Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 914
1) PNG’s NCD Governor dedicates his life to Free West Papua cause
By Online Editor
11:01 am GMT+12, 23/12/2013, Papua New Guinea
Governor for Port Moresby’s National Capital District hosted a tribute dinner at Holiday Inn Sunday night to acknowledge those who have unwaveringly strived in the cause of human rights advocacy for West Papua.
The event was also held to commemorate Governor Parkop’s receiving of the John Rumbiak Human Rights Defenders Award on 27 November 2013.
It was during this event that Governor Powes announced his unwavering support to the Free West Papua cause urging all courageous Papua New Guineans to “Break the silence” and follow suit.
The event was well attended by Free West Papua Activist, PNG government officials, business heads and members of the West Papua Community living in Port Moresby.
Governor Parkop told the gathering that prior to becoming a national politician he had dedicated his life to advocating Human Rights in PNG and the Melanesia region, and that the courageous stance in advocating for West Papua’s right to self-determination and independence from the Republic of Indonesian was something that must be seen to fulfillment.
He stated that in attaining the award, it is his hope that PNG can break the cycle of silence and fear that has retarded our consciousness for the last 50 years and come out openly to advocate for the rights of the West Papuan people’s right to self-determination.
Parkop pointed out his distaste for PNG’s current stand on the issue stating that PNG needs to take a more prominent role in this issue if a resolution is to be found soon.
“Our current position is an immoral and undignified one. It must end. West Papuan men, women and children need us more than ever to stand up and advocate their rights to self-determination,” said the Governor.
The tribute dinner was organized and co-hosted by the Free West Papua Campaign-PNG Chapter in recognition of Parkop’s lifelong commitment and dedication to advocate for West Papua’s right to self-determination and independence.
2) Vanuatu daily news digest | 23 December 2013
I am delighted to bring the news that Air Vanuatu, recipient of criticism of its service from alleged local aviation experts, retains its place amongst the world’s best and safest airlines.
Air Vanuatu has confirmed its place in the ranks of the world’s best and safest airlines after successfully completing the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA). The announcement was officially conveyed by IATA on 20 December with Air Vanuatu’s addition to the IOSA Registry. To become a registered IOSA carrier, airlines must satisfy IATA’s 982-plus conditions, covering all aspects of airline operations, from safety systems, training and reporting to flight operations.
Chief Executive Officer Joseph Laloyer said the results of the 2013 audit are the best Air Vanuatu had ever achieved by undertaking the full process internally without participation from external consultants. “Gaining IOSA accreditation is a lengthy and stringent process. Our executive managers, line managers and frontline staff were all involved and worked very hard over the last 12 months of the audit process,” said CEO Laloyer.
Air Vanuatu’s CEO added that the 2013 result reflects the commitment of the current board and management to implement and strictly adhere to a safety first policy. “This is another milestone for Air Vanuatu. I am very proud to share the stage with internationally renowned airlines for safety, security and service,” he said. “It is a great result and I thank our staff for their dedicated effort and commitment to safety and security procedures.” CEO Laloyer said Air Vanuatu’s codeshare partners had been informed of the extended IOSA membership and were looking forward to working with them again in 2014.
Alleged local aviation experts have recently been critical of the Civil Aviation Authority, Air Vanuatu and Airports Vanuatu Ltd, but everyone is agreed (including Air Vanuatu) that Bauerfield must be properly repaired, and soon.
As for the matter of a Rentabau International Airport, well, that should not even enter the arena yet, although Parliament promised a new lease of life for the political task force examining the question, just before it closed. Rentabau Airport is a matter for all the people of Vanuatu and especially the Rentabau people.
3) Spike in gun sales in New Caledonia worries French High Commissioner
By Online Editor
11:08 am GMT+12, 23/12/2013, New Caledonia
The French high commissioner in New Caledonia has expressed concern at the spike in firearms sales after last month’s announcement that Paris would tighten gun laws before the end of the year.
Jean-Jacques Brot says sales have doubled while the local press says weapon sales have grown tenfold.
His comment comes only weeks after he warned that weapons should no longer be sold as if the territory was a haven of eternal peace.
There are suggestions that now more than 100,000 rifles are now in circulation.
There have been several shooting incidents in public as well as eight homicides in the past year, which a leading politician, Philippe Gomes, says has raised New Caledonia’s armed crime rate to three times that of France.
A hunter’s organisation says alcohol abuse is behind the violence but concedes that with the approach of a possible independence referendum people have stocked up.
Political unrest in the 1980s left dozens of people dead, both civilians and security forces.
4) Removed Ghai draft clauses no good: Fiji PM
By Online Editor
08:56 am GMT+12, 23/12/2013, Fiji
Clauses from the Yash Ghai draft that were not retained in the 2013 Constitution that was assented to by President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau in September had to go, says Fiji’s Prime Minister and Military Commander Voreqe Bainimarama.
In his address to soldiers during a Christmas church service at the QEB Barracks in Nabua last week, the head of government said the clauses that were removed, just like the GCC concept, would have encouraged more racism.
“Only those clauses that will help Fiji move forward were retained,” Bainimarama said.
“Those that were taken out did not serve to benefit us. They only served to fuel more discrimination between races, the very problem that caused the events of 2000 and 2006.”
He said politics and chiefs who lamented over government’s decision to do over the constitution are only doing so to further their political careers.
“These are non-negotiable. And the  constitution has been done this way to ensure these events are not repeated in future.”
Commodore Bainimarama also reiterated that the Great Council of Chiefs (GCC) will not be reinstated saying that bringing it back will fuel more racial divide.
The GCC was abolished in March last year.
Bainimarama said the responsibilities of chiefs should be limited to the vanua and they should not engage in politics.
He said the GCC was abolished because it had become heavily politicised with chiefs using their chiefly status to assert personal or political agenda. Some politicians he said also used the GCC to further their own agendas.
If we are to bring the GCC, we will bring back the same racial divide that plunged the country into turmoil, Bainimarama told soldiers.
He also called on soldiers not to be dissuaded by old politicians as the country readies for the 2014 General Elections, reminding them to continue with the reforms and be steadfast in upholding the country’s objectives for the sake of soldiers who had lost their lives in the events of 2000 at QEB.
“We must never forget about that.”
Bainimarama also encouraged soldiers to familirise themselves with the 2013 Constitution saying the provisions in the document stand to benefit Fiji and all Fijians.
He reiterated that clauses from the Yash Ghai draft were taken out because they weren’t beneficial for Fijians and that politicians who keep bringing it up are only doing so to further their political careers.
Commodore Bainimarama went on to reassure that the 2014 elections will not be rigged or bias to benefit one political party, a race or the military, but “one that will be fair for all.”.
5) Fiji’s Military commander set to release name of successor
By Online Editor
08:57 am GMT+12, 23/12/2013, Fiji
Fiji’s Prime Minister and Commander of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) is expected to soon release the name of his successor as RFMF commander.
Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama told the Fiji Sun after the Force Christmas Service at Tuvasu Hall, Nabua, that he had “shortlisted the names of candidates.”
The Prime Minister has publicly announced that he would be contesting next year’s general election.
For that to happen he said he had to form a political party and tender his resignation as commander as required under the new Constitution.
This is expected to be done in the first quarter of 2014.
The new Constitution has clearly stipulated the role of the RFMF and its Commander.
Section 31 (2) specifies the role of the RFMF and it says – ”It shall be the overall responsibility of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces to ensure at all times the security, defence and well-being of Fiji and all Fijians.
Section 31 (5) is on the powers of the Commander and it says – “The Commander of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces has the following powers in relation to the Republic of Fiji Military Forces for all ranks, members and other employees of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces –
a) to appoint persons to the Republic of Fiji Military Forces;
b) to remove persons from the Republic of Fiji Military Forces; and
c) to take disciplinary action against persons in the Republic of Fiji Military Forces.
Commodore Bainimarama said the RFMF now plays a major role in safeguarding the Constitution because it embodied everything they had stood for since the 2006 takeover and launching of reforms.
He urged the members of the army and the navy to help make the election and the transition of power to Fiji’s first truly democratic government successful.
Meanwhile, negotiations are currently ongoing for a new peacekeeping duty area for the Fijian peacekeepers,
Commodore Bainimarama revealed that the new area was just outside the Golan Heights.
For those Fijian military personnel serving in the Golan Heights, the Commander revealed that negotiations were also ongoing to reduce the numbers.
At Fiji’s Camp Faouar at the Golan Heights the medical team, headed by senior medical officer (SMO) Major Luke Nasedra, said they had elevated health and safety precautions.
Major Nasedra said they helped conduct monthly, routine medical examination and health advocacy.
“The process will be supported by physical training programs designed by the battalion,” he said.
He said the arrival of the second lot of medical team from Fiji would contribute to the effort of maintaining the battalion’s elevated health and safety precaution measure.
Apart from serving Fijian peacekeepers, the medical team also attended to several serious injury cases on locals resulting from the ongoing Syrian crisis.
The Austrian Medical team handed over the United Nations Disengagement and Observer Force (UNDOF) Hospital to the Fiji Contingent Medical Team after 39 years of providing health care services in the Golan Height.
6) Fiji Labour Party concerned at numbers of unregistered voters
Updated at 6:35 pm today
The Fiji Labour Party is concerned that about 20 percent of eligible voters have not yet been registered, with the promised elections only nine months away.
According to official figures, the eligible voter population at 30th June stood at 628,000 of which 505,600 have been registered, leaving 122,400 to enrol.
The highest number of unregistered voters are in the provinces of Ba, Naitasiri, Macuata and Nadroga/Navosa.
The Labour leader Mahendra Chaudhry says the work of elections office staff has been hampered by the absence of a substantive supervisor of elections to take charge, and says staff morale is low due to uncertainties about their future.http://www.radionz.co.nz/
7) Samoan Parliament told to act on “corrupt practices”
By Online Editor
11:10 am GMT+12, 23/12/2013, Samoa
The Officers of Parliament Committee (OPC) have urged Parliament to “immediately put in place legal measures” to deal with “corrupt practices” within the Samoan Government.
It has also called for the implementation of a “performance audit” into “the services provided by the administration” of Government Corporations.
The recommendations follow the Report of the Controller and Chief Auditor to the Legislative Assembly for the period ended 30 June 2010. Leaked to the Samoa Observer and published in full earlier this year, the report highlights abuse and “corrupt practises” within the running of government Ministries and Corporations.
Twelve months ago, Parliament referred the Chief Auditor’s Report to The Officers of Parliament Committee for an investigation.
On Tuesday, the Committee tabled its report before Parliament. Chaired by Muagututagata Peter Ah Him, a copy of the report, written in Samoan, was obtained by the Samoa Observer.
The report contains a number of recommendations to Parliament.
“Given the diversity of anomalies involved and corrupt practices reported in the Report of the Controller and Chief Auditor’s Report, which the Committee through its investigation had duly confirmed, Government is therefore recommended to take note of the investigations of the Committee as per its Report, and to immediately put in place the legal measures that are suitably applicable to all those affected by this investigation,” a translation of the recommendations read.
It calls for an “urgent performance audit be carried out into the services provided by the administration of the Corporations.”
In its overview, the Committee report centres on poor control of areas where receipting of money, salaries of public servants and fixed assets took place.
“The Committee has noted that some of the matters raised occurred within some of the Ministries and Government Corporations,” the Officers of Parliament Committee report says.
“However, the Committee is of the opinion that if the Annual Reports are prepared and submitted by the Ministries and Corporations to Parliament as required by law, such will ensure that no stone is left unturned for the Controller and Chief Auditor to look at.
“On the other hand the opinion of the Controller and Chief Auditor that all these anomalies have come about is due to the failure of the Ministries and Corporations to insist on the guidelines and policies with regard to audit work.”
The 70-page report from the Officers of Parliament Committee took aim at one of the issues raised in the audit report – millions in missing revenue and overspending at the Samoa Land Corporation.
The Committee recommended the Government seriously look at the utilisation of ‘middleman’ companies and every service provider or the buying of goods or fixed assets, at the Samoa Land Corporation (SLC) or any other ministry or Government corporation.
Government policies “should be strictly followed pursuant to conditions for the purchase of fixed assets (procurement policy) inclusive of the tender process,” its report reads.
“That the SLC be now forcefully required to submit Annual Reports for all the years commencing with the year ending June 2006 up to and including June 2012 and inclusive of all Annual Reports pertaining to the previous years of this Parliament from 2006-2011 and thence 2012.
“That Government seriously look into the system through which the contracts are being paid so that payment of withholding taxes may be enforced and paid to the Ministry for Revenue within the legal time frame.
“That Government seriously look at the policy by which the employees of Government Corporations are hired, so as to ban direct appointments and instead advertise the same positions to ensure equal access to all who wish to apply.
“That Government ensures compliance by Ministries and Corporations of all our income tax laws in relation to the salaries of the public servants to ensure that it receives all the taxes due to it.”
Members of the OPC also focused on the heavy spending that goes into ministerial offices, including from corporations under their control.
To be in line with the aim behind the establishment of Corporations, the committee recommends that full funding of ministerial offices shall become the sole responsibility of the minister’s main Ministry, and not be spread over different ministries and corporations.
“Such a practice would be continuously under surveillance of the Ministry of Finance and the Audit Office from day to day,” according to the report.
“This is to do away with the unnecessary use of the Corporation’s finances through the services rendered to the Officers of the Ministers.”
The report also says that Government should seriously look at the organisation and the administration of the SLC, especially its obligations and aims by which it was established.
“The Committee is aware that the administration of the Sports Complex has been established to be responsible for the grounds and the Sports Complex of Government,” the report reads.
“This administration should be vested with the authority over the grounds and all the sports facilities at Tuana’imato, inclusive of the golf course especially the overall supervision of the Tuana’imato Sports Complex.
“This will provide the opportunity for the SLC to once again seriously ponder its legal obligations and pursue to achieve its objectives.”
The report also “humbly” urges Government to take a serious look at the tender system, which has opened the door to corrupt practices including favouritism with the interpretation of designs.
“The Committee believes that to have a design at the beginning of the tendering process may be translated by all contractors as the similarity of the one and same project, and will therefore entitle all the contractors to the would be tender. On the whole this will facilitate the result of the bidding,” according to the report.
“To help reduce changes or variations to any project, it is necessary to properly prepare the design in every detail for the proper execution of the project.
“It is to be admitted there will surely be changes or variations, and such is the opportunity for every contractor to propose new and additional costs for the project.
“These additional costs and charges could be very high as tendering is yet to start.
“However this is one known weakness of ‘design and build’ and these changes are always accompanied by additional costs and charges.”
In its decision, the Committee at the conclusion of its investigation has resolved to recommend to the Legislative Assembly to confirm audit reports for two years, not just one.
Those repor ts come under Parliamentary Papers 12 and 13, Report of the Controller and Chief Auditor to the Legislative Assembly for the period 1st July 2009 to 30th June 2010 and the Report of the Controller and Chief Auditor to the Legislative Assembly for the period 1st July 2010 to 30th June 2011.
Members of The Officers of Parliament Committee include Taefu Lemi Taefu (HRPP), Agafili Eteuati Tolovaa (HRPP), Aeau Dr. Peniamina Levaiseeta (Tautua), Papali’itele Niko Lee Hang (HRPP), Motuoopua’a Dr. Aisoli Vaai (Tautua) and Toeolesulusulu Cedric Schuster (Tautua).
8) US Air Force told to look at all alternatives for CNMI divert field
Updated at 6:35 pm today
The U.S. Senate is putting limits on plans by the US Air Force for a divert airfield in the Northern Marianas.
The Senate has just passed the 2014 National Defense Authorization bill, which bars the spending of money intended for construction until the Air Force reports on all the alternatives considered for the divert field.
The Air Force wants the divert field on Saipan but the territorial government wants it on Tinian.
The new bill also asks the Department of Defense to report within 180 days on the feasibility of establishing a National Guard unit in the CNMI.http://www.radionz.co.nz/
9) Kiribati makes big changes to MPs allowances
By Online Editor
08:52 am GMT+12, 23/12/2013, Kiribati
The Kiribati parliament has made substantial changes to the allowances paid to MPs during the sitting of the house.
Under the old arrangement MPs who normally live on South Tarawa or Betio got ten Australian dollars a day while MPs from the outer islands got $150.
Now the local MPs are to get $50 dollars a day and those from the outer islands will receive $100 .
The Kiribati Independent reports there were objections but the bill passed easily.
Meanwhile, the Kiribati government is facing criticism for borrowing more than 6 million US dollars from the Kiribati Provident Fund.
The money has gone to Air Kiribati partly to cover the cost of a new plane.
The opposition has attacked the loan, saying the funds belong to the employees and the government should consult them before withdrawing their money.
But the communications minister, Rimeta Beniamina, says the workers will benefit as Air Kiribati is to pay six percent in interest.
He says the monthly repayments are nearly US$70,000.
Beniamina has confirmed the money was borrowed in two separate loans and that extensions on the loan repayment periods are being sought.
10) Japan whaling decision a ‘broken promise’
By Online Editor
08:50 am GMT+12, 23/12/2013, Australia
Australia will be monitoring Japan’s whale hunt from the air instead of the sea in a decision both the Greens and whaling protesters have called a broken election promise.
Environment Minister Greg Hunt said “the world is watching” as he announced on Sunday that customs and border protection officials will use an Airbus A319 for aerial surveillance on both protesters and whalers.
“It sends a clear message that the Australian government expects all parties to abide by the laws of the seas,” he said in Melbourne.
It will be the first monitoring mission on Antarctic whaling in six years.
But anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd has already voiced its disappointment with the decision and the Greens have demanded Hunt resign.
Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson said Mr Hunt has failed his first test on whaling as minister after years of strong rhetoric.
“If Greg Hunt has any integrity, he will resign his ministerial position,” he wrote on Twitter.
Australian Sea Shepherd director Jeff Hansen said the government’s specialist Southern Ocean patrol vessel, the ACV Ocean Protector, should be used for the operation – as promised before the election.
He said an aircraft will simply fly in and out in a matter of minutes and customs officers will be unable to make arrests.
“It’s really going to have no impact whatsoever. It’s a waste of taxpayer dollars,” he said.
Both Sea Shepherd and the Greens said the move is a broken election promise.
In the lead-up to the September election Hunt did pledge that a Customs vessel would monitor the whale hunt.
Sea Shepherd Australia chairman Bob Brown said the government backdown is ugly and irresponsible.
“They are effectively turning a blind eye to the Japanese slaughter, “he said.
But Hunt said on Sunday that using an aircraft provides greater range, flexibility and speed instead of relying on a ship.
It’s also believed that the specialist patrol vessel is now preoccupied with patrolling waters off Christmas Island for asylum seeker boats.
Japan’s whaling fleet is expected to arrive in its planned hunting zone in the Southern Ocean before the end of the year.
The chosen customs aeroplane, currently contracted to the Australian Antarctic Division, will make regular flights, likely in and out of Hobart, for the entire whaling season, from January to March 2014.
Australia took legal action in the International Court of Justice after decades of diplomatic efforts failed to curb Japan’s whaling program.
A ruling has not yet been made, though Mr Hunt said he’s hopeful an announcement could come soon.
11) Oli sutim tok igo long Australian Gavman long brukim eleksen promis
Updated 23 December 2013, 9:47 AEST
Oli sutim tok igo long Australian Federal Gavman long brukim wanpela eleksen promis long salim wanpela balus na ino wanpela bot bilong was long Japanese whaling long Southern Ocean.
Gavman bai salim wanpela A319 balus igolong Southern Ocean long taim bilong whaling season, em bai stat long mun January na pinis long end bilong mun March. Dispela i wok bilong statim wok was na luksave long ol sip i go painim na kilim ol whales.
Envairoment Minista, Greg Hunt i tok Gavman i mekim dispela longwanem i no gat wanpela disissen agensim whaling ikam lng International Court of Justice.
Em i tok i impotent long oli lukim na save olsem Australia i stap long dispela eria longwanem bai i gat sas bilong kros namel long ol whalers na ol protesta ino laikim ol i kilim ol whales. Em i bilong lukim olsem tupela sait i bihianim lo.
Greg Hunt i tok tu olsem balus bai mekim ol i save olsem i gat awenes namel long tupela sait olsem wold i wok long was long ol.
Pastaim long eleksen, Koalisen ibin promis long salim wnapela Customs sip igo long eria.
Aninit long lo bilong Australian, dispela sip olsem bai nap mekim husat sip bilong Japan i brukim lo bilong painim na kilim whales igo bek lusim Southern Ocean.
Greens Senator Peter Wish-Wilson i tok, salim balus bai mekim liklik samting tasol i kamap na Gavman i gat wanpela bot oli bin mekim na redi long igo long ol kain wok olsem.
Em i tok ol tekspeia ibin peim $150 milian long wokim dispela wok long mekim dispela kain wok long Antartic solowara.
Em go het na tok nau long dispela taim, Scot Morrison, Minista bilong Imigresen i mekim dispela sip i wok long ol solowara long tropiks olsem water taxi autsait long Christmas Island.http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/
12) Museum Tasmania Mendapat Sumbangan Terbesar Dalam Sejarah
Terbit 23 December 2013, 17:24 AEST
Sejumlah koleksi hasil karya seniman Tasmania, Australia disumbangkan ke sebuah perpustakaan dan museum. Uniknya koleksi seni ini dibuat oleh para seniman secara bersama-sama selama 40 tahun.
Perpustakaan Allport dan Museum of Fine Arts di Hobart, Tasmania menerima sumbangan sebanyak 65 karya seni dari kolektor Don dan Maggie Row.
Kurator Caitlin Sutton mengatakan karya-karya tersebut adalah hasil dari seniman ternama asal Tasmania, termasuk Patricia Giles dan Max Angus.
Patricia dan Max dikenal sebagai pelukis yang bekerja sama setiap hari Minggu selama hampir 40 tahun. Biasanya mereka melukis dari sejumlah tempat di Tasmania.
“Mereka berdua berbagi semangat untuk menelusuri alam terbuka di Tasmania dan melakukan perjalanan bersama ke tempat-tempat terpencil untuk melukis,” jelas Caitlin.
Ross Latham dari Kantor Pengarsipan dan Warisan Tasmania mengatakan kebanyakan koleksi yang disumbangkan memang hasil karya yang dibuat oleh seniman yang pada saat itu banyak melakukan sesi melukis di hari Minggu.
“Koleksi ini menjadi sumbangan terbesar yang pernah diberikan kepada Perpustakaan Allport dan Museum of Fine Arts. Tak hanya itu, inilah pentingnya memiliki satu koleksi dari hasil karya seniman Tasmania yang pernah bekerja sama dalam jangka panjang, ” kata Ross .http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/
13) Les agriculteurs samoans s’impatientent
Posté à 23 December 2013, 9:05 AEST
Cela fait un an que le Cyclone Evan a ravagé l’archipel et dévasté le secteur agricole. Et cela fait un an que les agriculteurs ont déposé des requêtes pour une assistance sur le long terme. Ces requêtes n’ont toujours pas été approuvées.
Evan a ravagé le Samoa en décembre 2012. (Credit: ABC)
Les secours sont bien arrivés pour aider les habitants et les agriculteurs après le passage du cyclone. Mais il se trouve que le secteur agricole était déjà mal en point avant le passage du cyclone.
En clair, si les programmes d’aide ont répondu aux problèmes à court terme, les problèmes à long terme n’ont pas changé, d’où l’exaspération des agriculteurs.
Afamasaga Tole’aofa est le président de l’Association des agriculteurs samoans : « Oui, absolument. C’est là toute la question. Le secteur agricole produisait en deçà de ses capacités. Un secteur en déclin depuis des décennies et pour plusieurs raisons : l’économie globale, l’ouverture des économies de marché et des marchés qui sont devenus plus compétitifs. Puis les parasites et les maladies ont joué leur rôle. Le secteur agricole doit se recaler en fonction des nouvelles réalités etc.
Il nous faut donc impérativement un programme à long terme et c’est le vrai défi du secteur agricole au Samoa aujourd’hui. »
En clair, le secteur agricole travaillait à l’élaboration d’un programme de développement agricole sur le long terme, puis le cyclone est arrivé, a détourné l’attention et tout le monde s’est concentré sur les opérations d’aide et de secours. Et un an après le passage d’Evan, les agriculteurs aimeraient bien que le gouvernement revienne à leurs priorités.
Sinon : « Sinon, le déclin de l’agriculture samoane va continuer comme il l’a fait depuis ces dernières décennies. »http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/
14) Anote Tong pour le Prix Nobel de la Paix
Posté à 23 December 2013, 9:17 AEST
Un Comité international de haut niveau fait campagne pour que le Prix Nobel de la Paix soit décerné au Président de Kiribati.
Parmi ce Comité : un ancien Premier ministre australien, l’ancien archevêque catholique de Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée et un ancien évêque anglican de Nouvelle-Zélande qui veulent que les efforts d’Anote Tong pour sensibiliser l’opinion mondiale au changement climatique soit salués.
Selon le Comité « La plus grande menace qui se pose à ce siècle en termes de paix et de sécurité internationale réside dans les conséquences du changement climatique. Et si vous voulez attirer l’attention du monde entier, personne ne le fait avec autant d’éloquence et de clarté que le Président de Kiribati. »http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/
15) Defense bill with limits on CNMI divert airfield heads to Obama
By Online Editor
11:05 am GMT+12, 23/12/2013, Northern Mariana Islands
It is now up to President Barack Obama to set limits on the U.S. Air Force’s development of divert airfield in the CNMI, after the U.S. Senate passed on Friday, CNMI the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act.
As early as November, Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) said he and the Inos administration were looking at placing restrictions on the development of a divert airfield in the CNMI.
The CNMI is united in its stand to place a divert airfield on Tinian where two-thirds of lands are already under lease to the U.S. Department of Defense, instead of Saipan where the U.S. military has planned on placing it.
Sablan said the NDAA bars expenditure of $29.3 million “allotted for construction of maintenance and storage buildings and a hazardous cargo pad, until the Air Force reports on all the alternatives considered for the divert field.”
He said Congress expects “the Secretary of the Air Force to consult with the governor of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands regarding the location of projects to support divert field operations with the goal of achieving a mutually agreeable solution.”
Sablan earlier said the CNMI does not want to lose the divert airfield project to another place such as Palau or the Philippines but it seeks conditions for the U.S. military if it insists on placing the alternative airfield on Saipan instead of Tinian.
DoD has delayed the release of an environmental impact statement and Record of Decision on the proposed divert airfield that the U.S. Air Force can use in the event that access to Andersen Air Force Base in Guam is limited or denied.
Governor Eloy S. Inos earlier told the Air Force that its request to lease 33 acres of land on Saipan for the next 50 years “is quite an undesirable conclusion as it would impede future commercial development in the area.”
Meanwhile, the NDAA, now up for presidential review and action, also requires DoD to report within 180 days on the feasibility of establishing a National Guard unit for the CNMI, a project that Sablan has been working on since 2011.
Another important component of the bill is a new sexual assault policy for the military. The bill provides legal counsel for victims, eliminates the statute of limitation for sexual assault-related courts-martial, requires civilian review of cases not prosecuted, and stipulates dishonorable discharge or dismissal for anyone convicted of sexual assault.
“Military commanders are stripped of their ability to overturn jury convictions; and retaliation against victims will carry criminal penalties. I strongly support efforts to combat sexual assaults in the military and in civilian life,” Sablan added.
16) Many US immigration judges eligible to retire
By Online Editor
11:02 am GMT+12, 23/12/2013, United States
Already backlogged U.S. immigration courts might soon be thrown into more havoc as roughly half of their 220 judges will be eligible for retirement next year.
The Executive Office for Immigration Review, which oversees the nation’s 59 immigration courts, says the court already has 32 vacancies, contributing to the current backlog of nearly 350,000 cases. Judges are overwhelmed, and immigrants with legitimate asylum claims can spend years in legal limbo.
Meanwhile, immigrants without legitimate legal claims remain in the country, while taxpayers foot the bill for them to be locked up longer.
The Executive Office says its average retirement rate is only 5 percent per year which would mean 11 judges retiring in 2014. But Judge Dana Leigh Marks, president of the National Association of Immigration Judges, fears increasingly difficult conditions are likely to push many to retire at the earliest opportunity.
“We are the forgotten stepchild. When Congress wants to fund immigration enforcement, they forget about the court,” Marks said.
She said it takes months to vet judicial appointees and even longer for judges to get up to speed.
Congress has aggressively boosted funding for immigration enforcement and detention, with the Obama administration deporting some 360,000 people last year. Yet, the courts have seen few additional resources. That’s even as caseloads have jumped 15 percent since 2011, according to Executive Office for Immigration Review Director Juan Osuna, who testified before a congressional subcommittee.
As far back as 2008, a Georgetown Immigration Law Journal article surveying immigration judges found they exhibited more burnout “than prison wardens and physicians in busy hospitals.” The judges blamed the stress on the pressure to adjudicate so many cases and decide the fate of so many lives in such little time.
Unlike other federal judges, immigration judges fall under the U.S. Department of Justice and are employees of the executive branch, not the judicial branch. Their caseload varies. In Honolulu, two immigration judges currently each have about 100 cases, while six judges in Houston have about 6,000 cases each, according to the nonprofit federal data tracker, Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.
Immigration judges have no bailiff, no court reporter and aren’t guaranteed a court clerk. And while a federal judge might lean on three law clerks to help with 400 or so complaints, three immigration judges generally split one law clerk for an average of 1,500 cases.
Immigration judges also shoulder a much greater share of the legal research than other judges because 60 percent of those who come before their bench cannot afford an attorney.
Brookings Institute Fellow Russell Wheeler said the delays create additional expense for taxpayers because individuals can spend more time behind bars waiting for their cases to be resolved at a cost of about $160 per night.
Not everyone wants more judges, though. The lag time allows those without legitimate legal claims to remain in the country longer, and some immigrants hope if they can fight deportation long enough, Congress will eventually provide them some form of amnesty. Others marry a U.S. citizen while waiting for their cases to be heard.
Miami immigration attorney Hector Diaz accompanied his client to immigration court this month in Miami. The client, who is in the country illegally, is fighting a deportation order he received after he was stopped for driving with an expired license.
Diaz argues his client’s removal would cause extreme hardship for the man’s mother, a U.S. citizen, but Diaz acknowledges it’s a tough case to win.
“So it does benefit them to have the cases pushed back,” he said.
Judge Marks said while some benefit from the delays, it’s often those with the strongest cases who lose out because memories fade and witnesses supporting their case become less reliable or available over time.
The Senate passed immigration legislation in June that allocates more money for the immigration courts and called for 225 new judges, as well as an equal number of support staff, over the next three years. But House Speaker John Boehner has said his chamber will not take up that bill nor address a similar one introduced by House Democrats.
The president’s 2014 budget calls for 30 new immigration judge teams to address the backlog as well as other efforts to help the courts, but the stalemate in Congress makes it less likely the improvements will happen.
Immigration attorney Ira Kurzban, author of the industry standard, “Kurzban’ s Immigration Law Sourcebook,” said while many in Congress complain about deportation proceedings, they have failed to provide the necessary resources for sufficient judges to allow the system to function properly.
“Doing so would allow those people who should be here legally to get their legal status, and those who have no legal claim to be here would presumably be deported,” he said.
17) In Hawaii, President Obama tries for uninterrupted vacation
By Online Editor
11:04 am GMT+12, 23/12/2013, United States
An ocean away from Washington worries, President Barack Obama opened his annual Hawaii vacation Saturday on a quiet note and hoped it would stay that way for the next two weeks.
Every year, Obama and his family prepare to return to his birth state here on the sun-scorched shores of Oahu. And every year until now congressional squabbling has forced the Obamas to delay their trip.
This year, Obama was cleared for an on-time departure by Congress, which defied pessimistic expectations last week by passing a bipartisan budget deal, all but ensuring the government won’t shut down over the next two years. It was a far cry from presaging a new era of cooperation, to be sure, but a silver lining for Obama a day earlier as he acknowledged a year of frustrating “ups and downs” in an end-of-year news conference.
The president, first lady Michelle Obama, daughters Sasha and Malia, and first dogs Sunny and Bo hopped aboard Air Force One to Honolulu, where they arrived late Friday and were whisked by motorcade to a beachside home in Kailua, a sleepy Honolulu suburb with a five-mile (eight-kilometer) stretch of beach popular among windsurfers and tourists.
On Saturday, Obama, typically an early riser, got a late start, staying at the home until early afternoon, when he headed to the golf course at a nearby Marine Corps base. Joining Obama for the round of golf were Sam Kass, the White House chef; Marvin Nicholson, Obama’s trip director; and presidential friend Bobby Titcomb, the White House said.
Obama did spend part of Saturday morning conferring with top advisers about the tense situation in South Sudan.
SOURCE: AP/PACNEWS ( Yes I have been to Hawaii a few times and me like too much! On Oahu, I do like the North Shore area/Rough Seas and Volcanic Rocks reminds me of the coastline between WhiteSands and Forari on Efate Island /Shefa/Vanuatu!)
18) Dengue warning
Monday, December 23, 2013
There’s a suspected new strain of dengue so take precautionary measures to make your home less mosquito-friendly. Picture: cloud.empowerednews.net
YOU can no longer play the ignorance card with the new dengue strain — it has been splashed all over the media, so you should already be making small adjustments to your living area to make sure you do not become part of the Health Ministry’s statistics.
To help you out the Minister for Health, Dr Neil Sharma, has issued a statement on what to do to avoid the unnecessary bother of this mosquito-borne illness.
“Seek prompt medical advice with the onset of dengue fever symptoms, the symptoms of dengue fever are non-specific and include fever, headache, and pain in the muscles and joints,” Dr Sharma said in a statement.
“Destroy the dengue mosquito breeding grounds, the dengue-mosquito breeds in water-containing receptacles found in and around the house.
“To reduce mosquito replication and its density it is therefore important to empty water out of flower vases or fill it in with sand.
He also suggested the discarding of empty juice bottles, cans, unused tyres, and open drums.
“Water-filled drums and water tanks need to be covered. Water in drains, pools, and roof guttering have to flow continuously, and the grass and shrubs within the compound need to be trimmed to avoid collecting rainwater.
“The ministry is reiterating its concern on dengue fever as it continues to register cases of dengue fever. The black and white striped dengue-transmitting mosquito prefers to live in and around the house,” Dr Sharma warned.
19) 236 Students Graduate From University Of Guam
Uni President encourages graduates to ‘find a purpose’ in life
By Dance Aoki
HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Dec. 23, 2013) – Hundreds of family members filled the wooden bleachers of the University of Guam field house in Mangilao yesterday to celebrate graduating Tritons of the fall 2013 class.
Of the 236 graduates, 169 students received undergraduate degrees and 67 received graduate degrees during yesterday’s ceremony.
Sunflowers and anthuriums decorated the stage and floor of the field house as the hundreds of students dressed in black robes filed in to the sound of cheering family and friends.
Many of the graduates decorated the tops of their caps with messages and designs.
“For Skyler,” one bejeweled cap read.
“Keep calm, I’m a future sociologist,” said another cap.
The speakers during yesterday’s ceremony shared their own life experiences with the fresh-faced graduates, and delivered advice based on their experiences.
Keynote speaker Esther Puakela Kia’aina, first deputy director of the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, told the graduates that “an island is only as small as you believe it to be.”
“I have never felt that my dreams were constrained by Guam being a small island,” she said. “Once you begin your professional life, you will realize how small the world is; just like an island.”
University of Guam President Robert Underwood told the graduating students during his opening address to find a purpose for their life in his address, instead of working towards the trappings of a wealthier lifestyle.
“A Gucci purse isn’t a purpose,” Underwood said. “Ensuring a healthier society is a purpose; creating a beautiful work of art is a purpose.”
One student’s purpose
Valedictorian Rachel Duenas, 37, received her degree in elementary education yesterday, perhaps a few years later than she expected.
“After high school, I had all the intentions of going to college, but life happens and you go down a different road,” Duenas said.
She addressed the rest of the graduates yesterday and shared her personal experience starting school at UOG surrounded by younger faces and almost feeling like she didn’t belong.
She told her fellow graduates, many of them close friends, that she created a bond with them based on “commitment and a sense of purpose.”
The future teacher and mother of four was inspired to go back to school by her daughter, who started her freshman year at the University of Portland this fall.
When Duenas was in high school, she wanted to be a lawyer, she said. After raising three children, Duenas changed her mind.
“When you have kids … you realize how much you can give,” she said.
Duenas is looking forward to working for the Guam Department of Education, and getting started in the classroom as soon as possible.
“I’m gonna miss going to college and learning,” Duenas said. “It’s gonna continue on, especially because when you’re teaching, you’re learning from your students.”
Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com
20) EU official unhappy with incomplete staff houses in Solomon Islands
By Online Editor
08:40 am GMT+12, 23/12/2013, Solomon Islands
The European Union (EU) has expressed disappointment at two incomplete houses built at Gwaigeo Primary School on the island of Malaita.
EU’s Governance Attaché Mark Van Vytnack visited the school last week to inspect projects EU funded in Malaita.
“EU has already released funds for these two staff houses; they should have been completed. I’m disappointed that they are not,” Vytnack said.
“This clearly shows that the community did not fully support the project,” he added.
During his inspection of the two houses, Vytnack realised they don’t have proper ceilings and roofing.
The school’s headmaster Raphael Anii said the incomplete status of the two houses were due to delay of government grants to the school.
He also told Vytnack the school receive very little help and support from the community.
He also blamed the increase in prices of building materials.
“We applied for this funding in 2010 but received the funding on the 5th June 2012.
“By this time, inflation has shot up and the prices of building materials obtain in 2010 were no longer the same.
“However, we will continue to work on these two houses and ensure they are completed,” Anii said.
The European Union Rural Advancement Micro Project Programme (RAMP) funded 70% of the buildings and the school community contributed 30%.
21) University retains Dr Williams
By Online Editor
2:14 pm GMT+12, 23/12/2013, Fiji
Dr Esther Williams, will continue to look after campus life activities at the University of the South Pacific.
She will stay on with the university next year after she agreed to a new appointment effective from January 1, 2014.
She will also undertake other duties as appropriate during her appointment.
Her current term as the university’s deputy vice-chancellor for administration and regional campuses ends on December 31, 2013.
USP’s vice-chancellor and president, Professor Rajesh Chandra, has appointed Dr Williams as deputy vice- chancellor special duties from January 1 to August 31, 2014.
“The appointment comes in light of the vacancies that exist in the university’s executive posts, one of which is the deputy vice-chancellor for learning, teaching and student services,” Professor Chandra said.
He said the university’s executive committee is also expected to appoint two vice-presidents in February (with a further period needed to have the appointees in the post).
“Dr Williams has agreed to the new appointment and her new role which will look after regional campuses and properties and facilities as well as commercial activities until the vice- presidents take up office,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister of Vanuatu, Moana Carcasses Kalosil, says his Government will explore all available avenues to “direct more of our bilateral assistance to the University of the South Pacific”.
He reiterated his government’s support and confidence in USP during the university’s Emalus campus graduation held last week.
“In fact we have initiated discussions with the Government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and USP should benefit from a next phase of assistance,” Kalosil said.
“For Vanuatu it has always been our position that USP is our university. It is the Vanuatu university. Those who know the university for a long time would agree with me that USP of today is more advanced; having grown from strength to strength since its humble beginning.”
Kalosil said USP had been the source of our region’s advancement.
He urged the university’s leadership and staff to work towards ensuring that USP does not stand in the shadow of other universities, but be more competitive.
The Pro Chancellor and chair of the council, Ikbal Jannif, officiated over the ceremony where 120 students graduated.
Degrees, certificates and diplomas were conferred by USP’s 20th chancellor, His Majesty King Tupou VI of Tonga.
The university’s main campus is based in Suva, Fiji.
22) TAFE skills helping build Pacific communities
By Online Editor
2:16 pm GMT+12, 23/12/2013, Australia
A unique partnership between TAFE Queensland and the Pacific Islands largest training college is using Australian expertise to build the skills of island communities in good times and in bad.
TAFE Queensland’s Sunshine Coast TAFE is part of a consortium supporting the Australia-Pacific Technical College (APTC), an Australian Government initiative which provides Australian-standard skills and qualifications for a wide range of vocational careers throughout the Pacific.
Chair of the APTC Board TAFE Queensland’s Jodi Schmidt said Sunshine Coast TAFE and Victoria’s Box Hill Institute of TAFE have worked collaboratively to successfully deliver training for more than 3,000 graduates since the college’s inception in 2007.
“Through its relationship with Australian-Pacific Technical College, Sunshine Coast TAFE delivers qualifications from certificate to diploma level in the automotive, manufacturing, construction, hospitality, tourism and health and community services across four campuses in Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Vanuatu,”Schmidt said.
Access to training programs played a vital part in the recovery effort following Cyclone Evan in 2012 which devastated parts of Samoa and left hundreds of families homeless.
The APTC worked with the Samoa Adventist Disaster Relief Agency and the local community to build shelters for 200 families providing those involved in the reconstruction effort with skills along the way.
“It is wonderful that this training was readily available when the community needed it most to rebuild their lives,” Schmidt said.
“The fact that the reconstruction effort gave 15 members of the local community an Australian Certificate III in Carpentry and a pathway to a career is an even greater reward.
“Another positive was the inclusion of female community members in the training which has challenged local beliefs about women working in traditional trades.”
The success of the skills transfer has seen the Australia-Pacific Technical College recently recognised with a prestigious Pacific Human Rights Award for its role in the reconstruction.
“TAFE Queensland is thrilled with this recognition, with a number of our staff members heavily invested in this important partnership and many directly involved in the reconstruction effort,” Ms Schmidt said.
“The achievements of the APTC have been nothing short of remarkable and this award is one on a long list of achievements for the college this year.
‘‘APTC not only helps thousands of people across the Pacific to learn new skills, but also enables graduates to apply these skills to the support their local community in times of need, as this award has recognised,’’ she said.
23) Journalists Continue To Face Violence, Intimidation In Papua
Alliance of Independent Journalists releases latest figures
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Dec. 23, 2013) – A report by the Alliance of Independent Journalists in Jayapura in Indonesia’s Papua region says there were 20 cases of intimidation and violence against journalists in 2013.
The Alliance says the results are a significant increase from 2012 when there were 12 cases.
Of the 20 cases, four occurred in West Papua and 16 in Papua.
The Alliance of Independent Journalists says the violence was done directly through verbal and physical intimidation such as threats and insults, vandalism, entering the editorial office without permission, and beatings.
According to the report, the violence committed against journalists was most frequently carried out by members of the police force and community groups.
The Alliance says of the 20 cases of intimidation and violence, there were no serious law enforcement investigations, and this will foster more attacks in subsequent years.
Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com
Fiji Police Abuse Video Wins International Journalism Award
Pacific Media Watch editor honored for work
By Shalveen Chand
SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Dec. 23, 2013) – Fiji police will not be making any further comments on investigations into the torture of escaped prisoner Iowane Benedito, whose capture and torture was caught on the camera phone of one of his alleged tormentors.
Police director of operations ACP Rusiate Tudravu said there would be no more comment on the case.
While police have opted to remain quiet on the issue., the video has been used by Media Watch contributing editor Daniel Drageset to win a coveted international prize in trauma journalism.
“I am really happy to have won this prize. It was incredibly interesting working on this story, and I think it highlights what an important job the PMW is doing,” Drageset told Pacific Media Watch.
Judge Cait McMahon, director of Melbourne’s Dart Asia-Pacific Centre, said Drageset had to straddle important ethical issues and clarify potential bias of sources to produce an impressive piece of reporting.
“This work carefully investigated YouTube clips, blogs and other sources to construct a series of balanced, online news stories that were eventually picked up by mainstream, international media.
“While the videos were disturbing to watch, Daniel produced a strong series of news stories that align with the principles of giving voice to victims and survivors of violence and injustice.”
The story was developed from graphic YouTube footage captured on mobile phones of the torture of 27-year-old escaped prisoner Iowane Benedito.
Fiji Times Online: http://www.fijitimes.com.
24) Aust group renews deal with Oil Search
The National, Monday December 23rd, 2013
AUSTRALIAN engineering Group Monadelphous Ltd yesterday announced it has secured a contract renewal and extension for the provision of oil and gas services in PNG and Northern Territory (Australia) worth about A$100 million (K215 million).
In Papua New Guinea, Group’s contract with Oil Search for field construction services at its oil and gas production and support facilities in Southern Highlands had been renewed for another three years.
In the Northern Territory, the contract to provide onshore maintenance andshutdown services at the ConocoPhillips-operated Darwin LNG facility had been extended for two years.
25) TGM gold plant to resume operation
The National, Monday December 23rd, 2013
TOLUKUMA Gold Mine Ltd (TGM), a subsidiary of Petromin, has re-commissioned its milling plant after two months of vigorous maintenance activities.
Mills operation manager Dominic Walegere said the plant’s upgrade and the refurbishment work carried out addressed the mill’s reliability and production issues.
Walegere said TGM engaged external consultant Sun Engineering from Australia to oversee the mill’s re-commissioning.
He pointed out that production was starting at ground zero.
“This means that it is starting a new gold plant and the next three weeks or so the re-commissioning would re-establish the plant’s operating conditions and optimisation of the operation,” Walegere said.
Improvements were also made to the gravity gold extraction circuit, where plant gold recovery was expected to increase.
Chief executive Sam Inguba said TMG had invested in new equipment and hoped to see better results soon.
He praised Sun Engineering, TGM general manager Sarimu Kanu, Walegere and his maintenance team for their effort to ensure the maintenance of the mill plant was successfully carried out and re-commissioned.
26) Deep-sea mining pushed
The National, Thursday December 19th, 2013
THE demand for metals is adding more pressure on land-based resources, resulting in growing social and environmental issues, Nautilus’ PNG based environmental adviser William Saleu said.
He told a meeting in Nadi, Fiji recently that seafloor mining with its small environmental footprint and limited social impacts offered many advantages over land-based mining.
Saleu said: “Nautilus Minerals has taken an ‘above and beyond approach’ to environmental management.
To promote transparency, Nautilus Minerals agreed that collaborating scientists working on the environmental impact assessment for the Solwara 1 project, be free to publish the results of their studies.
Taking the lead in exploring the deep sea and eventually extracting minerals from the ocean floors, Nautilus Minerals was confident that the Solwara 1 project would bring many social and economic benefits to the people of PNG.
“Nautilus Minerals like the communities of Papua New Guinea care about the environment. The company has taken a vigorous and intensive approach to all of its exploration and environmental research for the Solwara 1 Project.”
The weeklong meeting provided a forum for representatives of governments from the Pacific Island countries, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), international experts and industry to discuss potential issues from an environmental perspective.
The key areas included environment impact assessment (EIA) processes, establishing environmental management plans (EMP), monitoring and enforcement of the EMPs.
Stakeholders including representatives from 15 Pacific Island countries applauded the meeting as a step in the right direction for this new industry.
PNG was represented by the Department of Mineral Policy and Geo-hazard and Mineral Resource Authority and was able to provide leadership to other Pacific Island countries on the back of its firsthand experience with seafloor mining and permitting gained over the last 15 years.
This was the fourth meeting of the deep sea minerals project, which was an initiative of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and funded by the European Union.
The project had seen the SPC devise and implement a regional training programme to develop and enhance the knowledge of all regional stakeholders on issues relating to deep sea minerals.
27) Advisor Tells Tuvalu To Close At Least 50% Of Petrol Stations
Plan will be ‘difficult’ as businesses are families’ only income
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Dec. 23, 2013) – The energy department in Tuvalu says it’s difficult to carry out advice to shut down up to 20 petrol retailers on Tuvalu’s main island, as the businesses are the only source of income for some families.
An inspection of the 26 petrol retailers on Funafuti was carried out by a technical advisor with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, who found there were too many operating.
The advice was to have between 6 and 10 stay open on the island, and to shut down the rest.
But the Assistant Energy Planner, Nielu Meisake, says he would prefer to make sure all retailers are complying with standards, and are operating safely, rather than shut them down.
In the way of trying to approach people and say, you are stopped from the business, I think it’s very hard for us. Some people they put a lot of effort to build up businesses and to earn revenue for the family to survive. We taking on board the advice to cut down but the procedure we’re trying to use is if they don’t comply with the regulation, if they breach the regulation, that’s when we will try to stop them.
The Assistant Energy Planner in Tuvalu, Nielu Meisake.
Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com
28) Fiji govt set to honour deal with Vanuatu
By Online Editor
10:55 am GMT+12, 23/12/2013, Fiji
Fiji stands ready to honour a deal to send volunteer teachers to Vanuatu despite a union reaction there that they are not welcome.
Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, said the row in Vanuatu between the teachers’ union and the government was an internal matter.
“The Vanuatu Government will have to deal with the teachers’ union,” Ratu Inoke said.
He said, however, Fiji was ready to honour its commitment under the memorandum of understanding for the Fiji Volunteer Scheme, signed between him and Vanuatu’s Minister for Education, Bob Loughman.
It is part of a popular and growing programme where Fiji is sending highly experienced and qualified people who have recently retired to help regional neighbours in areas where they want more expertise.
But the Vanuatu Teachers Union told Radio New Zealand: “Retired teachers from Fiji are not welcomed to teach in this country.”
Union president Wilfred Leo said the agreement had come as a surprise, as more than 50 teaching graduates from Vanuatu were yet to secure a posting.
He said the union had viewed the agreement as a slap in the face of teachers in Vanuatu.
“We asked the government to show us how [much better] are retired teachers in Fiji than our retired teachers,”Leo said.
29) Positive outlook for Fiji Economy
By Online Editor
08:49 am GMT+12, 23/12/2013, Fiji
Growth in the Fijian economy increased to 2.25 per cent in 2012, supported by income tax cuts, and low interest rates, said the International Monetary Fund in its latest review on Fiji.
After its executive directors finished consultations with the government last month, the IMF said in its report growth was going to continue in 2013 and with the promise of elections in 2014, it predicted investor confidence in the economy would continue to grow.
In its assessment, IMF said it was particularly important to expand Fiji’s capacity to utilise effectively an expected increase in foreign and domestic investment following a successful transition to democratic parliamentary government in 2014.
However, unemployment remains stubbornly high at nearly 9 per cent, with youth unemployment and underemployment at significantly higher rates.
Emigration pressures continue especially among the higher skilled, the IMF stated.
It observed that fiscal policy was rightly balancing the need to strengthen the fiscal position against the need to increase growth-enhancing public investment.
It welcomed plans to reduce fiscal deficits, while increasing capital spending to clear infrastructure backlogs.
The report said Fiji’s financial sector was stable and international reserves had stabilised to a comfortable level.
And inflation declined as imported commodity and food prices moderated.
The IMF said macroeconomic policies were broadly appropriate as Fiji’s fiscal policy continued to balance the need to strengthen the fiscal position against the need to increase public investment to support growth.
According to the report, the 2013 deficit target of 2.8 per cent of GDP was on track to be met, with strong VAT revenue collections and somewhat slower-than-planned expenditures in the first half of 2013.
IMF noted that key policy challenges remained to sustainably raise economic growth, reduce poverty, and increase resilience to shocks.
The report said to achieve higher growth and reduce unemployment, faster and deeper structural reform was urgently needed.
It welcomed the reform of the Fiji National Provident Fund, while noting that potential risks arising from the option of lump sum payment would need to be managed carefully.
While welcoming the overall soundness of the financial sector and the rebound of credit growth from low levels, it called for enhanced monitoring of sectors with rapid credit growth.
In the event inflationary pressures emerge, the directors advised using open market operations to reduce excess liquidity and, if needed, tighten policy rates.
They noted the continued gradual appreciation of the real exchange rate and called for periodic reviews and adjustment if necessary.
The IMF also saw merit in more flexible exchange arrangements and encouraged the authorities to eliminate remaining exchange restrictions and to continue to strengthen the Anti-Money Laundering/Combatting the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) regime.
It welcomed the recent progress in structural reforms. However, to raise Fiji’s potential growth, it called on Fiji to reduce its vulnerability to shocks, and alleviate poverty, it saw a need for deeper and faster reforms.
The IMF said priority should be given to improving the investment climate by streamlining government regulations, relaxing price controls while protecting the most vulnerable, increasing the efficiency of land use, and upgrading the infrastructure.
It said efforts were also needed to increase the energy supply and ensure the viability of the sugarcane industry.
30) PNG company offers land to Fiji businesses
By Online Editor
10:57 am GMT+12, 23/12/2013, Fiji
A registered Papua New Guinea property investment company Sanamu Investment Group Limited is offering land to local companies to set up their businesses in PNG.
The company held a presentation to local businesses at Holiday Inn in Suva yesterday.
Managing Director Joe Kobol claims they own a big piece of land in Papua New Guinea which they have subdivided to give to businesses on certain conditions.
They are willing to give some to Fijian businesses who wish to set up there.
Kobol says following the presentation, they have received alot of interest with regards to their offer.
Kobol says they will be back in February to sign a few Memorandum of Understandings, with interested businesses.
31) US$2-million coconut bio-diesel operation to open in Vanuatu
By Online Editor
2:15 pm GMT+12, 23/12/2013, Vanuatu
An Australian coconut oil company is developing a US$2million bio-diesel factory in Luganville, Vanuatu, to operate alongside its existing production mill there.
The CEO of Coconut Oil Production Santo Limited, Bernie Glaser, says it will use a chemical process to separate the unwanted elements of its coconut oil to make a clean bio-fuel.
Glaser says the cost of diesel in the islands is prohibitive, partly because of shipping costs, so it makes good sense to use the local, renewable source to make fuel instead.
“Anything that can fully utilise a renewable resource, and value add to its maximum is going to help the country. And if we can encourage a renewable replant for more palms to be put into the ground by the farmers and then harvested, everything becomes more bouyant and the renewable resource continues”.
Glaser says jobs will be created at the harvest stage to the production stage.
32) Former PNG PM wants Newcrest to pack up and leave
By Online Editor
08:42 am GMT+12, 23/12/2013, Papua New Guinea
Former Papua New Guinea Prime Minister and New Ireland Governor Sir Julius Chan is calling on the owner and operator of the giant Lihir gold mine to pack up and leave New Ireland.
He said this during a press conference last Thursday, adding that the province was sick of the deceit, arrogance and incompetence the mining company has demonstrated since it took over Lihir.
Sir Julius said he was upset that Newcrest was not keeping its word to fund the tax credit scheme to implement development projects in New Ireland Province.
“In 2011, Newcrest told us they would provide K157 million over five years for the tax credit scheme.”Then earlier this year, they told us there would have to be severe cuts in the scheme,” he said. Sir Julius said the people had waited for 18 years for the tax credit scheme to come on stream.
“When I met with the top management of Newcrest shortly after their take over of Lihir in late 2010, I asked the following questions: Have you done full due diligence on the purchase? Do you understand the failure of Lihir gold to provide any benefits under the tax credit scheme for the past 15 years?
He said the officers present assured him that the Tax Credit Scheme would be fully operational in a very short time and that Newcrest was fully committed to the scheme.
Sir Julius said that supposed full commitment did not result in any implementation at all for two years, and then, “just as implementation was beginning, they tell us that the scheme has to be cut back”.
“This is pathetic, we are completely insulted at the way Newcrest has treated our Government and people.
“We have made our position absolutely clear repeatedly, but the only response we have received is an offer well below what we were told would be available. “We told Newcrest that was not satisfactory, and unless they meet their commitment we would consider our relationship ended, we are now that point,” Sir Julius said.
Sir Julius said he was sick and tired of hearing Newcrest say that the bottom has fallen out of the gold price, so they cannot keep their commitments. “All I can say is, Newcrest is in trouble, not because of the gold price, it is because of the lack of management,” he said. Newcrest has not been contacted by this newspaper for its comment..
33) Reform needed in Minerals Act: Sogavare
By Online Editor
08:41 am GMT+12, 23/12/2013, Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands Parliament Member for North east Choiseul Manasseh Sogovare has urged the National government to be serious in reforming the mineral sector.
Sogavare made the comments during the Public Accounts Committee hearing last week at the Parliament house.
“We need a serious reform in the mining sector.
“The current laws were hanging over from the colonial powers, and the mineral rights must be reformed to resource owners.”
He said the government should not get more from resources owners.
People/resource owners need to get more benefits other than the government.
“Three percent royalty payout to resources owners is simply unfair.”
Sogavare urged the government to put a halt to any mining operation in the country so that reform on minerals act can be reformed.
“The government must put a halt to any proposed mining operation so that the whole mining act can be reformed in the best interest of the people.”.
Monday, December 23, 2013
BUSINESS NEWS IN BRIEF
Tonga makes top 10
OWING to its 176 pristine islands, Polynesian traditions, migrant humpback whales and low tourist numbers, Tonga is a fantastic off-the-beaten track destination for adventure travellers. In fact, this tiny, remote island kingdom is in Lonely Planet’s top 10 best beaches and small islands for travel in 2014. The remote Ha’apai Archipelago features in Lonely Planet’s Best of Travel 2014 as one of the top 10 regions in the world for natural beauty, cultural riches and “scintillating sea kayaking”. It would be pretty hard to be much more remote than these 62 islands in the Kingdom of Tonga, way out in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean. It takes an adventurous sort just to get to Tonga, but to venture to its central island group of Ha’apai to see the lush, reef-fringed islands, swaying palm trees, tropical sunshine, breaching humpback whales, technicolour tropical fish, scintillating sea kayaking, and even a smoking volcano — all amid a sleepy, seductive Tongan outlook on life.
Cap on visas
AUSTRALIAN Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has revoked his cap on protection visas for asylum seekers rather than face a High Court challenge from the same refugee lawyers who overturned Julia Gillard’s Malaysia people-swap policy. Frustrated that Labour and the Greens were blocking his plans to reintroduce the Howard government’s policy of temporary protection visas, Mr Morrison imposed a cap on the number of protection visas. This would have prevented any new visas from being issued to asylum seekers before July 2014. But as refugee lawyers lined up to challenge the decision, the Immigration Minister recently ordered his department to revoke the temporary cap on protection visas for asylum seekers. Greens immigration spokeswoman Sarah Hanson-Young said she did not think it a coincidence that Mr Morrison had reversed his decision on the same day it emerged that the “very sharp” team of refugee lawyers would challenge him in the High Court.
Project to lift PNG
PNG is preparing itself for a massive windfall from the Exxon-Mobil led Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project, due to go online in 2014. The project is expected to push PNG’s economic growth above 20 per cent — potentially making the Pacific island nation the fastest growing economy in the world. In preparation for this, the government of Peter O’Neill in late 2013 introduced its second deficit budget in as many years, plunging the country into the red to the tune of $US5.6billion ($F10.66b) with the aim of delivering desperately needed basic services to the nation’s seven million people. He has also put companies on notice that large-scale resource projects will have to deal with a more activist government. Mr O’Neill has emerged as the nation’s most powerful prime minister.
THE American Samoa Government says it is concerned about the plight of the territory’s albacore fishing fleet and the governor has appointed a committee to help them. Earlier this month the owner of Longline Services Incorporated, Carlos Sanchez, said local owners of albacore fishing boats are selling up because they are struggling to maintain viability. One of those on the new committee, is the director of commerce, Keniseli Lafaele, who says the department has been supportive of the industry. Mr Lafaele says issues affecting longliners are the lack of docking space, escalating port charges and overtime payments to government workers who clear their boats after hours. But Mr Sanchez says they have made up their minds to sell their fishing boats because the price of fish has plummeted, the cost of fuel is high and the government’s port charges are unaffordable. Mr Lafaele says the government cannot do much to influence the world price of albacore.
35) Final Aussie police contingent arrives
The National, Monday December 23rd, 2013
By ADAM MERA
THE FINAL contingent of Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers arrived at Jackson International Airport in the nation’s capital on Saturday.
The 10 officers will be working alongside their counterparts in community policing operations in Port Moresby and Lae under the PNG-Australian Policing Partnership (PNG-APP).
AFP Assistant Commissioner Alan Scott said there were now 62 Australian police officers working in PNG.
“We have met the Australian Government’s promise of an additional 50 AFP officers to be working in PNG by the end of this year,” Scott said.
“Now that a full contingent is here, we are looking forward to working in partnership with the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary (RPNGC) to assist in developing their highly visible policing force.”
Scott said the PNG-APP will continue to provide assistance to the RPNGC to achieve its modernisation programme.
“Since the first group of 30 officers arrived in November, we have been working very closely with our RPNGC colleagues,” Scott said.
“The goal of our enhanced mission is, in partnership with RPNGC, to continue to develop the capacity of the RPNGC to provide sustainable and quality policing,” he said.
Australian High Commissioner, Deborah Stokes said partnership was at the heart of the deployment.
“The expanded police partnership is a demonstration of the closeness of our two nations and our shared commitment to the rule of law and democratic values and institutions.
“It takes place in the context of wide-ranging cooperation between Australia and PNG in the law and justice sector.”
Stokes said some impressive results, including the revitalisation of village courts, strong infrastructure development and an establishment of a number of family and sexual violence units at police stations across the country, had been achieved by this partnership.
The AFP officers do not have policing power in PNG, but provide advice, guidance and assistance for a range of day-to-day matters.
36) Aussie DF to give ship
The National, Monday December 23rd, 2013
AUSTRALIA will give a heavy landing craft to Papua New Guinea next year under increasing military and maritime ties.
A United Press International report said Minister for Defence Senator David Johnston made the announcement during a meeting with Papua New Guinea’s Minister for Defence Fabian Pok.
The two met in Australia under the inaugural annual Australia-PNG Defence Ministers’ meeting this month.
“This was my first meeting with Pok and we had valuable discussions on how Australia and PNG can work together to advance our mutual security interests,” Johnston said.
“I am also pleased to announce that Australia intends to gift PNG one Royal Australian Navy landing craft in 2014.
“The landing craft will assist the PNG Defence Force maritime element to develop a strengthened sea-lift capability.”
Eight Balikpapan class vessels were built by shipbuilder Walkers Ltd at Maryborough, Queensland, between 1971 and 1974. Six entered service with Australia and two went to PNG.
Australia has retired three of its six vessels while PNG continues to maintain its two ships in operational condition.
Pok was travelling with the commander of the PNG Defence Force Brigadier-General Francis Agwi and Secretary of Defence John Porti.
Johnston said the signing of a defence cooperation arrangement with PNG in May elevated the long-standing military relationship into a “genuine defence partnership”.
Australia’s Regional Defence Cooperation programme has a budget of just under A$94 million in 2013-14 that is being spent on advisers, training and capacity building initiatives.
Johnston said in terms of dollars spent, Australia’s biggest individual regional development cooperation programme partner was PNG with a budget of about A$25 million in 2013-14.
37) New office for Customs
The National, Monday December 23rd, 2013
THE Customs Service is looking at ways to effectively address illegal border activities, which continue to pose a big challenge for the organisation, an official says.
Customs Commissioner Ray Paul stated that during the opening of the new Customs office in Mt Hagen. It has been relocated from the AGC Building to Agilta Kona.
He said Customs was addressing the problem through stakeholder engagements, recruitment of more officers, training, better benefits and remuneration for officers and the implementation of the Customs Service Plan.
He said despite having less resources, the officers were still performing beyond what was required of them.
Paul said developments at the Mt Hagen Customs office, as well as in other parts of the country, were all in line with the international obligation to modernise Customs processes because Papua New Guinea Customs was a member of the World Customs Organisation.
Customs audit committee chairman John Dotson challenged officers to appreciate being paid by the Government.
The Western Highlands Mission of Seventh-day Adventist Church president, Pr Max Zacheus dedicated the new office.
38) Exiled Fijian Commander Quietly Living Good Life In Tonga
Roko Ului, wanted for sedition in Fiji, is private secretary to King
By Losalini Rasoqosoqo
SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Sun, Dec. 23, 2013) – Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba Mara who fled to Tonga in 2011 while awaiting a sedition trial and became the face of a Sydney-based anti-Government pressure group, has gone quiet.
He has been told to tone down his rhetoric as relations between Tonga and Fiji improve significantly.
Roko Ului, as he is commonly known, now holds one of the most prominent positions in the kingdom, as private secretary to the King of Tonga, King Tupou VI.
As such he is required to maintain decorum and dignity that are compatible with his office. He cannot be seen to be affiliated or aligned to a pressure or activist group.
As part of his remuneration, Roko Ului is provided transport and accommodation.
Due to his close ties to the royal family, Princess Pilolevu Tuita, the sister of the late King George Tupou V and the current King of Tonga, Tupou VI, gave him one of her islands.
Roko Ului is said to be developing the island for eco-tourism. His last public political statement was in March 1 this year.
In May 2011, Roko Ului, the former Land Force Commander of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces, was charged with inciting sedition. But while on bail he was secretly picked up by a Tongan navy patrol boat in Fiji waters near Kadavu and fled to Tonga.
The incident caused a major diplomatic spat between Fiji and Tonga. It escalated to increased tensions over the Minerva Reef territorial matters.
The tension later fizzled out and since then the two countries had repaired their relations. Fiji has helped and stood by Tonga on several regional issues.
Tonga has also reciprocated.
39) PNG launches security policy
By Online Editor
08:54 am GMT+12, 23/12/2013, Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea’s first ever National Security Policy (NSP) was unveiled by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill last Friday at Murray Barracks.
This historic document, which is designed to address all of the country’s security-related issues, was launched along with the PNG Defence Force White Paper.
The launch was preceded by an aerial air show led by the PNGDF Air Element’s CASA aircraft and two Australian government-funded civilian helicopters. The aircrafts did a flyover before a PNGDF long range reconnaissance squadron rappelled out of the helicopters to personally hand-deliver the policy paper to the Prime Minister for commissioning.
O’Neill, upon launching the new policy, said he was proud to have achieved one of three national priorities that had been agreed upon by the Chief Secretary, the NEC and the Office of the PM at the start of this year.
“We agreed to develop this policy within three years and I stand here pleased that we have done it in 12 months,” he said and added PNG’s national security lacked cohesion and effective coordination since independence.
The country’s response to security issues has been largely disjointed as a result, he said. “Our national security institutions have been neglected to the extent where they lack appropriate capabilities to provide effective public safety and protection of our natural resources and our international borders. The National Security Policy is our answer to the collaborative security issues of our country,” he said.
In a bid to water down concerns of inter-departmental rivalry, the PM said the new policy paper will not reduce or impede the key functions and responsibilities of individual agencies like the Royal PNG Constabulary or the PNGDF. Instead it will provide a platform upon which security can be coordinated throughout the length and breadth of the nation.
The Government is also committed to addressing and improving security domes-tically as well as internationally. But it is also every citizen’s responsibility to maintain security, said O’Neill before thanking staff who drafted the new policy.
CLIMATE CHANGE,CONSERVATION & ENVIROMENT:
40) Conservation in the islands
Monday, December 23, 2013
THE Mamanuca Environment Society is working on a program to engage local communities to conserve the Mamanuca Group of Islands.
Project manager Marica Vakacola said the vision was to promote awareness at community level since the program was implemented by volunteers.
And in a move to ensure participation of landowners, the society teamed up with Ahura Resorts staff members for a clean-up campaign at Yaro Village early this week.
“Community engagement is a must for conservation,” Ms Vakacola said.
41) Settlers under water
The National, Monday December 23rd, 2013
MORE than 50 houses in settlements near the Wagol River, in Madang, have been flooded and many people left their homes during yesterday morning’s downpour.
Heavy rain accompanied by thunder and lightning featured and water in the river swelled by more than a metre.
Residents at Wagol, Sodas near the Lae Builders and Contractors’ facility remained until daybreak although the place was flooding from 1am.
“All our properties outside and under the houses were carried away by floods, we didn’t have any choice but stood on the main road till daybreak,” Sima Aimai, a youth from Wagol said.
A settler said children and babies were the worst affected as they made movement and transfers difficult.
“I was so worried about my three-year-old child and six-month-old baby, I never thought of anything else except to protect the two,” she said.
Water levels dropped at around 6am when rain had stopped.
Gabriel Aimai, a community leader at Wagol, said they were always affected by floods.
He said it was time the Madang provincial government addressed the town urbanisation agenda, relocated and cut land blocks for genuine settlers.
Aimai said there were public servants and other working-class people living in settlements such as Wagol due to housing problems.
“Housing is a very big problem for many people in Madang town, many professional people are living in settlements and going to work to serve the government and companies they work for,” Aimai said.
He said evicting settlers was not the answer to solving law and order or disaster issues but proper consideration and coordination would do.
“Settlers have contributed a lot to the development of this town and are major tax payers to the government,” Aimai said. He said most times the disaster office recorded property damaged by floods but did nothing to assist the people.
42) Tsaka vows to fight violence in league
The National, Monday December 23rd, 2013
NEWLY appointed Papua New Guinea Rugby Football League (PNGRFL) chairman Sandis Tsaka has his mind set on cleaning up the country’s favourite sport.
This is a priority included in a vibrant plan that the former deputy chairman has to restore respectability and governance that the sport had lost.
Tsaka said the only way to restore confidence was to seriously address on and off-field violence-related issues stemming from all levels of the game.
“We must bring back that view that our most loved game is a family sport that we can all enjoy and watch each weekend without seeing some of the ugly scenes that threatens to derail the code,” he said.
He said violence, whether it was attributed to players, supporters, officials, administrators or referees and linesmen, had to be eliminated.
“It’s time to move forward and the board sees this as one of our primary aims to do ensure that by introducing a code of conduct that leagues and clubs must uphold and be responsible for their actions when bringing the game into disrepute,” Tsaka said.
This follows Tsaka’s confirmation to the top post during the PNGRFL’s last board meeting for the year on Thursday.
Tsaka said he came on board at a critical time after all the political infighting to steady a once proud ship that was a given a second chance primarily through the efforts of the Minister for Sports Justin Tkatchenko and outgoing chairman Don Fox’s ability to stabilise the ship on all fronts this time last year.
“Don (Fox) was a pillar of strength in this team and I give credit to him for his ability to calm the weather despite ongoing conflict,” Tsaka said.
The other appointee to the board is PNG Sports Foundation chairman, Graham Osborne.
43) Cricket PNG attend World Cup qualifiers
By Online Editor
11:27 am GMT+12, 23/12/2013, Papua New Guinea
Cricket PNG selectors have finalized their 15 man Hebou PNG Barramundi’s squad for the upcoming 50 Over Cricket World Cup Qualifiers (CWCQ) in Christchurch, New Zealand from January 8th to February 2nd 2014.
The Hebou PNG Barramundi’s have been pooled alongside Netherlands, Kenya, Namibia and Uganda whom they played in the recently completed ICC World T20 Qualifiers in UAE. T20 champions Ireland and runner-up, Afghanistan have already qualified for the World Cup.
Pool A comprises Canada, United Arab Emirates, Scotland, and Nepal and Hong Kong.
The Barras will need to finish in the top three in their pool to proceed to the Super Six stage. The Super Six stage will see each of the top three teams in Pool A play the other top three teams in Pool B with the top two teams qualifying for the World Cup. The last time Barramundi’s competed in the World Cup Qualifier was in Ireland in 2005 where they finished 11th out of 12 teams.
Barramundi’s Coach Peter Anderson was optimistic ahead of the tournament.
“The 50 over CWCQ will be a big challenge for the Barras. Coming off a heavy schedule of T20 cricket, we will have to adjust quickly to the longer format. We have selected a strong squad of 15 and I expect a lot of competition within the squad for places. Again we will be taking the attitude of going there to win and secure a position in the World Cup” said Anderson.
Barramundi’s play two warm up matches against Scotland and Hong Kong before they begin their campaign on January 10th against Kenya. They then take on Uganda, followed by Netherlands and Namibia.
The Barramundi’s resume training on Friday December27.
They are scheduled to depart for New Zealand on January 8 2014.
The squad is: Charles Amini (c), Jack Vare (v/c), Assad Vala, Tony Ura, Vani Vagi Morea, Geraint Jones, Chris Kent, Raymond Haoda Jnr, Willie Gavera, Charles Amini Jnr, Mahuru Dai, Lega Siaka, Norman Vanua, Pipi Raho and Kila Pala. The non travelling reserves are Andrew Hicks, John Boge Reva, Jason Kila and Kabua Vagi Morea.
Most of them are seasoned players and should make PNG proud.
44) Fiji men’s hockey prepares for defence
By Online Editor
11:22 am GMT+12, 23/12/2013, Fiji
The Fiji men’s hockey coach Hector Smith Sr has started planning ways to defend the trophy against the Australian Country next year.
The visitors, who have committed to returning next year, have vowed to claim the trophy which they brought to spice up the competition this year.
The Fiji men’s High Performance Unit side won the series following its 2-1 and 3-0 wins last week.
“When an Australian team is beaten by a Fiji team, they don’t like it, so they will come back stronger which is all the more reason why we should prepare even better,” Smith Sr said.
The under-21 Australian Country team has been touring Fiji for about a decade.
Smith Sr said the visitors used to thrash them previously but have not been so effective lately.
“They used to beat us 9-1, 9-0 before. Since we started a HPU in 2008 to prepare for the Pacific Cup that was being played every December, we have managed to beat them a couple of times.
“We have been having some seesaw battles so every time they come down, they are coming with a stronger team.
“These guys used to previously go to Singapore and Malaysia but when we sort of lifted our performance, they felt they were getting a decent competition down here and they geared towards it to come down every year.”
Smith Sr said they have learnt a lot through the exchange of ideas with the Australian Country team in the past several years.
Meanwhile, Fiji women’s hockey side will use the lessons learnt in the three-match series against the Australian Country to prepare for the World Series qualifiers next year.
Coach Allison Southey was impressed with the commitment of the national players despite the national High Performance Unit side losing all its three matches 0-1.
“They have only been together for five weeks in training so we have a fairly new team with a few seniors to help out.
“I’m very pleased and proud of their performance.”
Southey said the team learnt a lot in skills and game structure.
“With regards to skills and the new game structure we have learnt from them, it’s just a different level of hockey with them.”
Southey said the players would go on break and return in the second week of January to prepare for the upcoming season. She said the High Performance Unit had 25 players with the door open until next month for those interested to join the team.
Australian Country women’s coach Wally Gaynor said the Fijians had a good future in the sport.
45) Tietjens faces a great problem come 2016
By Online Editor
11:12 am GMT+12, 23/12/2013, New Zealand
All Blacks Sevens coach Sir Gordon Tietjens is excited by a potential problem on his hands come 2016.
Sonny-Bill Williams’ two-year deal with the NZRU and Chiefs to return to rugby in 2015 will help put him in the frame for selection for the All Blacks Sevens side for the Rio Olympics.
Sir Gordon Tietjens expects many All Blacks and other sportsmen to put their hands up for a spot in the squad.
“I think it’s a great problem – anyone would want to go to the Olympics.
“No doubt there will be other players, perhaps from other sports as well that may in the next 12 to 18 months really want to be a part of that Olympic side to go to Rio.”
However Tietjens is adamant that no player will be a shoe-in for selection and will have to play on a sevens circuit initially to prove themselves.
46) Paralympics coach recruits for 2015 games
By Online Editor
11:24 am GMT+12, 23/12/2013, Fiji
Fiji Paralympics coach Fred Fatiaki hopes to recruit around 20 disabled athletes to prepare for the 2015 Pacific Games.
He is planning to visit Special Schools early next year in a bid to identify athletes who are eligible for international competition.
With Iliesa Delana winning the country’s and region’s first gold medal at the 2012 Paralympic Games, Fatiaki is confident there are other disabled athletes in the country who want to make a name for themselves.
He said this year’s Fiji Paralympics Games was on a small scale and hosted by the different special schools and did not give him a good scope of the potential athletes.
“Right now I have less than 10 athletes who are training with me of which six are training full time,” Fatiaki said.
“I would like to have around 20 athletes training with me by the end of next year for the 2015 Pacific Games in Papua New Guinea and other international competitions. The overall target is getting a few athletes into the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio and there are different qualifiers for the different categories so the more athletes we have the better it will be.”
He said the hardest part of the talent identification process would be going to all the special schools in Fiji. Fatiaki took three athletes to the Pacific Mini Games in Wallis and Futuna in September from where they returned with one silver and one bronze medal.
Monday, December 23, 2013
SPORTS NEWS IN BRIEF
MADRID – Gareth Bale will miss Real Madrid’s final game of the year away to Valencia on Sunday due to an inflamed calf muscle, Real boss Carlo Ancelotti has confirmed. Bale was absent from Wednesday’s 2-0 win over Olimpic Xativa in the Copa del Rey after picking up the injury in training on Tuesday.
MADRID – Barcelona boss Gerardo Martino has encouraged his side not to get distracted by off-field matters as they prepare for their final game of the year away to Getafe on Sunday. It has been a busy week in the Catalan capital as the club were ordered by a judge to hand over the contracts that delivered Neymar to the club.
LONDON – Burnley moved back to the top of the English Championship with a 2-1 win over Blackpool, while previous leaders QPR were beaten 1-0 by promotion rivals Leicester on Saturday. Sean Dyche’s side are one point clear of second placed QPR thanks to a brilliant strike from Scott Arfield at Turf Moor.
VAL-D’ISERE, France – American ski queen Lindsey Vonn failed to put together a winning run for onlooking boyfriend Tiger Woods on Saturday as her unstable right knee gave way halfway through the Val-d’Isere downhill course. Vonn insisted the incident would not have major ramifications.
LONDON – Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini admits he has been left cold by the English Premier League’s busy Christmas schedule. Pellegrini, in his first top-flight season, has to contend with his title challengers playing on Boxing Day and December 28.
BOSTON – Trevor Ariza scored 27 points to help the Washington Wizards to a thrilling comeback win over the Boston Celtics on Saturday. The Wizards won 106-99 but did not lead until the final three minutes of the contest, but Washington ended the game with a 22-7 spurt to dump the host Celtics, who lead the Atlantic division despite a 12-16 record.