Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 1063 ( Tuesday 29 March 2016 )

MELANESIA

1) Bilingual education to be trialled; Compulsory blood tests for all MPs; New Chinese Ambassador
Posted: March 29, 2016 Author:  | 

Vanuatu Daily Digest

Education Minister Jean-Pierre Nirua noted an interesting linguistic experiment which is planned when he addressed the Vanuatu Institute of Technology graduation ceremony last week. It is to trial bi-linguistic education in Vanuatu. The policy is still in its early stages. It would ultimately mean – if successful – that “all children would be taught in both English and French… Teachers would be handling bilingual classes. It would do away with the need to have English schools and French schools,” as VIT has largely done. Certain VIT graduates are already benefiting, in their employment, from their use and ability with the two languages, the Minister said. Presently there are civil servants awaiting their retirement benefits and when these are paid out there will be more jobs for the present VIT graduates, Nirua added.

Deputy PM Joe Natuman praised the policy of the present Institute of Technology to buy the Sky Garden hotel property in Parliament last week. It will benefit the country’s students of tourism. “Students will use the facility when the Prime Minister’s Office moves out of the building in 2 years and INTV takes over, and as MPs we hope the place can be used as an accommodation facility by MPs coming to Port Vila for Parliamentary meetings thereafter,” Natuman said. Parliament was debating the Vt 40 million guarantee which must be awarded to VIT following the PMO’s requirement to use the Sky Garden hotel as offices to house the PM’s services in the duration of the renovations down the hill. VIT has a loan agreement with the National Bank for the purchase.

The 100 Day Plan of Government requires all MPs to undergo blood tests. Speaker Esmon Saemon announced this at the end of the first extra-ordinary sitting of Parliament last week. Government cannot meet the cost of the tests which range from Vt 3,000 to Vt 20,000. There are two Port Vila medical centres where MPs can have the tests.

Vanuatu has a new Chinese Ambassador as of this morning. Credentials were handed over to the President at State House. There was a VMF guard of honour. Details will be given in a future post.

The Port Vila Urban Development Project looking after our roads, drainage and so forth, is expecting more equipment to arrive soonest, Radio Vanuatu told us today. More on that, too, soon.

POLYNESIA

2) Over 400 suspected Zika cases in American Samoa

There are now 403 suspected cases of Zika virus in American Samoa, according to the Department of Health’s latest figures.

Since the outbreak first surfaced late last year, 91 blood samples have been sent off island to test for mosquito-borne viruses including Zika, Dengue Fever, and Chikungunya — which have similar symptoms.

Of the samples sent off island, 14 cases have been confirmed as Zika, including in six pregnant women.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the health department are targeting pregnant women in their prevention and public awareness efforts.

The World Health Organisation declared Zika a global health emergency on February 1, saying new research has strengthened the link between the Zika virus and foetal abnormalities, while sexual transmission of the virus was more common than previously thought.

This year, Zika has been detected in five Pacific Island countries.

A meeting of the WHO’s Zika Emergency Committee in Geneva earlier in March concluded that the Zika virus does affect the brain of a developing foetus and can also cause neurological disorders.

The WHO is advising pregnant women who have sexual partners who live in or travel to areas with Zika outbreaks to either practise safe sex or abstain from sex for the duration of their pregnancy.29/3/16 RNZI

3) http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/300161/five-elections-petitions-by-samoa-deadline

4) Court quashes removal of Tongan nobles from TBC board

Tonga’s Supreme Court has quashed a government decision to remove two directors of the Tonga Broadcasting Commission.

In October last year the broadcasting minister Poasi Tei, had removed Dowager Lady Fielakepa and Dowager Lady Fusitu’a from the TBC board.

Prime minister, Akilisi Pohiva, at the time said it was part of a government reform strategy recommended by the World Bank.

Government had wanted the women to resign voluntarily, but Lady Fusitu’a, who was the chair of the TBC board, refused and said the government was acting outside the law.

Today the Lord Chief Justice, Owen Paulsen, overturned the dismissals and also awarded both women costs.29/3/16 RNZI

5) Habitat for Humanity eyes Tonga for expansion

Habitat for Humanity is drafting plans to expand its operations into Tonga later this year.

The global charity, which specialises in building houses, said the move was prompted by a discussion with Tonga’s Deputy Prime Minister in New Zealand last week.

Habitat New Zealand’s CEO, Claire Szabo, said they had a track record of building cyclone resilient homes in Fiji and Samoa, and the time was right to bring those skills to Tonga.

“What we’ll be doing is we’ll be selecting families there, based on their need for housing. So we’ll be addressing issues of what we call housing poverty, housing inadequacy. That will result in us building things that are cyclone resilient which means in the next cyclone they won’t be victims in that sense.”

Claire Szabo said creating resilience for communities is important and they aim to build between 10 and 20 houses in Tonga by the end of the year.

Habitat Humanity set up ‘Fund for the Pacific’ to raise money for the expansion into Tonga, and to support its work in other Pacific nations.28/3/16 RNZI

6) Tahiti’s Flosse takes Le Monde to court

The appeal court in French Polynesia is to rule in a defamation case brought by a former president, Gaston Flosse, against two French journalists over a book and a 2013 article in the French newspaper, Le Monde.

Flosse, who two years ago lost office because of a corruption conviction, says he was defamed because the journalists, Gerard Davet and Fabrice Lhomme, made a link between him and the 1997 disappearance of a Tahiti journalist, Jean-Pascal Couraud.

His lawyer went to the appeal court after last year’s ruling in the criminal court, which found that Le Monde exercised its normal right to media freedom.

According to local media, a decision by the appeal court is expected at the end of June.

Last year, Flosse’s lawyer said there was a difference between press freedom and freedom to smear.

He said the article made no mention of the two former militia members accused of kidnapping the journalist while it showed a picture of Flosse.

The now-disbanded militia was under Flosse’s control and his espionage unit had placed the journalist under surveillance.

In 2004, Flosse swore in the territorial assembly that he had never ordered anybody’s death.

The police probe into the alleged kidnapping is in its 12th year.

Three years ago, Le Monde reported that the case was close to a resolution but since then murder charges against two of the three suspects have been dropped.28/3/16 RNZI

MICRONESIA

7) Indigenous languages could be compulsory in CNMI schools

A bill mandating the teaching of the Chamorro and Carolinian language in public schools in the Northern Marianas will be introduced in the legislature this week.

Under Felicidad Ogumoro’s bill, the two indigenous languages of the territory would be compulsory in public elementary, junior, and senior high schools throughout the islands.

The Chamorro or Carolinian language must be used and spoken at all times in such classes, according to the bill.

Mr Ogumoro said these languages directly link and hold indigenous people to their culture, heritage, and identify, and therefore, the Chamorro and Carolinian languages must be preserved.

The bill also tasks the Public School System to hire qualified or certified people to teach the languages, notwithstanding other requirements imposed by PSS for other teaching positions.29/3/16 RNZI

8) Palau’s critically low water level reduces water rationing to four hours a day

3:05 pm GMT+12, 28/03/2016, Palau

Today March 29, Palau Public Utilities Corporation (PPUC) will again adjust water hours for Koror and Airai due to the extreme drought that has dried up Ngerimel Reservoir and less than a foot of water at the remaining source at Ngerikiil River.

The new water rationing schedule will have water running for four hours a day – that is two hours each time in the morning and in the evening – for most of Koror, with the exception of the historically low pressure areas remaining at six hours.

It would be the fourth time this month PPUC has implemented a different water rationing schedule.

PPUC was moved to implement adjusted water hours after Ngerimel Reservoir ran out of water. The first water hours was implemented on March 12 with a total of 10 hours a day of running water. It was divided with water running only for five hours each in the morning and the evening.

Another adjusted hours followed less than a week later on March 18 with the water rationing hours limited to eight hours a day. Soon after on March 21, water hours was further reduced to six hours a day.

It is getting dire with the water level in Ngerikiil River less than half-foot from the bottom today. The low water level has necessitated only one of the two pumps to run, reducing production.

The decreased hours in the water rationing schedule will allow more time for production, treatment and transmission of sufficient water to the distribution tanks in Koror and Airai to ensure that water reaches all points of the system at scheduled time.

SOURCE: TIA BELAU/PACNEWS

9) CNMI keen on Japan’s tourism market

The Northern Marianas wants a balance of Chinese, South Korean and Japanese tourists and is about to launch a programme to lure back the Japanese.

The Governor Ralph Torres, who met the Marianas Visitors Authority board, said his administration was committed to reviving the Japanese tourism market.

Mr Torres and the MVA want to a visitor mix made up of about a third of tourists from each of the three markets.

He said to achieve this a delegation would head to Japan to meet with government, business and tourism counterparts to reaffirm ties with the country.

Mr Torres also said he would also ask the Hotel Association of the Northern Mariana Islands to allocate a certain percentage of rooms to Japanese agents.

Japan used to be the main market until Japan Air Lines pulled out in 2005.28/3/16 RNZI

10) CNMI Congressman warns against ‘disastrous’ policies

The Northern Marianas delegate to the US Congress, Gregorio Kilili Sablan, has warned against the disastrous immigration policies touted by the Republican presidential candidates.

Mr Sablan told the Saipan Tribune neither Ted Cruz nor Donald Trump would likely change their positions to accommodate the territory if elected.

Both men called for an end to the US visa waiver programme after the terrorist attacks in Belgium this week.

Mr Trump, who has been endorsed by territory’s governor Ralph Torres, has also called for a temporary ban on Muslims into the US and wants to build a wall along the Mexican border.

Mr Sablan said shutting down borders was not the answer and what the Republican frontrunners had proposed in terms of immigration would be disastrous for the CNMI’s tourism and labour markets.

Mr Sablan, a Democrat, has endorsed Hillary Clinton for the party’s nomination to contest the presidency.25/3/16 RNZI

11) Nauru asylum seeker protest enters second week

A protest by asylum seekers held by Australia in Nauru has entered its second week.

The asylum seekers’ action is over delays processing their applications. Some people have been detained on the island for more than 1000 days.

In October, the Nauru government announced it would finalise the claims within a week.

Last week, Nauru’s justice minister, David Adeang, told a conference in Bali that Nauru had developed a robust processing system and a vibrant refugee settlement programme, with asylum seeker centres open 24 hours a day.

However, Australia’s Refugee Action Coalition said this was not true.

It said immigration authorities and the Australian contractor running the camps, Broadspectrum, had erected a fence across the road to prevent protests reaching, and blocking, the main gate to the Nauru family camp.

Access to Nauru is heavily restricted, with media representatives required to pay $US5000 as a non-refundable visa application fee.

New Zealand as well as Australian citizens also need a local sponsor, who risks jail if visa conditions are breached.

One foreign journalist, from the Australian, has been admitted since Nauru hiked the visa fee fortyfold two years ago. It is not known if that journalist was charged the visa application fee.28/3/16 RNZI

TOK PISIN

12) Faitim Solomon land korapsen mas stat insaet long land ministri: Ruth Liloqula

Updated 29 March 2016, 15:31 AEDT
Sam Seke

Anti-korapsin organaesesen, Transparency Solomon Islands hem se eni waka fo faetim korapsin insaet long lands ministri hemi mas stat insaet long ministri seleva.

TSI hemi givim ful sapot blong hem long muv blong Premanent Secretary blong Ministry blong Lands and Housing fo stopem korapsin insaet long ministri ia.

Premanent Secretary Stanley Waleanisia hem bin putim aot wanfala pablik notis fo askem pipol fo talem olketa wanem olketa lukim olsem korap samting wea olketa ofisa insaet long ministri i duim.

Executive Ofisa blong Transparency Solomon Islands, Ruth Liloqula hem se diswan hem wanfala gu samting fo duim fo stopem plande enikaen korapsin we hemi gogohet insaet long lands ministri.

Bat Ms Liloqula hu hemi wanfala Komisina blong Lands long bifoa hem se, waka fo klinim aot korapsin long lands ministri, hemi mas stat wetem olketa seleva insaet long ministri.

Hem se loa hem stap finis fo olketa mas folom.ABC

13/ 14) Noken katim gavman helt moni long ol sios: Paul Barker

Updated 29 March 2016, 15:47 AEDT
Caroline Tiriman

PNG Institute of National Affairs i tokaut agensim wei PNG gavman i katim  moni em i save givim long ol sios long helpim sait long helt sevis long kantri.

Gavman blong Papua New Guinea imas lukim ol wok em ol Sios isave mekim long saed blong helt olsem wanpla bikpla wok na noken katim moni emi save givim igo long ol sios.

Executive direkta blong Institute of National Affairs long Port Moresby Paul Barker i mekim despla toktok bihaenim tingting blong Gavman long katim budget oa moni emi save skelim long sapotim ol Sios long lukautim ol Helt sevis blong ol.

Long wik igo pinis Catholic Sios ibin autim wari blong en tu long despla tingting blong Gavman long katim 50.7 million Kina long budget emi save givim long Helt bai bagarapim  tru olgeta wok em oli save mekim long ol rural eria.

Planti rural helt sevis long kantri nau istap aninit long han blong Catholic Sios na tu ol narapla sios olsem Lutheran, Seventh Day Advendists na Uniting Sios. ABC


BAHASA


15) Warga Papua Nugini Didorong Kembangbiakkan Marmot Untuk Sumber Protein
Terbit 29 March 2016, 14:13 AEDT
Eric Tlozek

Untuk memenuhi kebutuhan protein, para penduduk desa di pegunungan Papua Nugini didorong untuk mengembangbiakkan tikus Belanda untuk sumber protein. Upaya ini juga dilakukan agar warga tidak memburu hewan-hewan yang keberadaannya sudah terancam punah.

Glenda Giles, salah seorang guru, telah melakukan program pengembangbiakkan tikus Belanda ini di SMA Tekin, di kawasan pegunungan Hindenburg, selama tiga tahun terakhir.

“Hewan ini tidak melompat pembatas pagar, tidak menggali lubang di tanah, bentuknya kecil dan lembut,” kata Giles.

“Mereka adalah herbivora [pemakan tumbuhan], sehingga hanya diberi makan rumput dan daun dan Kau-Kau [sejenis ubi jalar].”

“Satu-satunya bahaya adalah ketika keluarga memiliki marmot kecil, lalu mereka jatuh cinta sehingga akhirnya tidak mau memakan hewan yang sudah dianggap peliharaan tersebut.”

Tikus Belanda, yang kerap disebut marmot di Indonesia, dijual dagingnya. Tapi untuk pengembangbiakkan harga yang dijual lebih murah.

Sally Lloyd, warga yang pernah tinggal di provinsi sebelah barat, sudah membeli beberapa ekor untuk teman-temannya yang tinggal di desa.

PNG Provinsi Barat, telah membeli beberapa untuk teman-temannya di desa-desa di sana.

“Orang-orang di sana kekurangan protein, sehingga berakibat pada kekurangan gizi dan masalah lainnya. Jadi ide soal marmot ini benar-benar memperkenalkan sumber protein yang sesuai dengan gaya hidup mereka,” katanya.

Banyak warga Papua Nugini telah mengandalkan berburu hewan mamalia dan burung untuk kebutuhan protein mereka.

Nathan Whitmore dari yayasan Wildlife Conservation Society mengatakan beternak tikus Belanda atau marmot kecil ini bisa membantu mengurangi tekanan pada hewan yang keberadaannya rentan, seperti kanguru pohon dan burung cendrawasih.

Tapi Whitmore mengatakan sebuah survei akan tetap dilakukan, untuk melihat apa pengembangbiakkan marmot benar-benar akan membantu keberadaan hewan-hewan asli di Papua.http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/indonesian/2016-03-29/warga-papua-nugini-didorong-kembangbiakkan-marmot-untuk-sumber-protein/1563606

16) http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/indonesian/2016-03-29/skandal-korupsi-pm-malaysia-berikan-sinyal-adanya-dugaan-pencucian-uang/1563742

FRENCH

17a ) Brèves du Pacifique – mardi 29 mars 2016

Mis à jour 29 March 2016, 19:30 AEDT

Élodie Largenton

En Australie, une trentaine de marins vietnamiens ont été arrêtés pour avoir pêché des concombres de mer dans le parc marin de la Grande barrière de corail, ce qui est illégal.

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Deux bateaux ont été interceptés au cours du week-end dernier et les pêcheurs ont été emmenés à Cairns, où ils sont placés en détention provisoire.
  • Le Vanuatu a terminé l’année 2015 dans le vert malgré les ravages causés par le cyclone Pam et les multiples soubresauts politiques.L’archipel affiche un excédent budgétaire de près de 6 millions de dollars, selon le gouvernement. Ces bons résultats sont dus à une gestion financière prudente et à l’aide de la communauté internationale et des ONG, d’après Gaetan Pikioune, le ministre des Finances. Les dépenses supplémentaires liées à la reconstruction du pays ont aussi permis d’augmenter les recettes fiscales.
  • Le gouvernement tongien veut aider les femmes à créer leur petite entreprise. Elles vont pouvoir emprunter à taux réduit – 4% – et sans caution. La mesure est financée par la Banque tongienne de développement à hauteur de 290 000 dollars.
  • L’apprentissage des langues autochtones pourrait devenir obligatoire aux Mariannes du nord. Un projet de loi est en discussion cette semaine. S’il est adopté, le chamorro et le carolinien devront alors être enseignés dans toutes les écoles primaires et secondaires. « Ces langues lient les gens à leur culture, à leur héritage et elles doivent être préservées », plaide Felicidad Ogumoro, députée de Saipan, à l’origine du projet de loi. Il y a urgence : en 2003, une étude révélait que 15% seulement de la population maîtrisait ces langues autochtones.
  • Aux Îles Salomon, l’opposition accuse le gouvernement d’être intervenu dans le choix des groupes qui participeront au Festival des arts du Pacifique à Guam, dans quelques semaines. Plusieurs artistes se préparaient depuis des mois, mais leurs noms viennent d’être rayés de la liste des participants. Et les groupes choisis pour les remplacer sont inexpérimentés, dénonce l’opposition, pour qui ça ne fait aucun doute : les élus de la majorité ont voulu « faire plaisir à leur électorat ». 27 pays de la région participeront à ce Festival des arts du Pacifique à Guam, du 22 mai au 4 juin.
  • C’est à Pohnpei, dans les États fédérés de Micronésie, que se tiendra le prochain Forum des Îles du Pacifique, en septembre. L’an passé, c’est à Port-Moresby, en Papouasie-Nouvelle-Guinée, que l’organisation régionale s’était réunie.
  •  Une bonne publicité pour les Palau : Leonardo DiCaprio vient de passer quelques jours dans l’archipel micronésien. Selon le journal Island Times, le célèbre acteur aurait visité plusieurs sites marins et plongé avec le président des Palau, Tommy Remengesau Junior, qu’il avait rencontré lors de la COP21 à Paris. Les deux hommes « partagent une même passion pour l’environnement », souligne le journal.ABC
17b) Australie : des saisonniers fidjiens exploités dans des fermes du Victoria
Mis à jour 28 March 2016, 19:00 AEDT

Élodie Largenton

9 dollars la semaine : c’est ce que certains travailleurs fidjiens ont été payés pour la cueillette de fruits et légumes. Le seul choix qu’ils ont aujourd’hui : rentrer aux Fidji ou accepter les conditions de leur employeur, AFS Contracting, qui les sponsorise dans le cadre du programme des travailleurs saisonniers en Australie.

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« Je pensais qu’on viendrait ici, qu’on travaillerait et qu’on mettrait de l’argent de côté. Même ma mère a pleuré quand je lui ai dit le montant de ma première paye. Je ne sais pas quoi faire maintenant. »
Petero Kanawabu est l’un des 133 Fidjiens à avoir décroché un contrat de travailleur saisonnier en Australie. Tous espéraient pouvoir envoyer de l’argent à leurs familles, mais ils ont rapidement déchanté : ils sont rémunérés selon la quantité de fruits et légumes ramassés et doivent payer un certain nombre de frais, dont 16 dollars par semaine pour le transport et 120 dollars pour l’hébergement – un lit à partager avec un autre travailleur dans une petite caravane. Il ne reste alors plus grand-chose : 9,96 dollars pour le Tongien Isikeli Fifita, 0 dollar pour la Fidjienne Sia Davis, 23 dollars pour sa compatriote Vasiti Savunicava, qui a dû se faire envoyer de l’argent par son mari, resté aux Fidji :
« Ce que j’espérais en venant ici, c’était de pouvoir envoyer de l’argent à ma famille. À la place, c’est eux qui m’envoient de l’argent. C’est eux, encore une fois, qui prennent soin de moi. »
Tous ces travailleurs sont employés non pas par des fermiers, mais par une entreprise qui se charge ensuite de leur trouver du travail : AFS Contracting, dirigée par Tony Yamankol. ABC a tenté à de nombreuses reprises de l’interviewer, sans succès. Un groupe de saisonniers fidjiens l’a enregistré alors qu’il les menaçait :
« Je vais vous licencier, je vais faire annuler vos visas. Vous voulez partir de vous-mêmes ou vous voulez que je vous renvoie ? Si je vous licencie, vous ne reviendrez jamais en Australie sous ce programme. »
Plusieurs Fidjiens ont décidé d’arrêter de travailler à perte. Ils voulaient trouver un autre employeur, mais les autorités australiennes les renvoient vers leur sponsor, AFS Contracting. Le ministère de l’Emploi refuse de répondre aux questions des journalistes, précisant seulement que « l’inspection du travail a été saisie ». De son côté, le ministère des Affaires étrangères dit être en relation avec les autorités fidjiennes.
Il faut dire que la pression monte. Le gouvernement fidjien s’est officiellement exprimé sur le sujet. Semi Koroilavesau est le ministre fidjien de l’Emploi :
« On a demandé à nos homologues australiens de se pencher sur ces conditions de travail et sur les plaintes de nos travailleurs saisonniers. Ils doivent ensuite revenir vers nous. Voilà où on en est aujourd’hui. »
Pour certains de ces saisonniers fidjiens, la déception et la colère sont d’autant plus fortes qu’avec le cyclone Winston, leurs familles ont encore plus besoin d’eux.ABC

AUSTRALIA

18) Museum displays 50 Aboriginal artwork

Abc
Tuesday, March 29, 2016

A NEW display showcasing the talents of 50 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists has opened at a museum in Monaco.

The Australia: Defending the Oceans, At The Heart of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island art display is part of the larger Taba Naba — Australia, Oceania, Arts of the Sea People exhibition at the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco.

Stephane Jacob, project manager of the exhibition, expects around 600,000 visitors to the exhibit, which will run until the end of September.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for Australian indigenous people from the northern part of Australia to actually give voice to the world about what’s happening there and their way of expression,” he said.

“All the artists involved have been very surprised by the dimension of the place.”

The display contains six projects across three floors, both inside and outside of the museum, including a stencil floor installation on the roof of the museum.

19) Fiji Asks Aus To Look Into Seasonal Worker Underpayment

Hope for both govs to work through these and other issues

By Avinesh Gopal

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, March 27, 2016) – The Fijian Government has asked Australian authorities to look into the latest round of complaints of underpayment made by Fijians on the seasonal workers scheme in Australia.

This, after Australian broadcaster ABC reported yesterday that a group of Fijian workers quit working for their contractor alleging they were left with hardly any money after deductions for superannuation, health insurance and board were made. Australian Minister for Employment Michaelia Cash had told ABC “the Department of Employment had referred specific issues to the Fair Work Ombudsman for review”.

Fijian Employment Minister Semi Koroilavesau said yesterday he was aware of the complaints and communication had been established with relevant authorities.

“There have been complaints raised and we have asked our Australian counterparts to handle the matter and inform us on their findings,” Mr Koroilavesau said.

“We are waiting for the report and we need to be patient as it is not only Fijian workers who are involved in this seasonal work program.”

The Fijian workers — part of a batch of 20 sent last year — also told ABC that Australian authorities have said they must either return to work for the contractor they said exploited them or leave Australia.

“They are pushing us to go back home. Everyone of us is not happy,” one of the group’s leaders Merewairita Sovasiga told ABC.

“And we are going back home with nothing. We are taking nothing back home.”

A payslip obtained by ABC for a Tongan worker employed under the same contractor, showed on a weekly basis labourers could earn just over $A200 [$US150] but once all deductions were made, the worker received $A9.96 [$US7.50].

Mr Koroilavesau said he was awaiting advice on the issue from counterparts in Australia adding that ministry executives were in contact with Australian officials.

There have also been numerous social media posts on the situation with online groups established to document the alleged exploitation but Mr Koroilavesau said calmer heads needed to prevail.

“Social media has been reporting so many things and I have been told of different rates ranging from 10c to $100 a week and I have learned to ignore social media and wait for official reports from the Australian Government sources.”

This is not the first time Fijians on the reestablished seasonal workers scheme have had wage disputes with Australian contractors.

Late last year a group of Fijians walked off their job at a farm in Euton, Southern New South Wales, claiming they were paid as little as $1.20 an hour.

But Mr Koroilavesau said both Australia and Fiji were learning from these experiences.

“Both governments know that there would be initial difficulties and it is work in progress. We cannot rush into these schemes hoping for miracles and as I have said, both governments are working together to overcome these hurdles.”

He said the ministry was reviewing its selection criteria to allow the best suited Fijians to travel to Australia and not only be good workers but good ambassadors.

“While our ministry have been thorough in their selection, it is evident that there are still loopholes that we need to cover and improve on.

“Our preparations have been thorough also and I personally farewelled the groups in Nadi and have genuine discussions with them but we need to be patient and have a better understanding on the issues.”

Fiji Times Online.

20) http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/2016-03-28/great-barrier-reef-coral-bleaching-at-95-per-cent-in-northern-section-aerial-survey-reveals/1563292

21) http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/2016-03-28/domestic-violence-minister-reveals-family-past-dominated-by-generations-of-abuse/1563158

22) http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/2016-03-28/drug-subsidies-could-eliminate-hepatitis-c-in-australia-within-a-decade-experts-say/1563188

PACIFIC 


23) 47th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders’ Meetings in FSM confirmed
5:43 pm GMT+12, 28/03/2016, FijiThe Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) will host the 47th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders’ Meetings from 7 to 11 September 2016.

In preparation for the 47th Forum Leaders Meeting, the Forum Officials Committee (FOC) Meeting, the governing council of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, will meet in Suva on 9 and 10 August preceded by the Smaller Islands States Officials Meeting and the Pacific ACP Officials Meeting on 8 August, 2016.

Consistent also with the Forum Leaders’ decision at their meeting in September 2015 in Port Moresby that the Forum Foreign Ministers will meet annually from 2016, after the Forum Officials Committee Meeting, the First Regular Meeting of the Forum Foreign Ministers will be held on 12 August 2016. The Pre-Forum FOC and related meetings will be held at the Forum Secretariat Headquarters.

The schedule for the 47th Pacific Islands Forum and related meetings to be held in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia will be as follows:

Wednesday, 7 September
Smaller Islands States Leaders Meeting

Thursday, 8 September
Pacific ACP Leaders Meeting

Thursday, 8 September
Official Opening of the 47th Pacific Islands Forum

Friday, 9 September
47th Pacific Islands Forum Plenary Session

Saturday, 10 September
Forum Leaders’ Retreat

Sunday, 11 September
28th Post-Forum Dialogue Partners Plenary Session.

SOURCE: PIFS/PACNEWS

ASIA

24) http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/2016-03-29/najib-razak-1mdb-scandal-malaysian-prime-ministers-accounts-triggered-internal-moneylaundering-alarm/1563416

25) http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/2016-03-28/chinese-militaryrun-commercial-services-to-end-in-next-three-years/1563250

WORLD

26a ) Shots fired at US Capitol complex, forcing White House lockdown; gunman in custody– The White House goes into lockdown after a suspected gunman is shot during a routine security check in the visitor centre of the Capitol building, the seat of the United States Congress. A lockdown on the US Capitol building has been lifted after shots were fired in the visitors centre, police say, with the gunman injured and taken into custody. During a routine security screening, a man drew what appeared to be a gun and pointed it at officers, US Capitol police chief Matthew Verderosa said outside the building, the seat of the United States Congress. “An officer fired and struck the suspect, who was subsequently treated by medical personnel,” he said. “A weapon was recovered on the scene.”

 26b) http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/2016-03-29/shots-fired-at-us-capitol-complex-forcing-white-house-lockdown-gunman-in-custody/1563398

27) http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/2016-03-29/record-low-arctic-winter-ice-levels-a-response-to-warmer-conditions-scientists/1563738

 HEALTH

28) PNG govt said to be reconsidering health budget cuts

The Papua New Guinea Ministry of Health has made a submission to the National Executive Council to reconsider its budget cuts to the Catholic Health Service.

The facilities provided by the church cover a third of PNG’s health services through more than 200 sites around the country — many in hard to access remote areas of the Highlands.

The service relies on government funding, but last week the Peter O’Neill government cut this back, forcing the service to consider layoffs and pay cuts.

Last Wednesday, health minister Michael Malabag told parliament that an already limited health system would not be compromised by the cuts.

But he appears to have now changed his tune, this week saying that cabinet was being asked to consider reinstating the cuts of US$15 million dollars.

Mr Malabag said the Christian Health Service played a pivotal role in curative as well as primary health care.29/3/15 RNZI

29) More patients on ART drug: Ribat

Source:
The National,Tuesday March 29th, 2016

ALMOST 16 million people are accessing anti-retroviral therapy (ART) in the world, with Papua New Guinea having the third highest rate of HIV treatment in the Asia-Pacific region, Archbishop John Ribat says.
Ribat is the chairman of the PNG Christian Leaders Alliance on HIV and AIDS.
He said this was achieved through the contribution of churches in the country.
“This is remarkable achievement for the country, something that we should be proud of,” Ribat said.
He said the alliance was working in partnership with the National AIDS Council secretariat and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS.
Ribat said they were ensuring that the churches in PNG were together in addressing HIV, AIDS and related issues.
He said world leaders realised that churches were doing more to address HIV than any other organisation.
He urged Christians to continue to share the love of Christ with everyone especially those living with HIV and AIDS.
Ribat said pastors, church leaders and Christians should encourage people living with HIV and AIDS to take their antiretroviral medicine.
He urged the Government and donor agencies to support the work of the Papua New Guinea Christian Leaders Alliance on HIV and AIDS.
Ribat invited business houses to join the alliance in its drive to fight HIV/AIDS in the country.

30) New lab to improve tuberculosis treatment

Source:
The National,Tuesday March 29th, 2016

A NEW laboratory has been opened to improve services dealing with Tuberculosis (TB) in the country.
Central public health laboratory manager Willie Porau said the Physical Containment Three (PC3) laboratory at the Port Moresby General Hospital was important.
“The PC3 TB laboratory is one of the essential services lacking in PNG for many years,” he said.
“This facility will set the benchmark and provide the culture and drug sensitivity testing services for the whole country.
“It will involve growing the organisms from the specimen collected from patients suspected of TB and for new cases and for those with default treatment.”
The laboratory will also provide services for HIV, malaria and other diseases and will ensure that all tests done comply with set standards.
“That’s an important responsibility the central Papua laboratory enforces is to make sure that the quality standards are followed so that results on HIV testing or malaria testing or TB testing are done correctly, the results are true so that treatment is provided accurately for the accurate diagnosis given,” Porau said.
He said there were also safety mechanisms in place in which the virus was destroyed after the test.
“Whatever is done there does not circulate outside and infect everyone, also protecting staff handling the specimen.”

31) Red alert, rest and avoid travelling
3:01 pm GMT+12, 28/03/2016, Fiji

Fiji’s Ministry of Health is urging those who were afflicted with conjunctivitis or cika (eye virus) to rest and refrain from travelling and attending social functions.

This comes as hundreds around the country have become infected with the eye virus.

“Most health facilities have noted increase in outpatients but again as most have already got advice they may not seek medical attention,” Ministry of Health permanent secretary Meciusela Tuicakau said.

He added the viral infection could be very contagious.

“Once one feels that he/she has started to develop red eyes, he must take rest and avoid travel or attending social functions,” Tuicakau said.

“At home while resting one must practise good hygiene and wash hands after touching the eyes.”

Tuicakau said people infected should not share towels, pillows or bed linen, adding cold compresses should be applied over closed eyes, even with little ice cubes.

“People can also wear protective eye glasses such as sunglasses but do not share and can take some paracetamol if you feel pain over the eyes.”

He said because there was a risk of developing a secondary bacterial infection people could use certain eye drops such as chloramphenicol to assist in stopping this eye virus spread.

SOURCE: FIJI TIMES/PACNEWS

32) Village without doctor

Serafina Silaitoga
Monday, March 28, 2016

NO decision has been made over the appointment of a medical practitioner at the Natewa Health Centre.

Ministry of Health’s media officer Sunil Chandra said the decision would be made by higher authority in the ministry. He said the safety of medical staff members were also paramount and of priority to the ministry.

Mr Chandra said discussions were still being held with the Natewa Village council over the issue.

Two weeks ago, the doctor at the health centre was allegedly harassed by a villager inside her house.

The incident resulted in her vacating the premises.

Last week the Natewa Village council wrote to the ministry expressing their condemnation of the act.

In the letter, Natewa Village headman Taniela Taukei stated the council condemned the act carried out against the doctor.

“The Natewa Village council strongly condemns this behaviour and wishes to express to the Ministry of Health our appreciation of the availability of this essential service at Natewa Village,” he said.

“This has truthfully served the communities of Natewa, Tunuloa and Navata ever since it was established.

“In response to this event, the council strongly condemns the act that resulted in the departure of our medical officer.”

Mr Taukei said village elders had reaffirmed commitment to the protection of civil servants in Natewa.

“We also recognise that the Government can take away such service if medical officers are not secure in their workplace,” he said.

“We have reminded the villagers that all civil servants posted to Natewa are important members of the community.”Fijitimes

33) http://dailypost.vu/news/babies-born-monthly/article_cfac92f1-1187-572a-9bf6-c2411bc66582.html

POLITIC


34) Peter O’Neill remains PNG Prime Minister as vote of no confidence delayed

Updated 29 March 2016, 19:50 AEDT
By Papua New Guinea correspondent Eric Tlozek

The Acting Speaker of the Papua New Guinea Parliament has delayed a decision on allowing a vote of no confidence in the country’s Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill.

Aide Ganasi told the PNG Opposition he has to check whether the members who were named in a motion for a vote of no confidence had actually signed the letter requesting a vote.

The moves comes after the motion’s seconder, former prime minister Sir Michael Somare, reportedly told local media he had only signed a motion from last year, not given his support to a new motion.

Mr Ganasi then wrote to the Opposition, saying parliament’s private member’s committee, which considers any motion for a vote, wanted to do “due diligence”.

“After some deliberation, the committee was of the view that due diligence checks had to be made with all members of parliament that had placed their signatures on this motion to ensure their signature is properly obtained,” Mr Ganasi said.

The move is likely to delay any vote until the next sitting of the PNG Parliament.

The delay is another hurdle for the PNG Opposition, which has been trying to hold a vote of no confidence in Mr O’Neill since last year.

“This is a sign of him lacking the support of his MPs from the PNC and the coalition partners in the government,” Opposition Leader Don Polye said.

“If they were safe, would they do what they have done? If the Prime Minister had the full support of the MPs of the Parliament, would he devise such a delay tactic?”

The Acting Speaker rejected a motion for a vote last year because he said it was not properly written out.

The Government then adjourned Parliament early after a second motion was lodged, not allowing the vote to proceed.ABC

35) Vanuatu achieves 2015 surplus

Vanuatu’s government has announced that it ended 2015 with a US$4.5 million fiscal surplus.

The Daily Post reported that according to the Treasury, the government achieved a surplus for each of the past three years.

The finance minister, Gaetan Pikioune, told the newspaper that despite a challenging 2015, the government was able to start the next fiscal year with a strong financial buffer.

Mr Pikioune says 2015 was a difficult year because Cyclone Pam damaged much of the country in March, and because of the El Niño and a declining service sector in Efate.

But he said careful financial management and support of donor countries and organisations helped the country through the period, on top of increased spending for reconstruction which helped raise tax revenue.28/3/16 RNZI

http://dailypost.vu/news/lakamariu-honors-three-of-its-own/article_1c3bf487-b7ed-5407-bcd9-07c66207fae8.html

36) Fiji avoids ILO inquiry into labour rights

Fiji has avoided an official inquiry into its labour rights by the International Labour Organisation.

An international Commission of Inquiry had been threatened by the United Nations body over a long-running dispute between the government and unions over the country’s labour laws.

But following a visit by an ILO delegation in January, an agreement was reached between the government, employers, and the Fiji Trades Unions Congress, although disagreements remain.

At a meeting of the ILO’s governing body in Geneva this week, the delegation said it welcomed the agreement and recommended that the case not be referred to a Commission of Inquiry.

However, it said there are still a number of matters that need to be addressed and the ILO should continue to provide technical assistance to Fiji to resolve the disputes.25/3/16 RNZI

37) New national Budget to come into effect from August- A new national Budget is expected to come into effect from August 1 until July next year. This is the new financial year announced by the Minister for Finance Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum yesterday. The work was carried out by government to make these changes from last year in December. “This year’s financial year will be obviously a shorter year which commenced in January and the new financial year will begin from the first of August 2016 till the end of July, 2017.” He says small economies like ours is running a very tight budget where our stated deficits can get out of kilter. “The first being—because our financial year is also a calendar year and the tax months in which for example companies pay taxes. They pay it in four months, April, June, September and December.Most of them actually pay their taxes in December. So last year Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority (FRCA) received revenue of about $67 million on the 31st of December.Now what that meant was that if FRCA receives $67 million on the 31st of December at 4pm or 4.30pm, it does not get transferred to the government books on that day itself. So that $67 million using that as an example if it hits the government books after the 31st of December – it means the revenue is received by government in 2016 and not 2015.” Also Sayed-Khaiyum says another reason for changing government financial year is because most people go on a holiday mode in December and early January. He says economy may suffer if this happens.

http://www.fbc.com.fj/fiji/38824/new-national-budget-to-come-into-effect-from-august-#sthash.TU1kYTWC.dpuf
http://fijivillage.com/news-feature/Financial-year-to-begin-from-1st-August-to-following-July—AG–s2k59r/

38) Finance ministry team to meet other ministries- A team from the Finance Ministry will start meeting different ministries next week to start their base line and look at their various budgetary submissions. Finance Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum highlighted this, as he announced the new financial year for national budget to commence from August 1 to July next year. “We obviously will go to Parliament. As you know the parliamentary sittings are coming forward is in April and June and the next one being in August. We will ofcourse will be talking to the honourable Madam speaker in the business committee to be able to have a sitting to bring the November sitting forward.” Sayed-Khaiyum adds the financial year has not been changed because of TC Winston.

http://www.fbc.com.fj/fiji/38830/finance-ministry-team-to-meet-other-ministries–#sthash.6KlJygnp.dpuf

MEDIA

39) Three new faces on PINA Board

5:31 pm GMT+12, 28/03/2016, Fiji

Three new media personalities from around the region have been elected in the  Pacific Islands New Association (PINA) Board, following elections at the Annual General Meeting in Palau Friday.

Elected as Vice President is the President of the Palau Media Council, Moses Uludong while joining him on the Board are Solomons Star Editor Ofani Eremae, representing the Print media, and Nuku’alofa Times Publisher/Editor Iliesa Tora, representing the Online/Digital Media sector.

The ONLINE/Digital Media sector is the new addition to PINA.

Retaining their seats on the Board are President Moses Stevens of Vanuatu, Fernando Lobendahn from Fiji TV, who represents TV, Evelyn Toa from Vanuatu representing National Media Associations and Radio Rep Janet Kwalau from NBC PNG.

The new Board will now direct PINA’s activities for the next two years, with elections due again at the next Pacific Media Summit in 2018.

The Board will also have to decide on the host for the 5th Pacific Media Summit, with bids received from Tonga and Papua New Guinea.

Tonga’s bid has been supported by the Tongan Government, through the office of the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister in charge of Information and Communication, Siaosi Sovaleni.

PNG, on the other hand, will have to seek their Government’s support.

Meanwhile, the 4th Pacific Media Summit in Palau ended Friday, with participants and resource personnel joining their hosts on Rock Islands for the annual PINA Retreat.

PINA President Moses Stevens thanked the Palau Government and the Office of the President for their support and for hosting a successful meeting.

He said it is now the responsibility of individual media companies and the respective national media councils to ensure that the media does it job and helps in national development, while at the same time ensuring that there is a free media in the region.

Tonga has been represented at the event by Radio and TV Tonga’s Anton Samita and Tora of Nuku’alofa Times, also representing the newly formed Friendly Islands Sports Journalists Association.

SOURCE: NUKUALOFA TIMES/PACNEWS

BUSINESS

40) Reduced flights crippling Vanuatu’s fragile economy

Businesses in Vanuatu say reduced flights into the country are having a crippling effect on the local economy.

They want a tax exemption until temporary runway repairs are completed at the country’s main international airport in Port Vila.

In January, Air New Zealand, Qantas and Virgin Australia announced that they were suspending flights to the country over safety concerns about the runway at Bauerfield International Airport.

The new government of prime minister Charlot Salwai then scrambled to re-negotiate a World Bank loan for emergency repairs, which are not expected to be completed until at least April.

But dozens of businesses have signed a petition calling on the government to speed up the repairs to the runway and to allow Valued Added Tax exemptions up until May.

The Vanuatu Chamber of Commerce said businesses were on the verge of closing down with many staff already laid off or on reduced hours.

It said the suspension of services by major airlines was a severe blow to tourism in the country which is still struggling to recover from the devastation wrought by Cyclone Pam last year.29/3/16 RNZI

41) Telikom cable outage affects airline’s services

Source:
The National,Tuesday March 29th, 2016

AIR Niugini says the Telikom cable outage continues to affect the airline’s services.
The airline last Thursday advised its customers that the telecommunication outage had affected telephone lines to the airline’s Port Moresby head office at the Waigani sales office and the airport office.
“The Telikom cable issue has also affected our check-in system,” the company said.
“Passengers are advised to check in at least three hours prior to departure time to avoid any inconvenience.
“Passengers who have access to the internet are encouraged to use Air Niugini’s online check in system.
“Air Niugini services have been affected since (last) Tuesday, following the sabotage of the Telikom fibre cables at several suburbs in the city.”
Air Niugini customers are advised to use the alternate call centre number 737 32100 for reservations or for any general enquiries.
The company last year upgraded its telephone sales with technology that allows staff to issue tickets over the phone – effectively transforming it into a call centre. This was part  of Air Niugini’ s commitment to improving customer experience.

INFRASTRUCTURE

42) http://dailypost.vu/news/luganville-beautification-project-will-cost-vt-billion/article_3926bf27-d596-5eb4-8068-7cf36182a3e2.html

43) Road nears completion

Source:
The National,Tuesday March 29th, 2016

CONSTRUCTION work on the 2km West Taraka road in Lae  is nearing completion.
Lae City mayor Koim Trilu Leahy said 70 per cent of the job was done.
A long-time resident of the area, Leahy was impressed with the quality of work done by the local contractor involved.
“This road was last upgraded by Tukape Masani, member for Huon Gulf back in 1990s,” Leahy said.
“Since then, it was neglected big time by successive leaders and governments.
“Now we can see that the road has been obviously transformed.
“As a resident of West Taraka and the mayor of Lae city,  I thank Governor Kelly Naru and the PEC.
“This road means a lot to the residents here.
“More than 20,000 people will directly benefit from this upgraded road.”
The K8.4 million reconstruction was carried out by PNG Contractor Ltd.
“They (contractor) will put a few finishing touches to the road and hopefully we can launch it by next month,” Leahy said.
The mayor called on West Taraka residents not to demolish or deface any of the completed work along the road.
“I am also appealing to the residents of West Taraka not to harass the contractor and its employees or steal their tools and other equipment,” he said.

44) Cinema renovations underway– Work is already underway to revamp cinemas around the country to cater for the growing number of movie lovers. The Damodar Group says two big cinemas in the East and the West are currently being renovated while they have big plans for the North. Damodar Group CEO Div Damodar says Village 6 cinema in the heart of Suva has a new concept in place to give itself a face lift. “We’re revamping the property itself, we’re looking at a new concept for candy bars the cinema individual halls are being renovated seats whole technology and we’re looking at the foyer event place. So there’s some exciting things coming there will also be food outlets coming there. But the unfortunate thing is with cinemas we can’t close it because of some movies opening and that’s the main challenge.” Damodar says that while movies will continue to be previewed here, works have already started and will be done stage by stage to be completed by 2017.

http://www.fbc.com.fj/fiji/38828/cinema-renovations-underway#sthash.5rI4ETP3.dpuf

LAW&ORDER

45) Safety of women, children ‘vital’

Source:
The National,Tuesday March 29th, 2016

The safety and security of women and children are important for development, Australian High Commission Minister Counsellor  Rod Hilton says.
Speaking during the launching of the Australian-funded Family and Sexual Violence (FSV) Unit in Kerema last Wednesday, Hilton said law and order issues such as FSV should be addressed in order for the country to achieve development goals.
“To achieve further development aims, law and justice is always critically important,” Hilton said
“You can’t have good development unless you have good law and justice and we know that from all around the world.
“I’m very privileged to be here today to be part of a law and justice project and contributing to that development.”
Hilton said the partnership in setting up the unit was part of achieving further development outcomes in Kerema, Gulf  and across the country.
Deputy Commissioner for Police (operations) Jim Andrews said such positive steps would not have been possible without the strong support of the Australian Government and people of Australia through the PNG and Australia Law and Justice Programme.

46) Gender-based abuse must end, says Fiji human rights’ boss-
Fiji’s new Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission director says a cultural change is needed to stop gender-based sexual violence. Women’s groups in Fiji are calling for more to be done to combat sexual violence. They say Fiji’s already high rate of gender-based and sexual violence, is being exacerbated in the aftermath of Cyclone Winston. The newly appointed director of the Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission agrees and says the country must put an end to such abuse. Ashwin Raj told Dominic Godfrey the safety of women and children is paramount and a well-coordinated strategy is needed. ASHWIN RAJ: What is required is a strong coordinated strategy between the state, the civil society, the Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission and all the other sort of important agencies such as the police, the medical authorities. This is extremely important.

http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/programmes/datelinepacific/audio/201794660/gender-based-abuse-must-end,-says-fiji-human-rights’-boss

 CLIMATE CHANGE,CONSERVATION

47) Drones proving useful to Pacific disaster management

A New Zealand engineer says unique aerial mapping technology used in Fiji after Cyclone Winston, could be hugely beneficial to the wider region in times of disaster.

The technology, offered at no cost to Fiji by Tonkin and Taylor during Winston, helped authorities quickly identify the worst affected areas and determine what aid was urgently needed.

Peter Quilter said the use of bleak aerial photographs in damage assessment was the first instance they knew of in the world.

Mr Quilter said the technology mapped out the details in the photographs and helped authorities to make high-level decisions.

He said it would be enormously useful for the Pacific, which remained vulnerable to natural disasters.

“It’s not only helpful in the humanitarian response phase but in terms of understanding key vulnerabilities that apply throughout the Pacific, it’s going to reap huge, huge benefits down the track.”29/3/16 RNZI

MINING,FORESTRY,AGRICULTURE


48) Solution for farmers

Matilda Simmons
Tuesday, March 29, 2016

FIJI will need to broaden the cultivation and diversity of its crops to provide protection against future epidemics and natural disasters, says a regional farmer’s organisation.

The Pacific Islands Farmers Organisation Network (PIFON), an umbrella organisation for Farmer Organisations (FO) in the Pacific, stated the urgent need for such an approach because pressures of climate change, natural disasters, declining soil fertility, and the NCDs epidemic are being experienced in the Pacific region.

“Many PIFON member farmer organisations across Fiji were significantly affected in terms of infrastructure and farm losses (after the devastation of Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston),” says PIFON manager Kyle Stice.

“The various farmer organisations are working in close collaboration with the authorities related to relief efforts and planning for agricultural rehabilitation.

“Despite the devastation there are emerging several important lessons related to pre and post cyclone crop mitigation as well as appropriate roles for farmer organisations in supporting post-disaster rehabilitation,” he stated.

“In a separate policy brief carried out by the organisation to mitigate against future natural disaster risks, the organisation suggests the idea for the decentralisation of agricultural research utilities to ‘increase the depth and quality of agricultural research’.

“Decentralised research is a farmer participatory model adopted by farmer organisations where trials are copied on site across a wide range of agro-ecological conditions.”

Noting past experiences, it was found that the traditional model in the Pacific where agricultural research takes place on one or two main government-run research stations have not turned out well for some.

“Crops which performed well at a research station when certain practices were followed, failed miserably when adopted by farmers in another area.

“Centralised research stations had further setbacks in recent decades due to declining and fluctuating funding. This has occurred at a time when the information needs of farmers have never been greater in the face of the increasing challenges of climate change and commercialisation.

“The projected increase in climate change and extreme weather events is likely to adversely affect food production and food systems in the region.

“Therefore, research to broaden the diversity of crops and the cultivation of these varieties will enrich farmers’ varietal portfolios and in doing so provide protection against future epidemics and biological disasters,” the report stated.http://www.fijitimes.com/story.aspx?id=347383

49) Jury still out on whether seabed mining is good for Pacific
– The Pacific Community says it is still not clear whether the potential economic benefits of sea bed mining will outweigh the negative effects on the environment and on local livelihoods. The Pacific Community says it is still not clear whether the potential economic benefits of sea bed mining will outweigh the negative effects on the environment and on local livelihoods. The comments come after the SPC’s proposed legal and regulatory framework on sea bed mining was accused of neglecting indigenous and environmental safeguards. Koroi Hawkins looks at some of the pros and cons of the industry. According to the company involved, in 2018 Papua New Guinea’s Bismarck Sea is set to host the first ever commercial deep water mine operation. The director of the Pacific Community’s [SPC’s] geoscience division, Mike Petersen, says Nautilus Minerals’ Solwara 1 project will set the tone for the future of the industry.

http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/programmes/datelinepacific/audio/201794661/jury-still-out-on-whether-seabed-mining-is-good-for-pacific

50) Miner digs more gold

Ropate Valemei
Tuesday, March 29, 2016

THE Vatukoula Gold Mines Ltd (VGML) produced 42,162 ounces of gold in 2015, an annual increase of 9.5 per cent.

According to the central bank, the extensive capital upgrade works undertaken by the VGML in 2014 and early 2015 enabled them to increase gold ore production.

However, the Reserve Bank of Fiji noted gold export earnings cumulative to October last year fell by 72.6 per cent on an annual basis to $20.8million in line with the declining world market gold prices.

In 2015, the bank highlights that world market gold prices fell by an annual 12.1 per cent to $US1060 ($F2229) per fine ounce.

Gold prices declined in December to $US1060 ($F2229) per fine ounce from $US1114 ($F2342) per fine ounce at the end of September.

According to a report by International Monetary Fund, the rise in interest rate by the US Federal Reserve on December 16, 2015 lowered the demand for the precious metal.

However, according to gold futures, it says prices are expected to pick up this year given expected higher demand and if any further rise in rates by the Fed is delayed than the markets have predicted.Fijitimes

51) New Caledonia delays decision on nickel exports to China

The New Caledonian government has approved continued nickel ore exports to Japan amid threats by truckers to block roads.

The truckers had been pushing for exports to be increased to include China as the entire nickel sector is reeling from low commodity prices.

However, public radio said a decision on whether to ship ore to China had been put off for a week.

Earlier this month, the government of Philippe Germain admitted the context had changed and the government would re-examine demands to export low-grade ore to China.

Last August, the truck drivers blocked key access roads around Noumea for weeks over the nickel export dispute.29/3/16RNZI

52) Fiji sugar mill stays out of action

The Fiji Sugar Corporation says the Penang sugar mill in Rakiraki will not be ready for this season, starting in August, because of the impact of Cyclone Winston.

The Corporation’s chair, Abdul Khan, told FBC News that it had put in place a strategy to build a syrup mill in Penang to be ready by next year.

He said as rebuilding the Penang mill would have been very costly, there was an advantage to opt for a modern and more high efficient mill.

Mr Khan said farmers around the area would have to take their sugarcane to the Rarawai Mill in Ba for crushing.

He said the industry suffered more than $US70 million in losses because of the cyclone.28/3/16 RNZI

FISHERIES

53) Cook Islands opposition against proposed EU tuna deal

The Cook Islands opposition says it will stand against the government’s proposed purse seine agreement with the European Union.

The US$6.5 million dollar deal has the cabinet’s backing and, if signed, would grant access to four EU purse seiners to catch up to 7,000 tonnes of tuna a year in the Cook Islands’ expansive Exclusive Economic Zone.

BUt agreement would be for eight years, but reportedly has tacit approval to continue even longer.

The country’s new opposition leader, Teina Bishop, said he was against the agreement because it involved so-called super purse seiners, and because 4,000 Cook Islanders have signed a petition opposing the move.

“My belief is that we should go throughout the process of a select committee to canvas the views of our people and come back with a report to parliament before government or anybody else should sign any agreement with the EU,” Mr Bishop said.

“Taking into consideration the principle of democracy where it is the government of the people, for the people and by the people.”

Earlier this month, the prime minister, Henry Puna, said the Pacific was pursuing the best course for the future of the region’s fisheries, and the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement illustrated how the Cook Islands was cooperating at the broader international level.29/3/16 RNZI

WOMAN,YOUTH,CHILD


54) Nepotism Alleged In Solomons Arts Festival Participant Selection

Opposition claims political interference in cultural groups

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, March 29, 2016) – The Solomon Islands opposition has accused the government of nepotism in its selection of cultural groups and artists for this year’s Festival of Pacific Arts in Guam.

The Solomon Star newspaper reports the opposition claiming political interference after several established cultural groups selected last year were removed at the last minute despite putting in months of practice.

Some of these groups had even been awarded government grants for costumes and preparation.

The opposition also said the replacement groups were relatively inexperienced, claiming they were handpicked by government MPs to curry favour in their constituencies.

The opposition said the government should release the full list of cultural groups and artists being sent to the festival along with the criteria used.

27 Pacific nations are expected to participate in the 12th Festival of Pacific Arts set to take place in Guam from the May 22 to July 4.

Radio New Zealand International

SPORT

55) PNG, Solomons draw friendly

Source:
The National,Tuesday March 29th, 2016

PAPUA New Guinea restored some pride by winning their second friendly international football challenge against the Solomon Islands 2-1 at Lawson Tama Stadium in Honiara, Solomon Islands, on Sunday afternoon.
It was a stunning comeback from the first round 2-0 loss to square their friendly two-game series.
The Solomon Islands got off to a strong start as veteran Benjamin Totori combined with Auckland City attacker and futsal wonderkid Micah Lea’alafa to punish a PNG defensive lapse just 30 seconds after kick-off.
However this time around a one-goal lead was not enough to give Solomon Islands room to breathe as a fired up PNG dominated the first half to win most  of the possession.
The equaliser came in the 29th minute when a poorly struck back pass from Freddie Kini was not cleared by goalkeeper Phillip Mango, allowing speedster Raymond Gunemba to add another international goal to his tally. The second half saw the game even out as the hosts threatened to regain control of the game, however a mistake from Bata Furai saw the visitors awarded a penalty which Michael Foster tucked away neatly.
PNG coach Flemming Serritslev said it was a much improved performance from his side against a strong Solomon Islands team.
“I want to thank Solomon Islands for giving us a fair test today,” Serritslev said.

56) Pacific Island rugby in danger of being left behind around World Rugby board

5:49 pm GMT+12, 28/03/2016, New Zealand

Pacific Island rugby is in danger of being left behind as the governing body prepares to welcome a host of new nations to the voting table.

World Rugby announced in November it would give tier-two sides – all those who qualified for the previous two World Cups – a greater say in running the game by widening voting rights on council.

At the next World Rugby council meeting in May the likes of Georgia, Romania, Canada, USA, Russia and Japan are expected to be given a full seat – and more say around major issues.

As for the Pacific Islands, none meet the criteria which stipulates, among other things, unions must hold democratic elections, provide five years of independently audited accounts and annual general meeting minutes to satisfy requirements.

While Samoa has established reforms in the past year and welcomed former All Black Alama Ieremia into the fold, it has long been dogged by corruption claims, which culminated in strike threats from the players in 2014.

Tonga is the latest union in the Pacific to find itself in a major financial hole – starring down the barrel of significant debt levels and two law suits which led to World Rugby freezing funding ahead of crisis talks early next month.

“At this point in time the three Pacific Island unions don’t meet that governance criteria,” Will Glenwright, World Rugby’s Asia and Oceania general manager, said in regards to gaining a full seat on the council. “We are working with them in partnership with Oceania Rugby to ensure we get all three of those unions compliant with that criteria as quickly as possible. We’re actively working with Fiji, Samoa and Tonga on that.”

The failure to meet that criteria leaves the Pacific Island nations stuck with their status quo of one voice between three unions and limited influence when it comes to issues such as scheduling and revenue-sharing models.

In the meantime, other tier-two nations continue to progress and be rewarded with greater voice. As rugby spreads to new territories and eyes new expansion markets, the Islands must quickly realise the importance of good governance in the modern era.

“This is not just a message for Tonga but for all the Pacific Island nations who we have a massive affinity and respect for globally,” New Zealand Players’ Association chief executive Rob Nichol said. “They need to understand they are competing for the dollar with countries that are showing excellent governance – the likes of Georgia, Canada, Romania, Russia. It is a competitive situation.

“World Rugby needs to have absolute confidence in the developing nations they invest in.” .

SOURCE: STUFF NZ/PACNEWS

57) NRL: New Zealand Warriors v Newcastle Knights, Wests Tigers v Parramatta Eels, Cronulla Sharks v Melbourne Storm as it happened

Updated 28 March 2016, 22:25 AEDT/ABC
By Dan Colasimone and Dean Bilton

There were wins for Cronulla, Parramatta and the Warriors in the Easter Monday NRL action.

The Eels beat the Tigers 8-0 at Homebush in the NRL’s Easter Monday triple treat. Earlier the Warriors beat the Knights 40-18 and the Sharks beat the Storm 14-6. Relive the action in our live blog.

External Link: NRL blog external link

58) Mozambique holds Ghana at home

Reuters
Tuesday, March 29, 2016

JOHANNESBURG – Ghana lost their 100 per cent record in African Nations Cup qualifying with a goalless draw in Mozambique on Sunday while fans rioted in Kenya during a shock loss to lowly-ranked Guinea Bissau.

Ghana’s match in Maputo at the start of the fourth round of preliminaries kept them on course for the 2017 finals in Gabon but proved a tepid affair in comparison to other qualifiers.

Guinea Bissau, 147th in the world rankings, took a first competitive away international win as they stunned Kenya 1-0 in Nairobi to emerge surprise leaders in Group E.

Portuguese-born striker Cicero scored the winner nine minutes from time, prompting rioting from the home fans with the match stopped for more than 30 minutes.

The assistant referee flagged for a goal, adjudging that Cicero’s header from a corner had crossed the line despite Kenya goalkeeper Arnold Origi apparently saving the effort.

The awarding of the goal prompted a furious reaction from the Kenyan players and the crowd who threw objects, forcing police to fire teargas to quell the rioting.

Guinea Bissau are now on seven points in their group, one ahead of Congo and 2012 champions Zambia in Group E.

Congo and Zambia drew 1-1 in Brazzaville. Jordan Massengo, who plays in the lower leagues in France, opened the score after 48 minutes but Zambia’s Winston Kalengo equalised 20 minutes before the end.

Captain Stephane Sessegnon scored twice for Benin as they beat South Sudan 4-1 to keep up an unbeaten run and take top place in Group C.

Joel Mogorosi scored the winner in Francistown as Botswana beat the Comoros Islands 2-1 to join the leaders in Group D.

Chad announced their withdrawal from the qualifiers, pulling out of a scheduled match in Tanzania on Monday because of a cash shortage. They had lost all three of their qualifiers before Sunday’s decision.

w: www.voiceofmelanesia.com

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