaise and Kameli Yalovigau.

Dabenaise skippered Nasinu Secondary School during this year’s Deans competition and was part of the Fiji under-18 side that toured Australia last September while Yalovigau represented Ratu Sukuna Memorial School.

The fitness tests will start at 10am tomorrow at the FRU high performance unit gym in Suva for East players while West-based players will attend the tests at the HPU gym in Nadi.

Meanwhile, Fiji Women’s Rugby Union president Paulini Tamatasasa is not happy with the attitude of the Fijiana players.

Her disappointment follows the attendance of only three of the 12 players who turned up at the Women’s 7s Confederations Cup last weekend in Suva.

Tamatasasa said it was not the first time the national women’s reps had failed to show up at a local competition.

“They do it all the time,” she said.

“They don’t come to competitions after they return from international competitions.

“They only come when the national team is being selected for competitions overseas.

“That is when they show their faces.”

Tamatasasa said the players needed to show more commitment towards their clubs.

“These girls get international experience and game time against overseas teams.

“They can use that experience to help their clubs win local competitions.

“They can use some of the things they learn to teach their club members.”

Tamatasasa also urged national women’s coach Timoci Wainiqolo to attend the competitions and scout for more talent.

“We have seen that over the past few overseas competitions it was the same bunch of girls that get picked.

“We would like to ask Jim Wainiqolo to come to our competitions and see the other girls who are playing.

“There are heaps of talent out there and there are some very good players from districts like Naitasiri, Serua, Ra and Lautoka.”

She said Wainiqolo could identify more options if players were unavailable or injured.

“Don’t stick to 12 players. It’s going to be very difficult to look for a suitable replacement when one or two in that 12 get injured.

“It would be best to get 22 or 25 players and have a wider training group so that you have more options available in a position than just one player.”

Wainiqolo has encouraged the Womens rugby union to improve the standard of local competitions.

He said his players had just returned from playing in the Dubai 7s tournament on the IRB Womens Sevens Series and might not have turned up because they needed rest.

SOURCE: FIJI TIMES/PACNEWS

21) OFC hits back at Tuvalu over FIFA bid

By Online Editor
09:42 am GMT+12, 19/12/2013, New Zealand

The Oceania Football Confederation has hit back at claims it’s thwarting Tuvalu’s bid to join the world governing body FIFA.

Tuvalu wants a FIFA membership so it can compete in the Oceania Cup and World Cup qualifying.

The OFC General Secretary Tai Nicholas says his organisation is doing everything it can to help Tuvalu.

But he says the lack of infrastructure in the country is the main problem.

“The problem with Tuvalu is that it’s so small they can’t find the available space to put a stadium,” Mr Nicholas told Pacific Beat.

“That’s why they train on the airport.

“When the plane lands they have to leave and they can go back and train when the plane takes off again.”

Tuvalu’s campaign to join FIFA has been backed for the last four years by a group of sympathisers from the Netherlands, who call themselves the Dutch Support Tuvalu Foundation.

Paul Driessen is part of that group and is now working for Tuvalu Football Association.
Last week he accused the OFC of not supporting Tuvalu’s ambitions.

“I don’t know exactly why but maybe it gives them a lot of administrative work,” he told Pacific Beat.

“It’s quite clear that Tuvalu doesn’t receive a lot of support.

“For example the OFC never promotes Tuvalu in any single way on their website and there’s very little communication, and that’s quite frustrating.”

But Nicholas says his organisation is doing everything it can to help Tuvalu.

“It’s very disappointing that he makes these comments in the media when he knows full well what the requirements are,” he said.

“We provide financial grants to them every year, we provide technical courses, footballs, coaching courses.

“We actually even help pay for them to come to OFC tournaments.”

Nicholas says it’s not just the lack of international-standard facilities that is the problem.

“All the 11 OFC members have stadiums, they have hotels, they have airports, they have connections,” he said.

“So if we say tomorrow can you host a New Zealand team or a Cook Islands team Tuvalu says that they can’t.

“Unfortunately there’s not one hotel which a team could stay in in Tuvalu.”

But the OFC says it’s eager to continue working with Tuvalu in its bid.

“We’re keen to invest some money to help get a stadium and if we’re talking about $200,000 or $300,000 then we’re happy to facilitate and find these funds so Tuvalu can get a membership,” Nicholas said.

“But the problem with Tuvalu football at this present time is they haven’t even submitted a formal application to FIFA… because the last file is incomplete.”.

SOURCE: RADIO AUSTRALIA/PACNEWS

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