Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 1051 ( Friday 5 Feb 2016 )


1) Wan MOA i saen tede

Olgeta –

Press Statement (3/2/2016):


A Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was signed this afternoon by 11 political groupings comprising 36 newly-elected Members of Parliament towards the formation of a new government next week when Parliament sits on the 11th February 2016.

The 11 parties and political groupings are the Vanuaaku Pati (VP), the Graon Mo Jastis Pati (GJP), the National United Party (NUP), the Rassemblement Des Mouvements Pour Le Changement and Partners (RMC), the Vanuatu Green Confederation (VGC), the Vanuatu National Development Party (VNDP), the Nagriamel Movement, the Melanesian Progressive Party (MPP), the Fren Melanesian Party (FMP), the Union Of Moderate Parties (UMP) and the Leaders Group.

The parties and political groupings that signed the MOA have agreed to come together to establish a Coalition Government are united by a common understanding and consensus between them that there is an urgent and paramount need for political reform to reduce instability in the government – thereby reducing corruption, ensuring service delivery to the population and restoring confidence, stability and growth in the country.

Following the signing of this MOA, the parties and groupings will now decide on arrangements between them, including the allocation of the position of Prime Minister, Speaker and Ministerial Portfolios, that can ensure that they remain united in an effective Government that is able to achieve political reform and enhance economic development and service delivery throughout the four year term of Parliament.

Ta, MP Ralph Regenvanu –

2) Bougainville ready to take action over Moresby non payment

4 February 2016/RNZI

The autonomous Papua New Guinea region of Bougainville is close to legal action against the national government in Port Moresby for its failure to fulfil funding commitments.

Bougainville’s president John Momis said the region is owed at least US$33 million dollars from the recurrent unconditional grant and more than US$200 million under the Restoration and Development Grant set up by the Peace Agreement.

The money situation is so poor that the Bougainville government struggles to its meet day-to- day expenses.

Mr Momis said he is prepared to follow through on a threat of legal action if Port Moresby doesn’t fulfil its obligations.

“We are having a meeting on the 15th -[of February] and I have said if nothing positive comes out of that meeting we will have no choice but to take legal action.”

Lack of PNG cash felt in Bougainville
Bougainville threatens PNG govt with legal action
Bougainville leader says people will not accept PNG cuts
Bougainville contemplates suing PNG national government

3) PNG and Australia hold APEC prep meetings

3 February 2016

High-level meetings between Papua New Guinean and Australian officials are being held in Port Moresby this week as preparation for PNG hosting the APEC summit in 2018.

The PNG government said the meetings with Australia will identify areas where the two countries can work together to deliver safety and security preparations for the APEC summit.

The 2018 summit is expected to bring more than 10,000 delegates to PNG.

A statement from the PNG government said this week’s meetings would also discuss “advance policy development”.

This reportedly includes increasing regional trade and investment, and development in sectors including agriculture, maritime resources, tourism, mining and transportation.RNZI

4) Fiji union says worker rights still not addressed

4 Feb 2016

Worker rights need more attention in Fiji according to a local union despite the government saying a long-running dispute has been resolved.

Last month an International Labour Organisation mission met government, employers and unions in an effort to resolve issues and avoid a Commission of Inquiry or the highest investigative procedure.

The government said the situation is now positive with the government moving to address union concerns.

However Attar Singh from the Fiji Islands Council of Trade Unions said issues like the extension of the essential services category and the matter of political restrictions still need to be addressed.

Mr Singh said the government and the Fiji Trade Unions Congress who signed off an ILO report, have rushed through an agreement in an effort to avoid a Commission of Inquiry.

“We all wanted to avoid the inquiry but that doesn’t mean that an inquiry has to be avoided at the expense of worker rights and here it seems to be that just to avoid the inquiry, worker rights have been given second stage. That is something the ILO should not be prepared to entertain.”RNZI

5) Lapita find could spark more exploration in Fiji’s north

4 February 2016

A chance find of Lapita pottery in Fiji’s north last month is expected to spark further interest in the ancient people who settled islands in the Pacific.

Archaeologists came across a decorated shard on the coast of Bua province on the island of Vanua Levu and they expect there is more to be found.

A field officer with the Fiji Museum, Sepeti Matararaba, who was involved in the dig, said the pottery fragments were about 3000 years old.

Mr Matararaba said Bua was one of the last remaining areas of Fiji which had not been explored for Lapita remnants.

“We still have a lot to do on Vanua Levu. I think this will really put foreign scholars on alert. You know they can come to Fiji to do research work and find more archaeological sites that contain Lapita pottery.”RNZI


6) Protest in American Samoa over salary hike

3 February 2016

Close to 100 people protested in American Samoa today over plans to ramp up the salaries of lawmakers.

They were supporting the stand by the community group, United Citizens of American Samoa, at the Fagatogo malae in Pago Pago.

The group included students, teachers, government employees, business owners and parents.

The bill proposes a near doubling of salaries for the territory’s elected representatives.RNZI

7) Failure to register to vote could mean charges in Samoa
3 February 2016

More than 300 eligible voters in Samoa could be charged with failing to register for the general election being held on March the 4th.

The acting electoral commissioner, Faimalotumua Mathew Lemisio, has told the Samoa Observer that data from Births, Deaths and Marriages show about 300 had not registered, and there could be more found from other sources.

He said the law makes it compulsory for everyone who is eligible to vote to register.

That process ended last year with the names of 116,000 voters on the roll.

The paper reports that while some aspiring candidates already have posters up, the nomination period for prospective MPs will not begin until Monday next week.RNZI

8) Niue broadcasting chief defends programming

4 Feb 2016

Niue’s public broadcaster is defending itself after the island’s MPs criticised the quality of programming.

The Niue cabinet is being called on to take action over what MPs said were excessive repeats and a lack of diversity in the programming on the Broadcasting Commission of Niue television and radio links.

There is a widespread desire on the island for change according to MP Terry Coe.

But the manager of BCN, Trevor Tiakia, said the criticism is unfair and resources determine what they can do.

“It is happening everywhere else. There are repeats. We just don’t have the financial resources to buy programming from distributors. It is just too expensive for us and hence there are repeats throughout the year.”

Trevor Tiakia says BCN will bring in digital television later this month which they hope will provide another alternative for their viewers, though they are still to secure broadcasting rights.RNZI

9) Trial opens in Tahiti’s Honotua affair

3 February 2016

The trial has opened in French Polynesia of 11 people charged with favouritism over the awarding of an 80 million US dollar contract to lay the Honotua communications cable to Tahiti.

The project was launched in 2006 and signed off with Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Network in 2008 amid rapid changes of government.

Among those charged are three former heads of the telecommunications company OPT as well as a former minister, Emile Vernaudon.

Favouritism can under French law be punished with up to two years imprisonment.

The trial is expected to last until Friday.RNZI


10) New Kiribati parliament due to sit Friday

4 February 2016

A re-elected Kiribati MP, Taberannang Timeon, says he is ready to run for the presidency if his party, the ruling Boutokan teKoaua Party, or BTK, gives him the nod.

He said following last month’s general election, the political landscape in Kiribati remained largely controlled by BTK.

Mr Timeon, who was transport, communications & tourism development minister, said BTK has the numbers and is confident it will form the new government.

The new parliament is set to sit on Friday and candidates vying to replace Anote Tong, who has completed the three terms allowed, must have their nominations in before the sitting.RNZI

11) CNMI on alert against Zika virus

3 February 2016

Health authorities in the Northern Marianas say they are on high alert to make sure the zika virus does not reach the islands’ shores.

The Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation said it has strengthened its response and surveillance of the virus which is transmitted through mosquitoes.

The health agency’s CEO Esther Muna said health authorities are not only monitoring zika but also other prevalent diseases in the world like dengue and chikungunya.

The zika virus is linked to severe birth defects in babies in Brazil.RNZI

12) New law designed to eliminate political rivals – Nauru MP

3 February 2016

A Nauru opposition MP says a new law that requires public servants intending to stand for parliament to quit their job three months before the election is designed to eliminate political rivals.

The bill was passed during a sitting of parliament last week, with the government justifying it by saying public servants who continued to work could abuse their position while campaigning.

But a former president Sprent Dabwido, who has been suspended from parliament since the middle of last year, said three months is too long for many people to go without an income.

The public service is Nauru’s largest employer, and Mr Dabwido said the new rule is designed to put many people off contesting the election, which is due some time this year.

“Three months, that’s six pay cheques. If you’ve got a wife and kids, how can you go on for three months without a salary? These kinds of laws are made especially for the government themselves. Really, it’s a law that is…it’s an unfair law, it’s really unfair.”

Calls to the Nauru government have so far gone unanswered.RNZI

13) Marshall Islands state of emergency called

4 Feb 2016

The Marshall Islands has declared a state of emergency as authorities try deal with a severe drought that has gripped the country for months.

President Hilda Heine said the drought had put severe pressure of fresh water supplies on many atolls.

She said the government had stepped up efforts to improve drought-resilience, including increasing freshwater storage and installing reverse-osmosis units on some atolls.

Dr Heine said she declared the state of emergency on Tuesday and hoped it would help bring in international resources.

“We will be sharing our declaration with our donor partners and, of course, resources are what we need to be able to reach the people out there. So we hope we can get additional resources to help in the drought.”RNZI


14a) Vanuatu : les deux tiers du Parlement s’entendent pour former une coalition

Mis à jour 4 February 2016, 16:32 AEDT

Élodie Largenton

Un mémorandum d’entente a été signé par plus des deux tiers du nouveau Parlement vanuatais. Ils doivent maintenant s’entendre sur la composition du futur gouvernement.
36 députés, représentant 11 partis politiques, ont signé le texte hier après-midi, après plusieurs jours de négociations. Parmi ces partis, il y a notamment le Vanuaaku Pati, dirigé par l’ancien Premier ministre Joe Natuman, et le Parti terre et justice de Ralph Regenvanu. Ce dernier le sait, il s’agit maintenant de s’assurer que l’accord soit respecté :
« Dans les prochains jours, on va devoir parler du partage des postes : Premier ministre, président du Parlement, ministres, et je pense que la difficulté sera de maintenir la coalition en place, mais c’est comme ça que ça se passe. »
Ça s’annonce d’autant plus difficile que les 14 élus condamnés pour corruption semblent peser encore dans les négociations. La coalition comprend notamment les députés de la Confédération des Verts de Moana Carcasses, l’ancien vice-Premier ministre, actuellement en prison. L’union des partis modérés de Serge Vohor, ancien ministre des Affaires étrangères, en prison, lui aussi, est censée faire partie de la coalition. Mais tous les élus du parti n’ont pas clairement donné leur accord, regrette Ralph Regenvanu.
Assurer la stabilité du gouvernement en place, mettre fin aux motions de censure et aux retournements de veste, ce sera la tâche de la future équipe en place, souligne le chef de file du Parti terre et justice :
« La principale chose que l’on doit faire dans ce pays, c’est de modifier la constitution et nos lois pour mettre fin à ces changements incessants de gouvernement, qui sont mauvais pour tout le monde – la corruption augmente, les fonds publics sont gâchés, les projets de développement sont mis sur pause… »
La nouvelle coalition a une semaine pour parfaire son entente. La première session parlementaire aura lieu jeudi prochain- ABC

14b) Brèves du Pacifique – jeudi 4 février 2016

Mis à jour 4 February 2016, 16:26 AEDT

Élodie Largenton

Épidémie de zika aux Tonga. Au moins cinq personnes ont contracté la maladie dans l’archipel, et les autorités dénombrent 265 cas suspects.

Plusieurs malades ont consulté leur médecin pour des symptômes similaires à ceux d’une grippe et pour des éruptions cutanées, précise le ministre de la Santé, Saia Piukala. Des prélèvements sont en train d’être analysés à l’étranger pour savoir s’il s’agit vraiment du virus zika. Avant de connaître les résultats de ces analyses, les autorités lancent des campagnes de prévention et de destruction des nids à moustique. Toutes les écoles sont fermées à tour de rôle pendant un jour, pour permettre aux équipes sanitaires de nettoyer les locaux.
« Non aux augmentations de salaire » : c’est le mot d’ordre d’une manifestation, qui a eu lieu hier, aux Samoa américaines. Les salaires qui pourraient être augmentés sont ceux des hommes politiques de l’île : un projet de loi propose de pratiquement doubler les revenus du président du Sénat, du président du Parlement et des sénateurs. « Ce n’est pas normal qu’ils demandent des augmentations de salaire alors que les besoins sont énormes dans les secteurs de l’éducation et de la santé », dénonce Laurenthia Pouesi, une manifestante.
En Australie, un nouveau rapport de la Commission des droits de l’homme met en évidence les ravages causés par la détention à Nauru des enfants demandeurs d’asile.Ce rapport est signé par deux pédiatres, qui ont interrogé 69 enfants et leurs familles dans un centre de rétention de Darwin, en Australie. Parmi ces très jeunes demandeurs d’asile, ceux qui avaient été détenus dans le centre de Nauru était « les plus traumatisés ». Les pédiatres disent même n’avoir jamais vu d’enfants aussi traumatisées en l’espace de 50 ans. Or, la grande majorité d’entre eux risquent d’être renvoyés à Nauru très prochainement, puisque la Haute cour de justice a estimé hier que le gouvernement australien avait le droit de rejeter les personnes arrivées illégalement sur son sol. Pour éviter cela, des églises anglicanes annoncent qu’elles ouvrent leurs portes aux réfugiés, invoquant le concept de sanctuaire, d’asile offert aux personnes menacées d’être envoyées dans un endroit où elles pourraient subir des conditions de vie inhumaines. Le ministre de l’Immigration, Peter Dutton, affirme qu’il « ne mettra pas les enfants en danger ». Les situations des familles censées retourner à Nauru seront évaluées au cas par cas, assure-t-il.
Australie : Clive Palmer ne sait pas s’il a autorisé Queensland Nickel à faire des dons à son parti politique, le Palmer United Party (PUP). L’an passé, l’entreprise a donné près de 6 millions de dollars au PUP, dont 700 000 dollars en janvier, lorsque Clive Palmer était directeur. Il affirme aujourd’hui ne plus se rappeler qui a autorisé ces versements, mais ce n’est pas bien important, estime-t-il : « Je détiens l’entreprise, c’est aussi simple que ça. J’ai le droit de le faire, ça m’appartient. » Aujourd’hui, Queensland Nickel est si endettée que les 237 employés renvoyés n’ont pas reçu leurs indemnités de licenciement. Mais Clive Palmer ne se sent pas coupable : lorsque l’entreprise a donné de l’argent au Palmer United Party, « le prix du nickel était d’environ 6,50 dollars l’once, contre 3,80 dollars aujourd’hui. Je ne contrôle pas les prix du nickel sur le marché international ».
Au Vanuatu, la piste de l’aéroport international de Port-Vila doit certes être réparée, mais il est toujours possible de l’utiliser en toute sécurité. C’est la conclusion d’une enquête indépendante réalisée par une entreprise australienne, Airport Consultancy Group, selon Air Vanuatu. Dans son rapport, la société recommande de nettoyer quotidiennement la piste de l’aéroport Bauerfield, ce qui est fait depuis la semaine dernière. Pour Air Vanuatu, cela veut donc dire que les compagnies aériennes peuvent continuer à desservir l’archipel sans risque. La compagnie vanuataise précise d’ailleurs qu’elle a envoyé le rapport à Air New Zealand, Qantas et Virgin Australia, les trois compagnies qui ont décidé de ne plus atterrir à Port-Vila pour des raisons de sécurité.
Quatre ans après le naufrage du Rabaul Queen en Papouasie-Nouvelle-Guinée, un monument en hommage aux 171 victimes a été inauguré hier. Le ferry était surchargé quand il a sombré au large de Lae, plus de 300 personnes étaient à bord. Le propriétaire australien du Rabaul Queen, Peter Sharp, est accusé d’homicides par négligence. Son second et un ancien gestionnaire doivent également comparaître devant la justice. Le procès devrait débuter en avril, en Papouasie-Nouvelle-Guinée.
L’état d’urgence a été décrété aux Îles Marshall pour faciliter la lutte contre la sécheresse, qui s’est emparée de l’archipel il y a déjà plusieurs mois. La présidente des Marshall, Hilda Heine, espère ainsi recevoir l’aide de la communauté internationale : « On va partager cette information, et dire à nos partenaires et donateurs quels sont nos besoins », déclare-t-elle au micro de la radio nationale néo-zélandaise. Hilda Heine explique qu’en parallèle, le gouvernement marshallais intensifie ses efforts : des réservoirs de stockage d’eau douce et des unités d’osmose inverse pour purifier l’eau ont été installés dans plusieurs atolls.ABC


15) Clinton beats back Sanders to take Iowa

Thursday, February 04, 2016

MANCHESTER, New Hampshire – Hillary Clinton narrowly won the Democratic caucuses in Iowa, outpacing a surprisingly strong challenge from Bernie Sanders to claim the first victory in the 2016 race for president.

The former secretary of state and first lady edged past the Vermont senator in a race the Iowa Democratic Party called the closest in its caucus history.

The party said yesterday it would not do any recount of the close results, and a spokesman for the Mr Sanders campaign said it does not intend to challenge them.

Meanwhile, Republicans and Democrats descended on the tiny New England state of New Hampshire, which votes next Tuesday.

For the Republicans, Ted Cruz, a fiery, conservative Texas senator loathed by his own party’s leaders, swept to victory in Iowa over billionaire Donald Trump and Florida Senator Marco Rubio.

The outcome in the country’s first nominating contest drew a line under voter dissatisfaction, especially among Republicans, with the way government in Washington operates, with anger over growing income inequality and fears of global turmoil and terrorism.

Mr Cruz’s victory in Monday’s caucuses, which drew a record turnout, was a blow to Mr Trump, the real estate mogul who has roiled the Republican field for months with controversial statements about women and minorities.

But Mr Trump still holds a commanding lead in New Hampshire and national polls.

New Hampshire has historically favoured more moderate candidates than Iowa, and more than 40 per cent of the state’s electorate are not registered in any political party.

Mr Cruz suggested he was focused on New Hampshire but also on South Carolina, which votes 11 days later.


16) Vanuatu nurses take holidays as wage protest

3 February 2016

Seventeen nurses from Vanuatu’s Nothern District Hospital in Luganville have decided to take their annual leave because of the continued non-payment of their salaries.

Our correspondent says most of the nurses are from the maternity ward at the country’s second largest hospital.

The hospital management had promised to pay the outstanding wages by last Friday, but this didn’t happen.

The care taker government under prime minister Sato Kilman has been called on resolve the matter.RNZI


17) Teachers want Kuman, Kumbra sacked

The National, Thursday February 4th, 2016

PAPUA New Guinea Teachers Association’s Highlands regional office is calling on Prime Minister Peter O’Neill to sack the Education minister and his secretary for misleading schools, parents and students over the tuition fee-free funds.
Regional secretary John Melson, representing about 18,000 teachers in the region, told The National yesterday that Minister Nick Kuman and Dr Uke Kombra must be sacked immediately.
The PNGTA supported the earlier call by Member for Sumkar Ken Weather on the same matter.
Melon said Kuman and Dr Kombra should not force teachers in the region to teach without releasing the TFF funds on time into the respective accounts of the schools.
“How can the minister and his secretary go to the media saying all TFF money was going into the bank accounts when nothing goes into the accounts of the schools,” he said.
He visited five provinces including Chimbu, Jiwaka, Western Highlands and Southern Highlands to check on the TFF funds.  The schools he visited were still waiting for the fourth quarter funds from last year and the first quarter funds for this year.
Melson said academic year was supposed to start this week but because of the delay in releasing the funds, there were no proper classes as the schools were waiting for the funds  to buy teaching materials.
“How can the minister and his secretary tell the parents to pay project fees and after a day or two, they change their minds and tell schools not to charge fees pending a National Executive Council’s decision?” he said.
Melson said this was causing confusion and frustration among the parents, teachers and schools.
“Indirectly, the Government is trying to put more pressure on teachers over this project fees because of the confusion they created but it can’t work out that way,” he said.
He said the PNGTA wanted a new minister and secretary to come in and fix the problem and allow the academic year to start immediately in the Highlands.
Mark Sakol, headmaster of Wabag Primary School, one of the biggest in Enga, told The National yesterday that last year, the school borrowed money for its graduation because they did not receive their last quarter funds like all other schools.
Sakol said this year, Kuman said the Government had deposited last year’s fourth quarter TFF funds and first quarter funds of this year into the school accounts. However, he said it was not true as there was no money in his school’s account.
Sakol said proper classes would start as soon as they received their operating funds.

18) Work on Gazelle uni to start soon

The National, Thursday February 4th, 2016

WORK on the Gazelle Open University in Kerevat, Gazelle district, will start as soon as the East New Britain provincial government accounts are opened, district administrator Panuel Luana says.
He told The National that work did not start last December as expected because of the delay in transferring the funding of K500,000 to the district account.
“When this did finally take place, government accounts had closed, and we did not have time to get the provincial works department to get the ball rolling, hence the delay in progressing work on the university centre,” Luana said.
At the ground-breaking ceremony last October, Department of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology secretary Prof David Kavanamur handed over K500,000 to Gazelle MP MalakaiTabar to start the project.
Tabar is also the Minister for Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology.
Officials estimated that it would cost more than K2 million to complete it.
Initial plans involve the construction of a four-in-one classroom, an administration building and ablution block.
Luana said district authorities had engaged the provincial works department to develop the project “because its cost is reasonable compared to what we will expect if the project is tendered openly”.


19) Vanuatu voters seduced by bribes, says runner-up

4 February 2016

A runner-up in last month’s snap election in Vanuatu says voters are too easily seduced by bribes and their mentality needs to change.

Female candidate Mackin Valia, from the Graon Mo Jastis Pati, missed out on the two seats in the Epi constituency.

She said it was difficult to compete with rivals who prior to the campaign went out with material for potential voters.

“Like giving out tonnes of cement, iron sheets, plastic chairs to church communities and that sort of to me bribes people’s minds so people are looking more at you know who is there to give out more material than who is there to go out to represent you, defend you.”

Mackin Valia said voters need to be better educated about what qualities to look for in a candidate.

She is planning on filing an election petition with other losing candidates.RNZI

20) Paris talks to chart end of Noumea Accord

4 February 2016

France’s Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, will today chair a meeting of the so-called signatories of the 1998 Noumea Accord as New Caledonia’s independence referendum nears.

The three-day talks will try to help finalise the roll of those eligible to vote in the 2018 plebiscite when the Accord expires.

There have been calls to consider a fresh accord but a signatory for the pro-independence side, Roch Wamytan, has told television that the vote should go ahead.

“At some point, one has to give the Kanak people, that is the colonised people, as well as others who have arrived here as the result of history, the chance to have a say to know what sort of future the people, and above all the Kanak people, want.”

The meeting will also discuss the problems the territory is facing after the recent sharp drop in the price of nickel.RNZI

21) No opposition presence on Fiji appointments body

3 February 2016

The Fiji opposition leader says she’s no longer attending the commission tasked with giving advice on key appointments because it’s not acting in a proper manner.

The Constitutional Offices Commission, which was set up according to the 2013 constitution, is made up of six people, including the chair – prime minister Frank Bainimarama.

Three others are on the government side – the attorney-general and two members appointed by the prime minister.

As the leader of the opposition, Ro Teimumu Kepa is a member, and until November last year lawyer Richard Naidu rounded out the group.

Mr Naidu resigned following the prime minister’s appointment of the land force commander Colonel Sitiveni Qiliho as the acting police commissioner after the sudden resignation of Ben Groenewald.

Mr Naidu said Mr Bainimarama should have consulted the Commission even if the appointment was for an acting role, which Ro Teimumu was also critical of.

She said she’d written to the prime minister saying she won’t attend any of the meetings until the Commission sorts itself out.RNZI

22) Fiji MP says decree unclear but audit ‘did not breach’ it

4 Feb 2016

A member of a suspended political party in Fiji says the Political Parties Decree is too vague and her party did not breach it.

Tupou Draunidalo is one of the three MPs from the now-suspended National Federation Party.

The Supervisor of Elections, Mohammed Saneem, has said the three MPs can’t operate as a political party during a 30-day period, after they had their accounts audited by an accountant who was not carrying a certificate of public practice.

He says the decree dictates the accountant hold a CPP but Ms Draunidalo says the decree says no such thing.

“Because the decree only says ‘an auditor certified by FIA’, any certificate handed out by FIA to an accountant complies with that provision. And now they’re saying, no we want an auditor that has a CPP which is a particular kind of certificate. Well why didn’t they say it in the decree? Then political parties know what to go and get.”

Tupou Draunidalo, a lawyer, said the law should be clear and the MPs complied with the letter of the law.RNZI

23) Fiji Speaker Seeks Clarification On Future Of NFP MPs
Impact of party suspension on MPs unclear; legal advice sought

By Nasik Swami

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Feb. 4, 2016) – Speaker Dr Jiko Luveni has sought the advice of the Solicitor General’s Office on whether the three parliamentarians of the suspended National Federation Party can attend the Parliament session next Monday.

“We are waiting for a legal opinion and we will wait to see what the legal people will have to say,” Dr Luveni said.

She said Parliament sought advice as the decision to suspend the NFP was made outside of Parliament.

“This is why we are seeking legal opinion because the ruling was made outside of Parliament. If it was made inside of Parliament, I would have had a basis of that ruling.”

Dr Luveni said she would make her decision after receiving the legal advice.

She said the NFP’s suspension would not affect the parliamentary proceeding next Monday.

“We will continue as normal as far as we are concerned from within Parliament.

“It affects only three members, but the quorum for Parliament is one third, which is 17. Even though if there are only 18 people attending a sitting, there is still a quorum. The sitting will go ahead.”

Dr Luveni said as usual, the NFP was invited to attend the Business Committee meeting on Friday.

Registrar of Political Parties Mohammed Saneem said since the party’s suspension on Monday, his office had not received any feedback from them.

Former speaker of Parliament Pita Nacuva said the situation was confusing since he had never come across such a scenario in Parliament.

According to the Political Parties Registration, Conduct, Funding and Disclosures Decree 2013, Section 27 (5) where a political party commits an offence under the decree, the registrar has the power to issue a warning and require the political party to conform to the decree within a specified period or suspend the registration of the political party not exceeding 12 months.

“Notwithstanding subsection 5, a person who is a member of a political party that has been suspended and is a member of Parliament, shall continue as a member of Parliament for the unexpired term,” the decree states.

A New Zealand law expert, who is the author of Criminal Procedure in New Zealand and Auckland University law professor, Bill Hodge, told Radio Australia that the party’s suspension did not mean that its three elected MPs cease to be members of Parliament.

Mr Hodge said the suspension was a major punishment for a minor infringement.

The NFP was suspended for 30 days on Monday by Mr Saneem for contravening the Political Parties Registration, Conduct, Funding and Disclosures Decree 2013.

He said the party accounts were not audited by an accountant certified by the Fiji Institute of Accountants (FIA) as required by the decree.

Accounting firm, APNR Partners that audited the suspended party’s books, refused to comment when questioned about its registration.

The firm said they had referred the matter to their lawyers.

Fiji Times Online.


24) NBC top position remains vacant

The National, Thursday February 4th, 2016

The National Broadcasting Corporation managing director position remains vacant and the board is yet to make recommendations to the Public Services Commission, Department of Personnel Management Secretary John Kali says.
Kali told The National that when the former managing director Memafu Kapera’s term expired on October 13, the board had recommended Michael Samuga, the current executive director for provincial radio, as acting MD.
He said under the constitution, the Public Services Commission (PSC) cleared Samuga as acting MD in November last year. On January 19, Samuga’s appointment expired.
“Since then the Ministerial Executive Committee has not received any recommendation from the board.
“According to the Public Services Commission, subsequently the NBC managing director’s position is vacant,” he said.
Kali added that Kora Nou was appointed as the deputy managing director on December 16, 2015.


25) Landowners want KBK project to progress

The National, Wednesday February 3rd, 2016

THE Kurumbukari (KBK) landowners in the Usino-Bundi district of Madang, want to see the Ramu-Nickel project to progress.
Landowner Greg Tuma, the supervisor of the Community Affairs Department at KBK mine, said this following a strike by workers from January 22 to 29.
The workers were from the Ramu-Nickel project covering the KBK mine and the Basamuk refinery.
“The union representing the workers have the legal right to address their issues but from the landowner’s perspective, we do not want to see the project closed or unnecessarily affected,” Tuma said.
He said the strike came at a time when the  project was also facing depressed world commodity prices.
“I am very concerned that our company president (Wang Jicheng) is seeking financial assistance to keep the project operating so all employees can have food on their family’s table,” he said.
Tuma appealed to employees to return to work while the union representatives continue talks with the company and the Department of Labour and Industrial Relations.
They met last Friday and again tomorrow in Madang.
During the strike, the company maintained production by using employees at KBK mine.


26) EU aids cultural trade

Monika Singh
Thursday, February 04, 2016

THERE is a great potential for cultural businesses in the Pacific to sell their products in international markets and grow their business, says the EU ambassador to Fiji and the Pacific, Andrew Jacobs.

In order to show its support for cultural businesses to receive international exposure and secure markets, the EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States has made it possible for four small businesses from the Pacific to be part of the Winter 2016 Artisan Resources @ NYNOW Tradeshow in the US from January 31 to February 3, 2016.

A statement from the EU said this was the first time for the small businesses from the Pacific to showcase Pacific-made creative art in United States’ biggest city New York through the Enhancing the Pacific Cultural Industries: Fiji, Samoa and Solomon Islands project.

According to the statement the project was managed by the Pacific Community (SPC) in collaboration with the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS), the Fiji Ministry of Education, Heritage and Arts, Samoa Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture and Solomon Islands Ministry of Culture and Tourism along with the Fiji Arts Council, Samoa Arts Council and Solomon Islands Arts Alliance.

The small businesses that were selected to participate in the trade show are Sigavou Studios and Rise Beyond The Reef (Fiji), Plantation House (Samoa) and Nautilus Books & Gifts (Solomon Islands), following a competitive process involving over 50 applications from Fiji, Samoa and Solomon Islands.

“They have excellent and unique products to offer , and demand is there but exposure of products to potential clients abroad is a challenge,” said Mr Jacobs.

“The European Union is therefore proud to support Pacific cultural industries, to help them develop the profile of their products in international markets through trade shows like this. It’s great to see these companies exhibiting in New York. I hope this will open up international market opportunities not only for the four cultural businesses that attended the trade show but for many more in the region,” said Mr Jacobs.

The trade mission aimed to develop the profile of Pacific cultural producers in the international market while exposing selected enterprises to international market trends, buyer demands and export distribution expectations.

The Artisan Resources @ NYNOW Tradeshow is held twice a year in New York City and attracts more than 30,000 buyers from over 80 countries.

27) Digicel launches new services

The National, Thursday February 4th, 2016

DIGICEL has launched a range of services to make sure customers do not run out of call credits.
The services include a low-balance voice notification to let customers know when their credit is too low to make a call.
“Forgetting to top up credit is easily done but can have a major impact if you are unable to phone loved ones when you need to,” Digicel’s head of consumer Khattar Fehmi said.
Customers can also use Digicel’s free Buzz-Me service which allows them to call a family member or friend who will receive a missed-call message, alerting them he or she is trying to make contact.
The other service is the advanced credit facility which allows eligible prepaid customers to borrow credit for calls, texts or plan purchases.
The cost of the calls or texts, plus a transaction fee, is deducted from their next top-up.
“Other services include Credit Me which enables customers to send a request for mobile phone credits from friends and family in Papua New Guinea” he said.
“Similarly, Digicel’s Please Call Me service allows customers to send an SMS to a friend or family member when they have less than K0.25.”
Digicel is the leading telecommunication company in Papua New Guinea with effective network coverage all over  the country.

28) Royal Dutch Shell confirms 10,000 job cuts as profit plunges 87 per cent on slumping oil prices

Updated 4 February 2016, 19:55 AEDT

Royal Dutch Shell confirms it will cut 10,000 jobs worldwide after an 87 per cent plunge in annual net profits on slumping oil prices.

Shell has announced a large cutback in exploration and development spending. (Credit: AAP)

Royal Dutch Shell has announced an 87 per cent plunge in annual net profits on slumping oil prices.

The Anglo-Dutch group reported profit after tax of $US1.94 billion ($2.7 billion) for 2015, compared with almost $US15 billion ($20.9 billion) the previous year, Shell said in a statement.

The company’s chief executive, Ben van Beurden, said the company would continue to manage costs amid falling prices for oil.

“We are making substantial changes in the company … and reducing costs and capital investment, as we refocus Shell, and respond to lower oil prices,” he said in a statement.

“In 2015, we significantly curtailed spending by reducing the number of new investment decisions and designing lower-cost development solutions.”

Last month the company announced it would cut 10,000 staff and direct contractor positions in 2015-16 if the company’s merger with rival BG Group went ahead.

Mr van Beurden confirmed the job cuts would go ahead after shareholders of both companies voted to approve the deal.

He said he expected the BG transaction to be completed “in a matter of weeks”.

“As we have previously indicated, [the changes] will include a reduction of some 10,000 staff and direct contractor positions in 2015-16 across both companies,” the statement said.

External Link: Shell’s earning announcement



29) Air Vanuatu continues Port Vila flights after report

3 February 2016

Air Vanuatu says it will continue flying in and out of the country after receiving an independent report on the main airport.

Air New Zealand, Virgin Airways and Qantas have suspended their operations to Port Vila’s Bauerfield International Airport because of concern over the condition of the runway.

Air Vanuatu said an assessment by the Australian firm ACG found no sign of any debris and it recommended sweeping should continue until the runway can be repaired.

It also recommended the airport operators remove excess water from the runway after heavy rain.

An airline spokesperson said the carrier has daily meetings with the operator Airports Vanuatu Limited and Vanuatu’s Civil Aviation Authority and is pleased with their swift response to increase precautionary measures.

The airline said it is sharing information with other carriers which have suspended operations without attending briefings or conducting independent inspections.RNZI


30) Police Suspect Bogia, PNG Becoming ‘Contraband Trading Center’
Illegal weapons, ammunition possibly coming through Madang

By Rosalyn Albaniel

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Feb. 3, 2016) – Bogia district in Madang, is set to come under closer police scrutiny because they believe it is being used as an entry point and trading centre for contraband, including guns.

This followed the arrest of two betelnut vendors who were arrested with 41 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition on Monday at the quarantine check point at Tapo, just outside Madang.

Police say these are used for high-powered guns which may have evaded police scrunity.

One suspect, a student in Goroka, told his police interrogators that a gun was concealed in the bags of betelnut which were on the bus bound for the Highlands.

Madang provincial police Superintendent Jacob Singura said police believed that the ammunition confiscated from the vendors had been sourced from Bogia.

“I am aware and from reports not just from citizens but authorities that this place is a haven for trafficking of drugs and guns, some of which we believe are coming in from the border across to West Sepik, East Sepik and into Madang.

“Bogia is one area in Madang where we will need to step up on our checks and surveillance.

“PNG Customs have in the past conducted operations in this area and we will be looking at working with them in the coming months.

“The use of guns remains a serious concern for police. By stepping up on our checks and surveillance will be able to clamp down on the number being shipped out into the other provinces and in turn save lives,” he said. Supt Singura said he will be visiting to Bogia and the other rural stations also in the coming months in order to get a better appreciation of the challenges in this area.

PNG Post-Courier


31) Calls for PNG govt to determine West Papuan refugee claims

4 February 2016

A West Papuan who has lived in Papua New Guinea for almost three decades has urged PNG’s Foreign Minister to help give him and others living in limbo some certainty on refugee status.

Last week, the minister, Rimbink Pato, announced that the Citizen Advisory Committee would meet to consider refugee claims of 1000 West Papuans registered in Western Province after fleeing Indonesia.

As an advocate of West Papuan independence, Fred Mambrasar fled from Indonesian military aggression in PNG’s neighbouring territory in the mid-1980s.

He is among around 1500 West Papuans now living in Port Moresby without citizenship, who he says successive PNG governments have ignored the plight of.

Mr Mambrasar said there were an estimated 10,000 West Papuans in PNG whose refugee claims should all be determined.

“Rimbink Pato speak but must action. Not just speak but em must action. Because sometime the government tok yes we grantem citizenship but only for some people. but like me and other West Papua, not yet.”RNZI


32) LNG exports top 160

The National, Thursday February 4th, 2016

MORE than 160 liquefied natural gas cargoes have been shipped out of the country so far, according to ExxonMobil PNG Limited.
A company spokesperson told The National via email that shipments to customers in the region were continuing.
“EMPNG has shipped over 160 cargos to date,” the spokesperson said. “We are continuing to meet our commitments for the supply of LNG to our long-term customers in the Asia-Pacific region.”
The project sent its first shipment in May 2014. Each shipment of the LNG costs between US$50million (K148.96million) and US$60million (K178.75million).
Despite the challenges in the global oil prices, ExxonMobil believes that operations will continue to be successful.
“ExxonMobil believes prices over the long-term will continue to be driven by market supply and demand, with the demand side largely being a function of global economic growth,” the spokesperson said.
“Crude oil and natural gas markets have a history of significant price volatility.
“To manage price-related risks, ExxonMobil evaluates annual plans and all investments across a wide range of price scenarios.
“The company’s assessment is that operations will continue to be successful in a variety of market conditions as a result of its approach to disciplined investing, expense management and asset enhancement programmes.”

33) Visitors To Solomons Islands ‘Expecting More’

More effort to engage tourists interests needed

By Ronald Toito’ona

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Feb. 2, 2016) – Visitors that are touring the Solomon Islands, especially Honiara are expecting more during their visits here, a tourist who visited the capital over the weekend said.

He was one of the 2,000 plus tourists that stopped over for tours around Honiara and Guadalcanal on board the Sea Princess last Sunday.

The Australian lad said Honiara needs to put in more effort in the tourism industry by including creative and attractive packages to get tourists attention.

“Apart from the sales of carvings and other attractive souvenirs, we are expecting to experience more about Solomon Islands in the capital.

“The tours and the packages offered here is brilliant but your people can discover more. I believe there are hidden talents and agendas out there that are suitable to be showcased to us.

“For most of us, this is our first time here but we hope to see more development on the tourism industry in the future,” he told the Solomon Star.

He added that, it is important to strengthen local attractions including natural environment, cultural and man-made attractions which ranges from art and crafts to town planning, infrastructures; roads, bridges, buildings, accommodation, health to name the few to meet tourist preferences and standards.

“One of the main issues in Honiara was the infrastructure. The roads and bridges throughout Honiara and Guadalcanal must be patched up properly so visitors can enjoy their tours here.

“Business providers must also be educated with basic tourism knowledge and skills to help build the industry in the Solomon Islands,” he added.

Solomon Star

34) US State Dept. trying to resolve Tuna Treaty impasse

4 February 2016

A US State Department official insists it’s doing everything possible to achieve viable fishing access terms for American Samoa’s tuna industry.

There have been concerns from the territory about lack of direct participation in talks but the official, who did not want to be named, said the US invited American Samoa to join the US delegation in the negotiation sessions last year.

The official said the US was doing everything it can to preserve American Samoa’s tuna industry and that was why they were concerned about the potential long-term impacts of continuing within “unviable” models of fishing access, under the South Pacific Tuna Treaty.

The US recently served notice it was pulling out of the treaty, but the official said the US was making every effort to reach a mutually acceptable “understanding” with the Pacific Island Parties.

The US said earlier, the 2016 price of more than $US 11,000 a day, up from $US 5,000 a day in 2014, was unaffordable.

The official said the parties had not yet accepted its proposal to revise fishing access terms for 2016 nor offered an alternative compromise.

The official expected the way in which US vessels operated in the region may change over this transitional period, but fishing vessels would likely continue to supply and sustain American Samoa canneries.RNZI


35) Homeless on the rise

Felix Chaudhary
Thursday, February 04, 2016

A YOUTH group from Natokawaqa in Lautoka, is concerned about the increasing number of young people who are seeking shelter on the streets and sidewalks of the Sugar City.

PYGMIES (Providing Young Generation Movement in Every Society) Youth Group has been feeding the homeless in the Lautoka central business district area for about a year and leader Josateki Labalaba said the number of young destitute people was increasing.

“When we started the feeding program, there were about a dozen homeless that we assisted on a weekly basis and of this number about two or three were youths,” Mr Labalaba said.

“Over the past few weeks we noticed a new trend.

“We are now feeding about 30 people and about half of this number are young men.”

Mr Labalaba said he was trying to build a rapport with the homeless to determine the circumstances that led to them living on the streets.

“We don’t know as yet what their real issues are.

“Some of them maybe emotionally hurt, they may have mental issues or they may be former inmates who have been caste out of their family and community.

“We are not here to judge them, only to feed them spiritually and physically.”

Media liaison officer for the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Anshoo Mala Chandra said any issue concerning homeless youths did not fall under the ministry’s jurisdiction.

“In terms of the homeless youths, we don’t deal with them directly, rather we refer the cases to Ministry of Youth,” she said.

“However, during her visit to the West late last month, Minister Rosy Akbar and the team had conducted a profiling exercise on those begging on the streets of Lautoka.”Fijitimes


36) Singsing blong yanpela Solomon gel i kisim moa long 12 milion viewers

Postim 3 February 2016, 16:12 AEDT
Sam Seke

Em nau Rosie Delmah husat i singsing wantaim popular raggae singer blong Jamaica, Conkarah husat ibin go singsing tu long Papua New Guinea na Vanuatu.

Singsing blong Adele tupela ibin singim, “Hello” i nau kisim moa long 12 tausan viua long internet.

Rosie em i 14 yia old na em ibin winim Solomon Islands Icon long 2015.

Man husat i gopas long ol wok blong rekodim dispela music em i Karl Bouro.

Bouro i tok ol i nau wok long kamapim on fan blong Rosie we bai klostu ol i rilisim music blong em yet.ABC

37) Rare relics from blackbirding trade on display

Thursday, February 04, 2016

BRISBANE – An exhibition celebrating the cultures and communities of the Pacific Islands opens this week at Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery.

Joan Winter, the curator of Fish Hooks and Moving Trees, said the exhibition featured rare objects dating back to the 19th century.

“The oldest objects in the show go back to the 1870s, the 1860s, and the oldest objects come mostly from the labour trade and blackbirding industry,” Ms Winter said. “Melanesian people, mainly people from Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands, and from a lesser extent Papua New Guinea and other islands, were first of all blackbirded, or kidnapped, on to these labour vessels and later recruited to the sugar cane fields of Queensland and northern New South Wales.

“So some of the very old objects in the show come from those objects collected, and put in the possession of usually the ship’s captains.

“These are very rare objects; it’s very unusual to have such rare objects in a regional museum.”

The exhibition showcases the new alongside the old, including cultural artefacts and contemporary art by Australian South Sea Islanders.

She said within the exhibition there were historical conversations “especially when you see the three portraits as you come in the main entrance”.

“They are three Melanesian young people who have grown up in Australia, the descendants of their Kanaka, South Sea Islander, great great grandparents.”

Bundaberg Regional councillor for community services Judy Peters said the exhibition was important for the region, particularly given the history of Pacific Islanders in the cane industry.

Ms Winter said it was important and timely for the exhibition to come to Bundaberg, not only because of the region’s history and important Australian South Sea Islander community, but also because of the increasing number of migrants from Pacific Island nations moving to the area.

“The demographic of Queensland is changing dramatically, with a very steep increase in the number of Pacific Islanders coming to live in Queensland,” she said.

“They are climate change refugees. Two major nations, Tuvalu and Kiribati, are going under water.

“I actually live in Papua New Guinea now, and there are islands in Papua New Guinea that are becoming uninhabitable.”

She said her colleague Linah Mountford, who came from Papua New Guinea and was secretary of Ol Meri Wantok, a pan Pacific community organisation, told her there were at least 17 families from Papua New Guinea now living in Bundaberg.

“When I here in 2002 there wasn’t one family from Papua New Guinea, or from Fiji, Tonga or the Cook Islands, and now there are several from each of those Pacific Nations”

Fish Hooks and Moving Trees celebrates the traditions and contemporary cultures of 13 Pacific Island nations and was developed out of projects run by the Brisbane Multicultural Art Centre.

Mr Winters said the exhibition was full of diversity and curiosity, and she hoped visitors to the exhibition would learn to “understand those that might look different to you a little better”.


38) Referees to take up course in N Caledonia

The National, Thursday February 4th, 2016

TO keep abreast with changes in world football refereeing, the PNG Football Association (PNGFA) is sending four referees to attend the FIFA Futuro level 3 course in New Caledonia from March 11 to 15.
PNGFA referee development officer Job Minan said after the four referees attend the course they would disseminate what was learnt to others in the county.
Minan said with the growth of football in the country and globally FIFA continued to make changes in refereeing and when these referees attend it would benefit to them (referees) and the code.
“Our referees are fortunate to attend training overseas which is conducted by FIFA officials,” he said.
“Sometimes when the referees are refereeing a game and a new ruling is made some of the teams or players don’t understand it because it is a new ruling.
“That is why we want the referees to attend so when they continue to apply the rules the teams or players can understand them.”
Minan said the course was an instructors’ course that the four would be undertaking.
The four referees are Hillary Ani and David Yareboinen of Port Moresby, Jimmy Warai of Wabag and Roger Adams of Goroka.
“Ani and Warai will be taking up the referee instructor’s course while Yareboinen will to take up referees fitness instructor’s course and Adams will take the  futsal referees instructor course,” he said.
There are only four certified FIFA referee instructors in the country and they are Minan, Warai, Salaiau Sosongan and Charles Romo.
Minan said Ani would become the fifth referee instructor in the country.
The referees leave on March 9.

39) Lepa calls off Bougainville, Wewak based challenges

The National, Wednesday February 3rd, 2016

THE Coca-Cola Ipatas Cup Challenge in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville was called off due to a lack of information being exchanged between the Papua New Guinea Rugby Football League and CCIC officials on the ground.
Cup chief executive officer Timothy Lepa revealed this at Murray Barracks on Saturday during the launching of the Southern challenge.
“I have tried my best to get in touch with the directors in PNGRFL office, who are in charge of rugby league in Bougainville, to let us know about the availability of the affiliated clubs but nothing was forthcoming so we called off the Bougainville challenge,” Lepa said
Lepa said the Ipatas Cup board had also cancelled the Namatanai Challenge due to similar issues but that did not mean there would not be any cup challenges in the New Guinea Islands in Kimbe, West New Britain, which will host its games from March 3-5. Lepa said the Momase Challenge that scheduled to be held in Wewak, East Sepik, was moved back to Lae because most of the teams there had not registered.
“We have a good number of teams from Madang, Ramu, Kanaintu and Lae who are gearing up for the challenge in Lae this weekend,” he said.

40) Ireland too good for PNG Barramundis

4 February 2016

Papua New Guinea have been beaten by 145 runs in their latest Intercontinental Cup cricket match against Ireland in Townsville.

Chasing 346 for victory, the Barramundi’s lost Assad Vala and Vani Morea early on day four and were eventually dimissed for 200 inside 74 overs.

Sese Bau top scored with 45.

The teams will now play three T20 internationals.RNZI

41) Fiji cricketers to shuffle line-up

4 February 2016

Fiji will give their wider squad a chance to impress at the Under 19 Cricket World Cup in Bangladesh.

The Melanesian side suffered heavy defeats to England, Zimbabwe and West Indies in the group stage, taking only 13 wickets and failing to score more than 81 runs in three matches.

Malakai Cokovaki, Ledua Qionivoka and Petero Cabebula have yet to play in the World Cup and coach Shane Jurgensen said, after making just one change in the group stage, he intends to rotate his squad in their final three matches.

“In all reality, it’s a development tour to develop these guys – not just now but also in the future. Yeah we’ve still got a lot of work to do in a lot of areas and these guys [we’ve come up against] are definitely a lot more experienced actually playing the game. Unfortunately [we’re] a little bit behind the eight-ball in that area however what a great experience for these guys to be exposed and it’s going to contribute well to the senior men’s team in the future.”

Fiji’s next match is against Afghanistan tomorrow in the playoffs for ninth place.RNZI

42) Tonga Gov remain confident they can deliver Pacific Games

4 February 2016

The Tonga government says the public should have confidence that the country will be ready when it matters for hosting the 2019 Pacific Games.

A Papua New Guinea delegation flew home after spending four days in Nuku’alofa assessing the Kingdom’s sporting facilities.

PNG, which hosted the 2015 Games, has offered to assist Tonga and will be involved in the refurbishment of the Teufaiva National Stadium.

China and New Zealand have also made significant financial contributions and Tonga’s Sports Minister, Fe’ao Vakata, who chairs the facilities committee, said the venues will be delivered on time.

“There aren’t that many big facilities that we’re going to build. The major ones is the main stadium and Tonga High School – in which China is going to assist with – and now PNG is going to assist us with the main stadium. The other big one then is the golf course. The main stadium is the major one that we’re looking at – now PNG’s going to assist with it I think it will be ok.”

Despite that assistance, there remains a funding shortfall and Fe’ao Vakata said they willl knock on doors and look at all other means required to cover the difference.RNZI

43) Samoa hoping to include Manu stars on 7s circuit

Updated at 1:30 pm on 4 February 2016

The Samoa Rugby Union is working hard behind the scenes to make some of its fifteen-a-side stars available for the World Sevens Series.

A number of big names have joined the circuit this season, with Sonny Bill Williams making his debut for the All Black Sevens in Wellington, South Africa’s Francois Hougaard and Juan de Jongh with the Blitzboks and Wallabies winger Henry Speight with Australia.

Quade Cooper is also training with the sevens team but won’t feature in Sydney.

Samoa coach Damian McGrath said they’ve made contact with Manu Samoa stars Tim Nanai-Williams, TJ Ioane and Paul Perez, who want to be involved with the sevens side.

“Stars of the fifteens are keen. We haven’t got the financial backing that some of the other nations have to do deals to bring these boys out of their contracts. We’re just looking at ways we can try and get these players involved so as soon as we can get them involved, if we can get them involved, we will get them in because I know Sonny Bill is one of the great players in world rugby of any code, I’m sure he’s found it difficult transitioning across and it will be the same for any player so we want them in as soon as possible.”

In the meantime, Damian McGrath is hoping his injury ravaged squad can manage at least a quarter final finish in Sydney this weekend, from a difficult pool that includes Fiji, Argentina and France.RNZI

44) NRL clubs on notice for Nines

Thursday, February 04, 2016

SYDNEY – NRL clubs have been put on notice: behave at the Auckland Nines or else.

According to News Corp Australia, the boss of the NRL’s integrity unit, Nick Weeks, has emailed all 16 club CEOs to warn that the game does not need any further controversy as the season approaches.

“After a generally positive off-season we are working through some recent incidents of player misconduct that are damaging to the game,” Weeks reportedly wrote.

The NRL is expected to dish out its punishment to Mitchell Pearce by the end of the week, while six members of Queensland’s Emerging Origin squad, including Cronulla’s Valentine Holmes, found themselves in trouble after breaking curfew at the weekend.

In an effort to avoid similar trouble in Auckland this weekend, each club will have an off-duty local policeman with them at all functions and team dinners.

“These liaison officers will stay with your team and provide helpful local knowledge and contacts,” the email said.

However, the email also reminded clubs it was their responsibility to implement measures such as curfews to reduce the risk of trouble from the 288 travelling players.

Off-field dramas have been avoided for the past two years at the pre-season’s gala event.


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