Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 1132 ( Tuesday 20 October 2015 )

1a) Nyus blong moning tede, Tyusde 20 Oktoba
Olgeta –

1. Ol 11 MP mo 3 loea we oli arestem olgeta long Faede oli bin slip long koreksenol senta kasem yestede (Mande), mo yestede kot i alaoem “bail” blong olgeta mo rilisim olgeta kasem taem we bae oli kambak long kot blong “sentencing”.

2. Tede long 9 klok bae Suprim Kot i sidaon blong harem 2 Urgent Constitutional Application long sem taem: wan blong mi mo Joe Natuman mo Ham Lini blong diklerem pardon we Pipite i grantem hemi “unlawful”, mo wan blong Serge Vohor, Jonas James mo Tony Wright blong diklerem revocation we Presiden Baldwin Lonsdale i grantem hemi “unlawful”. Disisen blong kot ia i mas kamot bifo sentencing long namba 22.

Ta, MP Ralph Regenvanu

1b) Vanuatu Daily News Digest | 20 October 2015
by bobmakin
The main item was that the 11 MPs arrested on Friday remained with Correctional Services until yesterday when they were, however, permitted bail conditions whilst awaiting their sentencing.

Today at 2 pm the Supreme Court will hear two Urgent Constitutional applications. The first is of the leading Opposition figures Joe Natuman, Ham Lini and Ralph Regenvanuseeking a declaration that the pardon declared by Pipite is unlawful.

Also today, too, MPs Serge Vohor, Jonas James and Tony Wright are seeking a court decision that President Fr Baldwin Lonsdale’s revocation of the Pipite premature pardon of the convicted in the Bribery Case is unlawful.

The possibility of 2 to 6 cyclones during this cyclone season has been under much discussion in the media as we also start to feel the hot season with us once again. Andpreservation of adequate supplies of drinking water and suitable catchment areashas also been of concern in this intensifyingly droughty El Nina year. Local resilience – and knowledge – are able to be of great assistance here.

Prime Minister Kilman has called for peace and calm in the wake of the the MP trial.
1c ) Anti-Corruption March In Vanuatu’s Capital Postponed
Organizers say police have hands full ensuring peace and order

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Oct. 19, 2015) – An anti-corruption march planned for today in the Vanuatu capital Port Vila has been postponed following the arrest of 11 MPs on Friday.

Vanuatu Women Against Crime and Corruption had police permission for the march but a spokesperson Jenny Ligo says the police have their hands full ensuring peace and order in the country.

The police were due to help with the demonstration.

The Prime Minister Sato Kilman has continued to appeal for calm following the MPs’ arrests on conspiracy charges following their controversial pardoning nearly a week earlier.

Ms Ligo says people are generally confident in the processes being followed but they still plan to voice their concerns at a protest next week.

She says while leaders have the money to spend bribing each other women go without things like community centres.

No confidence push continues

Vanuatu’s opposition MPs say they should have the numbers this week for a successful vote on a motion of no confidence in the embattled government.

As 14 MPs await their sentencing on Thursday, the opposition failed in a bid late last week to lodge a motion against Mr Kilman’s government.

The Speaker, Marcellino Pipite, who is one of the guilty MPs, declared the motion not in order after another guilty MP, Tony Wright, withdrew his signature.

With the arrival of the MP from Ambrym, Bruno Leignkone, and the vote of the new MP Kenneth Natapei, the opposition say they will have the numbers to remove the government.

The deputy speaker, Samson Samsen, says Parliament will still convene this week despite the crisis.

Mr Samsen was one of the MPs charged with bribery but became a witness for the prosecution during the trial.

Mr Kilman issued a press statement yesterday asking the public to keep calm ahead of this week’s developments.

With four of his ministers sacked, Mr Kilman is now the acting minister of lands, public utilities, education and climate change.

There are still two convicted ministers who are still state ministers – Moana Carcasses who is deputy prime minister and Serge Vohor as minister of health.

The duo will receive their sentence on Thursday.

Radio New Zealand International

1d) Vanuatu courts busy with challenges

20 October 2015

Court proceedings are underway in Vanuatu, challenging not only the controversial pardoning of corrupt MPs but also the subsequent cancellation of their pardons.

The opposition MP Joe Natuman’s challenge against the original pardoning 10 days ago is being heard today in the Supreme Court.

Mr Natuman is challenging the legality of Marcellino Pipite’s act to pardon himself and 13 other convicted MPs of corruption while the Speaker was acting head of state.

The opposition says even though the pardoning was revoked, they still want the court to decide on its legality.

The President Baldwin Lonsdale’s revocation of the pardons on Friday is also subject to a legal challenge, in this case by the government.

The government filed its constitutional petition on Monday to challenge the legality of Father Lonsdale’s decision.

Mr Pipite and 10 others among the convicted MPs are on strict bail condition after being arrested with three lawyers on Friday on conspiracy charges relating to the pardoning.

The conditions include not interfering with police investigations and witnesses.

Mr Pipite and the 13 MPs are due to be sentenced for the original bribery convictions on Thursday.

Pipite tries traditional apology

Marcellino Pipite has made an attempt to apologise to President Baldwin Lonsdale by trying to perform a traditional ceremony before him.

Our correspondent reports Mr Pipite was supposed to perform the ceremony yesterday afternoon but this was cancelled.

Mr Pipite’s bail conditions prohibit him from interfering with witnesses while police investigations continue following his arrest along with 10 other MPs and three lawyers on Friday.

Commonwealth stresses rule of law

The Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Kamalesh Sharma has stressed the importance for Vanuatu to uphold the constitution and the rule of law.

In a statement, he said the Commonwealth Charter is clear that governments, political parties and civil society are all responsible for upholding and promoting democratic culture and practices.

He says all are accountable to the public and the people of Vanuatu understandably and reasonably expect the rule of law and their constitution to prevail.

The Commonwealth helped with talks at parliament in Port Vila earlier this year to come up with a plan for political reform and Mr Sharma says it is committed to helping Vanuatu implement the reforms and strengthen democracy.

The Secretary-General says it is important for all concerned in Vanuatu to be patient, restrained and respectful of the rule of law.

Vanuatu joined the Commonwealth in 1980, the same year it gained independence.RNZI

2) Fiji opposition wants resignation of Sayed-Khaiyum

20 October 2015

The Opposition in Fiji has called for the resignation of the Minister of Finance Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum alleging he falsely declared his assets and liabilities in February.

It alleges Mr Sayed-Khaiyum has under-reported the value of a property he owns.

The Opposition says it has laid a complaint with the Supervisor of Elections and Fiji’s anti-corruption agency FICAC.

The Opposition leader Ro Teimumu Kepa says she is also disturbed by the lack of action on a police case against Mr Sayed-Khaiyum filed by the a former Fiji TV executive Tanya Waqanika.

In February Ms Waqanika presented police with a paper trail of emails that purported to show Mr Sayed-Khaiyum threatened the Fiji TV board if it didn’t agree to the Government’s stance over rugby broadcasting rights.

Ro Teimumu says the Minister is known for taking speedy action against people he wishes to prosecute through the agencies under his many portfolios, including some members of the Opposition.RNZI

3) Fiji readmitted to Inter-Parliamentary Union

20 October 2015

Fiji has been re-admitted to a global parliamentary organisation, the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

Fiji was expelled from the IPU in 2007 after parliament was dissolved following the 2006 coup.

It was formally readmitted at the opening session of the IPU’s 133rd Assembly in Geneva on Sunday just over a year after the first elections since the coup.

The IPU says Fiji’s readmission is a significant step forward in ongoing efforts to cement democracy in the country and in IPU’s engagement with parliaments from Pacific Ocean Island nations.

Its president Saber Chowdhury says it will allow Fijians a voice in international decision-making through their elected representatives.

Fiji first joined the organisation in 1997.RNZI

4) Chiefs in Bougainville’s Buin to help combat lawlessness

20 October 2015

The police in Bougainville are calling on the chiefs in the Buin region to step up to counter the lawlessness there.

A forum on Monday in Buin, called by the autonomous Papua New Guinea region’s police minister, Willie Masiu, brought the chiefs together to look for solutions to the problem.

The Bougainville police commander, Deputy Commissioner Francis Tokura, says establishing law and order in the south is vital ahead of the planned referendum on independence from PNG.

He says there was a good turnout at the meeting and the chiefs recognised they have to play a greater role.

“The only problem that they have is they are not getting together to discuss solutions, transitions – how they are going to address these civil issues. I call it civil because they are basic issues that they, as chiefs can address, instead of letting it come into the hands of police.”RNZI


5) Bullying claim

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

THE spokesperson of the committee presenting a petition to revoke the appointments of Tonga’s Prime Minister as Minister for Education and Training, says both he and his Acting Minister ‘Etuatu Lavulavu have been bullying staff.

The petition, which is currently being sent around the country, is also calling for the removal of Mr Lavulavu from the ministry.

‘Emeli Pouvalu says staff are alleging nepotism by both the PM and Mr Lavulavu, who they say lack experience in the department and are abusing their power.

Ms Pouvalu says some staff members feel they’ve been damaged by Mr Pohiva and Mr Lavulavu’s management of the department.

“They’ve been threatened and they are scared and they cannot function well. So they are not confident with their employment and its future.”

‘Emeli Pouvalu says the petition will be presented to the King on Tuesday.

6) Cook Islands MP in court today

20 October 2015

The leader of the One Cook Islands party Teina Bishop is in court today to face a police allegation of bribery.

Charges have not been laid, with the High Court being asked to determine whether there is enough evidence to formally charge Mr Bishop.

The Police Commissioner, Maara Tetava, said in August he was satisfied there was enough evidence to seek leave of the court to lay the charges.

The allegations relate to Mr Bishop’s relations with the Cook Islands company, Huanan Fishery, which is a subsidiary of the multinational Luen Thai Fishing Venture.

He was the Minister of Marine Resources at the time of the alleged offences.RNZI


7) Guam Bribery And Corruption Case To Begin In January
9 have already pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud

By Jacqueline Perry Guzman

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, October 19, 2015) – Five customs officers, two alcohol beverage control compliance officers and three civilian co-conspirators have pleaded guilty to corruption charges in federal court, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Henry Alvendia and Frank Cruz were lieutenants with the Guam Customs and Quarantine Agency and Jesus Paulino, Tommie Pablo and Glen Crisostomo were GCQA officers.

According to Jessi Santos, spokeswoman for GCQA, four of the officers have resigned and one retired. All left the agency several months ago, she said.

John Garrido and Gerald “Jerry” Salas were Alcohol Beverage Control compliance officers with the Guam Department of Revenue and Taxation. According to Acting Supervisor of the ABC Compliance Branch, Garrido has been retired for two or three years and Salas resigned this week.

The other defendants are Al Kenneth “Ken” Constantino, a shipping department manager for Mariana Express Lines, Becky Cruz, the wife of Frank Cruz, and Ruel Valencia, a private businessman.

The first nine defendants pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud which carries a five-year maximum prison term. Their guilty pleas stemmed from an indictment issued by a federal grand jury on April 29. Defendant Valencia, on August 4, waived indictment and pleaded guilty to the charge of bribing an agent concerning a program receiving federal funds which carries a 10-year maximum prison term. Both offenses have maximum fines of $250,000.

The defendants previously requested that the court seal their guilty pleas in order to allow for their cooperation with investigating agents. The court granted their request to seal until this time.

According to court documents, the defendants conspired with each other to deprive the residents of Guam and the government of Guam of their right to honest services. Some defendants joined the conspiracy as early as 2005. The defendants’ offenses involved the taking of over $37,000 in bribes and kickbacks from private business persons in return for some form of favorable official action. With assistance from his co-conspirators, Valencia smuggled contraband cigarettes from the Philippines and avoided payment of taxes owed to the government of Guam.

The court scheduled status hearings for all defendants in January and February 2016.

The guilty pleas were the result of a four-year undercover investigation involving the use of undercover business persons.

The FBI, Homeland Security Investigations, and a task force officers from the Guam Police Department and GCQA conducted this investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys Frederick Black and Stephen Leon Guerrero were assigned to prosecute these cases.

According to court documents, from 2008 to 2014, defendants Alvendia, Frank Cruz, Pablo and Crisostomo received cash and other forms of property as bribes and kickbacks from Ruel Valencia and Lydia Valencia.

During those same years, defendants Garrido and Salas alerted Ruel Valencia and Lydia Valencia to possible law enforcement searches of their business’ sales of illegal cigarettes and in return Ruel Valencia and Lydia Valencia paid these officials cash and property bribes.

Other favors such as selling stolen property seized by Guam Customs and Quarantine Agency, smuggling contraband cigarettes, liquor, counterfeit bags, other counterfeit products, and coffee which was to be destroyed, and other scheming was included in the indictment.

Wire fraud was also a part of the indictment which outlined several wire transmissions including bills of lading and the travel tickets of Gerald “Jerry” Salas.

Marianas Variety

8) CNMI Discussing Job Training For Prison Inmates
Attempt to reduce recidivism

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, October 19, 2015) – The Northern Marianas is looking at enrolling soon-to-be-released inmates in vocational training programmes to ease their return to society.

The Department of Correction’s commissioner, Robert Guerrero said they are discussing the viability of a such a move with the Northern Marianas Technical Institute.

Under the programme, which would be on a volunteer basis, inmates set for release will be given three month long job placements, working six days a week.

In the jobs they will be supervised by corrections officers, with any infractions ending the placements.

The Department wants to stop recidivism, as many former inmates return to a life of crime because they cannot find work on release.

Radio New Zealand International

9) Tinian suffers in latest typhoon to hit CNMI

Updated at 4:54 pm on
Saipan in the CNMI emerged unscathed but Tinian got over 600 millimetres of rain and its water supply has been damaged.

The Commonwealth Utilities Corporation says rain resulted in erosion which has exposed a section of the water main and moved it out of alignment..

Several villages are currently without water services.

Champi strengthened into a typhoon after blowing through the Marianas on Friday, bringing strong winds and torrential rain.RNZI


10) Ol 11 Vanuatu memba long long kalabus i beilaut

Updated 20 October 2015, 9:01 AEDT
Sam Seke

Kot i tede moning larim aut long bail ol 11 pela Vanuatu MP na tripela loia we polis ibin arestim na putim long kalabus long las Friday long Konspirasi sas long paulim jastis sistim.

Dispela i bihainim Speaker na Acting President, Marcellino Pipite ibin padonim oa givim marimari long em yet na 13 arapela memba we Supreme Kot ibin painim ol gilti long ol korapsan sas long braiberi.

President blong Vanuatu, Baldwin Lonsdale ibin rivokim oa rausim pinis dispela padon blong Mr Pipite.

Pastaim long ol i arestim em long last Friday, Mr Pipite ibin rausim tu wanpela notis blong oposaisan long muvim mosen blong nogat bilip long praim minista.

Speaker Pipite i tok wanpela memba long list em i senisim tingting na rausim nem blongen.

Tasol Port Vila niusman, Hilaire Bule i tok oposisan bai givim narapela notis gen bihain ol igat tupela moa memba.

Wanpela long tupela nau em i niu memba blong Port Vila, Kenneth Natapei, pikinini blong Edward Natapei husat ibin dai long mun July.ABC

11) Ati George Sokomanu i toktok long daunim mosen blong no-konfidans

Updated 20 October 2015, 9:02 AEDT
Caroline Tiriman
Ati George Sokomanu, president blong Vanuatu bipo
Nabawan President blong Vanuatu i tok Repablik i nid long senisim mama loa blongen long stopim ol politisan isave mekim vout blong no-konfidans olgeta taem.

Ati George Sokomanu i mekim despla toktok bihaenim ol bikpla heve blong wok politik emi go hed nau long kantri.

Emi bin autim despla toktok bihaen long polis ibin pulim kalabusim 11 pela memba blong palamen long Fraide naba 9 long October.

Supreme Court ibin painim ol despla Palaman memba wantem Deputy Praim Minista Moana Carcasses Kalosil na Acting President Marcellino Pipite husat i bin givim marimari long ol despla memba em Supreme kot ibin painim ol i gilti long korapsen.

Mr Sokomanu itok tu olsem em bai gut tu long kantri i holim referendum oa vout long senisim mama loa blong kantri.ABC

12) Ol Solomon Islands otoriti ino talen stret sapos kantri i garem draot

Updated 20 October 2015, 9:03 AEDT
Sam Seke

Solomon Islands Red Cross hemi se nomoa eni toktok iet i kam aut long nasinol gavman o National Disaster Management Office long mekem klia sapos hemi garem draot long kantri o nomoa.

Nomata olsem, Secretary General blong Solomon Islands Red Cross, Joanne Zoleveke hem se hemi garem samfala toktok i kam aot finis se sampela pipol long sampela aelan i gohet for safa finis long nomoa ren hemi foldaon long longfala taem.

Tufala Premier George Lilo blong Western Province an Jackson Kiloe blong Choiseul tu i talem aot finis olsem pipol long samfala eria long provins blong tufala olketa gohet for safa finis from hemi no ren insaet plande manis nao.

Ms Zoleveke i hemi se plande i luksave tu olsem dispela taem ia hemi nomol taem blong drae sisin, dastawe nao ino plande ren save foldaon.

Hemi se pipol long Honiara tu i save faeden had long wata bikos Solomon Water hemi gohet fo makem level blong wata we hemi gogo aot so hemi save katem wata saplae go long samafa hom long city.ABC

13) PNG bai lukim sampla ren long December

Updated 19 October 2015, 8:39 AEDT
Caroline Tiriman

Dirketa blong National Weather Sevis Sam Maiha itok olsem

Ol pipal blong Papua New Guinea inap lukim sampla ren long mun December na oli mas redi long planim kaikai long despla taem.

Direkta blong National Weather Sevis long PNG, Sam Maiha i mekim despla toktok tede bihaen long Radio Australia ibin askim em long wonem taem tru drought bai stop.

Planti pipal long kantri nau i bungim bikpla sot long kaikai na wara bihaenim drought em El Nino iwok long kamapim winim faifpla mun nau.

Long Highlands rijan, ol pipal i bungim heve long bikpla sun na tu bikpla kol em i bagarapim ol gaden kaikai na mekim ol wara i drai.

Sampla ripot itok tu olsem sampla pikinini i dai pinis long hangre.ABC


14a) Brèves du Pacifique – lundi 19 octobre 2015
Mis à jour 19 October 2015, 17:01 AEDT
Élodie Largenton
C’est une première mondiale : dans deux mines australiennes, le minerai de fer est désormais transporté à bord de camions sans chauffeur.

Les véhicules sont dirigés à distance, à Perth, soit à quelque 1 200 kilomètres des mines exploitées par la compagnie Rio Tinto. Ce système permet de supprimer des emplois dangereux, affirme le géant minier, qui reconnaît que ça lui permet aussi de faire des économies : les camions peuvent rouler 24 heures sur 24, tout au long de l’année, sans pause. Cela équivaut à 500 heures de travail économisées par an et par camion, estime-t-on au sein de l’industrie minière. D’autres entreprises minières sont en passe d’adopter ce système en Australie.

Le Premier ministre australien promet de mieux traiter les Néo-Zélandais menacés d’être expulsés d’Australie. Cela devrait surtout se traduire par un processus d’appel accéléré pour les Kiwis concernés. Une maigre concession faite à son homologue néo-zélandais, John Key, qui dénonce une nouvelle loi australienne qui entraîne l’expulsion des étrangers ayant passé un an ou plus en prison. Il appelle Malcolm Turnbull à « faire preuve de compassion » envers « ceux qui ne représentent pas un grand risque et qui vivent depuis longtemps en Australie ».

C’est une nouvelle semaine agitée qui s’annonce au Vanuatu. Les 11 députés et 3 avocats arrêtés vendredi dernier pour « complot en vue d’entraver le cours de la justice » ont passé le week-end en prison. Ils ont obtenu, ce soir, leurs libérations sous caution. L’ensemble des 14 élus condamnés pour corruption comparaîtront devant le tribunal jeudi pour connaître leurs peines. Ils encourent jusqu’à dix ans de prison.

Il y a tellement de sans-abris à Hawaï que le gouverneur de l’État américain vient de décréter l’état d’urgence.Décision prise après l’évacuation de l’un des plus grands campements de SDF du pays. Selon le gouverneur David Ige, l’état d’urgence va permettre aux autorités de construire plus rapidement des abris pour les familles évacuées. Hawaï est l’État américain qui compte la plus grande proportion de personnes sans-abris – il y en 7 260, selon les autorités.

Les Îles Cook se sont déclarées sanctuaire pour les baleines il y a quatre ans. Une belle déclaration qui n’a pas été suivie d’effet, aucune loi n’a été élaborée. Les autorités y travaillent de nouveau pour être prêtes d’ici 2016, déclarée année de la baleine dans le Pacifique. Une réglementation est en train d’être rédigée et présentée à la population pour avis. Le but est de mieux protéger les nombreuses baleines à bosse qui migrent des eaux de l’Antarctique à celles des Îles Cook entre juillet et octobre. ABC



16) Australia to provide multi-year visas for Kiribati, Tuvalu and Nauru citizens to work in Northern Australia
5:04 pm GMT+12, 19/10/2015, Kiribati

The Australian High Commissioner to Kiribati says Australia has established the new micro states and Northern Australia worker programme – a five year pilot programme that will provide up to 200 I-Kiribati, Tuvaluan and Nauruan citizens with access to multi-year visas to work in Northern Australia.

George Fraser says Australia recognises that practical action is needed to support a number of initiatives in the region to build resistance to climate impacts and to respond to natural disasters.

He said Australia was taking practical action through labor market access and labor migration support, expanding opportunities for I-Kiribati workers under the seasonal workers program.

In the Pacific, Australia is working with its small island neighbors to improve Australia’s new aid investments to ensure that development impacts are lasting.

Fraser said Australia has also invested in climate resilient and Met services projects around the Pacific.

“We have over $50 million (US$36 million) at the moment invested in climate resilient projects through the Pacific and we are actively focusing on improving disaster preparedness and response capacity in the region. We’ve increased our Pacific regional assistance budget $16 million (US$11 million) for this financial year and within this program we support national meteorological services of 14 Pacific countries including Kiribati to provide Met services and early warning services to the Pacific,” said Fraser.

In addition to its regional and bilateral efforts, Australia is using its seat on the board for the green climate fund to ensure the region has equitable access to these funds and that the Pacific interests are well represented.

Meanwhile, New Zealand High Commissioner to Kiribati says New Zealand will soon roll out its fisheries labor mobility scheme for Kiribati and Tuvalu.

Donald Higgins says the scheme will provide employment opportunities for both I-Kiribati and Tuvaluans to work in New Zealand’s fisheries sector.

He said New Zealand will continue to support the people of Kiribati through the development of their economic and employment opportunities and offshore labor mobility by providing access to decent work opportunities and economies.

Under its labor mobility programme, New Zealand has been providing a lot of support to Kiribati through the Marine Training Centre and the Recognized Seasonal Workers Scheme.



17) ATM Scammers Reportedly Making Rounds In Pacific Islands
Fiji tourists targeted, Cook Islands police warn public to be wary

By Phillipa Webb

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, Oct. 18, 2015) – ATM scammers are travelling through the Pacific and local police are warning people to be careful when using local cash machines.

Police told CI News they had received a report from the Pacific Transnational Crime Coordination Centre in Samoa that an attempt has been made to secretly record the pin codes of people using ATM machines in a popular tourist resort in Fiji.

It was suspected that criminals maybe travelling the Pacific for this purpose, they said.

The scammers attach a skimming device over the original slot on the ATM machine where the keypad is.

On this device is a pinhole camera pointing to the keypad where pin codes are entered.

When people using the machine enter their pin codes on the keypad, it is recorded on the camera and later retrieved by the criminals, who are then able to replicate the bank cards and extract money from bank accounts by using the pin codes.

Last year four people were arrested in Auckland for offences relating to these skimming devices and for forgery.

Anyone who finds anything unusual on an ATM machine should report it to the bank responsible for those machines or to the Cook Islands Police Service.

Police Commissioner Maara Tetava said unfortunately, criminals continue to explore ways to steal from people.

“As we now live in a global economy and being a very attractive tourist destination, it will only be a matter of time before this kind of offending comes to our place.”

Tetava said police were working closely with their regional and international partners to ensure Cook Islands monitoring systems were effective in detecting and apprehending people involved in these and other trans-national crime activities.

Cook Islands News

18) All Pacific countries urged to help climate refugees
11:28 pm GMT+12, 18/10/2015, Switzerland

All countries in the Pacific are being urged to start discussions on how to help people forced to move from low lying atoll nations like Kiribati and Tuvalu.

A plan of action for dealing with the increasing number of displaced people worldwide has been endorsed by 110 countries as part of the Swiss Norwegian Nansen Initiative.

The Initiative’s Walter Kaelin says the so-called Protection Agenda agreed last week in Geneva shows countries are ready to work together to tackle migration brought about by disaster and climate change.

“I think it’s important it’s not just New Zealand and Australia, it’s also countries such as Fiji and others who even might be interested to receive people from countries like Tuvalu and Kiribati because of cultural ties, because they are interested to get a workforce or increase their populations.”

Professor Kaelin says it’s important to start discussions before humanitarian crises develop.

He says the Pacific Islands Forum would provide a good framework for such talks.


19) Fiji ‘not satisfied’

Ropate Valemei
Monday, October 19, 2015

FIJI is still not satisfied with the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) Plus agreement, says Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.

Speaking at the Fiji-Australia and Australia-Fiji Business Council in Australia last week, Mr Bainimarama said there must be understanding if any agreement was to be successful.

The PACER Plus negotiations offer an opportunity to help Pacific Islands Forum countries benefit from enhanced regional trade and economic integration.

Pacific Islands Forum leaders launched negotiations on PACER Plus at their 40th meeting in August 2009.

“One cannot negotiate such an agreement let alone sign it when the fundamental premise of the proposed agreement fails to take into account the realities of the economies of small island developing states,” he said.

Mr Bainimarama said such agreement must recognise the power differentials and the economic capacities between countries such as Australia and New Zealand on the one hand, and on the other, Pacific Island states that lacked comparative economic sophistication and strength.

“We are still irritated by certain impediments to trade such as the Australian ban on imports of Fijian kava.

“Yet none of this should be an impediment to a higher and more friendly level of engagement between us and better relations generally,” Mr Bainimarama said.

He added the country would continue to press for Australia and New Zealand to step back from the main table at the Pacific Islands Forum and allow the island nations to determine their own agendas.

He said Government also had a fundamentally opposing view of what needed to be done to reduce the carbon emissions that were causing global warming and the rise in sea levels and extreme weather events that posed such a serious threat to Pacific Island nations.Fijitimes


20) Chinese Support for the Pacific Region Continues
5:15 pm GMT+12, 19/10/2015, Fiji

China and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat further strengthened their relationship last Friday when the two met at a ceremony to hand over US$1.05 million to assist the Pacific region.

Forum Secretariat Secretary General Dame Meg Taylor and Chinese Ambassador to Fiji, Zhang Ping attended the ceremony and delivered speeches respectively.

Ambassador ZHANG reiterated China’s ongoing interest in the region saying, “China attaches great importance to the South Pacific region. The Chinese side stands ready to enhance mutual understanding and cooperation with Pacific Island Countries and contribute to the development and capacity building in the region.”

Accepting the contribution Secretary General Taylor said, “I warmly welcome this support that assists the Forum in advancing regional integration as well as helping member countries achieve sustainable development.”

The handover ceremony provided opportunity to raise key Pacific region priorities identified through the Framework for Pacific Regionalism such as climate change and ICT.

“We seek your support for the Forum’s position going into the COP21 negotiations in Paris, as articulated in the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Declaration on Climate Change Action issued in Port Moresby last month.”

“China’s commitment to support Pacific island countries to achieve greater ICT connectivity is to be commended and the special loans you have made available for ICT infrastructure connectivity, improving broadband networks, encouraging on-line education services, and ICT enterprises, are a generous initiative.”

China became a Forum dialogue partner in 1990. Since then it has developed an important economic relationship with the region, particularly through its dedication to trade development.

“China has made an impressive commitment to advance trade and investment with the Pacific island countries. China’s continuing support for the Pacific Trade and Invest (PT&I) Beijing is very much appreciated.” said Secretary General Taylor.

The financial support will be used to support activity by the China-PIF Development Cooperation Fund and the PT&I Beijing office and its activities.

For media enquiries contact





23) Air France to cut jobs

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

AIR France will cut less than a third of the 2900 job cuts it proposed in a 2016/2017 plan that triggered clashes with some staff, the chief executive of parent company Air France-KLM (AIRF.PA) said yesterday.

The job cuts in 2016 would be voluntary and heavier job losses in 2017 could be avoided if talks with unions led to an agreement on alternative savings measures by the beginning of next year, Alexandre de Juniac said.

The airline earlier this month presented a “Plan B” of job losses and flight cutbacks after failing to get pilots to sign up to productivity measures that would have involved working more hours for the same pay.

The announcement of the cuts package led to scuffles during which senior managers had their clothes ripped, in embarrassing scenes for the French Government as it tries to boost investment to bring down unemployment.

“The ‘Plan B’ takes place over two years, 2016 and 2017. For 2016 it is under way,” he said in an interview on RTL radio and the LCI news channel.

“If negotiations are successful by the start of 2016, we can avoid implementing Plan B for 2017, which means reverting to the ‘Plan A’, the ‘Perform’ plan,” he said, reiterating the position expressed by his board on Thursday.

The need to finalise flight schedules several months in advance meant that Air France was required to go ahead with the cutbacks for 2016, Mr de Juniac said.

The cuts would affect fewer than 1000 jobs and less than a third of the 2900 job losses outlined in this month’s plan, he said.

Air France will discuss the 2016 cuts with union officials at an October 22 meeting of its works council, and Mr de Juniac said the airline had already informed unions of the timetable for further discussions up to the start of next year.

24) Britain to launch new anti-extremism measures

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

LONDON – British Prime Minister David Cameron will launch a new strategy aimed at countering jihadist ideology and stopping young Britons travelling to Syria.

Key measures in the plan include allowing parents to have passports removed from 16 and 17 year olds, and barring those with terrorism or extremist convictions from working with children and vulnerable people.

“We know that extremism is really a symptom; ideology is the root cause, but the stakes are rising and that demands a new approach. So we have a choice; do we choose to turn a blind eye, or do we choose to get out there and make the case for our British values?” Mr Cameron is expected to say later on Monday according to released remarks.
25) UN report calls for urgent response to harness Asia-Pacific’s rapid urban transformation
5:01 pm GMT+12, 19/10/2015, Indonesia

Warning of unprecedented shifts in population in urban areas of the Asia and Pacific – already home to 17 of the world’s megacities, with populations exceeding 10 million – the United Nations today launched a new report that highlights the region’s urban transformation progress and underscores the urgent need to make it more sustainable.

“Urban demographics will magnify our challenges, as they accompany steeper growth in national outputs, which already outpace population growth. Growing demand will increase policy and resource pressures, as our cities will be home to a middle class of 2 billion people by 2050, said Shamshad Akhtar, the Executive Secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

The report, State of Asian and Pacific Cities 2015: Urban Transformations’ shifting from quantity to quality, compiled by ESCAP and the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN HABITAT), highlights growing gaps between current urbanization patterns and what is needed to shift to a more inclusive and sustainable urban future, in which the role of the region’s cities is unquestionably tied to national, regional and global development prospects.

Launched during the Sixth Asian Pacific Urban Forum (APUF-6), taking place in Jakarta, Indonesia, the report states that in 2018 the region will have more than half of its population is expected to then be living in urban agglomerations. Additionally, a further one billion people will be added to the region’s cities by 2040 and by 2050 the urban population in Asia and the Pacific will reach 3.2 billion.

Currently, the region is home to 17 megacities, each of which exceeds 10 million inhabitants. According to the report, the region will have 22 megacities by 2030.

The report states that the current economic dynamism in the region’s urban areas that has spurred a rise in the size of middle classes still witnesses widening gaps and growing inequalities.

Youth employments, rising number of urban poor, lack of rights, rising urban living costs, lack of access to adequate services and housing are some of the challenges facing the urban population.

Widening disparities threaten to undermine social cohesion, and affordability is at a crisis point in many of the region’s larger cities.

The report also highlights the environmental challenges facing the urban cities of Asia-Pacific where an increasing number of cities face liveability crises, evidenced by deteriorating air standards and water pollution. They are also highly vulnerable to natural disasters and climate change activities with poor and disadvantaged communities being more at risk.

“Our region has demonstrated, in a range of cities, how sound leadership, sustainability and financial capacity can catalyse the essential change that we need. We must address the power-sharing gaps between local and central government; the financing gaps in local government budgets and investment; and the capacity gaps of local governments in promoting strategic and future-oriented urban planning,” said Akhtar.

The report also stressed that the recently adopted 2030 Agenda and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the world leaders at the UN General Assembly provides a broad architecture to tackle these challenges as it includes a dedicated Sustainable Development Goal and several other Goals that supports sustainable urban transformation.

“The need for strong leadership and political commitment, both at the national and subnational levels, to gear up responses, learn and adapt from the region’s successful stories of urban transformations, and deploy innovation and newer technologies, strengthening local governance institutions and working more closely with private sector to manage urbanization,” said Akhtar.



26) Stranded student back home in Milne Bay

The National, Tuesday October 20th, 2015

DORIS Albert, the 20-year-old student who was stranded in Kokopo, East New Britain, for three months without money, is finally home in Milne Bay.
The Office of Higher Education bought her airline ticket last Wednesday, allowing her to fly home to Alotau and to her ageing widowed mother
Albert flew out of Tokua Airport yesterday to Port Moresby with connection to Milne Bay.
She had been stranded in East New Britain because she was forced out of school due to school fee problem and could not pay her way back home.
She entered Sonoma Adventist College this year to pursue an education programme but could not do her second semester studies due to financial constraint and had to withdraw.
The college had asked non-paying students to withdraw and vacate the campus.
Albert resorted to hiding on campus without food and money for more than three months. She said in Kokopo last Friday that although she was on a Hecas Scholarship, the school administration did not advise HECAS students who had withdrawn from studies that the Office of Higher Education was responsible for their return tickets.
Albert said they were all expected to leave the school premises without proper arrangements by the school administration.
College principal Dr Isako Esekia said last week that he was not aware that Albert was stranded and was hiding on campus without food and money.
He said the college could not allow Albert to continue her studies because the second semester was now ending.
Esekia, however, said the college was ready to take her back for studies next year.

27) Geohazards course for UPNG

The National, Tuesday October 20th, 2015

THE University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) has signed a memorandum of understanding with a government department to allow its students to pursue geohazards management courses.
This is part of plans by the Department of Mineral Policy and Geohazards Management (DMPGM) to further strengthen the field of geohazards management through research and development.
DMPGM secretary Shadrach Himata thanked UPNG’s Centre for Disaster Reduction for incorporating geohazards management into its courses as it was important to better understand and mitigate the impacts of natural disasters in the country.
“I’d like to make it clear that the area of geohazards management cannot be underestimated,” Himata said.
“It is an area that deserves recognition simply because PNG is prone to all geological risks and our infrastructure and people are all living around geohazards.
“We need to understand why and where these disasters occur so that we are aware. Once we are aware, we can plan and manage how we put our roads, schools, health services and so forth.
“We need a skillful manpower to be able to work with us and sustain what we’ve already established as a department and continue the area of research and development like in universities.”
UPNG vice chancellor Prof Albert Mellam said that PNG was one of the top 10 countries worldwide in terms of deaths caused by natural disasters in proportion to population.
“Unfortunately many people and organisations are not well prepared for potential disasters and undertake very little disaster-related research,” Mellam said.
“There are also very few disaster awareness programmes in this country and so this partnership is one that will profile this important aspect of humanity and the natural disasters that we face.”

28) High demand for PG studies

Josaia Ralago
Tuesday, October 20, 2015

THE University of the South Pacific campus in Labasa has the highest roll of students studying postgraduate courses in all regional campuses, excluding Laucala, Alafua and Emalaus.

Campus academic Doctor Rosiana Lagi said the high roll showed the increase in demand from students and the working class in the North that were interested in pursuing postgraduate courses.

Last Friday, the students presented their second research papers focussed on different issues affecting the division.

The students shared their research work including low literacy level in primary schools in Labasa, biodiesel being a viable industry in the North and the fact that the disivion only has three counsellors for the 123 schools.Fijitimes

29) Uni in need of facilities

The National, Monday October 19th, 2015

THE University of PNG administration is concerned about the condition of academic facilities on campus, some of which have been there since 1965.
UPNG Vice-Chancellor Professor Albert Mellam and Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Vincent Malaibe revealed that last Friday when expressing concerns about the delays in construction of the Science IV building and the Law School building.
“Those buildings will add a lot of value to the training of our students. That is our core business. Physical space is also critical,” he said.
“As you know, the infrastructure is very old. They’ve been here for 50 years.
“The volume of students has increased, and the capacity to host them and provide conducive learning environment is not there under our current regime and current infrastructure.
“We have to move into the space of modernising our infrastructure. I’m hoping that government can come to the table and honour the contractual agreements they have signed with the two construction firms, Niugini Builders and COVEC, to finish off those projects.”
Malaibe said: “In Vision 2050, the Government is addressing accessibility for our young kids, young students,” he said.
“It’s massive numbers coming out of Grade 12, some 21,000 or something (annually).
“These two buildings are very important for us in order to address that.
“The sooner it is delivered, the better for everyone.
“Most of the infrastructure here is old.
“UPNG is 50 years old and these two buildings will add value in a big way in terms of a conducive environment for quality teaching and learning.

“With other State-funded buildings, that will really assist us.”


30) Opposition plans to move motion of no confidence

The National, Monday October 19th, 2015

THE Opposition plans to move a motion of no confidence against Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s Government in Parliament next week “to steer the country out of the cliff”, leader Don Polye says.
Polye called a press conference at Parliament House yesterday with Vanimo-Green MP Belden Namah, Bulolo MP Sam Basil, Kikori MP Mark Maipakai, Lagai-Porgera MP Nixon Mangape and Goilala MP William Samb.
“We have the numbers, the Opposition has numbers. We need to steer this country out of the cliff,” he said. “We (Opposition) don’t have any credibility issues, we have been prudent and we have records that will prove to the people of this nation.
“This team will offload 10.1 per cent shares, cut down unnecessary expenditures, retire some of those bad loans that are in process, and we will do the rationalisation of expenditure and mobilise resources to have the money to spend on those real priorities to growth. The current government is doing all kinds of things damaging and detrimental to the country’s economy.”
Namah said their only objective “is to save this country”.
“We are not removing the ministers, we are removing one person – Peter O’Neill,” he said.
Basil said:“If a new government comes into play, they will switch into a damage control mode. They won’t enjoy the privileges of putting up new projects here and there.
“We have to save this country, it has already been damaged.”

31) O’Neill will stay, Ipatas predicts

The National, Tuesday October 20th, 2015

ENGA Governor Sir Peter Ipatas predicts that Prime Minister Peter O’Neill will remain in the position up to 2017 and beyond.
Ipatas told people in Wabag last Friday to ignore leaders spreading rumours about a change in government.
Sir Peter, a member of the ruling People’s National Congress Party headed by O’Neill, told the people that the party and its coalition parties were intact.
“I am now telling you not to listen to people on the street spreading rumours about the vote-of-no-confidence in the November sitting of Parliament,” he said.
He said O’Neill had provided good leadership which he and Wabag MP Robert Ganim were happy to be part of.
Ipatas said if a leader was doing fine by serving the people and developing the country, there was no need to remove him.
He said because of the good leadership, people were enjoying services and seeing major projects taking place in the country.
The Opposition is planning to move a vote-of-no-confidence in O’Neill and his government when Parliament resumes sitting on October 27.
Opposition leader Don Polye said it was time to change the Government because it had been mismanaging the affairs of the country.

32) Consider people’s interests, MPs told

The National, Tuesday October 20th, 2015

NORTHERN Governor Gary Juffa has called on MPs to consider the collective interests of all Papua New Guineans on decisions which affect the nation and its people.
He said too often people were used for political reasons but dumped afterwards.
Juffa was responding to a move initiated by Morobe Governor Kelly Naru to form a group comprising the nine MPs of Morobe.
Juffa said regional blocs were divisive, created political instability and promoted elitism.
He said he no one had contacted him about joining that group.
“I have not been contacted or spoken to regarding such a bloc and am unaware unless the good governor is referring to other Northern MPs,” he said.
“My focus is Oro and its interests which sadly have not received the attention my people deserve from the Government.
“However I aim to raise this in Parliament and in meetings with the Government.
“These issues include the funds from the sale of our shares to Sime Darby to the tune of K40 millon and unpaid Special Support Infrastructure Grant of nearly K20 million, as well as disaster funds of K3 million and Tourism Development Funds of K10 million.
“I think that the Government should take note of the growing unhappiness in Parliament over unfulfilled promises and grumbling in Cabinet over the lack of consultation in decision making,” Juffa said.

33) Top job not a right: MP

The National, Tuesday October 20th, 2015

FISHERIES Minister Mao Zeming has accused the children of East Sepik Governor Sir Michael Somare of pushing him to play politics.
Zeming, who is deputy leader of the National People’s Congress Party, said in a statement: “We have a sad situation where three of the Somare children are pushing the Grand Chief to play politics when people close to him, who do not have a personal agenda, know he is ready to enjoy life. The Somare children have to know that the PNG’s prime ministership is not a birthright.
“The Somares are not the Kim family and this is not North Korea.”
Zeming said he was concerned with the way the younger generation of the Somares had sought to twist events over several years.
“I suggest to the Somare children to take your chances and seek election in your own right if you have something to offer and do not play cheap policies from outside the Parliament,” he said
Zeming’s outburst follows comments by Arthur Somare – former Angoram MP and State Enterprise Minister, in the Australian media.
A family spokesperson said: “Arthur had responded to Peter O’Neill that IPIC was a messy deal,” he said.
“As a leading ministers in the previous government that negotiated the deal, Somare has every right to talk about the IPIC transaction.
“Zeming’s reaction to Arthur Somare’s statement lacks substance or reference to important matters that affect the country’s economy.

“Zeming’s questions reflect lack of understanding of the UBS loan.”

34) Solomons PM Calls For Deregistration Of Public Interest Group
Forum Solomon Islands International is political, not charity: Sogavare

By Aatai John

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Oct. 20, 2015) – Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare says he would support deregistration of Forum Solomon Islands International (FSII).

Mr Sogavare said, in his key address to Parliament last week.

The Prime Minister said, out of seven objectives of Forum Solomon Islands International (FSII) six of them were clearly political in nature, which puts their position in question under the charitable act, hence the organisation must be deregistered.

Prime Minister Sogavare made the comment in response to a draft resolution from the People’s Forum organised by FSII members seeking Government’s explanation to controversial decisions and actions it had made which had come under much public criticism.

But the Prime Minister pointed out that the same constitution that FSII is quoting to seek answers from the government regarding their controversial decisions has empowered parliament as well to make laws that regulates them by nature of their deeds and also to that of persons and authorities.

He said an example of this is the Charitable Act under which the FSII was registered does not allow them to involve in debates that are clearly political.

Mr Sogavare said, it is clear that the leadership of FSII has lost total control and failed to comply with the constitution of the organisation in the management of articles and statements posted in their website.

“There is a clear requirement that the postings must be approved be the leadership of the organisation. This did not happen. And this is clearly reflected in the junks and rubbish that are posted in their website,” PM expressed in disappointment

Mr Sogavare added FSII must seek registration as a political party under the Political Party Integrity Act, if they like to continue to involve in politics and political debates, but not under the Charitable Act, which only allows for registration of organisations whose objectives and purpose of existence were charitable.

He said, the government in due course will through the registrar require FSII to explain why they cannot be deregistered.

Solomon Star

35) Fiji PM aplogises for coups, but not his own

19 October 2015

The Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama has made another apology to those forced to flee the country after the coups in 1987 and 2000.

Speaking to expatriates at Fiji Day celebrations in Australia on Saturday, he invited expatriates to return home and invest.

A spokesperson for the Fiji Democracy and Freedom Movement in New Zealand, Nik Naidu, says he thinks the apology was made in good faith.

He says the 1987 coup saw the most Indo-Fijians flee, many of whom were professionals and business people, which caused a loss of intellectual capital and wealth.

Mr Naidu says it is possible some of those expatriates will return to Fiji.

“In 1987, those that came during that coup always felt that they would one day return when they were more welcome. Possibly they will now see this as an opportunity to go back to Fiji. Not necessarily to live permanently but at least to reinvest or maybe even to use Fiji as a place to go and spend three to six months a year possibly in winter.”RNZI

36) Fiji PM apology ‘selective’

20 October 2015

An Australia-based academic Brij Lal says the Fiji prime minister’s apology over the 1987 and 2000 coups is selective.

Speaking to expatriates at Fiji Day celebrations in Australia, Frank Bainimarama apologised to those who had to flee and invited expatriates to return home and invest.

Professor Lal was expelled from Fiji in 2009 after his criticism of the interim regime’s decision to expel Australian and New Zealand diplomats.

He says Mr Bainimarama’s apology does not include people like himself who were pushed out for having different political ideals.

“There is kind of a selective reading of things here but I hope that in the fullness of time, wisdom will prevail, and all Fiji citizens, irrespective of their political beliefs and so on will be allowed to return to Fiji.”

Brij Lal says it is not suprising Mr Bainimarama did not mention his own coup in 2006 in the apology.RNZI

37) 16 Fijians To Remain Behind Bars In Sedition Case

Trial will commence in early 2016

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, October 19, 2015) – 16 Fijian men and women from Nadroga charged with sedition and inciting communal antagonism have been further remanded in custody.

FBC News reports Justice Paul Madigan presided over pre-trial legal arguments and ruled that the case will now go to trial in early 2016.

The case has been adjourned to November the 5th for lawyers to produce agreed facts.

The accused are charged with one count each of sedition and one count each of inciting communal antagonism, in relation to the alleged attempt to form a sovereign state in Nadroga-Navosa.

Radio New Zealand International


38) 99-year leases for 84

Repeka Nasiko
Tuesday, October 20, 2015

THE Ministry of Lands has so far renewed 84 agricultural leases for sugarcane farmers.

Lands permanent secretary Tevita Boseiwaqa said the Crown leases had been renewed for 99 years.

“The objective of getting the leases renewed was to support Government’s policy to revitalise the sugar industry,” he said.

Mr Boseiwaqa explained that upon renewal, the farmer was required to adhere to certain guidelines.

“The lessees must comply with the lease conditions they agreed when signing the lease documents. Some of the conditions are the adequate utilisation of land that is used for its purpose, pay land rent and they have to practise good husbandry.”

The ministry has also removed past restrictions of one agricultural lease per applicant, allowing farmers to expand their capacities beyond one lease.

In Parliament last month, Lands Minister Mereseini Vuniwaqa said Government had opened the uptake of agricultural leases to farmers who already owned agricultural lease and had proven themselves as capable farmers.

“The long-term leases now give these farmers impetus to invest more into their farms and give them stronger collateral for loans down the road.

“In recognising the importance of sugar to our economy, a special initiative is currently underway in the ministry to renew approximately 200 expired sugarcane leases in the Western and Northern divisions to assist these farmers in taking advantage of the current amnesty period for payment on interest on lease arrears,” she said.Fijitimes


39) Tongan media fear internet crackdown

20 October 2015

Tonga’s Media Council says the government needs to clarify moves to block selected internet content because of fears people’s rights may be infringed upon.

The Council’s Pesi Fonua says he is meeting with Crown Law officials to get reassurances that press freedom and freedom of expression will not be affected.

This month, legislation was passed giving a new commission powers to take down a site or connection if a website was disseminating information deemed not good for the community.

The government says the move is designed to protect children from pornography.

However Mr Fonua, who runs the news website Matangi Tonga, says there needs to be more defined lines.

“When they talk about blocking things out, you don’t know, they can block anything. With the modern day to day news, whatever news comes through or we want to cover it, you google it or you go in to search for information. There’s a whole lot of sites you have to access to find information. If they are going to have that privilege of blocking things, you can imagine there is going to be a problem.”RNZI


40) Bank Of South Pacific To Acquire Westpac Solomons
Central Bank of Solomons gives approval for take-over

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Oct. 16, 2015) – Bank of South Pacific (BSP) Chairman Sir Kostas G. Constantinou, O.B.E has announced that the Central Bank of Solomon Islands (CBSI) has given the approval for BSP to acquire Westpac’s banking operations in the Solomon Islands.

BSP has been working closely with CBSI and has fulfilled the necessary approvals and it is pleasing to note that the central bank has responded positively.

BSP acknowledges and thanks the CBSI Governor and the Board of Directors for its careful and considered review of our application.

Both BSP and Westpac are committed to the acquisition and are working religiously towards a likely completion of sale by the end of October.

The acquisition is consistent with BSP’s Pacific based expansion strategy, which has been maintained since 2006.

The acquisitions included the Habib Bank in Fiji in 2006, National Bank of Solomon Islands in 2007 and the Colonial Groups of Companies (Banking & Life Businesses) in Fiji in 2009.

The acquisition will bring respected customers, skilled employees and specialised processes and systems.

It positions BSP as a leading Pacific regional financial services business, maximising future opportunities from PNG’s growing long term trade and economic influence in the region.

This expansion in the Solomon Island reinforces our vision to become the preeminent bank in PNG and the South Pacific and we are 100% committed to providing flexible, convenient everyday banking solutions for all our clients.

BSP currently has 7 branches, 40 Agents, 19 ATMs and 157 EFTPoS devices across the Solomon Islands. Its Mobile and Internet Banking offer solutions that provide convenience and flexibility.

PNG Post-Courier

41) Border locals stopped from buying items

The National, Tuesday October 20th, 2015

THE prolonged drought has forced Indonesian authorities to stop people along the PNG-Indonesian border in Western from buying their limited food and fuel supplies, Morehead Station manager Maninanzang Gantau said yesterday.
“We have been advised by the Indonesian Government officials that they are running out of rice stocks and they will soon stop us from buying their rice stocks in the Merauke regency (district).
“Merauke is the main rice producing regency in the whole of the West Papua and Papua provinces in Indonesia. They are supplying rice to these provinces. So they have advised us that they are running out of rice stocks and they need the limited stocks to supply their own people.
“If we also get their rice, then they will soon run out of rice to feed their big population.”
Gantau said that their (Indonesian) fuel stock was running low and they would stop supplying fuel to PNG people in the border area.
“We need fuel for the generators for the eight Digicel towers in South Fly. We get our fuel from the Indonesian town of Sota,” he said.
He said that the prolonged nationwide drought caused by El Nino had forced people along the southern area of the PNG-Indonesian border to search for food and water in both countries.

42) Fiji Unions Wait For ILO Action

Concern over freedom of association and strike actions

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, October 19, 2015) – Two big unions in Fiji want the International Labour Organisation to see if the government is infringing on workers’ rights.

This week the Fiji Islands Council of Trade Unions and the Fiji Trades Union Congress both refused to sign an ILO-required joint implementation report.

FICTU general secretary Attar Singh says they are concerned about how broad the government has defined ‘essential services’ which he says restricts strike action.

Mr Singh says there are also currently potential restrictions on the right to freedom of association.

Mr Singh says the unions will now leave it to the ILO to decide at its next meeting in November, if it will begin a commission of inquiry.

“This is the highest level of investigative procedure that ILO can take. It is the ultimate in the ILO system and I think governments and organisations need to look at with that kind of seriousness. If the ILO does decide on that then it does mean that the Fiji government is violating rights which ILO would like member countries to observe.”

Attar Singh says such a move could affect trade and jobs if the government doesnt meet ILO requirements.

Radio New Zealand International

43) Internet offers Pacific exporters avenue to boost sales, cut costs – ADB
11:33 pm GMT+12, 18/10/2015, Philippines

Improved communications links and increased internet connectivity offer exporters in remote Pacific islands new online opportunities to scale up sales and move into new markets, says a new Asian Development Bank study brief.

The brief, drawn from a 2015 report, Aid for Trade in Asia and the Pacific: Thinking Forward About Trade Costs and the Digital Economy looks at steps that exporters can take to overcome the vast distances and high costs that hinder trade in the region. Aid for Trade is development assistance that aims to increase trade by creating an enabling environment for exporters, and every other year ADB reports on the trends and future potential of Aid for Trade. The 2015 report includes, for the first time, a special section on the Pacific.

“Trade costs have fallen in the region but in general they remain high, which constrains business” said Alisa DiCaprio, Regional Cooperation Specialist in ADB’s Economic Research and Regional Cooperation Department.

“However fast improving communications links and the spread of the internet offer new opportunities particularly for small businesses, and those run by women, to generate increased sales.”

E-commerce allows firms to diversify and sell to a wider range of markets than traditional firms, sharply reducing the impact of geographic distance. A 2014 survey by Pacific Trade and Invest found that 44% of exporters in the Pacific had enhanced their websites to boost export orders, and a growing number of firms are engaging in e-commerce activity. Building up e-commerce, however, requires further infrastructure upgrades and continued efforts to create the right enabling environment for online business.

One group who stand to gain significantly from this trend are women-led firms who have limited involvement in export activities. Giving women greater access to the internet will allow them to explore and tap new market opportunities, and to use their limited resources more efficiently to grow their firms.

An increasing number of Pacific exporters are focusing on selling specialized products into niche markets, which can command a premium price. Goods from the Pacific have global appeal for consumers that seek environmentally or community-friendly products, and broader use of the internet will help businesses reach out to more customers.

Moving forward, the brief says, targeted investment is needed to support the private sector in utilizing the internet for business, and to help identify, develop and market niche products.


44) Labour law issues

Felix Chaudhary
Tuesday, October 20, 2015

THE International Labour Organization says all information regarding discussions about labour law issues concerning Fiji will be made available for public scrutiny on its website.

Responding to questions sent by this newspaper about the breakdown in talks between the Government and Fiji Commerce and Employers Federation on one side, and the Fiji Trades Union Congress on the other in regards to the submission of a joint progress report on labour law reforms, the ILO said the information would be made accessible for all to see.

“The only thing we can say at this point is that all information received by ILO will be made available to its governing body members on our (publicly accessible) website,” said Jean-Luc Martinage from the ILO Press Office in Geneva.

“It is expected that new information will go up from the end of next week. Any further relevant information will also be made available on the site.”

Fiji will be discussed at the ILO Governing Body’s 325th Session in Geneva on Wednesday, November 11.

The ILO had made a decision to appoint a Commission of Inquiry into Fiji in March this year after a number of issues were highlighted about labour laws in Fiji which infringed on workers’ rights.

A Commission of Inquiry is the ILO’s highest-level of investigative procedure, generally setup when a member state is accused of committing persistent and serious violations and has repeatedly refused to address them.

Then Labour Minister Jioje Konrote, FTUC general secretary Felix Anthony and FCEF CEO Nesbitt Hazelman managed to sign agreement in Geneva in March with the Government promising to address certain labour laws issues.

According to the agreement, the tripartite partners were to have worked together to review and amend the offending laws.

A joint progress report which was supposed to have been submitted by Government, FTUC and FCEF to the ILO Governing Body in June did not go according to plan. Government and FCEF submitted one report and the FTUC delivered its own.

A joint implementation report which was supposed to have been submitted by October 15 also did not proceed as planned.

Questions sent by this newspaper to Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum last week regarding the issue remain unanswered.

FCEF CEO Nesbitt Hazelman said as far as employers were concerned, issues with freedom and association and collective bargaining as highlighted by the ILO had been addressed in the Employment Relations Promulgation Amendment Bill passed in Parliament in July this year.

FTUC general secretary Felix Anthony said Government’s failure to open its doors to trade unions during the review process and the inclusion of portions of the Essential National Industries Decree into the ERP Amendment Bill was not in line with the ILO’s core conventions.Fijitimes


45) Road project on schedule: Wereh

The National, Monday October 19th, 2015

THE first phase of the Lae-Nadzab super highway project is ahead of schedule despite delays in the early stages of the road works.
Last Wednesday marked a milestone for contractor China Railway International (PNG) Ltd with the first pouring of asphalt on two lanes of the four-lane highway starting from 9-Mile to Bugandi.
CRI and Works Department officials confirmed on Friday, during a project site visit, that work on the two lanes would be fully completed in December and would be open for traffic to and from Lae city.
Work on the other two lanes was continuing and the first phase of the project would be fully completed by September 2016.
Works Secretary David Wereh said the highway was a high impact project of the O’Neill Government that would be delivered on time.
“The Government is continuing to give all support the project requires,” Wereh said.
“We are using a new technology on the Lae to Nadzab highway where all road pavement structure is modified using plant mix delivery to project site and laid by a specialised paving machine.
“The progress of the project has been slow due to the delay in relocating power poles and property structures along the road corridor. The continuous rain has caused delays as well but the project section between Lae to Wau-Bulolo turnoff will be completed on time.
“The contract is a fixed time and fixed price with no variation so it will be completed as scheduled.”
“The contractor has a big establishment at Yalu and has bought all new equipment for the project. The camp site has the biggest asphalt plant in PNG that produces 90 cubic metres per hour.
It has the only latest paving machine in PNG with a 9-metre bar which can pave an 8-metre wide pavement in only one pass. It can pave 500 metres of two-lane in one pass in a day.
It has the biggest concrete patch plant and all concrete pipes of varying sizes are manufactured on site.
“The project has a fully equipped laboratory that controls all quality specifications and required tests.
“This project has been tailored to meet the engineering challenges with the high rainfall in Lae area, and when it is completed, it will be the first project to be completed under this technology.
“This new innovation has been introduced after a technical audit that changed the original design and reduced the cost.”


46) 14 jailed Vanuatu MPs due in court

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

THIS week is set to be another turbulent one in Vanuatu with the sentencing of 14 MPs convicted of bribery and a possible motion of no confidence in the Government.

Eleven of the convicted MPs have spent the weekend in jail, after they were arrested on Friday on new charges.

After the MPs were convicted of the bribery charges a week ago, Parliament’s speaker Marcellino Pipite pardoned all but one of them while he was acting president.

On Friday, that pardon was overturned by the President, Baldwin Lonsdale, who has said Mr Pipite had acted unlawfully.

The Supreme Court then ordered police to re-arrest 11 of the MPs, including Mr Pipite, and three lawyers who had been advising them on conspiracy to defeat the course of justice.

They have spent the weekend at a correctional facility in Port Vila, ahead of a court appearance today where they are likely to seek bail.

All 14 MPs will appear in court on Thursday for sentencing in the bribery case, where they face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. Meanwhile, the opposition is preparing a motion of no confidence that is likely to be filed with the Deputy Speaker, Samson Samsen, this week.


47) PNG Orphanage Director: Children May Die From Lack Of Food
Ongoing drought exacerbating food shortages

By Bruce Hill

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, October 18, 2015) – Children at an orphanage in Papua New Guinea’s drought-hit highlands may die from lack of food and water, its director says.

Rosa Kepo, the director of the Bible Faith Orphanage Outreach Centre in Mount Hagen, said some children at the orphanage had already died while others ran away to try to fend for themselves.

Ms Kepo said the orphanage’s food gardens had been infected with worms that have spoiled crops and the children had to walk long distances to fetch water.

“They cannot walk because they do not have good shoes to wear and they’re weak,” she told Pacific Beat.

“And when they walk back from school, they are already weak and tired.

“It’s not going to be good for the children.

“They will die [with] no food, they will starve.”

Ms Kepo said she was also concerned about the children’s mental health, as they had been deprived of basic necessities.

PNG has been hit by severe droughts and frosts in recent months, with a state of emergency declared in the Southern Highlands and Enga province, where church leaders claimed at least 10 people died from starvation in September.

El Nino has been blamed for the extreme weather conditions and PNG’s National Weather Service warned the El Nino phenomenon is expected to last until March 2016.

The effects are expected to surpass the 1997 event that adversely impacted around 3 million people, it said.

Ms Kepo said the lack of food was affecting the children’s attendance in school.

“We do not have food, that means it’s starvation until the children won’t be able to go to school,” she said.

“It’s very difficult. There is no-one I can turn to.”

Only 50 children are living at the orphanage at the moment, Ms Kepo said, down from the 200 who were staying there when it opened.

Ms Kepo said many of the children ran away or were living on the streets exposed to drugs and diseases.

She said she was worried she would lose more children if the orphanage did not receive help from authorities.

“Either I will lose them or they will go into the markets or on the street and then they steal, like the people who do not have jobs,” she said.

Radio Australia

48) 2-6 cyclone expected from 2015 to 2016, vVanuatu Met service advise preparation
11:23 pm GMT+12, 18/10/2015, Vanuatu

Vanuatu is forecast to experience 2 to 6 tropical cyclones (TC) during the 2015 to 2016 cyclone season which starts from November to April next year.

The Pacific region is forecast to have 11 to 13. There is chance that one, of category 5, will occur anywhere in the southwest pacific while Vanuatu will have at least one category 3 or above tropical cyclone.

Vanuatu is facing severe drought, while across the ocean, sea surface temperatures have increased therefore can cause cyclones to occur outside the normal cyclone season.

Manager of the Climate Division of the Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-Hazards Department (VMGD), Philip Malsale, said the current El Niño conditions helps to boost tropical cyclones.

Malsale, who was out from the country addressed the launching of the new cyclone outlook via Skype.

“It is important to note that during El Niño events, there is high possibility for tropical cyclones to follow tracks that manoeuvre around the islands and last longer.

“This mean that an event that remains in an area for a long time can cause the same impact as one severe event that impacts an island for a shorter period.”

This year’s El Niño is the fourth strongest since 1950 with indicators that go beyond the 1997 and 98 events. It is predicted to last until 2016.

“Conditions are expected to accumulate from October to December but will deteriorate from early next year.”

He pointed out that El Niño could delay the onset of the rainy season, which starts in November.

“For the next three months, Vanuatu will experience severe deficiency in rainfall. This deficiency has been observed in the past months and will prevail until the first quarter of 2016.

“But it does not mean we will have no rain. We will see some improvement but it is still expected to be drier than normal. Currently, rainfall is far below normal.

“Remember that once we will return to normality by the first quarter of 2016, we will go into the dry season. Therefore, the impacts of El Niño can linger into the second and third quarter and then we are into the cyclone season in the fourth quarter.

“The impacts will be different on each islands. Some islands will recovery quicker than others.”

While the country is still recovering from TC Pam and with the onset El Niño, it remains vulnerable to more disasters, the VMGD has advised.

The conditions being forecast for the upcoming TC season favoured those of 1972 to 1973, 1982 to 1988, 1991 to 1992 and 1997 to 1998. VMGD emphasized that analog; the technique used to make the forecast is proven to be consistent.

Not to experienced the same damage brought by Pam earlier this year, the VMGD Director David Gibson, this time is strongly warning everyone to remain vigilant at all times and act proactively when forecast information is issued.

“Communities should make sure they are well prepared by taking appropriate actions as strengthening houses and stay up to date.

“Vanuatu remains the hotspot of tropical cyclone activity in the region. Possible impacts coupled with current El Niño event can have adverse impacts on the socio-economic livelihood of people, “ he stressed.

SMS will be disseminated during any event.


49) Fiji’s foreign minister discuss climate change with EU heads of missions
4:59 pm GMT+12, 19/10/2015, Fiji

Fiji’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola has met with the European Union Heads of Missions in Suva.

Minister Kubuabola updated the delegation on the recent work and activities of the Ministry with relation to Fiji’s Participation at the Pacific Islands Development Forum, Pacific Island Forum and the United Nations General Assembly. At the forefront of the discussions was the issue of climate change which has transcended through all the recent meets.

European Union Ambassador to the Pacific, Andrew Jacobs stated that he was glad with the progress and momentum gained in the region in preparation for the 21st Conference of Parties (COP 21) that will be held in Paris in November this year.

Minister Kubuabola highlighted to the Delegation that Fiji will be formalising its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) in preparation for COP 21. Minister further added that Fiji had actively lobbied for support on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to host a Triennial United Nations Conferences on Oceans and Seas in 2017 as well as seeking support for Fiji’s candidacy for the Presidency of the 71st session of the UNGA.

Andrew Jacobs was also pleased to announce that the programmes for Agriculture and Justice for Fiji were at the Terms of Reference stages and he was positive that funding in the vicinity of 27 million Euros (US$30 million) would be available shortly. Andrews also stated that Fiji would benefit from other regional funding.

British High Commissioner to Fiji, Roderick Drummond, French Ambassador to Fiji, Michel Djokovic and Resident First Secretary to Fiji (Embassy of Spain – Wellington) were also in attendance.


50) Tropical Depression Near Fiji Is Weakening

Still predict heavy rains and winds for much of the country

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, October 17, 2015) – Forecasters in Fiji say a severe tropical depression is now moving to the southwest, but heavy rain and strong winds are still likely for much of the country.

There were fears last night that the system could develop into a tropical cyclone as it moved further south.

But a forecaster for the Fiji Meteorological Service, Ravind Kumar, says it now appears to be weakening, although there is a moderate risk it could intensify again.

He says heavy rain and strong wind warnings are still in place for much of the country, and people should be prepared.

“The heavy rain warning is still on there, but we expect that to start easing off overnight [but] all communities should remain prepared at all times and they must be vigilant.”

Radio New Zealand International


51) Mine operations at Porgera forced to shut
5:10 pm GMT+12, 19/10/2015, Papua New Guinea

Porgera Mine in Enga Province has stopped operations due to low water levels caused by the El Nino.

This will be the second biggest mining operation to shut down after the OK Tedi mining operations stopped operations due to low water levels.

The PNG Chamber of Commerce has also stated that the long drought period caused by the El Nino weather will see companies scaling down operations and laying off workers.

Operator Barrick (Niugini) Limited said production has been temporarily halted at the Porgera Mine due to low water levels at the mine’s Walie Creek reservoir, brought on by the El-Nino.

Barrick was forced last week to temporarily shut down its milling and processing plants which are water-intensive production activities.

Barrick managing director Greg Walker said in responding to questions put to him last week that some minor processing activities had been suspended the week prior.

“The very unusual extended dry weather conditions that we have seen in recent months have meant that our supplies of production water have run very low and we have made the decision to shut down our milling and processing plants for the time being to conserve our water supply,” he said.

Walker said that the company would be using the opportunity to bring forward some of its scheduled maintenance activities, adding that they did not anticipate any significant economic impact to the mine’s operations.

At a time when many companies in the resource sector have had to shed staff and/or cut costs to maintain their operations, Walker said that “to date no Porgera Joint Venture (PJV) employee has been laid off due to the temporary shutdown.”

“This may mean some changes to current work rosters at our operations, as we shift towards maintenance tasks, but we are hopeful these will be minimal,” he said.

He said the lifting of the temporary suspension to the mines activities would depend on the return of adequate water levels at its reservoir.

“We are continuing to monitor those water levels, and will resume all mine functions once the levels meet water supply needs,” Walker said..


52) Projects to boost agriculture

The National, Tuesday October 20th, 2015

A NUMBER of agricultural projects including the rice project in Central will boost the sector, Agriculture and Livestock Minister Tommy Tomscoll says.
The agriculture projects include a dairy farm at 14- Mile outside Port Moresby which is a joint venture between the LR Group of Israel, the landowners and the Central provincial government.
A cassava project is also underway in the Markham Valley of Morobe which will supply the SP Brewery with raw materials for beer making.
“In terms of the Central rice project, the process has been completed,” Tomscoll said.
“The process has been completed and it is now with the State Solicitor for vetting.
“Once the State Solicitor completes the agreement between the State and the developer, we will progress.
“It was referred to the State Solicitor about six weeks ago. If it comes, it’s a US$2 billion investment project.”
Tomscoll said the dairy project, on the site of the former Ilimo Farm, would boost the local economy.
“Work should progress soon,” he said.
“By 2017, we should be producing our own milk, our own butter, our own yoghurt.”

53) Boost for tourism

Felix Chaudhary
Tuesday, October 20, 2015

THE emerging Chinese tourist market could provide a significant boost to tourism in the country in terms of spend per stay, says Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association president Dixon Seeto.

“When you talk about growth of the tourism sector, it’s not just about the number of visitor arrivals,” he said.

“That is only one part of the formula. You have to look at it in terms of arrivals multiplied by length of stay multiplied by spend per day.

“And while we are very grateful to our traditional source markets like Australia and New Zealand, we need to also focus our attention on markets like China and what their contribution to the economy is in terms of spend per stay.”

Mr Seeto highlighted Rosie Holidays announcement of four chartered flights from Shanghai and Beijing to Nadi in February next year with 110 high-end Chinese tourists as a step in the right direction.

“The emerging Chinese market is expected to regenerate the local high-end gift market because it is Chinese custom to buy gifts for family and friends.

“And they will come in search of high value small items like pearls and unique artifacts and souvenirs.”

Rosie Holidays announced the charter of four Fiji Airways Airbus flights from Shanghai and Beijing in February next year.

The flights will bring in 110 Chinese tourists and they coincide with Chinese New Year celebrations.

More than 28,300 Chinese tourists visited Fiji last year, up from 23,423 arrivals in 2013.FIJITIMES


54) Boy tied to a post

Mere Naleba
Tuesday, October 20, 2015

POLICE are looking for the woman who posted a picture of a young boy crying and tied to a post on social media.

The woman captioned the picture in the iTaukei language implying the boy was being punished for not babysitting another child and for biting the child as well. The boy looked three to five years old.

The Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission believe the woman had breached section 41 (1) (d) of the 2013 Constitution.

Section 41 (1) (d) of the Constitution states: “Every child has the right to be protected from abuse, neglect, harmful cultural practices, any form of violence, inhumane treatment and punishment, and hazardous or exploitive labour.

“Fiji is also a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), while domestic legislations also protect children. Enforcement has become a compulsory tool,” a statement from the commission said.

The Commission is also pleading with members of the public with any information that may lead to the identity of the woman who uploaded the picture.

“Members of the public are being called upon to identify the person posting the picture so the child can be protected from abuse. It’s also concerning that adults in the family are visible in the picture but are not making any attempt to protect the child,” the statement said.

“The child so small cannot be expected to babysit as the post claims was expected.”

Police Chief of Intelligence and Investigations ACP Henry Brown said police are also trying to identify the woman.

“We have managed to receive some information and anyone who can further assist in identifying the child or the woman who is alleged to have posted the photo is kindly requested to call the Criminal Investigations Department Cyber Crime Unit on 3315599,” ACP Brown said.Fijitimes


55) Noreen Pisa breaks barriers to become Papua New Guinea’s first supermodel
4:54 pm GMT+12, 19/10/2015, Australia

Papua New Guinea’s first supermodel has spoken out against abusive comments from people in her home country after she was labelled a ‘prostitute’ for posing in a bikini.

Noreen Pisa, who now lives in Kawana on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, has represented her country in international beauty pageants and has been targeted on her Facebook page by people she described as ‘small and primitive minded’.

But Pisa has vowed to stand up to the online trolls and says she will continue to pursue her modelling dream to inspire other women back home.


56) Women’s ‘key role’

Repeka Nasiko
Tuesday, October 20, 2015

MISS Sigatoka Adele Lingam believes women hold a key role in society.

And the 25-year-old TFL Miss Fiji contestant plans to this week share information on the important issue of women empowerment.

“During the week I will be highlighting certain issues that concern women and I will urge women to take a stand for what they believe in and be a voice that effects positive change.

“By advocating this issue on the platform we’ve been given, there are more chances of getting the message out to the women population.”

To support Ms Lingam, Vodafone users can text STK to 214.

The first public judging for the contestants will be held at Prince Charles Park on Wednesday evening.FijiTimes

57) Southern hemisphere completes sweep of Rugby World Cup quarterfinals
8:40 pm GMT+12, 18/10/2015, United Kingdom

There are still two weeks to go in the Rugby World Cup but the winner is already known.

For the seventh time in the eight editions of the tournament, the Webb Ellis Cup will be heading south of the equator.

For the first time, all four semifinalists are from the southern hemisphere after South Africa, New Zealand, Argentina and Australia all won their quarterfinals against opponents from the north.

The tournament has been a humiliation for the Six Nations teams and is sure to raise questions about where European rugby turns to solve their deficiencies on the field.

Apart from crowning the champions, the World Cup has always settled the old battle for global supremacy between the north and south, but it has been mostly one-way traffic.

While Australia, New Zealand and South Africa have each won two titles, only England, champions in 2003, have racked one up for the northern hemisphere.

With England hosting the 2015 tournament, hopes were high that the north might win again, but this World Cup has shown that the gap might be widening, and the south are assured of another champion.

England failed to make it out of the pool stages while Ireland, the current Six Nations champions, were thrashed 43-20 by Argentina, the weakest of the southern hemisphere’s big four teams.

“The result just reflected the tour de force demonstrated by the southern hemisphere teams this weekend,” Ireland coach Joe Schmidt said.

Scotland and Wales were desperately unlucky in their matches, with the Scots giving up a last-minute penalty in a one-point loss to the Wallabies, and Wales conceding a late try in a four-point defeat by the Springboks.

“I think that divide, it’s not a chasm, said Schmidt, one of three New Zealanders currently coaching Six Nations teams.

“The margins are still fine enough but they can get expanded very quickly on the scoreboard if you’re up against a good side.

“On any given day we have seen northern hemisphere teams compete with southern hemisphere teams and while we’ve got to be at our very best to be competitive, even if we’re a little bit below par they can still be incredibly dangerous against us.”

France learnt this the hard way on Saturday, thrashed 62-13 by a ruthless New Zealand team that are the favourites to win the title.

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen, who knows the northern hemisphere teams well after coaching Wales between 2002 and 2004, said the southern hemisphere teams all benefited from playing each other regularly.

“If you look at the three teams they are different. When you play South Africa, you have to be physical. When you play Australia, you come up against a highly skilled team who like to play running rugby and you have to be able to combat that,” he said.

“Then, you’ve got New Zealand who have a little bit of both. So, the competition creates a rugby player that can be multi-functional.

“The environment and weather down with us helps too. When you contrast that with the northern hemisphere, when you can be playing in snow and rain and freezing cold. That is not conducive to playing running rugby.

“What that does is build a really combative, physical game up here and maybe that’s what, in the end, limits their ability to play running rugby to the point that when they want to, it becomes difficult.”

Hansen also criticised the club structure in Europe, saying the influx so many overseas players was having a detrimental effect on the national teams.

“The other thing, although the owners would disagree, is that there are so many foreign players playing in their teams up here, that they are taking the place of the local player. That limits the number of players they can select at national level,” he said.

“You only have to look at the soccer model that rugby up here follows, and England haven’t won anything for years.

“Yet they have the best league in the world. They have the greatest players and most of the top players are playing here in England.”..


58) Tonga qualify for 2017 World Cup
8:37 pm GMT+12, 18/10/2015, Australia

Mate Ma’a Tonga – thanks to a try-scoring double from fullback Solomone Kata – have sealed their place in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup after downing the Cook Islands 28-8 at Campbelltown Stadium on Saturday night.

With all bar their halfback Daniel Foster managing to play in the NRL the Tongans were expected to rack up a cricket score against the inexperienced Kukis yet Cook Islands were able to hold their own – the score only blowing out in the final 10 minutes of the game.

As entertaining as it was, the second half of the contest was heavily marred by errors from both teams as the Cook Islands were looking to reverse Tonga’s slender four-point lead at half-time.

Those hopes were dented slightly when Kata – who found himself on the wing late on in proceedings after struggling to walk for the backend of the game – was able to score in the 62nd minute.

Coming from a magical flick pass from centre Mahe Fonua, Kata was able to cross in the corner on one leg to push the lead out to eight.

But he wasn’t done there with Kata capitalising on a mistake from Cook Islands winger Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad to pounce on the loose ball and score his second in the 70th minute.

For good measure prop Peni Terepo raced away in a long-range effort for a front-rower to score and put the cherry on top for the Tongans and seal the 20-point win – a long stretch from how the young Eels forward started proceedings.

A mistake within the first 45 seconds of the game from Terepo offered the Kukis the opportunity to score first through Nicoll-Klokstad thanks to fullback Jordan Rapana’s handy lead-up work.

The Kukis were unlucky not to go back-to-back four minutes later when back-rower Esan Marsters was ruled to be offside from Wallace Tangiiti’s pass in the process of scoring.

With their first opportunity in good territory from there the Tongans hit back in the 12th minute when Kata received a magic ball from halfback Daniel Foster, only for the fullback to torpedo it out for winger Jorge Taufua to score.

After a frantic ten minutes it was Cook Islands who scored next in the 23rd minute when centre Anthony Gelling forced his way through Taufua and Mosese Pangai to plant the ball down – with Rapana again doing the heavy lifting in the lead-up.

The Tongans however headed into the sheds up at half-time after Drury Low’s mistimed offload saw Hull FC-bound duo in captain Sika Manu and centre Fonua link up with the latter racing away 30 metres untouched to score – it would prove the impetus to the victory.

Tonga 28 (Solomone Kata 2, Jorge Taufua, Mahe Fonua, Peni Terepo Tries; Solomone Kata 4 Goals) defeated Cook Islands 8 (Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Anthony Gelling Tries) at Campbelltown Stadium. Half-time: Tonga 12-8. Crowd: 4, 613. On Report: Pat Politoni (Tonga).



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