Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 1131 ( Wednesday 14 October 2015 )
1) New Caledonia seeks shelf control
13 October 2015
A leading New Caledonian politician, Philippe Gomes, has called on France to assign to the territory the right to access the continental shelf.
Mr Gomes made the call after France last month extended the continental shelf off several of its overseas territories, including New Caledonia, by a total of half a million square kilometres.
Mr Gomes, who is a member of the French National Assembly, says the Assembly should make the change by modifying the organic law, which already gives the territory control over its Exclusive Economic Zone.
The shelf extension for New Caledonia applies to about 80,000 square kilometres towards Australia’s Lord Howe island, an area believed to be rich in oil and gas deposits.
Two years ago, the French Economic, Social and Environmental Council urged the government to secure resources in the seabed off France’s overseas territories.
In a report, the Council said the Law of the Sea allowed for France to lay claim to an additional two million square kilometres, half of which are in French Polynesia.RNZI
THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF VANUATU delivered his statement at His Excellency’s Residence this afternoon to a room packed with media personals. In his statement the President emphasized the need to uphold Vanuatu’s national integrity, he further stressed that at the moment Vanuatu’s credibility does not look good, and he deeply apologies for this status that Vanuatu is at, a status that our leaders contributed to create.
“No one is above the law,” he said, “as the Head of the Nation, I want to inform all the people of Vanuatu that I feel deeply sorry for what that has happened in our nation since Friday (9th) until today”.
“I appeal to every respected leader, to advice the people under your responsibility to be calm, and to allow the court to complete its process,” the President appealed. President Lonsdale specifically pointed out that the power to pardon is the prerogative power of the President and no one else, therefore any Acting President must consult with the President if they want to exercise that power.
“Today, fellow citizens, as I am addressing
In the statement the President said that “following the Pardoning Instrument that the Acting President signed I am considering the options that I can take, once I am satisfied. When I make my decision, I will instruct the State Law Office to prepare my choice.”
After the statement by the President he was asked; what would he had done if he was in the country, “do you think you would make the same decision (as the decision by the Acting President)?”, the President’s responded saying that such a decision needed a longer period to make, “there is not enough time for someone to make this kind of decision within this very limited short time, this is a very sensitive issue, it needs careful consideration” he explained. At the end his response was a “No”, he could not have made such a sensitive decision within a very short time frame.
“As the President of the Republic of Vanuatu, I simply ask for one simple request,” he said, “that we must look after our people in the right manner so that our children of tomorrow will live and walk in a good environment”.
Transparency International Vanuatu will publish the full statement by the President through our blogsite www.tivnews.wordpress once it is received from the Office of the President.
bobmakin | October 13, 2015 at 11:49 am |
3) Tonga PM called to step down from education portfolio
14 October 2015
A petition in Tonga is calling on the Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva and another minister, ‘Etuate Lavulavu, to be removed from their education-related portfolios.
Radio Tonga reports the former chief executive officer of the Ministry of Education, Emeli Moala Pouvalu, is behind the petition which will be submitted to the King next week.
Mrs Pouvalu says the petition is based on allegations against the ministers involving the breach of laws, working policies, procedures and acts of dictatorship.
She says the allegations have started to cause damage to the foundation of education in Tonga.
The former chief executive says the petition is not from a particular group, but from people who are interested in education, including parents.
According to Mrs Pouvalu, education workers were about to walk off the job but meetings were held with the organising committee and they have agreed not to go on strike as it would affect students’ exam preparation.RNZI
4) French Polynesia President Concerned About Instability
Fritch does not intend to dissolve assembly
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Oct. 13, 2015) – French Polynesia’s president, Edouard Fritch, has reiterated that there is political instability in the territory but says a dissolution of the assembly is not on the agenda.
Mr Fritch made the comments in Paris following talks with the French overseas minister, George Pau-Langevin, over French help to draw up the budget.
He says he has to govern without a majority and still hopes to secure enough support for the budget to pass.
His assembly group, which has emerged amid a rift within the Tahoeraa Huiraatira Party, has the backing of 26 members in the 57-member assembly, but after the last election two years ago, the Tahoeraa had thirds of all seats.
Last week, two of his ministers resigned to become assembly members and to force the Tahoeraa to relinquish two assembly seats.
Mr Fritch then said if he failed to pass the budget he would consider his work done and possibly have the government quit and the assembly dissolved.
He is poised to launch his own party in December made up former Tahoeraa members, who have either left the party or been expelled.
The Tahoeraa is led by a former president, Gaston Flosse, who is banned from public office because of a corruption conviction.
Radio New Zealand International
5) Nauru Rejects Media Visa Application From Al Jazeera
Government says all applications are being denied
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Oct. 12, 2015) – The news organisation Al Jazeera has been told that all media visa applications have been denied by the Nauru government.
Al Jazeera had indicated it was prepared to pay the non-refundable 5,000 US dollar application fee in order to report on the detention centre and asylum seekers on Nauru.
After months of trying, Al Jazeera got in contact with Nauruan officials, however before being able to send documentation the news organisation was told the application would not be approved.
When asked for clarification, Al Jazeera was told no media application would be approved.
Al Jazeera’s Asia Pacific correspondent Andrew Thomas says the organisation will not give up trying get to Nauru.
“We’re hoping, having gone public, that it will knock some sense into some people in Nauru that this is not a good look and that if they have nothing to hide then they should be letting journalists in. We’re just hoping that the attention of the formal refusal of all media visas is getting will make them realise that this is not a way a democratic country behaves.”
Radio New Zealand International
6) PNG Simbu gavman i holim iet ol drought saplai
Updated 13 October 2015, 15:13 AEDT
Provinsal Gavman blong Simbu long Papua New Guinea itok emi holim iet ol saplai em National gavman ibin givim long helpim ol pipal bihaenim heve blong bikpla Sun na kol long kantri.
Despla toktok i kamap loong wankaen taem we wanpla Palaman memba blong Simbu na minista blong Education Nick Kuman ibin skelim na dilim ol kaikai igo long ol pipal blong en long wikend.
Simbu provins, wankaen olsem planti ol narapla ples long kantri ino bin kisim ren moa long fopla mun nau.
Despla drought i bagarapim planti gaden kaikai na mekim planti riva i drai.
Ol ripot i tok sampla pipal olsem ol Lapun na pikinini idai pinis long despla taem nogut.
Alphonse Kee ideputi Administrator long Simbu provins itokim Radio Australia olsem oli no dilim iet ol kaikai na ol narapla saplai igo long ol pipal long wonem despla taem nogut oa drought bai go hed long planti mun iet.ABC
7) Ol Vanuatu pipal imas stap isi: President itok
Updated 13 October 2015, 15:16 AEDT
Toktok blong President Baldwin Lonsdale i bihaenim ol bikpla heve long wok politik emi go hed nau long kantri
President blong Vanuatu i askim ol pipol blong ripablik long stap isi na noken kamapim trabal taim em i wok long lukluk insait long isiu we i gohet nau ia blong givim pardon or marimari long ol 14 memba we kot ibin painim ol gilti long korapsan.
Long wiken, Spika we ibin Acting President, Marcellino Pipite ibin padonim em yet na ol arapela 13 memba we Supreme Kot ibin painim ol gilti long disisan blongen long Friday.
Aste Nait President Baldwin Lonsdale i tok em ino wanbel long dispela pasin em Mr Pipite ibin mekim, tasol em i no tok long rausim em oa nogat.
Narapela samting we Mr Pipite ibin wokim tu taim em i acting President, em long rausim pastem Ombudsman long wok blong en long wanem em i tok em i no mekim wok blongen gut.
Tasol Ombudsman Kalkot Mataskelekele i tok Mr Pipite ibin rong, na em i stap yet olsem Ombudsman.ABC
8a) Brèves du Pacifique – mardi 13 octobre 2015
En Papouasie-Nouvelle-Guinée, Michael Somare quitte le parti de l’alliance nationale, le parti au pouvoir.
8b) Le président du Vanuatu a « honte » de la « décision illégale » prise en son absence
9) Vanuatu PM still silent on pardons
14 October 2015
Five days since 15 of his MPs were convicted of bribery charges, Vanuatu’s Prime Minister Sato Kilman is yet to say anything about their controversial pardoning.
The Supreme Court on Friday found 14 MPs, including the deputy prime minister and speaker of parliament, guilty of giving and receiving corrupt payments.
But in an extraordinary turn of events on Sunday, parliament’s speaker Marcellino Pipite, who was standing in as acting president, pardoned himself and all but one of the convicted MPs.
The president Baldwin Lonsdale says Mr Pipite acted unlawfully and has promised action.
The head of Transparency Vanuatu WIllie Tokon says the fact that half the government has been found guilty of bribery is very serious.
He says the Prime Minister needs to end his silence and clarify what he will do.
“He should come out, make a decision and come out and tell the people of Vanuatu whether he likes to run this government with these convicted MPs, or common sense would say he should liase with the leader of the opposition, form a government that is much cleaner than what we have now and prevent a snap election.”
Our correspondent in Vanuatu says Mr Kilman opened an Auditor Generals conference in Port Vila on Tuesday, where he spoke of the need for good governance and anti-corruption measures.
However, he didn’t address the case specifically and immediately left after giving his speech, avoiding waiting journalists.RNZI
10) Fiji opposition calls for special sitting over presidency
13 October 2015
The opposition in Fiji has called for a special sitting of Parliament to contest Jioji Konrote’s eligibility as President.
Major General Konrote, who has resigned from his post as a government minister, was elected by parliament to the post on Monday.
FBC News reports the opposition leader Ro Teimumu Kepa has petititoned the outgoing President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau to summon a special sitting to determine whether there can be a referendum to vailidate the vote.
The opposition has argued the former diplomat and military leader was ineligible for the job as he is still a member of the FijiFirst party, despite tendering his resignation.
The three members of the National Federation Party abstained from voting as they said they did not want to be part of what they call a partisan process.RNZI
11) Focus on priorities can turn PNG ratings around, downgrade due to economic imbalances
While Papua New Guinea’s credit and risk grading has been downgraded by Standards and Poors, this situation can be turned around.
This is from the executive director of the Institute of National Affairs Paul Barker.
Barker in commenting said the downgrading had been done on various grounds, notably the economic and fiscal scenario for the country.
He said some of these factors are externally driven (lower commodity prices, El Nino weather conditions) but they’re also partly internally generated, such as the increased exposure to debt (denominated in overseas currency), the continuing bad social indicators, made worse by poor focus of expenditure, a weak State, and deficient government institutions little able to deliver quality services (except through the churches), and major financial mismanagement and corruption, as reported from innumerable financial and other inquiries and reports.
He said there were some policies already in place that could aid the country in making a turnaround like the responsible sustainable development strategy, but stressed they must be applied seriously.
He said PNG has enough revenue and resources for a sound economic and social future, if it focuses expenditure better on priorities including human resource development and not on wasteful status projects and public investment in private business.
It could also see a turnaround if it also builds up public sector capacity and accountability again, focuses on reducing costs of doing business to attract viable and broader based investment and reinvestment, though better public goods, more competition partnerships.
However, he stated that this will remain a challenge if leaders continue playing the numbers game and diverting major time and public resources to political survival and away from core government functions, with suitable checks and balances.
“A more informed and demanding public is critical to bringing about such an improvement in governance and control over abuse,” he added.
Meanwhile, PNG’s per capita GDP of US$2150 (K6333) in 2014 is ranked 157 out of 187 countries on the United Nations Development Program Human Development Index, according to Standard & Poor’s Rating Services.
It stated in its revised downward rating of PNG’s outlook that the prevalence of urban crime deters investment while governmental institutions are a weakness.
“In addition, economic data inconsistency is another credit weakness. There are gaps and lags in economic and external data, as well as a lack of transparency in public-sector fiscal affairs.”
S&P said that the economy has been undergoing a transformation in recent years, with the construction and now operation of a new LNG plant.
It said that the integrated LNG plant has a production capacity of 6.9 million tons a year and is operated by ExxonMobil PNG Ltd, a subsidiary of ExxonMobil Corp.
The project is 33 per cent owned by ExxonMobil, 29 per cent by Oil Search, and 17 per cent by the Government. The Government also has an indirect interest through its 10.1 per cent equity stake in Oil Search.
“Although economic growth has slowed to 5.5 per cent–5.8 per cent in 2013 and 2014 as construction on the facility wound down, we note that it has averaged about 8 per cent in recent years.
“We now expect economic growth to be about 10 per cent in 2015, down sharply from our earlier estimate of close to 20%. This revision partly reflects the earlier boost to growth in 2014, due to the early commencement of LNG production. But it also reflects the likely negative impacts of lower income growth, particularly on government spending.
“Beyond 2015, we expect economic growth to slow sharply, although in the medium term growth may be boosted should further large foreign-financed projects, such as the touted additional LNG projects, go ahead,” said S&P.
“While the LNG project continues to drive strong economic growth for now, the sheer size of the PNG LNG project, relative to the country’s economy, has generated economic imbalances. Between 2010 and 2013, PNG ran current account deficits averaging more than 30 per cent of GDP. We estimate a double-digit current account deficit in 2014, with the current account balance shifting to surplus from 2015 as LNG exports accelerate.”..
SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS
12) PNG S&P rating takes tumble
Papua New Guinea’s rating has taken another tumble with international rating agency Standard & Poor’s revising downwards the economic Outlook to negative on possible prolonged fiscal and external imbalances.
Standard and Poor’s made the rating based on the current economic conditions domestically and around the world based on the following overview:
*Low global energy prices are weighing on the PNG economy and Government revenues more than we previously expected.
*As a result, we have revised the outlook to negative from stable, reflecting the risk that the Government’s balance sheet, and the gradual unwind of sizable fiscal and external imbalances, may be weaker and more prolonged than we had previously assumed.
*At the same time, we are affirming the ratings on PNG at ‘B+/B’
The S&P Ratings Services in a statement last Thursday revised the rating outlook on PNG to negative from stable.
“At the same time, we affirmed the foreign and local currency long-term ratings on PNG at ‘B+’, and the respective short-term ratings at ‘B’. The Transfer and Convertibility (T&C) assessment remains ‘BB’.
“The outlook revision reflects our view that downside risks are emerging even as PNG’s new liquefied natural gas (LNG) project reaches full production. The falls in export commodity prices since December 2014 are having a larger negative impact on Government revenues than we had expected.
“And while we expect the Government will cut its expenditure plans to partly offset this, it may prove too challenging for the Government to stabilise its debt in line with our projections.
“Furthermore, over the coming few years, we doubt that the economy can continue to sustain the very strong growth witnessed in recent years unless further large foreign-financed resource projects commence in the near term, raising the possibility that PNG’s sizable fiscal and external imbalances will be very slow to unwind.” The S&P said the sovereign ratings on PNG reflect structural constraints inherent in a lower middle-income economy dependent on extractive industries and served by weak institutions.
“In addition, the economy faces external and fiscal imbalances linked to bringing on line a US$19 billion (118 per cent of 2014 GDP) LNG project. With the LNG project now operational, we expect it to contribute to both export receipts and government revenues, enabling the unwinding of PNG’s related imbalances in the next few years.”.
SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS
CLIMATE CHANGE,CONSERVATION, ENVIROMENT
13) El Nino could leave 4 million people in Pacific without food or drinking water
Two dozen people have already died from hunger and drinking contaminated water in drought-stricken Papua New Guinea, but the looming El Niño crisis could leave more than four million people across the Pacific without enough food or clean water.
The El Niño weather pattern – when waters in the eastern tropical Pacific ocean become warmer, driving extreme weather conditions – may be as severe as in 1997-98, when an estimated 23,000 people died, forecasters believe.
In Papua New Guinea’s Chimbu province in the highlands region, a prolonged drought has been exacerbated by sudden and severe frosts which have killed off almost all crops. The provincial disaster centre has confirmed 24 people have died from starvation and drinking contaminated water.
Provincial disaster co-ordinator Michael Ire Appa feared the death toll could even be higher.
“The drought has been here for almost three months now and in areas that were affected by the drought there’s a serious food shortage, including water, and some of the districts have not reported, so there may be more [deaths] than that,” he said.
Two highlands provinces have already declared a state of emergency.
Oxfam Australia’s climate change policy advisor Dr Simon Bradshaw said many parts of PNG would run out of food in two or three months, but in some areas there was as little as a month’s food left, and few ways to get more in.
“In the highland areas people are almost exclusively reliant on subsistence farming, farming of sweet potatoes. We do know that water is becoming very scarce, that’s of course impacting food production, and PNG is almost entirely dependent on its own food – I think 83% of its food is produced in-country – so any hit on food production poses immediate challenges in terms of food security.”
Over the coming months, the El Niño pattern will bring more rain, flooding and higher sea levels to countries near the equator, raising the risk of inundation for low-lying atolls already feeling the impacts of climate change.
At the same time, the countries of the Pacific south-west – which have larger populations – will be significantly drier and hotter.
El Niño years typically have a longer, more destructive cyclone season.
“El Niño has the potential to trigger a regional humanitarian emergency and we estimate as many as 4.1 million people are at risk from water shortages, food insecurity and disease across the Pacific,” Sune Gudnitz, head of the Pacific region office of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said.
“Countries including Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Tonga and the Solomon Islands are already feeling El Niño’s impact with reduced rainfall affecting crops and drinking-water supplies. Drought conditions would further complicate the humanitarian situation in countries that are just emerging from the devastation caused by tropical cyclones Pam, Maysak and Raquel.”
Many countries across the region are entering the El Niño period in a vulnerable state. Drought has been officially declared in 34 provinces in Indonesia, while in Vanuatu – still recovering from the devastation of cyclone Pam, which struck in March – authorities are warning reduced rainfall will damage food security, health and livelihoods.
In some parts of Fiji, water is already being trucked into villages that have run out. And Tonga, which has suffered a drought for nearly a year, has been forced to ship water supplies to the country’s outer islands.
Countries where food insecurity affects large proportions of the population were of special concern, Bradshaw said.
“With an El Niño event, you usually get about one-fifth less rainfall across the country as well as significant changes to the timing of the rainy season, a lot more rain concentrated in January, and that, combined with deforestation, increases the risk of landslides, flash floods, damage to infrastructure and destruction of crops. Timor Leste is somewhere we’re watching particularly closely because of the existing challenges, and the effect the El Niño will have on top of that.”
Bradshaw said the impact of the El Niño would compound the difficulties faced by Pacific countries struggling to cope with the effects of climate change.
He said recent research suggested El Niño patterns – usually seen every three to seven years – could now occur twice as frequently, and that “normal” conditions might become more similar to those of El Niño.
“We’ve had two unusually hot years, and now we’ve got a very strong El Niño event, so I think it would be fair to say, unfortunately, that we’re in uncharted waters. What we’ve seen is somewhat unprecedented and climate change is increasingly going to put us in that position.”
The countries most affected by the combined effects of climate change and El Nino are – for reasons of geography, economy, governance and remoteness – often the least equipped to deal with their impacts.
“We’ve seen an unprecedented run of extreme and erratic weather, which has had very real impacts,” Bradshaw said. “Of course, those impacts are felt first and hardest by the world’s poorest communities, but these countries are also the least responsible for climate change. They’ve contributed negligibly to global greenhouse emissions.
“I think it drives home the fact that climate change affects us all; it affects poorer countries first and hardest, but we have a responsibility as a wealthy, developed nation to be both doing far more to reduce our own emissions, but also to be providing greater support with adaptation and resilience-building to poorer countries.”
Bradshaw said the effects of the El Niño, combined with climate change, should drive all countries towards a strong agreement at climate change talks in Paris in December.
SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN/PACNEWS
14) Disappointing Rugby World Cup Ends For Tonga
Loss to New Zealand means ‘Ikale Tahi won’t advance
NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Oct. 12, 2015) – New Zealand’s All Blacks defeated the ‘Ikale Tahi 47-9 in their final game in front of 54,000 people, ending the Tongans Rugby World Cup campaign and with no immediate qualification for the 2019 RWC in Japan, after placing fourth in Pool C.
The All Blacks and RWC defending champions continue to the quarterfinals.
The ‘Ikale Tahi goes home after having only one pool win against Namibia and three loses to Georgia, Argentina and the All Blacks.
‘Ikale Tahi’s nine points came from the boot of fly-half Kurt Morath who converted three penalties.
Captain Nili Latu said he is proud of the way the boys have finished the tournament.
“I could not have asked any more from my side. Our plan was to attack New Zealand and we believed that we had the upper hand. We thought we controlled them but a quality team bounces back.”
The ‘Ikale Tahi started well by breaking up the All Blacks defence with some fast passing, forcing a couple of breakdowns and winning a penalty from a scrum.
But the All Blacks had proven their strong force by securing seven tries by Ma’a Nonu who was presented with his 100th cap by Richie McCaw. Other scorers included Ben Smith, Tony Woodcock, Sonny Bill Williams and Sam Cane, while Dan Carter landed six of the conversions.
The All Blacks will meet France on 17 October. While, runner-up in Pool C, Argentina will face Ireland in the third quarterfinals on 18 October.
Matangi Tonga Magazine
15) Rugby World Cup “group of death” could happen again in Japan 2019
Another “group of death” could happen at the next Rugby World Cup after organisers refused to confirm when the draw would take place for the 2019 tournament in Japan.
They conceded it might happen years in advance again due to the difficulty of selling tickets in competition with the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The draw for this year’s pools were made almost three years ago when Wales had briefly dropped out of the world’s top eight after a bad run of results – meaning they were stuck in the same pool as England, Australia and Fiji.
Warren Gatland last week condemned the “ridiculous” decision, even though his Wales side had just made the quarterfinals after Australia beat England at Twickenham to knock the hosts out in the pool stages.
Rugby World Cup administrators were asked three times at a press briefing on Monday if the draw for Japan would be made closer to the tournament.
Three times they refused to comment to doing so, despite conceding it would be better for the competition.
The head of the Rugby World Cup, Alan Gilpin, admitted they faced a challenge in competing in the market with the Tokyo Olympics that takes place the following year.
“The challenge in Japan is there is an Olympic Games in 2020 and we are in a market where we have a less latent rugby audience who would naturally buy tickets for the Rugby World Cup,” he said.
“So we are looking at when is the best time to have certainty in those fixtures so they can sell tickets. We would all like it to be much closer to the tournament from a competition point of view but there are some realities of taking Rugby World Cup to a new market which means that we have got to be sensible.”
World Rugby’s chief executive, Brett Gosper, warned that organisers were not keen “to go in the market in phasing terms when we are up against the Olympics in a ticketing sense” and added that no decision had yet been made when to conduct the draw for Japan.
Organisers have hailed this current tournament as the “greatest to date”, despite losing hosts England, with 2.41 million tickets sold and 750,000 attending fan zones across the UK.
Gosper added: “The Rugby World Cup is a juggernaut with huge momentum. I would say England’s exit has very little effect on the global nature of the tournament. My sense is there is a mature and philosophical sporting market here. The spirit of the England fans means they will move on from the defeat of their team.”
“And in terms of being a shop window for the sport, we couldn’t be happier with where we are now. At so many levels it is tracking to be the greatest Rugby World Cup to date.”.
SOURCE: STUFF NZ/PACNEWS