Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 962

MELANESIA

1) PNG- Indonesia Border tense
By Online Editor
09:28 am GMT+12, 11/04/2014, Papua New Guinea

The OPM has burnt more Indonesian government infrastructure at the Papua New Guinea-Indonesia border as fighting escalated between the two sides.

Elements of the OPM (Organisasi Papua Merdeka) set fire to a billboard that had the Indonesian flag painted on it in the early hours of yesterday morning, according to intelligence sources currently on the ground.

The burning of the billboard was a ploy to divert the attention of the Indonesian armed forces to the border, which then enabled OPM militants to attack an Indonesian forward base at Taimi River, 10km west of the border.

The intelligence source said the border shootout ended after Wednesday’s skirmish which went on for 30 minutes. The PNG Defence Force continues to maintain its surveillance of the area to ensure the protection of state properties and PNG citizens.

“We heard of fighting at Abepura and Sentani deep in the Irian Jaya province of Indonesia and the killing of two people at Abepura,” said the intelligence official.

He said images of two people killed at Abepura were posted on social media networks. Meanwhile, Wutung community leader Patrick Muliale has asked the national Government and the PNGDF and police top brass to fly in more soldiers and policemen to the border.

Soldiers currently on the ground will be pushed by the rigorous demands of containing the OPM elements and their activities and ensuring the militants do not use PNG soil to fight the Indonesians.

He said logistical support like fuel for diesel generators and motor vehicles are lacking and need immediate attention.

“There is no form of reliable electricity at the border post to light up the area where we have PNG government infrastructure situated and for soldiers to monitor the border,” he said.

He also said the increasing clashes could trigger a flood of refugees crossing the border into PNG to flee the fighting.

“Most will come by sea because the fighting is on the land and between the border and Jayapura city,” he said.

The National Security Advisory Council director-general Ian Jinga will lead a team of government officials from relevant agencies to investigate and check on the situation in Vanimo.

However, Sandaun provincial administrator Henry Norm told the Post-Courier there is no such team on the ground and the situation on the border was tense.

“There were no flights into Vanimo and may be they are coming tomorrow,” he said.

SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS

2) Vanuatu daily news digest | 12 April 2014

by bobmakin

  • What yesterday was amazing leaked news which was not available to Parliament – only to Daiy Post readers – has today been released by Government through Daiiy Post to the general public: the Greenfield airport development. “Following the signing of the concession agreement,” the release says, “there have been a number of ill-founded arguments through the media by some political leaders and others, seemingly influenced by external or private interests.” This news service (vanuatudaily) has been amongst the harshest critics, not as the mouthpiece of anyone else, but simply because the so-called development has had no tourism industry support and runs counter to the Government’s own land reform legislation just introduced. The Boeing 747 plane is an antique and unlikely to be running major routes for much longer, Boeing’s and Airbus’s more recent models taking over. We do not need an airport for the 747. Read Part 1 of the Greenfield (VTDL) statement of the development in Daily Post today. The other half follows Monday. A Letter in Daily Post today questions howthe million tourists a year upon which the project is predicated will ever be obtained. [Fiji, after 40 years of Boeing 747 arrivals and departures, is still a long way from that figure.]
  • The new land reform laws make it easier for churches and charitable associations to acquire state land for public benefit in the two towns. There is provision for such bodies to have a reduced premium in taking over such land. Applications will still have to obtain the permission of the Land Planning and Management Committee and the Council of Ministers.

The Port Vila by-election campaign ends at midnight tonight. Loud hailers should then be put away, convoys of lorry loads of supporters disbanded. Voting takes place Tuesday.

Air Vanuatu has new domestic cargo requirements especially as regards packaging.

The Telecoms Regulator is urging people thinking of changing their broadband internet service as a result of “new products” since the introduction of the cable connection with Fiji, to be sure they fully understand any agreement or offer they might be inclined to accept.

The founder of Yumi Toktok Stret, Witnol Benko, tells his story in this weekend’s Vanuatu Times.

3) Vanuatu daily news digest | 11 April 2014

by bobmakin

  • Today’s Daily Post is filled with hard news including a leaked pre-feasibility report on the VTDL Rentabau Greenfield airport proposal which was not even available to Parliamentarians to consult at the extra-ordinary sitting to examine just that, this morning. It is complete with satellite mapping of the site for which the agreement was allegedly signed by the Prime Minister last July. It is filled with impossible promises of such as scheduled services between Vanuatu and Seoul, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Singapore “depending on the nature of the attractions available in Vanuatu for Asian tourists.” This is likely to be taken to mean casinos, golf courses and resorts such as were also impossibly promised by the real estate scam of the week, Crystal Shores. Projections of Asian flights of up to 45 a week from the Asian partners in the Rentabau Greenfield project with Government. The Opposition, however, is more likely to see this particular project as a scam. It had MP Willie Jimmy dumped from the Greens Government Coalition early on, believing it to spell financial disaster.

As has already been reported from Radio Vanuatu’s parliamentary coverage this morning, the Opposition was present in Parliament but the documents were not available and the sitting was postponed until Monday morning.

The Tanna by-election petitions have been finalised, but still three days of trial remain this week before the Chief Justice issues his decision. One of the candidates in the Port Vila by-election Tuesday is a petitioner.

Daily Post also has the VNPF “clarifying” issues related to its buying into the Wilco Holdings Ltd property, pointing out what a good deal it remains for Fund members.

The Transparency page in Daily Post advises a Government amendment to the Contracts and Tenders Act which needs to be closely watched by those affected by such matters. Splitting contracts into sub-contracts receives special attention which may have implications for large build / operate airport contracts.

POLYNESIA

4) James Beer holds on to Murienua seat in the Cook Islands

12 April 2014

The High Court of the Cook Islands on Thursday dismissed allegations of bribery and undue influence at the Murienua by-election in February, to the relief of the Democratic Party’s James Beer.

An electoral petition was brought against Mr Beer by the candidate he beat, Kaota Tuariki.

On Wednesday the Court found that some voters did not qualify to vote in the by-election but the disqualification of those voters did not change the result.

It’s the second time the two men have been involved in a controversial by-election.

Last year the Democratic Party began legal action contesting the outcome of September’s by-election in Murienua, which Kaota Tuariki won, amid allegations of bribery and treating.

Mr Beer petitioned the result through the Court, but Mr Tuariki resigned the seat days before the scheduled hearing.

James Beer was sworn into Parliament last Monday.Radio NZ

5) Niue to elect new parliament

11 April 2014

Voters on Niue get to elect a new 20-member parliament this weekend, but not a lot of change is expected.

All the current MPs are vying to return among a total of 41 people standing.

Six of the sitting village MPs have already won unopposed while seven of the remaining eight villages have just two candidates.

Don Wiseman has more:

“The Niue electorate is tiny. Only about 500 electors are expected to cast their two votes – one for their village MP and another for the common roll on which they can rank up to six candidates from the 17 standing. There is continuing support for the leadership of Premier Toke Talagi who has led the country for the past six years. This is on the back of his fostering the tourism sector. Businessman Avi Rubin just wants more of the same, though he says new blood in parliament is good: ‘But as long as the direction stays the same. We started the tourism and the big push for it. As long as the current government or the new government as long as they continue doing what we are doing, aiming to increase the tourist numbers and everything else that comes with it.’ But long time MP, Terry Coe, standing in his 6th election, says the people do have real concerns, such as the poor state of the roads, telecommunications and water systems.”Radio NZ

MICRONESIA

6) Nauru Opposition: Confusion About UN Team Must Be Cleared Up
MP says Arbitrary Detention group should be allowed to visit

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, April 10, 2014) – An opposition MP in Nauru says the government needs to clear up confusion around claims from a UN team that it was blocked from coming to the island to inspect the treatment of asylum seekers.

Earlier this week a member of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said Nauru had revoked an invitation to the island, citing unforeseen circumstances.

But the government says it did not invite the group to visit and only read of their intentions in the media.

The MP Mathew Batsiua says if there was a misunderstanding the government could clear it up quickly and allow the team to come in.

“There should be no reason whatsoever that the government are not allowing an inspection team from the United Nations to come to Nauru, I mean what are they hiding? It’s just not a good move on Nauru, if any Nauruan government on any day does that, then that’s not good for Nauru,” says Batsiua.

Attempts to get comment from the government have been unsuccessful.

Radio New Zealand International

7) Taiwan Friendship Fleet To Visit Palau Next Week
Visit to ‘enhance the existing cordial relations between the two peoples’

KOROR, Palau (Island Times, April 10, 2014) – The Fleet of Friendship of the Republic of China is set to arrive in Palau on April 18 and is set to call port at Malakal.

The fleet, consisting of its Flagship Wu-Yi, Frigate Kuen-Ming and Frigate Zi-Yi are all set to dock in Malakal. A welcome ceremony will be conducted at 2 p.m. with President Tommy Remengesau Jr. and Republic of China Ambassador Maggie Taiching Tien present.

On April 19, the Fleet of Friendship will conduct some performances of martial arts, marching band and color/honor guards drill at 3 p.m. at the Palau National Track and Field. The performances are open to the public to see and enjoy.

Aside from the performances, the Frigate Kuen-Ming will be open to the public to visit as they will have an open house from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The aim of the open house is to let the public see and enjoy firsthand experience of naval life and operations on board a navy vessel. Visitors will be required to show their identification cards or driver’s license. Children 12 years old and below are required to be with an adult while onboard the vessel.

The Fleet of Friendship comprises of 789 navy officers, soldiers and cadets from the Republic of China Naval Academy. Each year, graduating cadets sail aboard the Fleet of Friendship for shipboard training. During the long voyage, future naval officers are given the opportunity to practice their combat skills and tactics to enrich their navigational experiences.

In recent years, the Fleet of Friendship has sailed to the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Central America, Pacific and to other parts of the world. This is the 11th visit of the Fleet of Friendship to Palau.

“The goodwill visit of the Fleet of Friendship from the Republic of China will not only provide the opportunity for the naval cadets to appreciate the pristine beauty and rich culture if Palau, enhance the existing cordial relations between the two peoples, also they will spend a lot to buy local products to contribute to the local economy,” said Republic of China Ambassador Maggie Taiching Tien.

The Fleet of Friendship will set sail from Malakal port for its next port of call after a hoisting of flag ceremony on April 20 at 8 a.m.

Island Times

8) Vice Speaker Calls For Increase To Guam’s Minimum Wage
Purchasing power of current minimum is half of that 30 years ago

By Mar-Vic Cagurangan

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Marianas Variety Guam, April 11, 2014) – Taking a cue from President Obama’s pitch for a minimum wage hike, Vice Speaker Benjamin Cruz said yesterday he will introduce a bill to raise Guam’s hourly minimum rate from $7.25 to $10.10 with a staggered rollout over three years.

“Like its federal counterpart, my $10.10 proposal will take a phased-in approach, incrementally raising the minimum wage by 0.95 cents a year ending in 2017. Doing so will allow our business community to adjust,” Cruz told the Guam Women’s Chamber of Commerce’s wage and compensation forum at the Pacific Star Resort & Spa.

“Though the first increment of our plan would not be enough to immediately regain the purchasing power lost by the minimum wage when compared to 2007, I know that progress requires partnerships, and we must work together,” Cruz said.

But Guam economists endorse higher wage rates given the fact that the cost of living on Guam is much higher than that of the continental United States.

Maria Claret Ruane, economics professor at the University of Guam, noted a 20 percent cost differential on Guam compared to the U.S. mainland. Based on her calculations, the hourly wage rate required to meet the poverty threshold on Guam should be pegged at between $12.12 and $15.81.

“Whichever hourly wage rate prevails, it should be equal for employees with the same productivity and qualifications, regardless of their gender and regardless of whether they work in the public or the private sector,” Ruane said.

Marianas Variety Guam

FRENCH

9) Guadalcanal: l’eau potable toujours pas totalement rétablie

Mis à jour 10 April 2014, 15:03 AEST
Caroline Lafargue

L’un des principaux réservoirs d’eau a été très endommagé par les inondations.

À Honiara et dans ses environs, l’accès à l’eau potable demeure problématique après les inondations de la semaine dernière.

L’eau courante a été rétablie dans la moitié de la ville, mais l’autre moitié devra peut-être attendre plus de deux semaines que les réparations soient achevées. En attendant, il est possible que l’on doive rationner l’eau. Richard Austin, le directeur général de Solomon Water:

« Ma priorité, avant que nous ne rétablissions l’eau courante pour tous les habitants, c’est d’être absolument sûr que cette eau n’est pas dangereuse et que nous l’avons suffisamment désinfectée. On pourrait la rétablir plus tôt, mais pas sans risques. Nous faisons notre travail très consciencieusement et ne mettrons pas dans le circuit de l’eau toxique. »

Après l’Australie, qui débloque 3 millions de dollars, et la Nouvelle-Zélande, qui donne 1 million de dollars, c’est au tour de Taïwan de témoigner sa solidarité, avec un don de 275 000 dollars américains aux Salomonais sinistrés, ainsi que 50 tonnes de riz. Les Îles Salomon sont l’un des cinq pays du Pacifique qui entretiennent des relations avec Taïwan, et pas avec la République Populaire de Chine, sa grande rivale. Radio Australia

10) Alerte au Tsunami démentie pour la Nouvelle-Calédonie

Par Gonzague de La Bourdonnaye
Publié le 13/04/2014 | 10:33, mis à jour le 13/04/2014 | 11:44

L’alerte au tsunami a été déclenchée ce dimanche matin sur le Pacifique-sud après le séisme qui a frappé les Îles Salomon, mais contrairement à ce qu’affirment certains médias internationaux, la Nouvelle-Calédonie n’est pas concernée par cette alerte.

© NC 1ÈRE

11) Maré: opération d’évacuation d’urgence sur un paquebot

Par Gonzague de La Bourdonnaye
Publié le 07/04/2014 | 17:22

Une fillette australienne de 8 ans a dû être hélitreuillée en urgence alors qu’elle se trouvait à bord d’un paquebot étranger, au large de Maré. Elle a pu être hélitreuillée puis accueillie au CHT Gaston Bourret en quelques heures.

Le MRCC de Nouméa a une nouvelle fois prouvé son efficacité en permettant, en quelques heures seulement, le rapatriement d’une fillette de 8 ans depuis un paquebot étranger , présent dans les eaux calédoniennes.
Il est 13h00, ce dimanche, lorsque le Centre de Coordination de Sauvetage Maritime (MRCC -NC) reçoit un appel en provenance du « RADIANCE OF THE SEAS», un paquebot battant pavillon des Bahamas. Il faut faire vite car cette jeune australienne de 8 ans doit être évacuée, son état de santé nécessitant des soins urgents à l’hôpital.
En collaboration avec le SAMU, le MRCC de Nouméa coordonne aussitôt la dite évacuation en pleine mer alors que le navire se positionne au large de Maré pour faciliter les opérations d’hélitreuillage, menées par un PUMA des FANC, parti de Tontouta peu avant 20h00 et arrivé sur zone vers 21h30.
Une opération rondement menée par l’ensemble des intervenants puisque la jeune fille, ainsi que sa maman, ont pu arriver au CHT GastonBourret, à Nouméa, une heure plus tard afin d’être pris en charge , dans la foulée, par le service des urgences.http://nouvellecaledonie.la1ere.fr/

12) Les tribunaux de Nouméa saturés par les demandes de radiation du FLNKS

Par Gonzague de La Bourdonnaye
Publié le 08/04/2014 | 21:04, mis à jour le 08/04/2014 | 21:04

La demande en radiation de près de 6000 électeurs des listes spéciales en vue des élections provinciales de Nouvelle-Calédonie provoque la cohue depuis le début de la semaine au palais de Justice de Nouméa. Du jamais vu de mémoire de magistrat! Avec des situations personnelles contrastées.

© NC1ÈRE

Les situations sont parfois cocasses: ici, on demande la radiation d’une personne décédée depuis des années, là c’est un homme devenue femme et…qui doit se justifier pour éviter la radiation demandée par le FLNKS et le Parti Travailliste ( partis indépendantistes). Mais les occasions de sourire sont plutôt rares car, pour la plupart des personnes convoquées dans l’urgence, c’est l’incompréhension qui domine, le désarroi pour certains pourtant durablement installés. Parfois, comme à Koné, les gens ont aussi pleuré.
Pour les indépendantistes, appuyés par le professeur de droit public Mathias Chauchat, il s’agit de faire respecter l’arrêt de la cour de cassation qui lie la présence , en Nouvelle-Calédonie avant novembre 1998 à l’inscription sur la liste générale de 1998 pour pouvoir voter aux prochaines élections provinciales. Un scrutin déterminant pour l’avenir de la Nouvelle-Calédonie dont les habitants doivent se prononcer, par référendum, sur l’avenir institutionnel du pays d’ici 2018. Pour les partis opposés à l’indépendance (ou “loyalistes”), en revanche, c’est un “coup de canif supplémentaire” dans l’esprit initial de l’Accord de Nouméa.
Par ailleurs, les indépendantistes demandent l’inscription de quelques 1500 kanak, non inscrits sur les listes spéciales. Les anti-indépendantsites eux, dénombrent, 5000 électeurs calédoniens (kanak et autres ethnies confondus) dans ce cas. Une situation juridiquement compliquée, politiquement tendue et humainement difficile sur le terrain.
Vendredi, le tribunal de 1ère instance donnera son verdict et les quelques 5643 personnes dont la radiation a été demandée par les indépendantistes sauront s’ils peuvent – ou non – voter pour ce scrutin.

En attendant, c’est la cohue dans des tribunaux débordés, comme le montre ce reportage de la rédaction TV de NC 1ère, signé Nathalie Rougeau et Philippe Huneau (Montage Bernard Caba) :http://nouvellecaledonie.la1ere.fr/

WORLD

13) BRIEFLY

Agencies
Sunday, April 13, 2014

No visa

WASHINGTON – The US will not grant a visa to Iran’s new UN ambassador, Hamid Aboutalebi, who has been linked to the 1979 US hostage crisis. As the host government, the US generally is obliged to issue visas to diplomats who serve at the UN, although there have been exceptions.

Residents flee

LIMA – Residents have fled villages near Peru’s Ubinas volcano, which this week began spitting out white-hot chunks of rock, some as big as 30cm in diameter. Domingo Ramos, a scientist from Peru’s mining institute, said the volcano reawakened several days ago. This led the state of emergency in the Andean region.

Appeal fails

BERLIN – A German court has rejected an appeal by a British bishop convicted in a high-profile case of denying key facts about the Holocaust. After five earlier rounds of court proceedings, the ruling by the court in Nuremberg means a fine handed down to Bishop Richard Williamson in 2013 now stands.

Man in custody

BELFAST – Seamus Daly, accused of carrying out the single worst atrocity of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, the killing of 29 people in the 1998 Omagh bombing, has been remanded in custody. A prominent supporter of the Irish republican cause, he was denied bail by a judge at Dungannon Magistrates’ Court.

  Rescue package

WASHINGTON – The US has urged the international community to contribute more to Ukraine’s economic rescue. As Ukraine’s economy foundered under a new government and threats from neighbouring Russia last month, the International Monetary Fund announced a rescue program of $US14-18 billion to stabilise the country’s crumpled finances and help restore growth.

Pistorious trial

PRETORIA – The prosecution has accused Oscar Pistorius of tailoring evidence while rubbishing his account of why he shot dead his girlfriend as a fabrication. During a third day of intense cross-examination, prosecutor Gerrie Nel accused Pistorius of having a selective memory on incriminating details of the night he killed her in the bathroom.

HEALTH

14) Teen alarm

Ana Madigibuli
Sunday, April 13, 2014

THIRTY four cases of teenage pregnancies have been reported in the first quarter of the year, with two cases involving girls below 15.

The situation has been described as alarming by Women and Social Welfare Minister Dr Jiko Luveni.

Dr Luveni said awareness was of great importance in addressing the increasing number of teenage pregnancies.

The minister said most of the young girls were between the ages of 16 and 18.

“We have recruited a project officer who comes with vast experience in terms of working with youths and awareness programs as conducted in partnership with the Ministry of Health,” she said.

“Through awareness programs, parents are empowered with information and communication skills that will encourage them to address these issues in their homes.”

She said youths also had the opportunity to talk about the challenges they faced and at the same time acquire information to make decisions regarding their reproductive health.

“It is very important that we work with parents and even the church groups to teach moral values to our children.We need the partnership of the church groups, NGOs, women and youth groups along with the community support to achieve the ultimate goal of the reproductive health unit which is to reduce unwanted pregnancies and ensure a better future for the young girls.”

The ministry has highlighted that as part of its awareness program, the reproductive health also provides contraceptives and advice on family planning. The unit is scheduled to be in the Western Division from April 21 to 25.

Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre co-ordinator Shamima Ali said teenage pregnancies had been a big issue in the country for some time.

“These are the numbers that are being tracked so far but there are a lot of cases out there that are not reported by the young girls,” she said.

“We should understand that young people are sexually active at this certain age and a lot of the cases reported are even with the girls own relatives and there are a lot of cases where this is often ignored.

“This topic is often considered taboo for parents to discuss with their children here in Fiji and the influence of the media such as pornography is a contributing factor to such an issue.”

She said such issues needed to be highlighted by parents and women NGOs needed to play their part when going into the various communities, by openly talking to both men and women about being sexually active at a certain age.http://www.fijitimes.com/

POLITIC

15) Fiji Election depends on valid candidates: Supervisor of Election

By Online Editor
3:46 pm GMT+12, 11/04/2014, Fiji

Elections will be held if there are more than 50 valid candidates, Fiji’s Supervisor of Elections (SOE) Mohammed Saneem confirmed in an update today on progress towards election.

This will be determined by 22 August, four days after the nomination period ends.

“If there are more than 50 candidates – one becomes a candidate if their nomination is accepted – then we will have election,” he said.

Whether someone qualifies or not to be a candidate, the Fijian Elections Office will determine this in accordance with section 23 of the Electoral Decree which outlines the criteria that a nominee must meet. “It has got a comprehensive criteria that we have to apply,” he said.

Earlier in the day the SOE briefed the political parties on the timelines.

“They were appreciative of the idea that they can organize with us and come to us with their political party nomination which we will then process,” he said.

“We are allowing them some time to finalise their nominations and very very important to us is to give them the best information.”

The nomination period will be notified by the Electoral Commission (EC) who will also release details of the place of nomination.

The parties will also be given time to withdraw and/or object to any nomination.

Appeals on nomination issues will also be allowed.

Confirmed Timeline (Courtesy of: Fijian Elections Office (FEO))

*30 April 2014 – Fiji Election office to identify suitable polling stations

*30 April – Finalise the entire list of proposed polling stations for election

*18 August – End of nomination period

*By 12pm on 19 Aug 2014 – Withdrawal of nomination

*By 4pm on 19 August 2014 – Objections to nominations

*22 August– Appeals on nomination issues

*25 August– National Candidates List (Prepared by SOE)

*1 September– Ballot papers to be ready

*17 September– Election Day (start at 7.30am and finishes at 6.30pm).

SOURCE: FIJI LIVE/PACNEWS

16) Convicted Chaudhry remains Fiji Labour Party leader

By Online Editor
3:44 pm GMT+12, 11/04/2014, Fiji

There has been no change in the leadership of the Fiji Labour Party.

FLP President Lavenia Padarath has confirmed to FBC News, Mahendra Chaudhry remains the party leader despite being convicted by the Suva high Court.

FBC NEWS approached Padarath outside the elections office where Chaudhry was notably absent from a briefing with the Electoral Commission.

“If he’s is not here today, he is either got other commitments to attend to, so we share the responsibility of the FLP, so there were two of us here today. No we are all there, nothing as changed, if you need to know, nothing has changed in the office, he is still very much there, i think we don’t want to pre-empt anything, we have to await the 01 of May,” said Padarath.

When questioned about Mahendra Chaudhry being ineligible to contest the 2014 elections, Padarath says they are aware of the law and will make a statement after Chaudhry’s sentencing.

“We will be able to issue anything further, come May 1st, after his case is concluded.Of course, we always have to have our contingency plan, but you know its not for us to release to you now.”

Chaudhry faces a maximum sentencing of 2 years or about FJD$9  million in penalty.

SOURCE: FBC NEWS/PACNEWS

MEDIA 

17) Televised New Caledonia election debate cancelled

11 April 2014

A planned televised debate in New Caledonia over the electoral roll controversy has deen cancelled at the last minute after an apparent disagreement over who should take part.

The debate was to cover the legal wrangle over who is allowed to vote in next month’s provincial elections, with the pro-independence side insisting that more than 6,700 voters be struck off.

There has been a radio debate on the subject earlier this week, which found a strong echo on social media.

Voting will be restricted to long-term residents in line with the decolonisation process which, after the election, opens the way for a possible independence referendum.

While the FLNKS side insists that the rules exclude those voters who failed to be registered by 1998, the loyalist camp says taking these challenges to court risks to undo the 25 years of peace the territory has enjoyed.

A tribunal has this week vetted thousands of complaints but its verdict is not known.

It is expected that some decisions will be appealed in France’s highest court.

The election is expected to go ahead as planned but its result may be contested.http://www.radionz.co.nz/

18) Fiji Government looking to take action against social media comments

12 April 2014

The Fiji Government says it is looking to pursue defamation and contempt of court proceedings against a self-exiled lawyer for comments on social media sites.

Rajendra Chaudhry, the son of the leader of the Fiji Labour Party, Mahendra Chaudhry, criticised the recent decision of the High Court in finding his father guilty of breaching the Exchange Controls Act.

The Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum told Fiji Broadcasting Corporation that he is starting to look at how the courts can pursue those who publish allegedly defamatory and contemptuous comments online.

Rajendra Chaudhry left Fiji after being suspended for professional misconduct in 2012.

Fiji’s Independent Legal Services Commission also ordered the closure of his law firm, Gordon and Chaudhry.http://www.radionz.co.nz/

BUSINESS


19) Bougainville Copper shareholders call for independent inquiry into civil war
By Online Editor
3:42 pm GMT+12, 11/04/2014, Papua New Guinea

A group of shareholders is calling on the Rio-Tinto subsidiary, Bougainville Copper Ltd, to appoint an independent jurist to conduct a full inquiry into the involvement of the company in the civil war on PNG’s Autonomous Region of Bougainville, before it goes ahead with any plans to re-open its mine.

The move is being coordinated by a new lobby group, the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility.

The civil war, which left up to 20,000 dead, was fought between PNG forces and the Bougainville Revolutionary Army, amid ethnic tensions among local Bougainvilleans and Papua New Guineans from other parts of the country.

“During that period there was clearly involvement of both Bougainville Copper and the Papua New Guinea government and I think the wounds from that are still not have still not healed that is the biggest issue,” said Caroline Le Couter, executive director of the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility.

Prior to taking on the job at the centre, Caroline Le Couteur, spent 17 years on the board of Australian Ethical Investments Ltd, a company with more than $700 million under management.

Le Couteur told Pacific Beat the best chance of BCL’s mine being re-opened will come from commitments to good corporate citizenship.

“I think it is important in terms of having a fresh start for Bougainville Copper, that we are starting again, that we are listening to the people of Bougainville and that is why we are looking for an independent person to, on behalf of Bougainville Copper, to look at what the issues are and how things can be better in the future,” she said.

“There is no interest for shareholders obviously in repeating the problems of the past.

“We want a positive future and that will only be a positive future if the people of Bougainville feel it is going to be a positive future.”

Bougainville Copper Ltd has told the Australian Stock Exchange shareholders will be asked to vote on  two resolutions.

The first will be to commit the company to sign up to international human rights and environmental standards.

The second to call for the appointment of an independent jurist of outstanding achievement to conduct a full inquiry into the company’s involvement in counter-insurgency on the island of Bougainville during the civil war in the late 1980’s and nineties.

The votes will take place during an annual general meeting to be held on 6 May at the Grand Papua Hotel in Port Moresby.
SOURCE: RADIO AUSTRALIA/PACNEWS

20) Vodafone launches S5 device

Geraldine Panapasa
Saturday, April 12, 2014

IN an effort to deliver cutting-edge technology to the Fiji market, Vodafone Fiji Limited has launched the highly-anticipated Samsung Galaxy S5.

In a statement yesterday, Vodafone Fiji sales and marketing general manager Rajnesh Prasad said the S5 had been the most anticipated smartphone in the local market.

“This is a historical moment and an achievement for Vodafone Fiji as we are the first to launch the Samsung Galaxy S5 and are on par with the global launch of the Galaxy S5 device.

“We already have a good number of online pre-orders from our customers.”

He said the S5 carried a faster chipset, a bigger screen and “a couple of exciting new sensors such as heart rate monitor and fingerprint scanner”.

With a vastly improved camera on top it has 4K video recording and a bigger battery among other in-built applications.

He said Vodafone would give one lucky customer the chance to win the gadget through a text promotion.http://www.fijitimes.com/

21) Fiji Airways reports profit after tax
By Online Editor
3:48 pm GMT+12, 11/04/2014, Fiji

Air Pacific Group Friday announced its financial results for the nine months period ended 31 December 2013, a stub financial year for Fiji’s National Airline.

The Group changed its financial year to reflect the calendar year following a Board decision. The prior financial year was from 1st April – 31st March 2013.

Nalin Patel, Chairman of Board of Directors of Air Pacific Limited Trading as Fiji Airways said that both airlines, Fiji Airways and Pacific Sun, and its consolidated group made profits for the nine months period ended 31 December 2013.

Air Pacific Group comprises Fiji Airways, its wholly owned subsidiary Pacific Sun, and a 38.75% stake in the Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa on Denarau Island.

Air Pacific Group reported an operating profit before income tax of $14.2 million (US$7.7 million) for the nine-month period ended 31 December 2013, compared to an operating profit before income tax of $22.4 million (US$12.2 million) for the preceding twelve month period ended 31 March 2013.

On a net basis, the Group reported an after tax profit of $14.5 million (US$7.9 million) for the nine months period compared to $17.8 million(US$9.7 million) from the preceding 12-month period. The nine months performance was driven by an increase in passenger numbers by 2.5 % with an additional revenue of 1.0%, hence a slight yield decrease of -1.5 % due to the relentless competitive environment, especially from/to the US and Australia.

Patel notes: “2013 was a major transition year for Fiji Airways. We rebranded to Fiji Airways in a nod to our heritage and our home and the new brand continues to win awards and accolades for us. And we changed over from our long serving B747 aircraft to the more efficient A330 wide-body aircraft. This transition alone accounted for more than $14 million (USD$7.6 million) one-time transition expenses in the Financial Year 2013. Our finance costs increased by $33.6 million (US$18.3 million) as we added these new aircraft to our Fiji Airways fleet.”

“We also brought in Mr Stefan Pichler as new Managing Director and CEO to lead Fiji Airways to new levels. For the Board, this means confidence in the further growth path for the airline’s fleet, network, people, services, sustainable profitability and increased returns to the shareholders in the years ahead. I am confident that our dedicated team will deliver while remaining true to the Airline’s roots and maintaining its focus on its key principles of enhance level of safety, reliability and operational excellence.”

Stefan Pichler, MD&CEO comments: “Our recently approved Five Year Master Plan sets the foundation for sustainable and profitable growth between now and the end of 2017. It’s an incredibly exciting time for us, as we get ready to bring new aircraft in, growing our fleet by 25%. We have announced new routes and have strengthened in particular our South Pacific network. We’re pursuing new airline partnerships as well as working together more closely with our current allies and we will also work closer with our business partners in the travel trade and in cargo.Our operational performance in the past 6 months has been significantly improving, with an average on-time performance of 82.5% for Fiji Airways and 92.7% for Pacific Sun, soon to be rebranded to Fiji Link.”

“We will make sure that our staff, our shareholders and of course our customers will all benefit from our future success. I would like to personally thank every single one of our 1009 team members as we look forward to exciting times,” he said.

Attorney-General and Minister for Public Enterprises  Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said that not long ago, few believed the airline could even survive.

“But the Fijian Government acted decisively to save it by ensuring dynamic management and instituting financial discipline that has led to job security and job growth,” he said. “It is through the collaboration of the Fijian Government, the Fiji Airways Board, and the staff that our national airline now has a very strong and firm footing for the future.”

Highlights of FY2013 (April 1st – December 31st 2013) include:

•Relaunch as Fiji Airways and introduction new aircraft, uniforms and on-board products;
•Induction of two brand new A330s into the fleet;
•Decision to rebrand of Pacific Sun to Fiji Link in mid-2014;
•Development of our Five Year Master Plan to grow the airline with increased operating profits, driven by a larger fleet, more seat capacity and a larger network;
•Release of new schedules to strengthen our network, with Suva-Sydney, Suva-Apia and Nadi-Honiara  as direct flights, as well as more frequencies for flights from Fiji to Hong Kong, Christchurch and Funafuti (Tuvalu);
•A new lease arrangement for a brand new ATR 72-600 aircraft for Pacific Sun;
•A new cargo interline agreement with Emirates SkyCargo;
•The winning of various awards and accolades on our new brand and aircraft livery.

SOURCE: FIJI AIRWAYS/PACNEWS

22) Hopes to boost Fiji’s fish export: Seruiratu

By Online Editor
1:02 pm GMT+12, 11/04/2014, Fiji

Fiji exported FJD$$5.9 million (US$3.6 million) worth of fish and fisheries products to the European Union last year.

And Fisheries Minister Lt Colonel Inia Seruiratu anticipates the figure to increase as the country expects to gradually increase exports over the coming months by taking advantage of the Marine Stewardship Council certification on its albacore long line fleet.

He also reassured Fiji’s commitment to efforts to combat illegal fishing as per the European Union’s IUU Fishing Regulations of 2008, recognizing the EU as being an important market for the country’s sugar and fish and fishery products.

Addressing Trade Ministers and officials of the Pacific ACP countries in Suva last night, Seruiratu admitted that Fiji’s yellow carding by the EU in October 2012 was a wake-up call. Since then the Fiji Fishing Industry has implemented reforms to fix weaknesses that were identified and effectively and efficiently contribute to the global combat of IUU fishing.

Changes included modernising the fisheries laws through the promulgation of the Offshore Fisheries Management Decree in 2012.

It has also reviewed their Tuna Management and Development Plan and the National Plan of Action on IUU Fishing that were adopted in March 2014, it formulated the national plan of action on sharks, formulated a strategy on national fleet operating areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ), and drafted an offshore fisheries management regulation.

The fisheries ministries has also beefed up its work force, approving 25 new positions that have been filled in January this year, bringing the total work force to 53.

These new recruits also underwent training on the new fisheries laws, fisheries investigation.

Later this month they will be undertaking training on dockside boarding and inspection. Seruiratu credits the assistance of the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) and EU-funded initiatives administered by FFA and SPC in the successful implementation of these reforms.

“The only two outstanding issues we have with the EU are the adoption of the Offshore Fisheries Management Regulation and that of the strategy on our fleet operating in the ABNJ,” Seruiratu said.

“In this regards we anticipate the adoption of both outstanding issues by cabinet before the end of this month.”

Seruiratu also called on Pacific ACP member countries to “accept with open arms and comply with findings” should they be visited by the EU IUU Fishing Regulation compliance team which is mandated to identify weaknesses in countries with regards to combating IUU fishing. “Comply with the findings,” he said.

He said if the countries feel the recommendations are impinging in their sovereignty, Seruiratu urged leaders to be open-minded and discuss it with the concerned authority.

“At this juncture the finalization of the negotiations is very important for some of the PACP states. As a united region we can achieve a better agreement on our terms that provides markets and at the same time ensures the sustainability of our vital resources for the betterment of our people,” Seruiratu said.

The PACP Trade Ministers meeting ends today in Suva.
SOURCE: FIJI LIVE/PACNEWS

23) New Zealand Opens Doors To Seasonal Workers From Fiji
Further softening of relations comes as Foreign Ministers meet

By Nasik Swami

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, April 11, 2014) – More Fijian workers will soon be given the opportunity to hold jobs in New Zealand following confirmation from its government that it will take immediate action to include Fijian workers in the seasonal workers program.

The decision was made after a meeting between Foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola and his New Zealand counterpart Murray McCully in Suva yesterday.

An Information Ministry statement released yesterday stated the bilateral talks signalled a new chapter in Fiji-New Zealand relations as the two countries sought to chart the way forward with goodwill and positive co-operation.

The statement added that Mr McCully expressed New Zealand’s readiness to work closely with Fiji on areas of mutual co-operation and to provide assistance in areas of need.

He said New Zealand would also re-look at current development assistance programs for Fiji to enable greater co-operation between the two governments and their respective public institutions.

The statement went on to detail that leaders had agreed that establishing a joint annual forum for bilateral exchanges at ministerial and senior officials level would facilitate the expected increase in interaction between the two governments.

Mr McCully also assured New Zealand’s plans to consider expanding its scholarship opportunities to Fiji.

“Other assistance such as training of Fiji’s foreign service officials and study visits for Fijian civil servants are also being considered for immediate action.”

The meeting between the two ministers was the first since the New Zealand Government lifted all sanctions against the Fijian Government last month.

Fiji Times Online.

24) Expensive exercise

Consumer Council Of Fiji
Saturday, April 12, 2014

GEORGE and Melina, newly and happily married, just moved into their own flat in Samabula.

The couple had so much to do. An enthusiastic Melina couldn’t wait to decorate her lounge and kitchen.

Her mum had given her some domestic electrical appliances but what she really needed was a fridge, a washing machine and a toaster. The two went ahead and purchased the three items, everything went well up until after a year of purchase.

The fridge door began dripping. Having spent $1700 on the fridge and with a year’s warranty, Melina was anxious to seek redress from the trader where she bought the fridge from — she wanted a replacement.

To her dismay, the trader refused a replacement, instead offered to repair the fridge and that too with a cost.

To this, Melina turned furious as she had a warranty. Melina and George received their “repaired” fridge after a week but, the fridge was still leaking.

The leaking fridge was again taken for repairs. This happened thrice. Melina reached a boiling point and demanded a full refund or a brand new fridge from the trader.

The trader kept giving her the run around and the frustrated couple lodged a complaint with the Consumer Council of Fiji. A positive outcome was reached after mediation and Melina finally received a new fridge of another brand.

It was unfortunate, that despite a warranty, Melina was given the run around by the trader simply because there was no proper back-up service available for the item.

Like Melina, many other consumers end up buying electronic goods without double-checking for availability of spare parts and other back up service — all that catches their eyes is the zero-dollar deposit promotion and many still purchase items without doing research on the products.

The consumer watchdog continues to receive similar complaints. From January to February 2014, the council received 35 complaints.

The nature of complaints ranged from faulty, counterfeit brands and refurbished electrical items being sold with no spare parts or back up service; items malfunctioned within days of use; and no proper redress given to customers despite warranty.

Buying electronic goods such as washing machines, dryer, freezer, radio and television is not same as buying a packet of biscuits.

It is an expensive affair for many consumers as they have to plan and save for months before they make such purchases.

Therefore, the council is reminding consumers to be responsible from their end by doing the following before purchasing electrical items:

* Checkout different brand — seek advice from others but be your own judge and look around for a variety of brands available locally and which one suits you best;

* Ask about back-up services — not all brands carry back-up services in Fiji, therefore, it is important to find out whether the brand you are intending to buy has back-up services available or not;

* Beware of any item that is much cheaper than you expected. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.

* Check for any visible damage, especially loose or broken fittings or frayed wires. Get the item tested if possible.

* This is a regular contribution from the Consumer Council of Fiji. Email: mediaofficer@consumersfiji.org for feedback.

25) ANZ opens in Shanghai Free Trade Zone

By Online Editor
09:40 am GMT+12, 11/04/2014, China

Australia and New Zealand Bank (China) Company Limited (“ANZ China”) Thursday opened its sub-branch in the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone (FTZ) to help customers take advantage of the opportunities expected to come with China’s financial market liberalisation.

Speaking at the opening, ANZ Chief Executive Officer Mike Smith said: “Asia is on track to dominate global financial markets by 2030 with Shanghai becoming a global financial centre.

“The Chinese government is actively pursuing further financial liberalisation that supports economic growth by opening up its domestic financial system to international capital flows through the Free Trade Zone.

“As the first Australian bank in the Zone, ANZ is positioned to participate in China’s financial market deregulation and the opportunities this presents for trade and investment flows between China and Australia, New Zealand and the rest of the region. This new branch will help our customers in China access international trade finance services with tax and tariff advantages,”Smith said.

Under the FTZ’s current regulatory framework, the sub-branch will offer a range of banking products and services including trade finance, foreign exchange, commodity finance and cash management in both foreign and local currencies to ANZ China’s customer base of large Chinese and multinational companies.

The opening ceremony was attended by Deputy Director of the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone Administration, Jian Danian and the Australian Minister for Trade and Investment, The Hon Andrew Robb AO MP.

Robb said Chinese consumers and companies would increasingly require more sophisticated financial services as China’s international trade and investment flows grew.  This would create opportunities for Australia’s and China’s banks.

“I congratulate ANZ on being at the forefront of Australian financial services in China. Australia has a strong track record in financial services and we look forward to supporting China through its own journey of financial reform.”

ANZ has had a presence in China since 1986 and was locally incorporated in 2010. It has branches in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chongqing and Hangzhou, as well as an operations centre in Chengdu. It also has strategic partnerships with Shanghai Rural Commercial Bank and Bank of Tianjin.
SOURCE: ANZ/PACNEWS

LAW&ORDER

26) Complaints against police increase

Shayal Devi
Sunday, April 13, 2014

COMPLAINTS against police in the Western Division increased by 8 per cent in the first quarter of 2014 over the final quarter last year.

There were 71 complaints against police and 23 against services.

Acting Commissioner of Police Ravi Narayan said this while addressing West policemen and women during the first quarter parade at the Natabua High School grounds last Thursday.

“You need to be more professional in the way you perform your duties,” he said. “In the past few days some policemen have been subjected to investigations on various issues and some have been charged for neglect and conduct.”

Mr Narayan said the force needed to put a stop to such complaints.

“There are some observations made by our Internal Affairs Division in regards to causes of unprofessionalism in the Western Division.

“These include neglect in writing down reports lodged by complainants. Officers assure the complainants that their reports have been recorded but in reality they are not.

“Do not lie.”

He said there were also instances where police failed to follow up on a report once it was lodged.

“We have also noted failure on our part to bring in the suspects once a report has been lodged.”http://www.fijitimes.com/

CLIMATE CHANGE,CONSERVATION & ENVIROMENT

27) Concerns over disease in Solomons evacuation camps

12 April 2014

The Solomon Islands government says there are still up to 10,000 people in 24 evacuation camps after flooding that claimed 21 lives.

The Red Cross says there are at least two people still missing.

The Permanent Secretary for the ministry of women, youth, children and family affairs, Ethel Sigimanu, says she is concerned about pregnant women in the centres.

She says the government’s main concern now is to improve sanitation in the camps to prevent disease.

“The diet is not mixed with vegetables or things like that. It’s normally rice and noodles and fish. So there are nutritional issues as well. One major issue is to do with sanitation. Where you have a camp that houses about more than a thousand people, there are not enough toilets, the water is not sufficient.”

Ethel Sigimanu says the strong earthquake off the coast of Bougainville yesterday was felt in Guadalcanal but she has not heard of any casualties from it.

The flooding has affected around 52,000 people, which is 10 per cent of the population.http://www.radionz.co.nz/

28) Red Cross in Solomons aiming to get drinking water to all this weekend

on 12 April 2014

The Solomon Islands Red Cross says two people remain missing due to floods, while it is focusing on providing clean drinking water to the thousands still in evacuation camps.

Purified water is being supplied to evacuation centres in Honiara and two centres on the city boundary, and all evacuation centres will have fresh water this weekend.

A third water purification device has been set up in East Guadalcanal and is servicing Nguvia, Solrice, Roroni and Soitu.

The Deputy Secretary General of the Red Cross, Clement Manuri, says the next step is to get the non-food items like clothes and blankets to those outside Honiara who have lost homes.

“We also have people whose homes have been destroyed, but they are living with their relatives in Honiara, so those are the people who are yet to be reached with those NFIs, so I think the next action would be to also distribute items to those people who have their homes destroyed.”

Clement Manuri.http://www.radionz.co.nz/

29) Solomon Islanders on alert after big quake near Makira

13 April 2014

People in Solomon Islands are being warned to be on alert and stay listening to the radio in case of more tremors after a major earthquake off Makira sparked a tsunami warning.

The warning, for Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu, was lifted about an hour after the tremor.

The magnitude 7 point 6 tremor was at a depth of 33 kilometres and about 300 kilometres from the capital Honiara.

Its epicentre was near where a similar quake occurred on Friday a week ago.

Another earthquake hit neighbouring Bougainville on Friday night claiming at least one life.

Our correspondent in Honiara, Dorothy Wickham, says there no reports of damage through yet but people in the capital felt it.

“Tremor’s what woke me up this morning. I think the previous one we had during the floods, I think about 6.1, there was a slight tremor here in Honiara but we didn’t really feel it but this morning it was actually quite strong. Buildings actually shook here. Basically what’s issued now is for them to be listening out to the radio and taking note of what is happening around them, and just be careful of where they are, in case another tremor comes and it’s stronger than the one at 7.30 this morning.”http://www.radionz.co.nz/

30) Tsunami threat averted after earthquake strikes Solomon Islands

Updated 13 April 2014, 11:34 AEST

A 7.6 magnitude earthquake has hit the Solomon Islands as the country recovers from devastating floods.

The quake hit in the early hours of Sunday morning,100 kilometres south of Kira Kira on the island of Makira at a depth of 33 kilometres.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said sea level readings indicate a tsunami was generated and may have been destructive along coasts near the epicentre.

However, an initial tsunami warning for Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia and Vanuatu has since bee been cancelled.

Graham Kenna from Save the Children said the quake was the worst one he’d felt for some time.

“I was counting it — that’s what we do when we get earthquakes here — and it was for 25 seconds,” he told the ABC from the capital Honiara.

“The initial reports were that is was going to be an 8.3 earthquake so panic set in in in the displaced camps where we have all these people that have just been rescued from the flood.”

Mr Kenna said there was a small tsunami in Santa Ana, close to the epicentre, however Solomons authorities were checking outlying islands to see if any had been affected.

Many still homeless

Ten days after devastating flash-flooding hit Solomon Islands, there are still 50,000 to 60,000 people homeless – most without shelter and fresh water.

A total of 21 people were killed in the floods that swept through Honiara, and elsewhere on the main island of Guadalcanal as well as Isabel Province. At least two people are still missing.

Major roads throughout Guadalcanal are ruined and bridges have collapsed, making it hard for emergency teams to assess the damage.

This week, Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop announced a $3 million aid package to help country recover.http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/

31) One confirmed dead following strong earthquakes in Bougainville

12 April 2014

Two strong earthquakes on Friday night in Bougainville have claimed the life of a young child as houses collapsed in the southern provinces.

A resident, Lawrence Daveona, says people were running to the hills in fear of a tsunami, but there has been no warning issued and no reports of any tsunami since the 7.3 quake, which was followed by a 6.8 quake.

The Acting Deputy Administrator of Operations for the Autonomous Bougainville Government, Herbert Kimai, says he is still waiting for reports from Torokina and Sewai but says a four-year-old child died in Buin after a house collapsed in Maluata village.

He says other houses collapsed in Ugukau village, and the quakes were also felt as far north as Buka.

“Here in Buka, you know the house swaying and floating, it lasted for a few minutes, I think less than two minutes, but that’s Buka, and in Buin it actually got down the houses and of course caused the death of the four year old child. He pronounced dead at the Buin Health Centre last night.”

Herbert Kimai says he fears the heavy rains that have caused flooding in the Solomons are headed towards Bougainville.http://www.radionz.co.nz/

32) Cyclone Ita Hits PNG’s Milne Bay Province Islands
No casualties reported despite heavy rain, flooding, power outages

By Konopa Kana

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, April 11, 2014) – Cyclone Ita is 260 miles from Port Moresby but the aftermath of the tropical cyclone is causing unusually heavy rains in the National Capital District yesterday.

Milne Bay Province is also affected after the storm ripped through on Wednesday afternoon. All schools have been closed and public servants told to stop work as heavy rain continues.

Acting administrator Michael Kape advised the people to stay indoors to avoid flooding, gale winds and storm surge as Cyclone Ita was upgraded to a category four storm.

Mr Kape said the Islands worst hit are Rossell, Sudest, Misima, Samarai, Woodlark and Suau coast with unconfirmed reports of casualties. He said that Alotau mainland has experienced strong winds, flood and heavy rains.

Provincial disaster coordinator Eric Balaria confirmed heavy rains, flooding and power black outages as the cyclone made landfall in Alotau on Wednesday afternoon.

Mr Balaria said the township was hit by heavy rains and strong winds that tossed over power pole and causing floods that destroyed food gardens and a couple of houses. “As of yesterday airlines and boats have to restricted to travel into the province until further notice,” Mr Balaria said.

He said the disaster office is monitoring the situation and collecting data but so far there are no reports of casualties in the province. Mr Balaria said power has been restored as of yesterday to the main business area in the town but most of the residential areas are still experiencing blackouts.

A resident in Alotau told the Post-Courier that a tree fell and uprooted his house but his family is safe.

The National Weather Service gave a cyclone warning update of severe tropical cyclone and people along the coastal areas in Milne Bay, Central, Gulf and Western province are advice to stay away from the coast waters until further notice.

According to the weather service the central pressure of cyclone Ita is 958 hectopascals and is about 170km south of Amazon Bay and 260km southeast of Port Moresby.

The storm is packing winds of up to 13km an hour, the weather service office said.

PNG Post-Courier

33) More than 50,000 affected in PNG by cyclone Ita

By Online Editor
3:40 pm GMT+12, 11/04/2014, Papua New Guinea

It is estimated 54,000 people in Papua New Guinea have been affected by tropical cyclone Ita and authorities expect that number to rise.

Cyclone Ita grew to a category three as it passed the eastern tip of mainland PNG over the past few days.

It is now a category five and heading towards the Queensland coast.

The co-ordinator of the Milne Bay provincial disaster office, Eric Balaria, says the south-eastern Rossel and Sudest islands, in the Louisiade archipelago, are the worst affected.

“Total of about 54,000 people affected, about 11,000 households. Houses destroyed so far 1,134. Food gardens destroyed 5,390. So that’s the figure we received as of yesterday.”

Eric Balaria says he expects the figures to climb as more reports come in from isolated areas.

There have been no reports of deaths or injuries so far.

SOURCE: RNZI/PACNEWS

34) Powerful magnitude 7.1 quake hits off Papua New Guinea

Updated 11 April 2014, 23:59 AEST
PNG correspondent Liam Cochrane, wires

A powerful magnitude 7.1 earthquake has struck off Papua New Guinea with a 6.7-magnitude aftershock following the quake off the island of Bougainville.

A powerful magnitude 7.1 earthquake has struck off Papua New Guinea, US officials said.

The US Geological Survey says the quake was measured at a depth of around 50 kilometres and was about 52 kilometres from the town of Panguna on Bougainville island.

A 6.7-magnitude aftershock has followed the quake off the island of Bougainville.

“They would have gotten a strong shake across the island, and there’s the possibility of some damage,” David Jepsen from Geoscience Australia said.

Residents in the northern town of Buka and the southern town of Buin say they felt the quake.

A local journalist says two water tanks have been damaged near Buin.

There have been no immediate reports of injuries or major damage.

Local tsunami warning

The Global Disaster and Coordination System has issued an alert for a small tsunami with a maximum height of 40 centimetres after the first quake.

While the Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre has ruled out the threat of a Pacific-wide destructive tsunami, Mr Jepsen says there is a possibility of a local tsunami in PNG.

He says the depth of the quake could not be accurately defined except that it was under 50 kilometres.

“If it’s really shallow like 10 (kilometres deep), there’s more possibility of (local) tsunami,” he said.

ABC/AFP

35) Tropical Cyclone Ita: major flooding as category one storm reaches Townsville

Updated 13 April 2014, 11:39 AEST

Tropical Cyclone Ita could continue to affect residents in north Queensland until mid-week, according to the weather bureau.

The category one system is currently moving over Townsville, bringing strong winds and heavy rain, and residents along the coast are facing flooding and power outages.

The Bureau of Meteorology says gales of up to 110 kilometres an hour are likely between Innisfail and Mackay until this evening, and a cyclone warning remains current for coastal areas from Cardwell to Yeppoon.

External Link: Twitter widget #TCIta

Ergon Energy crews are working busily to restore power to about 16,000 people across the region, including 6,000 in Cairns and 1,800 in Townsville, with some Cooktown businesses getting electricity last night.

The bureau’s Greg Connor says the system is not expected to ease in severity for the rest of the day.

“It is moving very quickly, at about 26 kilometres an hour to the south-east, and we are expecting it to track towards the central coast near Proserpine, Shute Harbour, by about 9:00pm before it moves offshore north of Yeppoon,” he said.

Authorities say the Bruce Highway at Ingham could be cut by floodwaters today, as emergency crews prepare for major flooding in the town.

Hinchinbrook Shire Mayor Rodger Bow says residents should be prepared.

“Flooding in Ingham will last till probably later on tonight, 9:00-10:00pm but Halifax will still be flooded till Monday morning,” he said.

Police have closed the Bruce Highway about 70 kilometres north of Townsville.

The city’s airport has been closed and ferry services between Townsville and Magnetic Island have been cancelled.

Queensland Premier Campbell Newman is today touring areas that were hit by the cyclone on Friday night.

He is visiting Cooktown and Hope Vale where he is getting an update on the storm’s impact.

The Cook Shire Council says water supplies are critically low at Cooktown.

Cyclone Ita emergency information

Read the latest warnings on the ABC Emergency page
Full list of road closures
Ergon Energy’s information on power outages
ABC Far North (radio stream)

The Council’s CEO, Steve Wilton, says it is evaluating damage and reconnecting properties to the water supply.

“People must not use a hose for any reason,” he said.

“Personal consumption and minimal hygiene is all that people can use the water for.

“Police are around patrolling now because naturally people say ‘oh, we’ve got the water back, we’ll hose off our house or driveway or whatever’. That can’t happen otherwise we will run out of water this afternoon.”

Access to power and phone services have also been a concern and authorities say they are working as quickly as possible to restore all services.

External Link: Track the movements of Cyclone Ita

Cooktown clean-up continues

Cooktown is still in recovery mode and could be cut off to the south for days after the Annan River burst its banks and muddy floodwaters swallowed the main supply route.

While flooding cut many roads around Cooktown, SES crews were able to reach some nearby communities, including Hope Vale, but others, such as Wujal Wujal, are still cut off.

The weather bureau’s Doug Fraser says heavy downpours are set to continue.

“Lake Morris, Copperlode there, with 223mm and as you head southwards, [there were] plenty of falls over the 100mm and [they are] expected to continue,” he said.

Mr Newman says the heavy rain has caused significant problems.

“In Kuranda, we have seen significant damage to one house and moderate damage to three others from trees coming down in Mossman,” he said.

“Ten to 15 homes have suffered flood damage while other roads have been flooded in the area. At Port Douglas, there have been 25 to 30 residences isolated due to flooding.

Family caught up in storm

An extended family caught up at the Port Douglas evacuation centre during the cyclone was fulfilling an important promise, Leonie Mellor writes.

“We can expect significant rainfall right down the coast. Falls of up to 300mm in locations. That means we are going to see significant flooding on various coastal rivers and creek systems.

“It means that roads will be blocked and again I urge people [to] restrict their travel to only the vital travel.

“The best way people can remain safe is to sit in their homes and wait this one out.”

After a sleepless night on Friday, most Cooktown locals have not starting mopping up, with bad weather yesterday delaying clean-up and repair efforts for many residents.

Mr Newman says a number of buildings in the town were damaged or destroyed.

“There have been four buildings destroyed, four severely damaged, four moderately damaged and 42 have suffered minor damage,” he said.

“Hope Vale is a community we have had great difficulty getting too. The mobile phone network is out and we will get people in from Telstra as soon as we possibly can safely.”

Many who sheltered in Cooktown came from isolated properties and have had the most difficult job getting back to their homes to start repairs.

Ergon spokesman Mark Timmerman says power has been restored to most homes in the Kuranda area and crews are out in the Cairns area this morning now that conditions have eased.

“Some good news for Cooktown, Hope Vale and Wujal Wujal customers last night; we were able to get extra crew into Cooktown via a flight,” he said.

“We will also be sending another planeload of reinforcements to Cooktown this morning as soon as possible and those crews will begin the job of looking at our network up there.”

An emergency flash flooding alert was issued for the Redlynch Valley Estate near Cairns last night but the local council said no evacuations were required.

Mr Newman has appointed Inspector Kevin Gutteridge as the state’s disaster recovery coordinator.

Inspector Gutteridge played a key role in organising recovery efforts in Bundaberg, in southern Queensland, following the 2013 floods.

“Inspector Gutteridge has the runs on the board working in the Bundaberg area for the last few months,” Mr Newman said.

“He will come up here from Tuesday morning and he will be here for at least three months – here for as long as the job takes.

“He will coordinate the activities of state agencies and local governments. He’ll be the point man with the authority to get the job done.”

Worst over, but Cairns and coastal areas remain on alert

Queensland Police are renewing their appeal for motorists not to drive through floodwaters in Cairns, after several people had to be rescued overnight.

A truck driver had a lucky escape after a semi-trailer was swept off the Bruce Highway south of Cairns.

Senior Sergeant James Coate says police rescued a woman who attempted to drive through floodwaters at Yorkeys Knob around 3:30am.

He says a drunk driver also called police last night claiming he had been bashed and had his car stolen when it had actually been swept off the road at Freshwater.

“A few people have been doing silly things, entering the floodwaters when they’re clearly signed not to and as the slogan goes, if it’s flooded, forget it,” Senior Sergeant Coate said.

“It’s a quite simple thing to remember and people just seem to be ignoring it for their own ignorant reasons.”

Flash flooding is a major concern for residents in Cairns as the rain continues.

Ita is expected to maintain its tropical cyclone intensity as it tracks down the coast.http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/

EVENTS ( Community,Religion,Tribal etc)

36) Auspicious Sunday

Ana Madigibuli
Sunday, April 13, 2014

PALM Sunday is an auspicious event for Christians around the country as it highlights the role of children in the various churches.

Methodist Church in Fiji general secretary Reverend Tevita Nawadra said Palm Sunday, to the Methodist Church, was an important event because it focused on the majority of its membership, who are children and the youths.

“The Methodist Church has celebrated this for many years and we placed Palm Sunday to coincide with the day in which Jesus walked triumphantly into Jerusalem because it was on that day that the children shouted hosanna the loudest to the new King,” Mr Nawadra said.

“The children were shouting hosanna because of what they had seen in Jesus, how he cared and loved children and how he even highlighted the statement that the children are the best examples of the Kingdom of God.”

* Editorial comment: P6

church emphasised Palm Sunday because it believed the children were right in praising Jesus as a King because he showed great humility.

“The reason why children stand out from the rest during Palm Sunday is because of the honesty that they show especially when Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem,” he said.

“Our societies have now become very different and for children to keep the values that Jesus had seen in them the value of humility, honesty and trustworthiness is a great task.

“As a church we hope that the children will enjoy this Palm Sunday and our message is to encourage the children to welcome Jesus into their lives during this special day,” Mr Nawadra said.http://www.fijitimes.com/

SPORTS

37) Kumuls coach says more PNG players are capable of making leap to NRL

12 April 2014

Papua New Guinea rugby league coach Adrian Lam believes there are more players that can follow in the footsteps of Mark Mexico and sign with an NRL team.

The Hunters prop inked a deal with the Cronulla Sharks last week and is scheduled to make his debut for their New South Wales Cup team tomorrow.

Another former Hunter, Wellington Albert, also moved to NRL side Penrith in January.

Adrian Lam says there’s still a lot of other players in PNG who have the potential to join them.

“There’s probably a handful of them up there that could come straight into systems here. We’ve identified that a lot of the players are still very raw up there, because of the lack of coaching credentials in PNG, but as soon as they come into a system of professional set-up and professional coaches they learn quick time and are fast-tracked to where they want to be so that’s our goal as well at the moment to try and get as many players down. It’s exciting for the country and it’s exciting for the local players but also for the young children in Papua New Guinea who look up to these players.”

Adrian Lam.http://www.radionz.co.nz/

38) Tough match for Amicale

Zanzeer Singh
Sunday, April 13, 2014

AMICALE FC coach Nathan Hall expects a tough contest against the star studded Auckland City FC team at the Oceania Football Confederation Champions League tomorrow.

Amicale FC and Auckland FC face off in the crucial fixture that will decide the Group B winner.

Both teams are unbeaten in the competition.

Hall said the team had been undergoing recovery sessions after hammering Vodafone Shop N Save Nadi 6-0 on Friday.

“It will be a battle against Auckland City FC,” he said.

“It will be a tough and physical contest against a good footballing team. The six goals against Nadi have given us a lot of confidence.

“I have confidence in my players. I know that if we play to our ability then I got no qualms that we can achieve a positive result.”

The match will kick-off at 4pm at Churchill Park in Lautoka.

Prior to that Nadi will face AS Dragon at 1pm.http://www.fijitimes.com/

39) Souths fury at stick attack

Aap
Sunday, April 13, 2014

SYDNEY – Furious South Sydney officials have lodged a complaint to Penrith after Sam Burgess was struck in the face by a spectator as he left the field at the completion of the Rabbitohs’ 18-2 win over the Panthers on Friday.

A female supporter hit the England international forward just above the eye with a flagstick as he walked towards the change rooms.

Burgess didn’t sustain any injury and was in good spirits as he left the stadium, but declined to comment on the incident.

However, Sam’s mother Julie, who was watching the game that also involved her eldest son Luke and his younger sibling George, took to Twitter to vent her anger.

“Would love to meet the woman (I’m being kind) who hit Sam with a stick as he was leaving the pitch. Sorry Penrith people but that’s not OK,” she wrote.

Souths chief executive Shane Richardson made a formal complaint to the stadium manager and Panthers general football manager Phil Moss after the game.

The NRL’s integrity unit will now almost certainly investigate the incident which see further scrutiny of security at Sportingbet Stadium.

Last year a pitch invasion marred the end of a Test match between Tonga and Samoa.

40) IRB announces details of PNC 2014
By Online Editor
11:00 am GMT+12, 11/04/2014, Fiji

The International Rugby Board has today announced the match schedule for the IRB Pacific Nations Cup 2014.

The exciting new format will feature six teams who will compete in two pools of three. In Pool A Samoa, Tonga and Fiji will battle it out to determine the Pacific Island conference champion for 2014, while in Pool B USA, Canada and Japan will compete for the Asia/Pacific conference title.

The tournament will take place over three match days on June 7, 14 and 21.

With Rugby World Cup 2015 fast approaching, the IRB Pacific Nations Cup will give valuable and competitive game time to all six teams.

IRB Head of Competitions and Performance Mark Egan said: “The Pacific Nations Cup is an excellent opportunity for all participating teams to play some tough, competitive test matches with just over a year to go until Rugby World Cup 2015.”

“We have a long-term commitment through our 10-year Strategic Plan to create greater levels of quality Test competition for Tier Two nations in order to boost the competitiveness of the world Game.”

“The PNC will help us reach that goal, but also provide some great Rugby for local fans, especially on the last day when great rivals Fiji take on Samoa in Suva and USA host their neighbours Canada in California.”

Re-affirming its long-term commitment to boosting the Tier Two competition schedule and the competitiveness of the international Game, the IRB last week confirmed that other Tier Two Unions would be taking part in the IRB Tbilisi Cup and the IRB Nations Cup in June.

The IRB is committed to assisting Tier Two Unions close the competition gap to Tier One through a combination of investment in high performance programme support and a £3.3 million investment in competition structures for the senior national teams.

SOURCE: IRB/PACNEWS

41) FASANOC appoints top games officials to Pacific Games in 2015, Olympic Games in 2016
By Online Editor
11:08 am GMT+12, 11/04/2014, Fiji

Renowned physiotherapist Cathy Wong will be the chef de mission for Fiji to the Pacific Games in 2015 and the Olympic Games in 2016.

The appointment was announced after the Fiji Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee (FASANOC) board meeting on Wednesday.

Lyndall Fisher has also been appointed as chef de mission to the Commonwealth Games that will be held in Glasgow, Scotland in July.

FASANOC president Reg Sanday said they had full confidence in the two to carry out their duties to the best of their ability.

“Also we appointed Wayne O’Connor as the admin manager to assist Fisher with her duties for the Commonwealth Games,” he said.

“And we have appointed five general managers for the Pacific Games — Neelu Nand, Craig Strong, Caroline Williams-Whippy, Jovilisi Yaya and Paul Yee.

“We have a mixture of experience and youth and they will work very closely with Wong.”

Wong said the two assignments would have her 100 per cent attention.

“I am honoured and thankful and blessed for this opportunity,” she said.

“And we are going to get to work straight away and meet this Saturday (tomorrow) with the general managers to map out our plans for the Pacific Games in Papua New Guinea.”

She said moving Fiji from third on the medal tally after the last Pacific Games in New Caledonia to first in PNG was a daunting task.

“I will have to meet with the managers of the sports to talk about our realistic medal chances but the main aim is to improve on the standard of competition.”

Fisher echoed similar sentiments about her appointment for the Glasgow Games.

“I am honoured to be selected and I understand the enormity of the task and the event,” she said.

“It will be challenging because we have only three months to prepare for the event.”.

SOURCE: FIJI TIMES/PACNEWS

42) Fiji Athletes to pay $16,000 for games participation
By Online Editor
11:05 am GMT+12, 11/04/2014, Fiji

Fiji’s sporting federations need to pay around $16,000 (US$8,747) for each athlete for the 2015 Pacific Games.

The Fiji Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee (FASANOC) said it was working with a budget of $2.5million for the event that would be held in Papua New Guinea.

President Reg Sanday revealed at a press conference 28 different sports would be competing at the games, and Fiji could have a team of 521 people combined from both athletes and officials.

The national federations will have a levy of $16,000 per athlete, the payments will be split into four different transactions payable on August 2014, November 2014, February 2015 and April 2015.

Sanday also mentioned that the sporting bodies would have to pay an upfront bond of $2500 on the June 7 to show their commitment and dedication to the games.

“I urge all of the different sporting bodies to begin their preparations and use different fundraising campaigns to allow us the best possible opportunity for the games,” he said.

Sanday continued by sharing his excitement for the games and expressed his faith in experienced chef de mission Cathy Wong.

Wong also vowed to commit to the cause.

“You have my word that I will do everything in my power to ensure we are successful in the games and I will use all the experiences I have gained to make that a reality,” she said.

The Pacific Games take place in Port Moresby, PNG, from July 4-18 next year.

SOURCE: FIJI TIMES/PACNEWS

43) Ba in top spot
By Online Editor
10:58 am GMT+12, 11/04/2014, Fiji

-BA has booked its spot in the semi-finals of the Oceania Football Confederation Champions League after hammering Tafea FC 4-0 at Govind Park Thursday.

The Vodafone 4R Electrical Men in Black came alive in the second spell after a lacklustre and hasty performance in the first 45 minutes in which they received four yellow cards.

The big win puts the local champions in the driving seat in Group C with six points ahead of Tafea FC with three points and Hekari United and AS Magenta tied with a point each.

Ba coach Yogendra Dutt made four changes to the starting line-up which defeated AS Magenta 2-0 on Monday relegating Avinesh Suwamy, Marika Madigi, Mavileko Nakama and Josefata Neibuli to the bench.

The home side failed to settle in from the opening whistle with Peni Finau, Meli Codro, Jone Vesikula and Maciu Dunadamu copping yellow cards from referee Matt Conger.

Dalong Damalip should have put the visitors up in the 20th minute after a neat pass from Joses Nawo. However the 20-year-old blasted the ball over with only goalkeeper Epeli Codro to beat.

Moments later Vakatalesau hit the cross bar with his header following a corner kick.

An own goal gave Ba the best possible start in the second spell after pressure from Dunadamu. Vakatalesau then set up Dunadamu to score the second goal in the 51st minute.

Tafea FC was reduced to ten players after Kevin Sham received his second yellow card in the 82nd minute. From the ensuring free kick replacement Shameel Rao tapped the ball in from close range.

Nakama scored the fourth goal in the 90th minute as the visitors seemed to tire out in the wet conditions.

Ba coach Dutt said their change in tactics proved fruitful.

He applauded the efforts of the substitutes to score late in the fixture.

“In the second half things started coming up well for us,” Dutt said.

“We must remember that Maciu is playing top level football after a lapse of eight months.

“He started getting into the tune of things in the second half and then the front line started working.

“Meli made havoc on the left side he was playing. It was tactical and mind games by the officials. The substitutes should be impact players and they did well.”

Tafea FC coach Moise Poida said lack of concentration cost them dearly after halftime.

Poida said they failed to stick to their game-plan.

“We did very well in the first half and outplayed Ba,” he said.

“At halftime we tried to change some things. Then the boys failed to stick to the game-plan. Ba punched the ball in front and scored.

“We conceded four goals. The ground was wet and the boys are not used playing on it. There was lack of concentration.”

“We now have to win the next game to try to stay in the run for the semi-final.”

In the final pool matches Ba will play Hekari United while Tafea FC will face AS Magenta.

Ba: Epeli Codro, Meli Codro, Ronil Kumar, Jone Vesikula, Maciu Dunadamu, Abbu Zahid Shaheed, Remueru Tekiate, Peni Finau, Osea Vakatalesau, Ronald Lawrence, Laisenia Raura.

Tafea FC: Seloni Iaruel, Lucien Hinge, Kevin Shem, Jais Malsarani, Jonah Turu, Bong Kalo, Edisson Stephens, Dalong Damalip, Joseph Namariau, Joses Nawa, Winjo William.

SOURCE: FIJI TIMES/PACNEWS

44) Hekari held 2- 2 draw with AS Magenta
By Online Editor
10:55 am GMT+12, 11/04/2014, Fiji

The Koriak Upaiga captained Hekari United’s aim to finish second in the Group C was dashed Thursday.

This was after their game against New Caledonia champions AS Magenta in the Group C clash at Govind Park in Ba ended in 2-2 draw.

Hekari United despite the services of two Fijian International players Pita Bolaitoga and Taniela Waqa failed to spark the team.

In the 38th minute Hekari suffered a blow as they were reduced to 10 men after goalkeeper Leslie Kalai was red carded by referee Gerald Oiako for bringing down Bertrand Kai in the box.

In 51st minute Nigel Dabinyaba opened the floodgates after he easily beat goalie Jelen Ixoee from a corner.
In the 62nd minute,  AS Magenta’s Bertrand Kai headed the equaliser.

In the 65st minute Nicholas Muri scored from a accurate pass from Daniel Joe for Hekari United to lead 2-1.
But in the 71st minute, veteran Pierre Wajoka equalised for AS Magenta.

Hekari United coach Jerry Allen: The red card didn’t help proceedings and was ultimately a deciding factor in their inability to secure the three points.

“I think we wanted to win this game. We still managed to keep ourselves in the game after the sending off which was good, because 10v11 is sometimes impossible.

“But the boys stuck to the plan and played their best because we were one down. Even though we had 10 men we managed to come back and score a goal, but unfortunately so did they.”

Alain Moizan of AS Magenta:  It was another hugely disappointing display from his side and while they’re a long shot for topping the pool, he’s still keen to see improvement from his players for their final match.

“Obviously that wasn’t the result that we wanted and I’m incredibly disappointed by it.

“The result was disappointing, as well as the manner in which we got it. We showed a lot of naivety for the two goals and at this level we don’t have that right.”.

SOURCE: FIJI SUN/PACNEWS

45) US Masters: Adam Scott in hunt, while John Senden makes charge to trail leader Bubba Watson

Updated 12 April 2014, 14:36 AEST

Adam Scott remains in the hunt while John Senden is outright second at the Masters at Augusta National.

Defending champion Adam Scott recovered from a slow start to be tied for third while fellow Queenslander John Senden moved into outright second in difficult conditions at the US Masters at Augusta National.

American Bubba Watson, the 2012 champion, rode a hot back nine to catapult into the clubhouse lead, three shots clear at 7-under-par after a 4-under.

Masters leaderboard

Senden, who fired 4-under for the day to be 4-under for the tournament, came into the first major of the year in good form after winning last month’s Tampa Bay Classic.

He was two-over after four holes but stormed up the leaderboard with six birdies in his next 11 holes for a 68.

I just want to go out there and do my best and hope that’s good enough.

John Senden

Scott had three bogeys in his opening seven holes to drop back to even-par for the tournament, dropping into a tie for 13th as swirling winds played havoc with the field.

But he fought his way back to fire an even-par round and remain at 3-under, tied for third with Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn (68), Swede Jonas Blixt (71) and American Jordan Spieth (70).

“If I keep believing in myself and enjoying it, that’s the difference…it’s about keeping a smile on your face when you’re under pressure,” Senden said after his round.

“There are plenty of ups and downs on this golf course. I just want to go out there and do my best and hope that’s good enough.”

Senden missed the cut in three of his four previous appearances at the opening major of the year but said he had learned a lot from his experiences.

“I’ve been here five times now and learned where to go and where not to go,” said the 42-year-old.

“You just have to accept where the ball ends up and play the best shot you can. The secret of this course is keeping the big numbers off the card.

“They kind of put you straight out of contention and if you can do that well you have a chance.”

Scott forced to fight

Scott admitted it was a tough round Augusta.

“It was very difficult out there today,” Scott said.

“Anything even par or better at a major is normally a good score, especially today, I would say. It kept me in the tournament.”

Scott did well to salvage par at the last where he missed the fairway to the left off the tee, his ball ending up behind a pine tree from where he struck his second shot into a greenside bunker.

“Fortunate par, maybe, at the last, but you got to take advantage of a bit of luck out of the trees,” said Scott.

“It (72) wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, but given everything, I’m absolutely satisfied with that. It just means tomorrow’s round’s extremely important for me. It’s going to have to be maybe the best round of the week.”

Photo: Bubba Watson salutes the crowd during the second round of the US Masters. (Getty: Andrew Redington)

Watson the man to catch

Watson made his first bogey of the tournament at the ninth hole and also dropped a shot at the last when he missed a short putt but reeled off five successive birdies from the 12th to seize control of the first major of the year.

While most of the world’s best golfers struggled to make par in brutally tough conditions at Augusta National, Watson produced a masterful display.

All I’m trying to do is just hit the greens, that means my tee shots are good and two putts, maybe throw in a birdie here or there.

Bubba Watson

“It’s not science here,” Watson said.

“All I’m trying to do is just hit the greens, that means my tee shots are good and two putts, maybe throw in a birdie here or there.

“That’s really all I was doing and that’s what I’ve done the last two days and it’s worked out so far.”

Steven Bowditch, a Masters rookie, was hanging tough at 2-over for the week, ending his second round with an even-par round.

Oliver Goss, just 19-years-old, fired an impressive 1-under 71 to be 3-over for the tournament and no matter what hapens over the next two days, he will end the tournament as the leading amateur.

He will celebrate his 20th birthday on Saturday with another round at Augusta National.

World number four Jason Day scraped in to the weekend, firing a 1-over to be 4-over, the cut mark, for the tournament.

Jones, Leishman miss cut

Matt Jones will stick around for the weekend at the Masters but will have to watch the action from outside the ropes.

Jones finished his first trip to Augusta National with a 6-over 78 to be eight-over for the tournament, ensuring he would miss the cut on his first attempt.

As the last man in the field courtesy of his maiden US PGA tour win last weekend in Houston, Jones effectively ran out of gas in the whirlwind week and fell victim to inexperience at the course.

“I’ll be better prepared next year as hopefully I’ll be able to come out and prepare better before the tournament,” Jones said.

“I’m tired, it’s been a big two weeks and I’m looking forward to a couple of weeks off now. But it’s been great to be here.”

Now, with his world ranking at a career-high 42, Jones is ready to play major championships on a regular basis.

He has virtually locked up spots in the British Open and PGA Championship and is just a few decent results away from adding the US Open.

Marc Leishman produced one of the all-time Masters meltdowns, birdying the opening three holes to take the outright lead before playing the final 15 in 10-over for a 79.

He missed the cut by one shot.

Three-times champion Phil Mickelson also missed his first cut at the Masters in 17 years, the victim of another whopping bad hole.

Mickelson, who posted a pair of sevens during Friday’s opening-round 76, finished outside the cut by one stroke, undone by a triple-bogey six at the par-3 12th.

Also making an early exit from the Masters were four-times major Ernie Els, former world number one Luke Donald and 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel.

AAP/AFP

46) Israel Folau withdrawn from NSW Waratahs Super Rugby line-up by Australian Rugby Union

Posted 12 April 2014, 7:44 AEST

The ARU has sensationally withdrawn Israel Folau from the New South Wales line-up to play Western Force.

The Australian Rugby Union has sensationally withdrawn Israel Folau from the New South Wales line-up to play Western Force on Saturday night, less than 36 hours after the Waratahs had deemed the full-back fit to play.

In a highly unusual move, the ARU received their own advice on the gifted number 15 who had sustained a throat injury against the Melbourne Rebels in a Super Rugby match on March 21.

While he travelled to South Africa for the second match of their two-fixture tour, he was ruled unfit to play in the clash with the Stormers last weekend.

On Thursday he was named in the Waratahs’ side by coach Michael Cheika.

But the ARU stepped in on the eve of the Australian derby, chief medical officer Dr Warren McDonald making his decision based on specialist medical advice.

“Advice from our medical specialists is that Israel’s throat injury hasn’t healed to the point where it’s in his best interests to return to play tomorrow night,” Dr McDonald said in a statement from the ARU.

“This is a player welfare issue, which has been the focus of all medical staff involved in this difficult decision, and we’ll continue to work on the plan for his return as soon as possible.”

The call by the ARU to overrule a state decision on player fitness is thought to be unprecedented in Super Rugby.

Folau offered a one-word tweet on Friday night: “Frustrated”.

AAP

www.voiceofmelanesia.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *