Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 933


1)  Review Of Vanuatu’s National Statistics System Underway
Data gaps have rendered system ‘blind’ over the years: director

By Glenda Shing

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Jan. 29, 2014) – The first load of consultations to review the national statistical system and create a Vanuatu National Strategy for the Development of Statistics has taken place yesterday.

The Director of National Statistics Office, Simil Johnson, admitted that there are data gaps within the system, which meant that the country has been operating on a “blind system” over the past years, or in other words, “no standardised strategies are in place to measure the implementations of developments.”

The workshop is very important as stakeholders should discuss and consult with each other and ensure that the information produced is “sound and available so that we could measure the performance of our country and assess where we are heading to,” Simil explained.

The one-day workshop which brought together key stakeholders, aimed to collect and use statistics on economic, social, environment and agricultural sector to map priority areas to improve the national statistical system.

In his opening address, the Minister of Finance, Maki Simelum noted, “We need to make sure our national strategy addresses the statistical data and information needs at the national, regional and international levels.

“We need to look closely at our national policies which contain our development and make sure that we are able to measure progress towards the achievement of our development goals and aspirations. Our strategy has to be inclusive to help us to organise and prioritise our international and bilateral assistance programme for the statistics across all government ministries and departments.

“We need to extend our efforts beyond data collection and the publication of statistics to address issues related to the analysis and use of data, and build on all past and existing activities and experiences.”

Following the workshop, the stakeholders will continue to work on their vision for developing statistical capacity across the entire national statistical system, and what its outputs will be in five to ten years and the milestones along the way. The Vanuatu National Strategy for the Development of Statistics will provide the foundation of the effective and results-oriented strategic management of Vanuatu’s national statistical system.

Minister Simelum and Director of Statistics, Johnson, both acknowledged experts from PARIS 21 and Dr. Gerald Haberkorn from the Secretariat of the Pacific Community for coordinating the workshop.

Vanuatu Daily Post:

2) News Release

Secretariat of the Pacific Community
Noumea, New Caledonia

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Moses Amos Appointed Director Of SPC Fisheries Division

The Secretariat of the Pacific Community has appointed Moses Amos as director of SPC’s Fisheries, Aquaculture and Marine Ecosystems or FAME Division. He will take up this position in SPC’s management team on March 1, 2014.

Amos is a citizen of Vanuatu. He has a master’s degree in biological science from the University of Auckland and a bachelor’s degree in Zoology from Otago University, New Zealand.

Amos is fluent in English, Bislama, Melanesian Pidgin and has a working knowledge of French.

Amos is currently the director of the Department of Fisheries in Vanuatu, a position he has held over a period of 12 years from September 1997 to December 2006 and again from September 2010 till now. From January 2007 to March 2010, Amos was director of fisheries management at the Forum Fisheries Agency in Honiara.

Amos has worked both regionally and nationally and has a strong grasp of the economic, political and cultural dynamics of the region as well as the fisheries’ regional and country policies, infrastructure and programs.

He has a strong background in the development and management of fisheries policies and their implementation at both national and regional levels. He has a very strong grasp of the key issues in fisheries in particular as seen from the perspectives of SPC’s island members.

Amos’ previous role as a member of FFA’s management team will augur well in further strengthening the relationship between SPC and FFA in the fisheries sector which in turn will further strengthen the collective effort of both organizations to serve their mutual membership better.


3 ) American Samoa’s Newest Attorney General Appointed
Talauega Eleasalo Ale unanimously approved by Senate and House

By Joyetter Feagaimaalii-Luamanu

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, Jan. 28, 2014) – A former deputy attorney general for the Civil Division, Talauega Eleasalo Ale, is now American Samoa’s new Attorney General, after his nomination was officially endorsed by the Legislature, after two confirmation hearings Ñ one held last Friday by the House and the second held yesterday by the Senate.

The endorsement followed last Friday’s unanimous 19-0 vote by the House and yesterday’s unanimous 14-0 vote by the Senate. Talauega, 45, takes over the post from former attorney general, Afoa L.S. Lutu, who is now one of the three senators for Ma’oputasi county.

Talauega, who earned his law degree from Drake University in 1994, joined the Attorney General’s Office in August 2012, and later became the deputy attorney general overseeing the Civil Division. As the new attorney general, Talauega also heads the Department of Legal Affairs, which includes the Immigration Office.

House hearing

During the House hearing last Friday morning, Talauega said he believes the Immigration office should remain under the guidance of the Attorney General’s office because this was how our ancestors had it – and it should remain as it is.

He also pointed to American Samoa’s unique position of controlling its own “borders” and as such has “many immigration issues” involving local laws, which necessitate it being kept under the AG’s Office.

The hearing was held before the House Legal Affairs Committee, chaired by Rep. Florence Vaili Saulo. Questions on Immigration issues, separating the Immigration Office from under the AG’s office and electing the AG dominated the House hearing.

Rep Taotasi Archie Soliai asked the nominee about his view on having Immigration separated into its own department, instead of having it under the AG’s Office.

In response, Talauega stated, “It should remain under the AG’s office because, American Samoa is different from all the other territories and United States. We are the only territory who determines who can enter and exit our island and I believe that is because there are too many immigration issues involving our laws that this office should remain under the AG’s office.”

Taotasi told the nominee he should look into the GAO report, issued in 2010, where they conducted a risk assessment several years ago. “There are recommendations and deficiencies in this report, which are somewhat serious and should be looked into,” he said. The faipule noted the feds are also looking at the same report and with this assessment and what’s been happening recently Ñ the problems are getting worse, especially with foreign nationals entering the territory.

Vice Speaker I’aulualo Talia Fa’afetai asked Talauega about his views on the AG’s position becoming an elected position. Talauega noted it is an issue that should be debated among lawmakers prior to considering if it’s the right move.

Rep Vailoata Amituana’i told Talauega to be mindful of the fact there are numerous  immigration issues and there are countless Asians in the territory working on plantations, yet it’s unclear if they have valid immigration status. He urged Talauega to look into this serious matter and not take it lightly.

He said these foreign nationals are using American Samoa as a gateway to the U.S.A. and we have to protect our borders, every way we can.

Rep. Puleleiite Tufele Li’amatua Jr asked Talauega to share with the committee his mission for the betterment of the AG’s office. The nominee responded that his mission is to enforce current laws and there is a long list of needs for the AG’s office, which will be addressed at a later time.

Rep, Puletu Dick Koko then urged Talauega to have his immigration officers do physical training, because they are too heavy; and when they are chasing [illegal] foreign nationals they can barely catch them because they are too heavy. (Koko did not explain if he was a witness to this type of chase.)

Rep. Larry Sanitoa pointed out to Talauega that last year the Administration submitted a supplemental budget which included a partial payment to the Laufou court judgment, however to date it has yet to be paid. Talauega told the lawmakers he cannot discuss this case, but the matter is pending and a hearing for the appeal is slated for April.

Rep Toeaina Faufano Autele noted that there have not been any immigration officers visiting the Manu’a Islands, and said he’s certain there are foreign nationals in Manu’a at the moment.

Saulo urged Talauega to be keen on foreign nationals who have entered the territory and have taken over our businesses and noted they hire directly from their home country, “leaving our people to seek employment elsewhere.”

Senate hearing

Prior to yesterday’s vote, the Senate Judiciary Committee chaired by Sen. Soliai Tuipine Fuimaono held a confirmation hearing earlier in the day, where Talauega told senators in his opening remarks that he has returned home to serve the government and people of the territory.

While he is young in age, he said, with God’s guidance and the support of everyone, he will be able to continue his public service. The nominee said this is a very important appointment because this job Ñ attorney general Ñ is not only for the government but for the whole of American Samoa.

Sen. Laolagi F.S. Vaeao told his colleagues that Talauega’s resume is “very impressive” and the most “impressive” to him, as a senator, is the fact the nominee had served under the tenure of former attorneys general Fepule’ai Arthur Ripley and Afoa L.S. Lutu, gaining the knowledge, experience and wisdom to be the next attorney general.

Afoa shared with his colleagues that Talauega is a person who is humble and a great individual, and he learned this during the twelve months they worked together in the AG’s Office.

All senators who spoke during the hearing praised Talauega’s education and work background and commended him for choosing to return home to work in government. The governor was also thanked for selecting Talauega as the next attorney general.

Samoa News reporter Fili Sagapolutele contributed to this report

The Samoa News:


4) Plans For Major Marine Attraction On Saipan Announced
‘Sea Touch Saipan’ could inject $118 million into CNMI economy

By Moneth Deposa

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Jan. 30, 2014) – The company that owns the SandCastle at Hyatt Regency Saipan will be investing over $1 million to build a world-class visitor attraction off the coast of Saipan that will allow visitors to interact with marine creatures such as turtles, sharks, and manta rays.

The attraction, to be called “Sea Touch Saipan,” is projected to bring about $118 million in total direct economic impact to the Commonwealth and its economy, according to Sea Touch Saipan CEO and president Mark Baldyga yesterday.

The Commonwealth Development Authority (CDA) held a public hearing yesterday on the proposed business, which would specifically cater to interactive marine encounters.

Speaking to members of the public, Baldyga said that Sea Touch Saipan is proposed to be located in front of the Fiesta Resort & Spa Saipan in Garapan. The project location is about 140 feet from the shoreline.

The project will give visitors the opportunity to play with, swim, and learn from sea animals such as sharks and stingrays.

In the first three years of the business, Baldyga projects to accommodate from 60 to 120 visitors per day. This is on top of island residents who will also visit the attraction. He projects about 1,200 residents visiting Sea Touch Saipan per year, excluding school groups.

In its initial proposal, Baldyga targets to employ 25 personnel in the first three years of the business. This work pool is anticipated to grow.

In direct benefits, Baldyga forecasts the following benefits in the first few years of the business: $20 million in direct wages; $24 million in direct expenses; $2 million in lease payments; and $13 million in agents’ commissions.

This is $59 million in direct payments, or $118 million in total direct economic impact to the CNMI if one uses the standard 2.0 multiplier, according to Baldyga.

He said his business plan would have positive impacts on the island’s tourism industry, the job and trainings that would be created, the multi-million dollar investments and direct economic impact, as well as the contributions this could bring to the community at large.

Despite the “high risk” of such an investment, Baldyga said he is committed to build the brand new attraction as it would definitely excite tourists to return to Saipan. He cited exit surveys conducted among visitors that indicate that 79 percent say they want to see more attractions. He is convinced that Sea Touch Saipan would help convince these tourists to return and extend their stay on island.

Baldyga is also CEO of Baldyga Group, which owns the SandCastle. That business started in 2000 and was among the first firms granted the government’s qualified certificate program.

Valuable investment

CDA director Manuel Sablan described the proposed business plan as a “very valuable investment” for the CNMI.

CDA handles the government’s QC program, which provides eligible businesses tax rebates and incentives.

“This is the kind of investment that CDA is always in support of. Once terms and conditions are worked out for its QC, it will be ready to go,” Sablan told Saipan Tribune after yesterday’s public hearing at Multi-Purpose Center.

According to CDA QC analyst Carline Sablan, the agency has until March 1 to submit its recommendation to the governor, who is the ultimate decision-maker for the QC program.

Saipan Tribune learned that Sea Touch Saipan turned in its QC application in November last year.

Besides CDA officials, two other individuals expressed their support for the proposed business at yesterday’s public hearing.

According to Alex Sablan, president of the Saipan Chamber of Commerce, if there’s any business that must be granted QC benefits, Sea Touch Saipan deserves to get one. He said the new venture is “unique” to the CNMI and would positively impact the economy.

Tim Goodwin also expressed support for the company and its promise of a fun, exciting experience for everyone on island.

Saipan Tribune


5) Ol meri Bougainville itok oli no bungim Praim Minista O’Neill

Updated 30 January 2014, 19:54 AEST
Caroline Tiriman

Praim Minista blong Papua New Guinea, Peter O’Neil i pinisim pinis state visit oa wokabaut blong en igo long  Autonomous Region blong  Bougainville.

Na taem planti pipal long Island ibin hamamas long lukim Mr O’Neill, ol meri blong Bougainville i kros tru long wonem oli no bin askim ol long stap long ol seremoni oa long bungim Praim Minista.

Direkta blong Leitana Nehan Divelopman Ajensi long Bougainville, Helen Hakena itok ol man husat ibin redi-im wokabaut blong Praim Minista ibin lus tingting olgeta long ol meri.

Mrs Hakena itok tu olsem, Bougainville palaman igat tripla meri palaman memba, tasol nogat wanpla long ol tu ibin kisim luksave.

Emi sutim tok long ol lida man blong Bougainville na Papua New Guinea long giaman toktok olsem oli save luksave long ol meri.

Mrs Hakena itok, bai gutpla tru sopos ol despla lida blong tupla gavman i mekim sampla gutpla toktok long bikpla wok em ol meri ibin mekim long halvim long stopim bikpla fait long Bougainville.


6) L’opposition fidjienne accuse l’Indonésie d’ingérence et critique le Fer de lance

Posté à 30 January 2014, 8:42 AEST
Pierre Riant

Le Front uni pour la démocratie à Fidji affirme que l’ambassadeur sortant de l’Indonésie à Suva, Aidil Chandra Salim, a déclaré dans la presse que le gouvernement indonésien soutient inconditionnellement la candidature de Franck Bainimarama aux législatives prévues cette année.

Une allégation démentie dans un communiqué de l’ambassade indonésienne : « L’ambassadeur n’a jamais fait de déclaration en faveur de la candidature du Premier ministre fidjien aux prochaines élections de 2014. »

Nous avons contacté Mick Beddoes, le porte-parole du Front uni pour la démocratie à Fidji. M. Beddoes persiste et signe : « Il a été rapporté que l’ambassadeur sortant indonésien a, dans le Fiji Sun le 8 décembre dernier,  fait l’éloge de Franck. En fait, il a exhorté les électeurs fidjiens à voter en faveur d’un dirigeant fort et il aurait aussi déclaré que le gouvernement indonésien était entièrement derrière la candidature de Franck Bainimarama qui veut devenir le Premier ministre élu. »

Des propos que ne devrait pas tenir un ambassadeur, souligne Mick Beddoes : « Et bien ça se rapproche d’une ingérence dans les affaires intérieures d’un pays et ça contrevient aux normes du protocole diplomatique. »

Selon le Front uni pour la démocratie à Fidji, l’Indonésie serait prête à soutenir coûte que coûte l’architecte du coup d’État militaire de 2006 aux prochaines élections fidjiennes : « Et bien nous le pensons certainement et cela m’amène à la présumée solidarité du Groupe mélanésien Fer de lance. Et notamment sa position par rapport à la Papouasie occidentale.
Décision a été prise que le Fer de lance visite la Papouasie occidentale pour qu’ils évaluent eux-mêmes la situation. Et entre la prise de cette décision et la visite de la délégation, l’Indonésie a fait son travail de sape. Elle a commencé par contacter Franck mais je crois qu’ils ont aussi contacté le Premier ministre de Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée.
Sans oublier que l’Indonésie s’est débrouillée d’avoir un siège d’observateur au Fer de lance et se retrouve maintenant plus proche du Fer de lance alors que les Mélanésiens de Papouasie occidentale ne peuvent même pas entrouvrir la porte. »

Cette visite du Fer de lance n’a débouché sur rien de concret et a été boycottée par le Vanuatu.

Et, en cas de victoire aux élections,  quelle sera la position du Front uni pour la démocratie à Fidji sur la question de la Papouasie indonésienne, la partie ouest de l’île de Nouvelle-Guinée où un mouvement séparatiste revendique son indépendance : « La question de la Papouasie occidentale ne concerne pas que le Fer de lance, nous pensons qu’elle concerne tous les pays membres du Forum des îles du Pacifique, y compris l’Australie et la Nouvelle-Zélande qui devraient soutenir la Papouasie occidentale.
Le parcours de la Papouasie n’est pas différent de celui des pays du Pacifique qui ont obtenu leur indépendance des puissances coloniales. Même chose pour Fidji. Alors pourquoi ne sommes-nous pas plus sympathiques quant au sort des Papous de Papouasie occidentale ?»ésie-dingérence-et-critique-le-fer-de-lance/1256308

7) La première ophtalmologiste des îles Salomon tient parole

Posté à 30 January 2014, 8:47 AEST
Pierre Riant

Il aura fallu 10 ans à Nola Pikacha pour finir ses études de médecine et sa formation de spécialiste des yeux. Son objectif a toujours été ensuite de rentrer au pays pour soigner les siens et c’est ce qu’elle fait.

Nola Pikacha est à la tête d’une équipe spécialisée dans les opérations de la cataracte  et a commencé à travailler à la Fondation Fred Hollows pour aider des milliers de personnes : « C’est fabuleux d’être rentrée chez moi et d’être dans une clinique qui a également formé du personnel soignant aux soins et aux maladies des yeux parce que le plus gros de nos soins des yeux est accompli par ce personnel soignant. Donc d’avoir une équipe qualifiée va nous permettre d’améliorer la qualité des soins des yeux. »

L’une des difficultés est que de nombreux patients qui ont besoin d’une opération de la cataracte vivent dans des endroits reculés des îles Salomon. Alors, comment s’y prend-on ?

PIKACHA: « C’est vrai, la plupart de notre population, 80% de la population vivent en zone rurale à l’extérieur du milieu urbain. Il nous faut donc prendre l’avion et aussi le bateau pour arriver à la clinique locale. Et parfois les patients doivent aussi partir en camion ou en voiture de leur village pour rejoindre la clinique locale. »

Et quels sont les grands défis quand on apporte des soins dans ces régions reculées ?

PIKACHA : « L’accessibilité est un problème parce que nous sommes en face de toutes petites îles dans une vaste zone d’océan. Mais il y a aussi la sensibilisation, les informer qu’ils peuvent avoir accès à un traitement. Cette information est parfois absente et donc les gens ne viennent pas.
Mais il faut dire que ce programme est en place depuis 10 ans et que le bouche à oreille fonctionne maintenant. »

Problème de géographie donc, d’accessibilité, de circulation de l’information et aussi de logistique quand on ne peut pas toujours compter sur la ponctualité des petites liaisons aériennes intérieures.

Mais quand Nola Pikacha et son équipe arrive dans une zone rurale, combien de personnes peuvent être soignées, combien de personnes peuvent recouvrer la vue ?

PIKACHA : « La population diffèrent entre les différentes provinces et les différentes îles. Mais dans certaines régions nous pouvons faire jusqu’à 100 opérations en une fois et parfois nous devons nous rendre dans des régions plusieurs fois par an. Parfois nous rétablissons la vue d’une quarantaine de personnes, mais nous faisons d’autres opérations qui ne sont pas des opérations de la cataracte. »ère-ophtalmologiste-des-îles-salomon-tient-parole/1256310


8) Pacific Plan Review Calls For Rebalancing Of Pacific Forum
Authors reject alleged ‘bullying’ by Australia, New Zealand

By Jason Brown

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Jan. 28, 2014) – A review of the regional “Pacific Plan” has found too much is decided by officials, not enough by elected leaders.

Samoa’s role in the region has sometimes been attacked as that of a Pacific “poodle” under the colonial powers, Australia and New Zealand.

But now a recently released review of the regional Pacific Plan has rejected longstanding claims of “bullying” by bigger countries – not just for Samoa, but the entire region.

“Although this assertion was frequently put to the Review, and regularly appears in academic and media commentaries, the Review found little or no evidence of any Machiavellian donor influence on the agenda,” states the review panel, in their 131 page report.

Reference to Machiavelli, an Italian writer now famous for suggesting corrupt practice can be a reality of modern governance, highlights the depth of criticism made against New Zealand and Australia over the years.

Released last Friday, review authors admit there is a “perception” of undue influence from Australia and New Zealand.

However, the panelists state that perception comes from a problem facing most development organisations.

They say that much of the global development “agenda” is set by technical officials rather than elected leaders.

Referring to officials as “agents” the review authors state that, “The agents have all the power and knowledge, and – principally because of financing imperatives – also have the incentives to influence the agenda more than might be expected in an ideal principal–agent.”

They said that the question about continued membership in the Forum by Australia and New Zealand was raised “many times”.

“Most of those interviewed – particularly Leaders – supported their full participation,” they state.

“The arguments of those who were opposed to it were for the most part jingoistic or poorly informed.

“The consensus among the most sagacious of the Review’s interviewees was that the metropolitan countries have a uniquely important role to play in the Forum.

Their participation in any substantive future form of economic integration is critical.”

However the authors also recognized a need for a clearer role for the two main donors and their dual role as members.

There would be “benefits in distinguishing more clearly the conversations a ‘donor member’ country may wish to have as a member, from the conversations it may wish to have as a donor.

“The need to establish appropriate – more clearly disaggregated – platforms for each of those two different dialogues seems important to the Review, on both political and aid effectiveness grounds.”

Instead of cutting back on members like Australia and New Zealand, the review calls for a rebalancing of the forum to include more Pacific Island states, not just the self governing and independent nations.

And they also call on the case of Fiji, currently banned from the Forum for its many military coups, to be reconsidered, saying its exclusion works against the concept of regionalism.

“The importance for many stakeholders, the Review learned, is not in fact about contemporary political issues or governance, but relates to deeper societal values about ‘one ocean’, and to the vulnerabilities that emerge from a country – on whom several PICs depend absolutely – not being part of the regional dialogue,” wrote the authors.

Examples such as Fiji and a tendency to emphasise technical approaches over political aspirations means the Pacific Plan has lost its way, they say.

“Confidence in the Pacific Plan and the institutions around it has fallen to the point where the survival of the Plan itself is in doubt.

“Unless it, and the institutions and processes that support it, can be made much more effective, it will fade into irrelevance.”

Review authors state that focusing just on “development” issues restricts the Pacific Plan to a technical approach, without building a regional identity to achieve progress.

The Pacific Plan “is not simply a set of initiatives aimed at delivering more efficient and effective services.

“It needs to be recast as a project, grounded in a shared culture and approach to life, aimed at constructing a common polity.

“This is a political project that must be driven by Forum Leaders, and it is this that the current Plan and processes associated with it have lost sight of”, they state.

Led by a former prime minister of Papua New Guinea, Sir Mekere Morauta, the review makes 35 recommendations for future action.

Three leading recommendations are for quick action on labour mobility, sea bed mining and transport and communication.

The review calls for rapid expansion of the seasonal workers schemes in Australia and New Zealand; formation of a seabed mining group similar to the Nauru tuna agreement, and, perhaps most difficult, greater regionalism in transport and communication sectors.

Finally, the review calls for establishment of a Board for Pacific Regionalism, which includes representatives from civil society and private sector.

Samoa Observer:

8)  Pacific people need to bring back entrepreneurial spirit

By Online Editor
10:04 am GMT+12, 30/01/2014, New Zealand

Pacific Islanders need to rediscover their entrepreneurial spirit, says the new minister tasked with turning around their job and education prospects.

National MP Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga, who was sworn in as Pacific Island Affairs minister on Tuesday, says Pacific people often ran their own fishing and farming businesses but but tended to abandon their independent spirit when they migrated to New Zealand.

The Samoan high chief and first-ever National minister of Pacific descent said his main priorities in his new role were improving his fellow migrants’ employment rates and educational achievement.

He felt that the rebuild of Christchurch offered ample opportunities for trade jobs, but he also hoped that he could encourage Pacific New Zealanders to form their own businesses.

“I think we’ve got low rates of running our own business. The entrepreneurial spirit is there with Pacific people, I just believe that is yet to be tapped.

“Back in the Pacific we … have been able to exploit opportunities in the land and off the sea. Yet here we don’t participate in those sectors.”

He said that most migrants went straight into traditional working class jobs – like his father, who had worked as a taxi-driver and in a freezing works.

Lotu-Iiga’s belief that Pacific people should become more self-reliant also applied to preserving their native languages.

The Maungakiekie MP, who spoke Samoan, wanted to make sure that migrants held onto their first language but felt that this was the role of families, churches and wider communities.

The new minister felt that the state had an important role to play in providing high-quality education from a young age. One of his first goals was to improve Pacific participation rates in early childhood education – at 88 per cent, it was lower than Maori (92 per cent), Asian (96 per cent) and Pakeha (98 per cent).

Lotu-Iiga’s emphasis on self-reliance and improvement through education was strongly influenced by his own experience. His migrant story was one of “strong family, strong faith and education”.

His parents migrated from Apia in 1973, when he was aged three. The MP has spoken of sharing a three-bedroom house in Mangere with 16 people, and his father walking from Ponsonby to Parnell to save on his bus fare in order to afford lunch.

Lotu-Iiga “went from Decile 1 to Decile 10” by moving from Mangere Central Primary School to Auckland Grammar. He later became a lawyer and financial analyst in London before gaining an MBA at Cambridge University.

He later returned to New Zealand and was elected an Auckland City councillor in 2007 in Tamaki, before winning the Maungakiekie seat for the National Party in 2008. At the time of his election he thanked controversial right-wing political “trainer” Simon Lusk for his counsel, but said this week that he was no longer associated with him.

He has risen quickly to become a minister outside Cabinet, and will also take on the Associate Local Government role.



9) Vanuatu records 45 Dengue cases

By Online Editor
3:56 pm GMT+12, 30/01/2014, Vanuatu

Vanuatu’s Ministry of Health has revealed that there are currently 45 confirmed cases of dengue fever in the country.

Since declaring an outbreak of dengue fever in Vanuatu a week ago the current situation now sees 154 reported cases of which 45 are confirmed cases out of the 119 that were tested.

These were confirmed by laboratory (rapid test) at the Vila Central Hospital, the ministry of health reported.

Health authorities warned that dengue fever is not very common in Vanuatu, but outbreaks have occurred in the past.

A statement from the ministry said: “Dengue fever is not an endemic disease in Vanuatu which means the virus is not present in Vanuatu like malaria.

“If we have more than one case in Vanuatu we called this outbreak. It is believed that the disease must have been imported through other countries through people travelling to Vanuatu with the virus.

“Until now it is not known where it may have come from.

“However, outbreaks involving serotype-3 dengue virus are also currently affecting Fiji and French Polynesia. Occurrence of new cases is now closely monitored day by day in Port Vila and the main centres in the country.

“Dengue is a viral disease transmitted by a bite of an Aedes mosquito. The usual incubation period (from mosquito bite to date of onset of symptoms) ranges from 4 to 7 days. Dengue typically starts suddenly with high fever and headache, and can be accompanied by painful joints, muscle pain, pain behind the eyes, nausea and diarrhoea, and sometimes rash. Some patients have bleeding, for example from the gums or nose.

“Anyone with such symptoms should be examined in a clinic as soon as possible.

“Occasionally, dengue causes more serious disease including severe vomiting, abdominal pain, severe bleeding, or blood in the stool.

“Such cases of severe dengue need to be admitted to a hospital immediately because it can be life-threatening. Treatment of severe dengue cases is by administration of intravenous fluids: this can be life-saving.

“At the moment, the Ministry of Health has activated enhanced surveillance in health facilities and has strengthened case management capacity in the hospital.

“Additionally, the Outbreak Response Team is working closely with the Vila Central Hospital superintendent, laboratory, National Malaria & Vector Borne Disease Control staff and Shefa Health to monitor the situation and coordinate response”.

As of last week, the Ministry of Health has been asking the public to cooperate to health messages about the prevention and control of dengue and seek medical attention immediately should they fall ill.

The Ministry of Health is appealing to the government, private sectors, communities and families to begin organizing clean ups in premises and homes as prevention measures to the spread of dengue.

It is likely that the cases will continue to increase if the public fails to respond to preventive and control measures advices from the ministry of health.

The Ministry of Health says it needs the support and commitment of all during this period of outbreak.

Health authorities say they will continue to monitor the situation and inform the public about the dengue situation in the coming weeks.


10a )  Dengue red alert in Fiji

By Online Editor
2:03 pm GMT+12, 30/01/2014, Fiji

Fiji’s Health Ministry has used almost 75 per cent of its 2014 budget allocated to combat dengue fever outbreak in the country.

And it stated that the 1422 lab confirmed cases are the highest ever on record with one suspected death since October 30 last year

The ministry’s national communicable diseases adviser, Dr Mike Kama, said of the $97,000 (US$51,100) allocated to fight dengue, three quarters of the budget had been used and the outbreak was now a burden on the ministry.

“The ministry tends to absorb this into its costs so early into the year. It’s absorbed into the cost of clinical care and for public health interventions. So the money is shifted in order for it to be able to resolve this situation,” Dr Kama said.

He said a lot of the money had been used for clean-up campaigns, awareness activities and for restocking drugs in hospitals for patient care.

Dr Kama said the suspected dengue-related death was from the Central Division, where the patient died while being transferred to the CWM Hospital.

“This basically has not been formalised. Otherwise there have been two other suspected deaths but that has been ruled out due to other causes,” he said.

He said out of the 1422 cases, the Central Division recorded 1203 cases, 165 cases in the Western Division and 54 cases in the Northern Division.

“The cases continue to rise – it hasn’t let off any bit from when we had last provided an update.

“We here in Fiji haven’t seen it to be so high. That’s why the concern is there.

“The bottom line is that this is the fight against mosquitoes because mosquitoes are the transmitting vector.”

He said the only way communities could assist themselves was by destroying mosquito breeding grounds and use repellents all the time.

“Safe use of mosquito coils, nets and air-condition chases the mosquitoes away.”.


10b) Fiji President assures funding for antiretroviral drugs, 493 cases of HIV/AIDS

By Online Editor
10:06 am GMT+12, 30/01/2014, Fiji

Fiji’s President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau has assured that government will continue to fund antiretroviral treatment for those living with HIV/AIDS if international funding ceases.

Speaking to students in Labasa this week, Ratu Epeli said if international funding ceased, he would hold government responsible to the funding of the treatment.

He said in 2009, international funding of about $US4million ($F7.52m) dropped to $US2.5m ($4.7m) in 2009.

“Government’s contribution of 20 per cent totalled $250,000 and you can still see that funding from international sources made up the bulk.

“After all, government has moral obligations for the wealth and wellbeing of its citizens and as President, I will hold government to that responsibility.

“It has been commented by some in certain quarters that the international funding is of grave concern because it is not clear whether government can fill the gap if and when the international funding ceases,” Ratu Epeli said.

Meanwhile, of the 493 people living with HIV/AIDS registered in the past four years in Fiji, 85 per cent contracted the disease through heterosexual sex while 2.5 per cent were transmitted through male to male sex.

President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau said a further 0.2 per cent of the total contracted the disease through the use of needles while 5.5 per cent were through prenatal transmission or vertical transmission.

He said within the first quarter of 2013, 11 new cases were reported taking the cumulative total of people living with the disease around the country to 493.

“A recent study of the observed rates available from 1989 to 2011 that was extrapolated to 2020 and the expected cases calculated using the UN population projections for Fiji reveal that the HIV epidemic is still in the exponential growth phase and is not showing any signs of leveling off,” he said.

Ratu Epeli said the Oceanic region recorded 63 cases of HIV transmission between mother and child — also known as vertical transmission — in the past four years.



11) Alarm at drop in school grades in PNG

By Online Editor
1:55 pm GMT+12, 30/01/2014, Papua New Guinea

The quality of Grade 12 leavers coming out of secondary schools in Papua New Guinea continues to drop each year, Divine Word University must president Father Jan Czuba says.

Czuba said that was why the university had to step up to ensure the weaknesses of the students it enrolled were addressed for the good of the country. Czuba revealed that when opening the university’s staff induction week at the Madang campus yesterday in preparation for the start of the new academic year next week.

He said selectors from the university and other institutions of higher education were once again appalled to find large numbers of Grade 12 leavers in 2013 applying for tertiary studies had poor grades.

Czuba, the chairman of the Papua New Guinea Vice Chancellors Committee, said the situation was not getting better and the DWU had a moral obligation to the nation to help in addressing it.

He said the reasons for the dire situation were many and included the recently aborted Outcomes-Based Education (OBE) system and socio-economic problems.

Czuba urged his staff to pay extra attention to the welfare of the students coming to enrol there.

He warned deans, heads of departments and lecturers not be complacent and ensure students attended lectures, carried out assigned tasks and behaved at all times.

He said it was irresponsible for academics not to be concerned about students who did not attend classes or submit assignments and tasks.

He said it was not good enough for DWU staff to view a student as an adult who knew the right things to do “because the reality is different”. “We can’t say it is up to the students to behave and meet academic requirements. It is our responsibility to assist them because they are coming with weaknesses from their secondary schools and communities,” he said.

“We are morally obliged to ensure students are properly groomed and educated at DWU.”

He said students were not “clients” but were part of the university community and all staff
must ensure their welfare was prioritised.

Czuba said on a macro level to address quality issues, the Office of Higher Education had recently assigned DWU to lead the bachelor of primary education programmes, while the University of Goroka would take charge of secondary teacher education programmes.

He said DWU considered that the OHE had given it an important responsibility and university was committed to delivering high quality primary teacher education where graduates could become better primary teachers.

Czuba said to help in the delivery of quality primary teacher education programmes, the OLSH Kabaleo Teachers College in East

New Britain was now an amalgamated campus of DWU and joined St Benedict’s in Wewak, while Holy Trinity Teachers College in Mt Hagen planned to do so in the near future.



12) Activists tell EU of Papua abuses

By Online Editor
2:00 pm GMT+12, 30/01/2014, Belgium

In a move that will irk officials in Jakarta, a group of activists have spoken about the human rights situation in the West Papua and Papua provinces at the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights.

Three activists, two of whom are Indonesian, were guest speakers at the committee’s hearing from Wednesday to Thursday in Brussels, Belgium.

The activists are Zely Ariane from Jakarta-based National Papua Solidarity (Napas), Victor Mambor from the Jayapura chapter of the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) and Norman Voss from German-based International Coalition for Papua (ICP).

Representing the Indonesian government was Indonesian Ambassador to Belgium, Luxembourg and the European Union Arif Havas Oegroseno.

In the hearing, video footage of which can be viewed at; the activists raised concerns about the unresolved human rights cases in Papua and the limited access of foreign journalists and NGOs to Indonesia’s easternmost region.

“There are still double standards in Papua and other parts of Indonesia when it comes to media freedom and the application of the Press Law,” Mambor told the hearing.

In his written statement to the forum, which was made available to The Jakarta Post, he said that AJI had documented 22 cases of threats and violence against journalists in Papua in 2013 alone.

Zely, meanwhile, told the hearing that “the Indonesian government should admit that the state of the human rights situation in Papua is serious”. She called on the EU to put pressure on the government to uphold their commitment to a dialogue with Papua.

Norman called for the release of all political prisoners in Papua and reminded the committee of the long outstanding visit of UN human rights mechanisms to Papua. “Papua needs to be opened up and international human rights norms be realized for Papuans. A peaceful and sustainable change cannot be expected in a climate of fear and repression of political dissent,” he said.

“We came [to the hearing] to explain our version of what is actually happening in Papua and ask for support from the EU Parliament to help uphold justice and peace in Papua,” Zely told the Post upon leaving for Brussels.

“We hope that our presentation will encourage the EU Parliament to endorse calls for the Indonesian government, as well as lawmakers, to actually protect and uphold the rights of Papuans, as well as to ideally implement a peaceful dialogue between Indonesia and Papua,” she added.

In a 16-page dossier submitted by the activists to the committee, activists also criticized the restricted access slapped on foreign diplomats who attempted to assess the situation in Papua, citing the recent closed visit of foreign ministers from Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) member nations as an example.

“After the MSG — a regional body of Melanesian nations who support the human situation in Papua — decided to visit Papua to meet with civil society representatives, the Indonesian authorities only prepared a tour to industry and trade related projects. As a result of this access restriction, Vanuatu withdrew from the visit as it felt the ‘pre-arranged’ tour would not meet the purpose,” the dossier says.

This particular incident also highlights similar restricted practices implemented for other foreign agencies, including those that deal with humanitarian and development cooperation.

Arif, according to the recorded footage, rejected the activists’ claim that the situation had not changed in Papua. He emphasized that the government’s policy of decentralization and special autonomy for Papua had boosted development there.


13) ) NZ $6.3m aid plan for West Papua under fire

By Online Editor
2:01 pm GMT+12, 30/01/2014, New Zealand

A New Zealand police training project about to start in the troubled Indonesian territory of West Papua this year has been described by Papuans as “the same as sending money to kill us”.

Police began training their Indonesian counterparts in 2009 in a pilot scheme.

Last October, Foreign Minister Murray McCully extended the project to a $6.34 million, three-year-long commitment.

“This is an excellent opportunity for New Zealand to contribute to Indonesia’s peace and prosperity by improving professional community policing,” he said.

But some Papuan lawyers, church leaders, human rights workers and journalists say local police actions have worsened since New Zealand’s involvement, with Indonesia using it as a front to appease Western powers.

Interviews were collected over eight days in West Papua in July 2013 by journalist and academic Paul Bensemann. Because the Indonesian province restricts foreign reporters, he posed as a bird-watcher to gain access to 22 Papuan leaders and alleged victims of violence.

Prominent human rights leader Yosepha Alomang said that until 2011 the Indonesian military was responsible for most killings. “Now it is the police doing this. You [New Zealand] send aid money to them. It is the same as sending money to kill us.”

Activist Paul Mambrasar said Indonesia was “using double standards in its policing”.

The Indonesian Embassy in Wellington described the claims made to Bensemann as “a collection of negative opinions by sources that are mostly unreliable”.


13) Indonesia To Revise Autonomy Laws For Papua, West Papua
Government hopes to improve various sectors, quell separatists

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Jan. 29, 2014) – The Indonesian government says it is finalising the draft revision to the 2001 Papua Special Autonomy Law for the resource-rich provinces of Papua and West Papua.

Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and senior ministers met this week with Papua Governor Lukas Enembe and West Papua Governor Abraham Atururi, as well as regional representatives, on the draft.

The Jakarta Post reports that Papuan officials submitted a report on recent political and economic developments in the two provinces.

Jakarta says the review of the law would yield improvements to the forestry, maritime, energy and transportation sectors.

But it says it also intends to firmly quell armed separatist movements in Papua.

Meanwhile, one of the Papuan activists who addressed last week’s European Parliament hearing on Human Rights regarding Papua region, Zely Ariane, says the revised autonomy package won’t improve the welfare of Papuans.

He says it would follow the same path as the existing law, which is considered to have failed to improve the welfare of indigenous Papuans.

Radio New Zealand International:

14)  Vanuatu Public prosecutor resigns

By Online Editor
4:04 pm GMT+12, 30/01/2014, Vanuatu

Vanuatu Public Prosecutor Kayleen Tavoa has resigned.

Several complaints and allegations against Tavoa were formally conveyed to her in writing on 03 December, 2013.

A Committee of Inquiry  (CoI) was set up to investigate whether there were proven grounds to substantiate her removal as Public Prosecutor pursuant to section  18 of the Public Prosecutor’s  Act; and also to report to the  Judicial Services Commission on the committee’s findings, opinions or recommendations.

Consequently a preliminary conference with Tavoa and her legal counsel occurred on 06 December 2013 where the Public Prosecutor was asked whether she wished to dispute the complaints or to resign.

In a conference two days later her legal counsel, John Timakata confirmed Tavoa had elected to tender her resignation to the President.

Since the CoI’s terms of  reference were to determine whether or not there were established grounds for the  Judicial Services Commission to recommend the removal of   Tavoa, the CoI deemed  her resignation removed the need to advance the complaints.

Pursuant to section 16 [CAP 293] of the Public  Prosecutor’s Act, Tavoa  duly informed the Head of  State, president Iolu Johnson  Abbil of her decision to relinquish the position.

She advised that the Judicial Services Commission has been notified of her decision.

The letter to the Head of State was dated December  9, 2013 and stamped as  received on January 22, 2014.

As of December 9, 2013  Tavoa stated she will be on leave, due to outstanding  leave owed.


15) Vanuatu Capital Investment Immigration Program Approved
PM Carcasses signs off on controversial government scheme

By Bob Makin

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Jan. 29, 2014) – Prime Minister Moana Carcasses has signed into existence the Vanuatu government’s Capital Investment Immigration Programme (CIIP), it was announced over the weekend. This was said to mean that the Task Force can begin to make the programme work.

The CIIP has been criticised by members of the public, largely for the possible impact it will have on immigration to Vanuatu, to which the government has responded with a small number of ‘awareness’ meetings and press reports.

While the ultimate dual citizenship eligibility provisions are not greatly-debated, there has generally been acceptance of the possibility of having ‘blackbirded’ ni-Vanuatu return to this country and regain citizenship as investors.

At the signing, PM Carcasses congratulated his Finance Minister Maki Silelum, the president of Shefa province, the head of the CIIP Task Force and its members on their work for the CIIP.

The prime minister said it is “important that Vanuatu gives power to the organisation VRS which is our representative overseas.”

He acknowledged the programme was “quite ambitious” and counseled those involved to use the revenue wisely, beginning with paying off certain ongoing government debts.

Income should then go to projects which can generate income for government through the Ministerial Budget Committee (MBC).

Mindful of criticism of the Custom Owners’ Trust Account for lands, the PM mentioned one for CIIP revenue.

“At one stage, there was to be a trust account,” Prime Minister Carcasses stated. But he added he totally disagreed with the plans: revenue should be accounted for through the MBC, Council of Ministers and finally Parliament, the PM observed.

Immigration complaints have most recently concentrated on the Asian labour being employed in the building industry. The Daily Post reported last week that ni-Vanuatu builders’ labourers are finding it difficult to obtain work, because Asian investors are importing DIY (do-it-yourself) containers of ready-made buildings to be installed and their own Asian wantoks are then needed to read the instructions.

Vanuatu Daily Post:

14 ) Australia to restore full diplomatic relations with Fiji

By Online Editor
10:09 am GMT+12, 30/01/2014, Fiji

Australia has taken a major step to normalise relations with Fiji.

After eight years, the High Commission in Suva last night marked Australia Day and invited the President of Fiji and well as members of the Bainimarama government.

Acting Australian high Commissioner Glenn Miles confirmed that Canberra is restoring full diplomatic ties with Fiji.

“This is the first Australia Day we have celebrated here in Fiji since 2006, but I expect all of you will agree that eight years is too long between countries that have such rich and close histories, such as our own and that is why tonight is so important. Australia’s foreign minister Ms Julie Bishop has made it clear – enhance engagement with Fiji as it moves towards elections in 2014 is a key priority for us. And this event reflects Australia’s commitment to work with Fijians to restore and re-build relationships.”

The gathering at the Diplomatic missions last night, may well be the first public engagement between the diplomatic mission, Fiji’s Head of State and cabinet ministers.

However, behind the scenes, there’s been a lot going on.

“In consultation with the government we are working with other donors to support the Fiji Elections office as it prepares for elections later this year. Just over 18 months ago we assisted the Elections Office with its Electronic Voter Registration program and since then we have continued to provide support.”

Inviting the Fiji Government to the Australia Day celebrations Wednesday night is a major step towards bridging the divide that has existed between the two nations – since 2006. As a sign of things to come – it’s positive indication of Fiji and Australia becoming close friends as they used to be.


15) Double purpose to Fiji govt official’s Wellington visit, says Fiji academic

By Online Editor
4:06 pm GMT+12, 30/01/2014, New Zealand

An academic says Fiji will be hoping to get ideas for a leaner, more efficient public service from New Zealand following the visit of a top regime official to Wellington this week.

Fiji’s newly appointed Ambassador-at-Large, Brigadier-General Iowane Naivalurua, has spent five days meeting officials from New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the State Services Commission.

Dr Steven Ratuva says the Bainimarama government has identified Brigadier-General Naivalurua as the right person to lead reforms as he has been successful bringing in change while head of Fiji’s prison service and police.

But he says the Fiji-New Zealand government link-up has another purpose.

“Behind the reform agenda is really the bigger political notion of trying to re-engage and there’s a chance for them to engage deeper not only in relation to public service reform but more so in the political and diplomatic relationship.


16) Rabuka puts his hand up for SODELPA leader

By Online Editor
1:52 pm GMT+12, 30/01/2014, Fiji

By Rosi Doviverata

Fiji’s first coup leader and then elected prime minister, Sitiveni Rabuka, says he is prepared to lead the Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) in the general election this year, if given the opportunity.

He has confirmed that he has sent his application for both party leader and as a candidate.

“I still have a lot to contribute to Fiji,” said the 64-year-old politician.

His application comes at an opportune time as the party is struggling to find a suitable leader.

Rabuka said he had the support of the people of Cakaudrove along with the blessing of the Tui Cakau, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu.

He remains adamant that the May 14, 1987 coup was something he had to do and has no regrets about it.
Now that he has made his stand known, he says he has a very clear conscience going into the elections.
Following are excerpts from an interview:


“I want to go with SODELPA because most of the people who were with me in the Soqosoqo Vakavulewa ni Taukei (SVT), they supported Qarase’s policies in keeping with SVT’s policies for Fiji, although we differed in some of the areas like Fijian Holding – they were basically the same for the development of Fiji.”


“I still have some support in Cakaudrove and I had indicated to the Turaga Bale Tui Cakau that I’ll be willing to stand for elections again, just to make sure that we still have a voice in the administration of our nation,” Rabuka said.
“He welcomed it and I don’t know whether he will want to run but which-ever way it goes, we have enough support in Cakaudrove to carry the both of us and even more – if he wanted to stand.”


Rabuka said if given the opportunity to lead SODELPA he would make sure the party came first.

“I don’t want to break up the party for my candidature for the leadership – because the party is more important than any single member.

“I’d rather have the party consolidated and contribute, rather than leading and having the party disintegrate.”


“I just want to prove that I still have a lot to contribute to the leadership of the nation as part of a team or as a leader- whichever way it turns out, I will be prepared to run.

“I still have a lot to contribute. I owe a lot to this country and I want to continue to contribute,” he said.


“Not necessarily, too many people were hurt but the subsequent coups have put everybody in a coup spot. Those who did not favour my coup or Speight’s coup jumped on the bandwagon with Frank so we are now all even.”


“No, I had to do what I had to do in 1987,” he said.

Speaking figuratively with a smile, Rabuka said: “You know, I’ve just come back from the garden. In order to get it cleared, you kill the grass.”

He retorted when pushed for answers regarding the 1987 coup:

“I’d rather not go back on that ground. What has been done, has been done, no matter who was in the background, who said what and for what.

“I was the one who pulled the trigger so to speak, and I had to answer for it and face the world with it – that’s the way I want history to remember.

“I have a very clear conscience going into this,” he said.


“I like some of the things that are happening, like what we have doing in terms of development. I’m just worried about how we are going to pay for it. And we have paid for everything that we have received, we the people of Fiji have paid for it and will continue to pay.”

Rabuka said that was the way governments operated.

“It is when you show the people the debt burden that they will be carrying and the future generations will be carrying that they will look for alternatives to lighten the burden and we’d like to make the people responsible for what they get and what they do. So it’s a symbiotic relationship between the leaders and the land.”


“I don’t think so, I think the country has gone back, there is a general feeling of gloom – perhaps only because they have not had a say on where their tax money has gone,” he said.

“The big United States of America was started because people said no taxation without representation. When they did not have any voice in the allocation and the utilisation of the taxes they paid – they said that was not right.”


With a big chunk of voters under the youth category, Rabuka said parties who wanted to draw their votes must focus on opportunities.

“A lot of first time voters will focus on opportunities. Which group will provide the opportunities for them,” he said

“Give them something they will be proud of – their character.  We don’t want any future generations of parasites.

“We want people to work for what they get and not just wait for handouts. I believe that whoever will come into leadership must provide for hand-up and not hand-outs.”

He said the free education implemented by the Bainimarama government is a hand-out.

“It takes away the responsibility of rearing a child from the parents and they have very little to claim, apart from the biological factor,” Rabuka said.


He said if selected he would focus his campaign efforts in the North and Suva.

“Suva is always a good think tank because of the people here, so it’s a good combination.

“People in Cakaudrove may have needs that may be different from the people in Suva but it gives you an indication of the rural people, sea transportation, copra industry and local cottage industries.”


After more than 10 years away from politics Rabuka said he had learnt some great lessons along the way.

“That you will die some day and that you can only contribute so much. When the time for you to go comes, you go. But until then, you contribute as much as you can.”.


17) Nauruan government drafting law to impose emergency rule

Updated 30 January 2014, 23:53 AEST
By Jeff Waters, staff

Nauru’s government is in the process of drafting a law to impose emergency rule in the Pacific island nation with the assistance of lawyers from Fiji.

The Nauruan government is in the process of drafting a law to impose emergency rule in the Pacific island nation with the assistance of lawyers from Fiji.

The ABC understands two Fijian lawyers have been helping Nauru draft an emergency order, which would give the government greater powers allowing it to sack its Australian-based chief justice Geoffrey Eames.

The Fijian government took similar action in 2009 against its judges for making rulings it did not agree with.

Justice Eames has been in Melbourne since Nauru cancelled his visa more than a week ago.

Melbourne lawyer Andrew Jacobson has been running Nauru’s court system since it deported its chief magistrate Peter Law and exiled Justice Eames last week.

The Law Council of Australia and the Australian Bar Association have condemned the situation in Nauru as a breakdown of its rule of law.

Victoria’s Legal Services Commissioner Michael McGarvie is bound by law not to talk about specific cases, but says a lawyer’s licence can be cancelled if they disrespect overseas laws.

“The conduct of all licensed practitioners has to meet a particular standard,” he said.

Mr Jacobson says he is the only member of the judiciary present to uphold the rule of law, and he would be happy to take advice from any past or present Nauruan judge or magistrate.

Rule of law ‘fundamental’ to both Australia and Nauru

Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has said in a statement the Australian Government “acknowledges decisions about visas and appointments are matters for the Nauru government”.

However, it is a “serious concern” to Australia “if there has been an abuse of legal process in this matter…given the commitment of both the Australian and Nauru governments to the rule of law as a key democratic and human rights value”, the statement added.

An opposition politician in Nauru has called on the Australian Government to make a public stand about the judicial crisis in his country.

Nauru opposition MP Roland Kun says Australia has significant interests on the island with its asylum seeker deal, and needs to make it clear if it supports the Nauru government’s actions.

“The Government of Australia should be demanding that the Nauru government restore rule of law if the Australian Government is to maintain its interests on the island,” Mr Kun said.

“It is not out of the question for the Australian Government to seek for the Nauru government to restore rule of law on the island and to demonstrate how they are going to do that.

“I do believe that a strong public position will be more beneficial for everyone.”

Mr Kun says Australia could use its leverage to back the rule of law in his country.

“The Nauruan government will be put under pressure by the Nauruan population if the Nauruan population becomes aware that the Nauru-Australia relationship might be put under stress by the lack of rule of law on the islands,” he said.

18) Review rejects bully claims

Samoa Observer
Thursday, January 30, 2014

APIA – Samoa’s role in the region has sometimes been attacked as that of a Pacific “poodle” under the colonial powers, Australia and New Zealand.

But now a recently released review of the regional Pacific Plan has rejected longstanding claims of “bullying” by bigger countries — not just for Samoa, but the entire region.

“Although this assertion was frequently put to the review, and regularly appears in academic and media commentaries, the review found little or no evidence of any Machiavellian donor influence on the agenda,” states the review panel, in their 131 page report.

Reference to Machiavelli, an Italian writer now famous for suggesting corrupt practice can be a reality of modern governance, highlights the depth of criticism made against New Zealand and Australia over the years.

Released last Friday, review authors admit there is a “perception” of undue influence from Australia and New Zealand.

However, the panelists state that perception comes from a problem facing most development organisations.

They say that much of the global development “agenda” is set by technical officials rather than elected leaders.

Referring to officials as “agents” the review authors state that, “the agents have all the power and knowledge, and — principally because of financing imperatives — also have the incentives to influence the agenda more than might be expected in an ideal principal-agent.”

They said the question about continued membership in the Forum by Australia and New Zealand was raised “many times”.

“Most of those interviewed — particularly Leaders — supported their full participation,” they state.

“The arguments of those who were opposed to it were for the most part jingoistic or poorly informed.

“The consensus among the most sagacious of the review’s interviewees was that the metropolitan countries have a uniquely important role to play in the Forum.

“Their participation in any substantive future form of economic integration is critical.”

However the authors also recognised a need for a clearer role for the two main donors and their dual role as members.

There would be “benefits in distinguishing more clearly the conversations a ‘donor member’ country may wish to have as a member, from the conversations it may wish to have as a donor.

“The need to establish appropriate — more clearly disaggregated — platforms for each of those two different dialogues seems important to the review, on both political and aid effectiveness grounds.”

Instead of cutting back on members like Australia and New Zealand, the review calls for a rebalancing of the forum to include more Pacific Island states, not just the self governing and independent nations.

And they also call on the case of Fiji, currently banned from the Forum for its many military coups, to be reconsidered, saying its exclusion works against the concept of regionalism.


19)  Papua New Guinea: NGOs pledge to battle family and sexual violence epidemic

Support clinics, safe houses and education initiatives established to support victims across the country in attempt to curb violence

·       Helen Davidson

·, Wednesday 29 January 2014 15.14 AEST

Papua New Guinea woman Mary tells Amnesty International how she was
attacked and accused of witchcraft after the death of a child in her
village in PNG’s highlands region

Moves are already under way to address the epidemic of violence in Papua New Guinea, two months after an unprecedented commitment to establish support clinics and safe houses for victims across the country.

At a Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) conference held Port Moresby last November, NGOs and representatives from 11 of the country’s 20 provinces committed to a network of support services to address what is considered among the highest rates of family and sexual violence in the world.

Work began almost immediately, with MSF providing short-term help to a family support centre at Maprik hospital.

“That’s given us a direct, hands-on sense of how things are developing there and that was one of the provinces that was at the conference,” said MSF head of mission, Paul Brockmann, who added that patient numbers were increasing with local awareness of services.

John Ericho, director of Eastern Highlands province NGO Family Voice, told Guardian Australia levels of awareness of violence issues were rising in his region, where sorcery beliefs were still influential. The organisation runs counselling referral and education programs.

“We go through the whole district visiting villages, churches and schools to raise awareness of family and sexual violence issues so people can help reduce the violence and work towards a solution and make their communities safe,” Ericho told Guardian Australia.

“Their eyes are opened and they say [they] never knew that these services were available,” he said.

“They did not know the police have the sexual offences section or the hospital has a section to deal with domestic violence issues.”

Family Voice will this week present a report to the PNG government on the results of the advice it received after its conference presentation on ending violence sparked by claims and accusations of sorcery.

“We need to define the issues very clearly before we can draft up legislation to address any of this. [Sorcery] is a culturally embedded issue and it’s not that easy to eliminate,” he said.

“It’s education. I am educated to a PhD level and I still believe in [sorcery]. So it’s not an easy thing to eliminate.

“People suspect sorcerers and they go after them and kill them – that’s only one part of it.

“Who made the initial allegation? Who was the first person to say, we’ll go and kill that person?”

Highlands resident Mary was attacked at her home by a gang of young men wielding machetes after a baby died in their village and locals suspected witchcraft. Mary was accused of killing the child.

“They came with bush knives, and they cut me,” she told Amnesty International.

“All seven boys had bush knives in their hand. I wanted to cry out but the blood was streaming down my face. Another boy attacked me from behind.”

Mary’s husband intervened and they fled the community.

“We have many children and in our village we had land for them to live on,” he said.

“But we escaped and cannot go back. Our lives would be at risk. Now we are struggling to provide for our children.”

Violence is still an enormous problem in PNG, with rates of physical and sexual abuse estimated to be among the highest in the world, but awareness campaigns are having an impact.

“People are now knowing about their rights and many people are learning to advocate and lobby,” Ruby Matane, chairperson of the East New Britain province branch of the Family and Sexual Violence Action Committee (FSVAC) told Guardian Australia.

“Many people are informed and many people are being reported because of the awareness that is being carried out.”

After the MSF conference, Matane used her position on the board of the district Nonga general hospital to secure an agreement in December for a family support clinic, funded by the hospital.

“The first quarter of this year we will have one of these wards renovated for it,” Matane told Guardian Australia.

The FSVAC has also pledged to increase the skills of local responders through training workshops, and to have four safe houses for victims of family and sexual violence built by 2017.

“Currently we don’t have any. I’m networking with all the previous community advocates that we trained and telling them so they can build small safe houses in their communities and it will be ready for us to have these district shelters,” she said.

MSF’s Brockmann said these advances were all encouraging so soon after the conference.

“I think it’s really the provincial level that’s most critical here,” he said.

“There may be some needs for funding and things but what I’ve heard from the national department of health is that generally the money is there, and it’s a matter of provinces implementing.”


20/21) Nauru ‘effectively a dictatorship’, says deported Australian Rod Henshaw

By Online Editor
1:59 pm GMT+12, 30/01/2014, Nauru

Nauru’s former director of media says the Australian Government should be worried about the state of law in the Pacific nation.

Rod Henshaw says the country is now effectively a dictatorship run by the Nauruan Justice Minister, David Adeang.

Henshaw, who was the director of media in Nauru, arrived back in Australia on Wednesday after being ordered to leave the Pacific island nation.

Henshaw says he’s yet to hear an official explanation for his sudden deportation.

“There is no reason, no reason at all,” he said.

“You don’t need a reason these days. We are living in a dictatorship unfortunately. I feel very sorry for Nauru.”

Nauru’s Home Affairs Minister Charmaine Scotty said  Henshaw was one of a number of Australians including the resident magistrate and the chief justice who were undermining the Nauruan Government.

Resident magistrate Peter Law was deported last week for granting an injunction staying Henshaw’s deportation.

The government has now passed a law giving the justice minister power to deport anyone without recourse to the courts.

Henshaw says Adeang is effectively in charge of Nauru and the Australian Government should be worried about the state of law in a country that hosts one of Australia’s asylum seeker processing centres.

“Forget me – what about the asylum seekers who will need the protection of the courts or certainly will have to be dealt with in some cases with the rioters from last July?” Henshaw said.

“They don’t have a proper judicial system now. It presents a whole raft of problems which are not going to be solved easily.”

Henshaw says he believes the Australian Government is working behind the scenes to express its concern.

En route to the airport, Nauru police allowed Henshaw to visit the cemetery where his wife, who died eight weeks ago, was buried.


22) Australian Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste’s case referred to Egyptian criminal court

Updated 30 January 2014, 11:06 AEST

By Middle East correspondent Hayden Cooper, wires

Australian journalist Peter Greste is to face trial in Egypt on charges of aiding members of a terrorist organisation, the country’s public prosecutor says.

Australian journalist Peter Greste is to face trial in Egypt on charges of aiding members of a terrorist organisation, the country’s public prosecutor says.

The 48-year-old award-winning Al Jazeera reporter was arrested in a Cairo hotel along with colleagues Mohamed Adel Fahmy and Baher Mohamed on December 29.

Cameraman Mohamed Fawzi was also arrested but has since been released.

Egypt’s authorities have now issued a press release saying the three have been directed to face trial in the country’s criminal court system, along with 17 others, including four foreigners.

Al Jazeera says it only knows of five of its employees in Egyptian prisons.

Greste, who has been held in an Egyptian prison for a month, and his colleagues are accused of trying to tarnish Egypt’s image by broadcasting false information.

The trio had been reporting on the political turmoil in Egypt when they were taken into custody and accused of holding illegal meetings with members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.

The prosecutor says Greste and the three other foreign reporters – two Britons and a Dutch national – are accused of “collaborating with the Egyptians by providing them with money, equipment, information… and airing false news aimed at informing the outside world that the country was witnessing a civil war”.

The 16 Egyptians in the group have been charged with belonging to a “terrorist organisation… and harming national unity and social peace,” the prosecution said.

Of the 20, only eight are in detention, while others are being sought by authorities.

Authorities had previously accused the Al Jazeera crew of having links with the Muslim Brotherhood, which has been blacklisted by the military-installed authorities as a terrorist group.

The blacklisting move is part of a deadly government crackdown on the Brotherhood since the July ouster of president Mohamed Morsi, who hails from the movement.

The law makes it illegal to promote the group either verbally or in writing and the crime is punishable by lengthy prison sentences.

Egyptian authorities have been incensed by Al Jazeera’s coverage of their crackdown on the Brotherhood.

International pressure grows for journalists’ release

The development in the high-profile case comes shortly after a group of international media organisations – including Al Jazeera, London’s Daily Telegraph, Sky News and the BBC – gathered in London to join calls for the release of the journalists.

Amnesty International secretary general Salil Shetty earlier appeared on Al Jazeera to demand the release of the journalists.

“Unfortunately what’s happened with the Al Jazeera journalists is part of an overall attempt to repress freedom of expression, so we have been raising our voice,” Mr Shetty said.

In a letter which was smuggled out of Cairo’s Tora prison and made public at the weekend, Greste said he had been kept in his cell 20 hours a day since being detained.

However, he said his Egyptian colleagues were being held in “mosquito-infested cells, sleeping on the floor with no books or writing materials to break the soul-destroying tedium”.

The reporter vowed to fight for freedom of speech in Egypt saying authorities are cracking down on anyone “who refuses to applaud the institution”.

“Our arrest is not a mistake, and as a journalist this is my battle. I can no longer pretend it’ll go away by keeping quiet and crossing my fingers,” he said.

Bishop says Australia has expressed concern to ambassador

He called for international pressure to be placed on the transitional regime in Egypt in an effort to secure his release.

“But our freedom, and more importantly the freedom of the press here, will not come without loud sustained pressure from human rights and civil society groups, individuals and governments,” Mr Greste said.

A spokeswoman for Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop says she has raised Greste’s case “directly with the Egyptian ambassador, expressing our concerns and pressing for our diplomats to meet with the prosecutor”.

“The Australian Embassy in Cairo is providing consular assistance to Mr Greste and consular officials are in regular contact with his family in Australia,” the spokeswoman said.

“Mr Greste has legal representation and consular officials have confirmed that he is in good health.”

Senior US republican senator and former presidential candidate, John McCain, has also called for the journalists’ release labelling their detention a “clear violation of not only their human rights but of any aspect of freedom of the press.”



23a) NZCTU supports bid for UN inquiry into Fiji labour rights

By Online Editor
3:54 pm GMT+12, 30/01/2014, New Zealand

New Zealand’s Council of Trade Unions (NZCTU) says it’s supporting a bid by the International Trade Union Confederation for a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into labour rights in Fiji.

The CTU secretary, Peter Conway, says the recent arrest of union leader Daniel Urai and five others following a strike at Nadi’s Sheraton hotels is symptomatic of a government crackdown on union rights in the country.

Conway says he hopes the New Zealand government will also get involved in taking the matter, and other alleged cases of government intimidation, to the International Labour Organisation.

“We had a situation where the International Labour Organisation went in on a mission in 2012 and they were evicted by the government before they could carry out any work. So it has to go up to another level which is why we’re supporting a formal commission of inquiry into labour rights issues in Fiji and we hope the New Zealand government will be supporting that bid.”

Conway says the CTU is hoping to meet the New Zealand foreign minister, Murray McCully, soon.



23b) Scott Morrison cracks down on failed asylum seekers and signs contract for ‘voluntary’ returns

By Online Editor
3:55 pm GMT+12, 30/01/2014, Australia

Several hundred asylum seekers whose claims for refugee status were rejected are being returned to indefinite detention or prepared for imminent deportation under a crackdown by the Abbott government.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed rumours of a “roundup” of asylum seekers who are in the community after unsuccessful appeals against adverse decisions on their refugee status.

Meanwhile, tender documents reveal the government will also spend $6 million in the next six months returing failed asylum seekers under a “‘voluntary” scheme.

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) signed a $5.87 million contract on December 31 for “voluntary return services” with the Immigration Department’s compliance branch, to be spent between January 1 and June 30.

An IOM spokesman in Geneva confirmed the contract and said it covered the return of asylum seekers living in Australia and in detention on Christmas Island, Nauru and Manus Island.

The contract would cover financial assistance offered to asylum seekers to return, and their costs, an IOM spokesman in Bangkok said. The new contract appears to twice the size of a previous $2.6 million deal signed with the Australian government in 2010.

Refugee advocates have expressed alarm at the “round up” of asylum seekers who have had their claims rejected, arguing that many of the asylum seekers are yet to exhaust their appeal rights and that the group includes those who are stateless and cannot be deported.

Morrison told Fairfax Media that “the government will take the steps necessary to remove failed asylum seekers from Australia who wish to stay indefinitely at taxpayers’ expense”.

“Once you have had your asylum claims assessed and rejected not just by the Department but also on appeal, it’s time to go home, as you have been assessed as not being owed protection,” he said.

The Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce says the crackdown is causing deep distress among asylum seekers, with many fearing they could be rounded up at any time and placed in indefinite detention.

“We are particularly concerned that some of this group will be families, women and children,” says Sister Suzette Clark, the deputy chair of the taskforce. ”Removing asylum seekers from the community is unjustly punitive and cruel.”

Morrison said that where people were co-operating, his department had more flexibility to allow them to remain in the community “for the time necessary” while they made arrangements to depart.

“For those who do not wish to co-operate and seek to frustrate the process, then the government is left with no option but to take them back into detention,” he said.

“Encouraging people to be non-co-operative in this process is ultimately unhelpful both to the individual and our department officials doing their job to manage the process in accordance with Australian law.”

Morrison branded as “nonsense” claims that people were being forced to abandon their appeals, saying being returned to detention would not have any impact on the progress of their cases.

“The previous government left behind more than 30,000 people who arrived by boat and are now on the Australian mainland, as a result of their border failures. More than a thousand of these have been sitting in the network and in the community after having their claims rejected,” he said.

“For those who have been through the process, the government has every right to take the next step to proceed toward their removal.”

He said that where “failed asylum seekers” had sought judicial review of their decisions, those matters would take their course in the courts, with detention of people involved in ongoing cases “decided on a case by case basis”.

“Any suggestion that anyone is being forced to abandon their appeals is nonsense,” he said.

Labor’s spokesman on immigration, Richard Marles, said Australia had a right to deport those who had fully exhausted their rights to establish their refugee claims.

“Until claims are fully heard, those making claims should be dealt with in a practical, cost-effective way in the national interest,” he said.


#) Asylum deal setback in PNG, Refugees have right to make complaint

By Online Editor
10:08 am GMT+12, 30/01/2014, Papua New Guinea

Asylum seekers detained at the Australian-funded Manus processing centre have equal rights like any citizen to challenge their detention.

That was the view of the Supreme Court Wednesday after it queried whether asylum seekers flown in from Australia know that they have a right under the PNG Constitution to apply to the courts for alleged human rights abuses.

A five-man bench comprising Deputy Chief Justice Gibbs Salika and Justices Bernard Sakora, Ambeng Kandakasi, David Cannings and Goodwin Poole said this  when deliberating on an application by Opposition Leader Belden Namah, which found that he had standing to challenge the constitutionality of the Manus processing centre.

The Supreme Court said the asylum seekers could make a complaint to the National Court under section 42(5) or file a human rights enforcement application under section 57 to enforce their rights, including rights under section 42 of the PNG Constitution.

The court said the Human Rights Rules 2010 were made by the judges as part of National Court Rules to make such applications easy to make. The Human Rights Rules 2010 also highlights individuals and organisations that have standing to commence or appear in human rights proceedings. “As easy as the Human Rights Rules make it to commence section 57 proceedings, we take judicial notice of the fact that none have been commenced, either by the transferees presently being accommodated at the regional processing centre in Manus or by any other person or body on their behalf,” the court said.

“We query whether the transferees know that these rights are available to them.

“Perhaps refugee advocacy groups or international organisations such as Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch, which might be expected to take an interest in the alleged abuse of human rights of asylum seekers, are not aware of the prospect of their being granted standing to commence proceedings in the National Court on behalf of the transferees.”

Also, the Public Solicitor and Ombudsman Commission have come under the Supreme Court’s radar for what it described as a “lack of interest” in human rights issues at the Australian-run Manus Island processing centre.

The high court expressed concern that the two constitutional offices should be taking the lead in the protection and enforcement of human rights in Papua New Guinea but they have both shown no interest in the matter.

“It is perhaps surprising that two constitutional offices that should feel a great responsibility for protection and enforcement of human rights in Papua New Guinea – the Public Solicitor and the Ombudsman Commission – appear to have shown no interest in these issues,” ruled the court.

The court further stated that the public solicitor is a law officer and therefore entitled under section 19(3) (c) to make an application under section 19(1).  “But frankly it is difficult to remember the last time that the public solicitor exercised this important power,” the court ruled.

For the Ombudsman Commission, the court said it had an impressive record in making special references on a wide range of constitutional matters.

But the issues raised in the present case, despite their significance, do not appear to have attracted the commission’s attention.

The five-man bench made the remarks in relation to Opposition Leader Belden Namah’s lawyer Ian Molloy’s submission.

Moloy had submitted that there is no evidence that the applicant (Namah) requested the Public Solicitor or the Ombudsman Commission or any of the other authorities in Section 19(3) to exercise their power under Section 19(1).

Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Belden Namah has standing to challenge the constitutionality of the Australian-funded Manus asylum seekers proce-ssing center.

A five-man Supreme Court bench made the declaration yesterday following an application by the MP requesting the high court to declare that he has the standing in the community to go to court.

In a 41-page decision the court unanimously agreed that  Namah has standing to bring the challenge before the highest court.

Namah had gone to the court seeking declarations on the constitutionality of arrangements, including a memorandum of understanding between the governments of Australia and Papua New Guinea for the transfer of persons seeking asylum in Australia, from Australia to Papua New Guinea, for processing.

He proposed to argue that those arrangements are unconstitutional and are contrary to the rights of the transferees to personal liberty.

The respondents, Foreign Affairs and Immigration  Minister Rimbink Pato, NEC and the State, opposed the application arguing that the principles only apply in respect of a challenge to the exercise of the legislative power of the Parliament; there was no evidence that the applicant had approached any person or authority that would have standing to seek the sort of relief that he seeks, before resorting to this action; the applicant is not asserting that any of his rights or freedoms are infringed by the acts that he seeks to challenge; procedures exist in the Constitution for enforcement of Basic Rights, including those in Section 42, by persons who claim that their rights have been infringed; there are factual issues to be determined, which are better dealt with by evidence from persons who claim that their rights are contravened.

The court covered all the arguments raised by both parties and declared that Mr Namah has standing to bring such challenge.

Namah, who personally went to court to receive the judgement, said he was delighted with the court decision. “We just won a Supreme Court reference on the question of my standing in the asylum seekers case. The five (5) men Supreme Court Bench unanimously ruled in my favour and declared that I have standing as citizen and as Member of Parliament and Leader of the Opposition to challenge the constitutionality of the Memorandum of Agreement between Papua New Guinea and Australia.

“Victory is for the people of PNG. Praise be to God Almighty I have every confidence in our judiciary and the courts,” he said.



24) Flooded Nadi river continues to rise

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Update: 4:03PM THE Nadi River has exceeded the 4.5m flood threshold and reached 4.8m at 2pm – and is still rising.

Director Fiji Meteorological Service Alipate Waqaicelua said the chances of flooding in the town will increase at high tide which is expected at 5.47pm.

“The river level is rising and has not receded since this morning, the rain has not stopped falling and the tide is expected to peak at close to 6pm this afternoon,” he said.

Mr Waqaicelua said based on the current trend, the river could rise to more than 5m.

The height at which the Nadi River breaks its banks in the town area is 5.6m

At the height of the 2012 floods, the Nadi River peaked at 6.53m in January and 8.18m in March.Fijitimes

25) Weather watch: Heavy rain, flash flood warning

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Update: 7:38AM PEOPLE living in Nadi, Lautoka, Ba and Yasawa-I-Rara are being warned to expect flash flooding due to the heavy rainfall being experienced in the Western Division.

The Fiji Meteorological Service announced that since 9am yesterday, rainfall recordings were as follows – Nadi received 112.2mm, Lautoka 86.5mm, Penang 87mm and Yasawa-I-Rara 58.3mm.

Although the weather is expected to clear by tomorrow, residents in these areas are being asked to be vigilant and to expect heavy rain with squally thunderstorms in the meantime.

26) Tropical Cyclone Dylan forms after king tides hit North Queensland coast

Updated 30 January 2014, 17:07 AEST

North Queensland residents are facing an anxious wait as Cyclone Dylan edges closer to the coast.

The tropical low developed in the Coral Sea several days ago and was upgraded to a category one cyclone this afternoon.

Cyclone information

BOM: Preparation and safety checklist
EMQ: Cyclone action advice
ABC Emergency: Plan for a cyclone

Dylan is more than 200 kilometres offshore and is likely to make landfall between Lucinda and Proserpine early tomorrow.

Heavy rain has already caused localised flooding around Ayr, while king tides caused problems as far north as Cairns earlier today.

A gale warning is current for the Townsville, Mackay and Capricornia coast. A storm tide is expected between Cardwell and Lucinda, and large waves may cause minor flooding along the foreshore.

Premier Campbell Newman, who has travelled to Townsville, says despite extensive preparations there is no room for complacency.

“The big threat is going to be from flooding, and my single most important message today is that people who need to travel need to do it now and try to get it out of the way as soon as possible,” he said.

“If it’s flooded, forget it.”

Townsville and Yeppoon on the Capricorn Coast are among the centres being inundated, and Townsville Council has set up an evacuation centre at Cungulla.

Senior weather forecaster Matt Bass said the storm was tracking further south than first thought.

“At this stage the most likely crossing location is near Ayr, but anywhere between Lucinda and Proserpine could see the cyclone near them,” he said.

Bowen motel operator Anita Rogan says the strong winds have forced some boats onto the shore.

“Down near the skateboard park on Front Beach, there is quite a large trawler that’s been blown up and quite a few smaller boats, yachts and the like have broken their moorings and have been blown up onto the beach there, but nothing really major,” she said.

“I know that everybody’s just knuckling down and making things safe.”

The tide at Cairns Harbour reached 3.83 metres, exceeding this year’s predicted record by nearly 40 centimetres.

“It’s certainly put the water levels at a level that’s been beyond anything we’ve ever noted before,” John Lucas from the Hilton Hotel on the Esplanade said.

“Our restaurant which sits on the waterfront has certainly had a good few inches go through the bottom of it. Little bit of minor damage to some timberwork and the like but nothing that we can’t fix fairly readily.”

Fire and Rescue Service spokesman Wayne Preedy says people still have time to prepare for further flooding.

“The cut-off we always work off is once the winds get to 100 kilometres an hour, there’s no more outside work,” he said.

“The bureau plays a key role in this today and leading into tonight as to when those winds are expected.”

He says emergency crews will be keeping an eye on the tides throughout today.

Residents of low-lying areas told to get sandbags ready

Mackay Mayor Deirdre Comerford says residents in low-lying areas should be prepared.

“You need to have sandbags on hand, because you know if you’ve experienced water inundation normally, you can expect that again,” she said.

Additional swift water rescue crews have been sent from Rockhampton to Mackay as a precaution with extra resources also in the Whitsundays.

There was very little rain overnight in the Mackay Whitsunday region, but winds have picked up.

Wind gusts of up 104 kilometres an hour were recorded at Hamilton Island overnight, but just 5 millimetres of rain fell.

Ferry services out of Airlie Beach were suspended last night and all boats have been moored at Shute Harbour and Abel Point.

Mayor predicts cyclone’s centre will miss Cassowary Coast

The Cassowary Coast Regional Council, which covers the towns of Innisfail, Cardwell and Tully, is urging residents in the shire to go about business as usual, while remaining alert.

Mayor Bill Shannon says residents should follow the lead of the State Government.

“If the schools are open, then we expect kids to be going to school,” he said.

“We expect people to be going to work and therefore going about their normal lives, but keeping a watch and that’s the situation we’ve got at the present time.

“I’m quietly confident that given that most of the action is to the south of the centre of the cyclone and the centre is going to be beyond Cardwell, further to the south of Cardwell, that there shouldn’t be too much problem in that part of the world.”

27) No Tsunami Threat After Earthquake Hits Solomon Islands
5.5-magnitude quake hits while heavy rains fall on Honiara

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Jan. 30, 2014) – An undersea 5.5 magnitude earthquake that struck west of Afio, Small Malaita just before noon yesterday failed to spark a tsunami warning.

Minutes after Honiara experienced the mild tremor, the Weather office issued a statement saying there was no tsunami threat to Solomon Islands.

The earthquake occurred at 11:32am near Latitude 9.6 Degrees South and Longitude 161.2 Degrees East, approximately 20km West of Afio.

Meanwhile, heavy rain continued to batter the capital and parts of the country the whole of yesterday.

The Weather office said the heavy rain was due to an active monsoon trough that lies south of Solomon islands.

The term monsoon, according to the weather office, was used to describe the seasonal reversal of winds that occurs over parts of the tropics.

In northern Australia, the prevailing wind is from the east or southeast for most of the year, but during active monsoon periods (occurring any time during October to April) the winds shift to become northwesterly at the surface.

As the Australian summer approaches, the continent heats up.

Low pressure is created, which effectively draws the monsoon trough – a zone of low pressure and rising air – over northern Australia.

This trough draws in moist air from the surrounding oceans and this influx of moist air is referred to as the monsoon.

The monsoon can be in either an “active” or an “inactive” phase.

The active phase is usually associated with broad areas of cloud and rain, with sustained moderate to fresh northwesterly winds on the north side of the trough.

Widespread heavy rainfall can result if the trough is close to, or over, land.

An inactive or “break” period occurs when the monsoon trough temporarily weakens or retreats north of Australia.

It is characterised by light winds and isolated shower and thunderstorm activity, sometimes with gusty squall lines.

Transitions from active to inactive monsoon phases may be associated with the Madden-Julian Oscillation, a large-scale slow-moving band of increased cloudiness that travels eastwards in the tropics.

According to the weather office, the monsoon trough frequently spawns individual low pressure systems, producing heavy rain and flooding.

Solomon Star

28) Solomons Ministry Working On Community Relocation Plan
Pilot project hoped to guide planning for national policy

By Daniel Namosuaia

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Jan. 30, 2014) – The Solomon Islands Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology is currently working on a small scale community relocation plan that it hopes to be implemented this year.

Director of the climate change division within the ministry Douglas Yee said his division is currently working in collaboration with its stakeholders on this pilot programme that the ministry wishes to implement anytime soon.

“We have a set of programmes to focus on besides the country’s national climate change policy which we treat relocation as the last resort to take. However in the meantime we want to look at what we can apply in terms of climate change which requires proper policy guidelines,” Mr Yee said.

He said at the moment, the ministry in collaboration with other stakeholders is working on a relocation guideline.

“By way of revisiting previous relocation plans to identify the drivers that are in play and develop appropriate guidelines focusing on re-settlement of communities.”

Mr Yee said the ultimate purpose of this small scale community relocation pilot project will assist them to see what should and should not be included in the policy guideline for any national relocation plan.

Adding, that implementation of any relocation plan is not a simple task, therefore needs proper consultations, planning and source of funding which is not easy as the public may think so.

“It is still unclear when to start with the implementation of this small scale community relocation because it also depends on funds,” the climate change director said.

Mr Yee said they are yet to select the pilot community and where the community will be relocated.

But said it is likely they will pilot this project with a community within Honiara and relocating them to government’s alienated land.

He stressed that acquiring these lands is another thing as it takes a while to process and get the approval from relevant ministries.

However Mr Yee said at this stage they won’t tell what time to start this pilot project but wish to kick it off as soon as possible this year.

The programme is funded under the government’s development budget.

However the climate change division has put forward its development proposal to sources funds from the European Union through the ministry of development planning for the programme.

Solomon Star

29) Restrict access to Fiji’s Western town centres: Commissioner Cawaki

By Online Editor
4:11 pm GMT+12, 30/01/2014, Fiji

Authorities in Fiji’s Western Division will restrict access into town centres in the division from 5.00pm today.

This precautionary measure comes as weather conditions worsen around parts of the country, especially in the Western Division.

Western Divisional Commissioner, Joeli Cawaki said all district emergency operations centres were activated last night to respond to the weather conditions.

However, he said that authorities will continue to monitor the situation and update the public on developments.

“Police and military personnel will be monitoring all movements of members of the public to ensure that no accidents happen,” Cawaki said.

11 evacuation centres are currently active in the Western Division.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama has urged parents and guardians to be mindful of the whereabouts of their children in light of recent weather conditions.

The head of government, at a briefing today with DISMAC officials, emphasized that children especially those living near flood prone areas must exercise caution.

He said parents must ensure that they are aware of their children’s whereabouts.

At the briefing attended by DISMAC officials and senior members of the armed forces, the Prime Minister reminded officials to ensure that all relevant stakeholders and personnel are responding to the current weather conditions.

He also stressed that all evacuation centres must have adequate resources especially for women and children.

He has also instructed all armed forces personnel including health officials in all divisions to be on standby and to provide assistance where necessary.


30a ) Tuvalu Activist Speaks Out Against Gender Inequality
Milikini Failautusi calls for equal opportunities of women

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Jan. 29, 2014) – Young Tuvaluan activist Milikini Failautusi is forthright in speaking out about the unequal status of women in her country.

Ms Failautusi, who is a member of both the Pacific Youth Council and the Tuvalu National Youth Council argues that cultural issues are preventing women from working in equal partnership with men.

“I love my culture, but when it comes to certain issues I disagree with it.”

“When it comes to cultures, women they don’t [get] to say anything at all. They don’t have a say. They only have to sit at the back and support the elders or their husbands or the leaders in their families. All they have to do is just support them in terms of looking for money, looking for food, and looking after the babies and the families.”

She points out that in the traditional Matai (chiefly) system in Tuvalu, women are not able to be Matais.  So even if a girl is the eldest in the family, the title will bypass her and be given to the eldest son. This she says, needs to change.

“We have to be balanced in those things. We have to be seen as all equal even though we have gender when it comes to male and female. And in order for that to change we have to be inclusive in every setting.”

“When it comes to economic things, we have to have equal opportunities and equal wages for everyone. Likewise when it comes to social issues. We should have the same participation as men. And for the government we should have laws and legislation to enforce women’s participation to be equal with men’s participation.”

Ms Failautusi is also concerned about gender based violence and the double standards that are applied to women and men.

She says that women are generally told that they have to keep problems with abusive partners to themselves and try to deal with it as best they can.  Sex is another issue that she sees as a double standard.

“Young women at home aren’t allowed to have sex until they are married. But men are allowed to have sex before they get married.  So I see that as an issue because I have the right to have sex.  And the right doesn’t seem to be applied to all the women back home.”

Ms Failautusi says her generation knows what is right and what is wrong, and is beginning to bring change.  And she draws her own strength from the support of her family.

“I was so lucky to have the support from my family to keep going on, than giving up.  And if I give up, who else is going to be the role models or be the leaders.  Because back home young people need to build their self confidence and to be motivated because we need a lot of people to do this job.”

Milikini Failautusi spoke with Heather Jarvis at the Twelfth Triennial Conference of Pacific Women in Rarotonga, Cook Islands.  She is also a member of the Pacific Young Women’s Leadership Alliance (PYWLA).

Radio Australia:


30b) Jones to captain Wales

Thursday, January 30, 2014

CARDIFF- Alun-Wyn Jones will captain Wales in the defending champion’s Six Nations opener against Italy on Saturday.

Jones takes over the captain’s duties from Sam Warburton, who will be on the replacements’ bench as he returns from two months out with a shoulder injury.

Rhys Priestland has edged out Dan Biggar at fly-half, Jamie Roberts returns in midfield after missing the autumn Tests, Paul James replaces injured prop Gethin Jenkins and Luke Charteris fills the second-row vacancy left by suspended forward Ian Evans.

Evans will miss the entire Six Nations campaign after receiving a 12-match ban for stamping.

Wales can complete a hat-trick of Six Nations titles by March.

“We started slowly last year and know we need to be ready from the off,” coach Warren Gatland said on Tuesday.

“Italy started last year’s tournament with a win over France, so they will be ready on Saturday and we need to start well and build confidence and momentum.

“It’s a strong, experienced side, but there was a lot of discussion about the selection, which is a great position to be in as a coach. We’ve almost everyone fit for selection, which is pretty rare.”

30b) Winning debut

Thursday, January 30, 2014

LONDON – Manchester United’s record signing Juan Mata enjoyed a winning debut on Tuesday as his new club recorded a 2-0 victory at home to Cardiff City in the English Premier League.

Leaders Arsenal, meanwhile, spurned an opportunity to move four points clear after drawing 2-2 at Southampton, but Liverpool tightened their grip on fourth place with a superb 4-0 defeat of derby rivals Everton.

Mata started at Old Trafford, three days after making a STG37 million ($F116.897m) move from Chelsea, as former United striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer returned to his old stomping ground as Cardiff manager.

Last season’s top scorer Robin van Persie was also included in United’s starting line-up, after seven weeks out with a thigh strain, and the Dutch striker broke the deadlock in the sixth minute.

Ashley Young added a fine second in the 59th minute, cutting in from the left flank and arrowing a drive into the bottom-right corner, before Wayne Rooney made his return from injury as a substitute for Van Persie.

United, who had lost three of their previous five home league games, remain six points below the Champions League places, but they inched to within 12 points of Arsenal after the London club’s slip-up at St Mary’s.

Bidding to move four points clear of second-place Manchester City, Arsenal fell behind in the 21st minute when centre-back Jose Fonte headed in a left-wing cross from Luke Shaw.

The visitors sprang to life early in the second half, equalising through Olivier Giroud’s deft back-heel and going ahead when Santi Cazorla drilled home, only for Adam Lallana to sweep in an equaliser two minutes later.

31) Arsenal drop vital points

Thursday, January 30, 2014

LONDON – Leaders Arsenal dropped vital points in the Premier League title race as they were held to a 2-2 draw at Southampton on Tuesday, with Mathieu Flamini sent off with 10 minutes to go.

Southampton took the lead through a Jose Fonte header but goals from Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla put Arsenal ahead only for Adam Lallana to equalise for Southampton.

Flamini was then sent off for a two-footed challenge but the visitors hung on for a point to extend their lead to two points, meaning Manchester City could overtake them if they win at Tottenham on Wednesday.

Liverpool hammered Everton 4-0 in the Merseyside derby to consolidate their position in fourth, three points behind Chelsea.

In pouring rain at Anfield, Daniel Sturridge scored twice and missed a penalty as Liverpool romped to victory to close to within six points of Arsenal.

32) Rafter hopes French feel pain

Thursday, January 30, 2014

LONDON – Australian captain Pat Rafter is hoping the pressure of favouritism could expose some mental frailties in French big guns Richard Gasquet and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga during this week’s Davis Cup showdown.

Star-studded France are strongly fancied to defeat an Australian team missing the injured Bernard Tomic in the first-round World Group tie, starting tomorrow in La Roche-sur-Yon.

Rafter says Australia, with a team including veteran Lleyton Hewitt and a pair of rising teenagers, are deserved underdogs but it could work in their favour.

Top-ten players Gasquet and Tsonga have had their mental toughness questioned at times over the years and Rafter believes the pressure is firmly on the home side for the indoor claycourt tie.

“Hopefully their boys are a little bit tight and our boys can control the games,” Rafter told AAP on Tuesday.


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Marshall’s wish

WELLINGTON – Former NRL star Benji Marshall will get his wish to be tried at playmaker when he plays his first game for Super Rugby’s Blues since switching codes. Blues coach Sir John Kirwan says ex-Wests Tigers superstar Marshall is set to get some game time when his Auckland-based team face the Hurricanes in their first pre-season hitout on Saturday.

Strike seals win

MADRID – Real Madrid eased into the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey with a 1-0 win over Espanyol at the Santiago Bernabeu to progress 2-0 on aggregate. Jese Rodriguez got the only goal of the game after just eight minutes as he confidently slotted home Xabi Alonso’s ball over the top of the Espanyol defence. Espanyol keeper Kiko Casilla managed to keep the score down as he frustrated Cristiano Ronaldo on a number of occasions.

Mehrtens hired

SYDNEY – The NSW Waratahs have hired All Blacks great Andrew Mehrtens as kicking coach for the upcoming Super Rugby season. One of the most prolific point-scorers in rugby history, 40-year-old Mehrtens is now based in Sydney for business and will assist the Waratahs on a part-time basis advising kickers Kurtley Beale, Bernard Foley and Brendan McKibbin.

Life decisions

DUBLIN – Brian O’Driscoll has postponed all decisions about life after rugby until he retires at the end of the season. Ireland’s stalwart centre is desperate to get on with life after the British and Irish Lions, though, and certainly the furore over being dropped by head coach Warren Gatland on last year’s tour Down Under.

Hamilton unhurt

JEREZ – Lewis Hamilton has driven his new Mercedes into the barrier during Formula One’s first pre-season session, only hours after its unveiling. He emerged unscathed from the crash that his team said was caused by a front wing failure. Hamilton and teammate Nico Rosberg presented Mercedes’ silver-and-turquoise W05 before testing got underway, and the former champion was the first to take his car out.

Quick clarity

SYDNEY – Michael Clarke wants Australia’s injury uncertainty sorted out quickly so the team can prepare as well as possible to take on world Test No.1 South Africa. The captain spoke before flying out for South Africa. Shaun Marsh (calf) and Jackson Bird (back) have been kept behind to prove their fitness.

Gill’s challenge

BRISBANE – Simply earning the Queensland No.7 jersey for the Super Rugby season will be challenging enough, according to Liam Gill. But Reds coach Richard Graham believed Gill had already shown he could have pulled off Wallabies openside flanker Michael Hooper’s meteoric rise to the 2013 John Eales Medal if given the same chance last year.

Anstey fined

MELBOURNE – The National Basketball League won’t say how much it has fined Melbourne Tigers coach Chris Anstey for criticising match officials after a recent loss. He was found guilty of using offensive language and publicly criticising umpires by the NBL. He admitted using offensive language in a tribunal hearing, held by phone last week.

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