Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 1066 (Friday 29 April 2016 )
1) Large quake off Vanuatu– A magnitude 7.0 quake has been recorded off Vanuatu. Earlier the US geological survey said a 7.3 quake occurred just after 7.30 this morning (1930 UTC) and at a depth of 10 kilometres. It was since revised as being of 7.0 magnitude. The quake struck 31 kilometres east south east of Lakatoro on the island of Malekula. There was no threat of a Pacific-wide tsunami, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre.
3) MSG Trade Agreement Revised
Thursday, April 28, 2016 – By Mavuku Tokona |
The final round of negotiations regarding the revision of the Melanesian Spearhead Group Trade Agreement (MSGTA3) on Services Schedules which began in 2012 was convened in Port Vila last week.
Executive Officer of the MSG Secretariat, Lora Lini, in a statement mentioned that the meeting provided the opportunity for MSG Members to complete outstanding negotiations on the services schedules of the MSGTA3, following their earlier discussions in October and November of last year at which they agreed on the legal text for Trade in Services, which included the Schedules of Employment Opportunities for Labour Mobility.
MSG Acting Director General, Molean Kilepak, stressed the significance of this final round of negotiations before Trade Ministers and Leaders considered the possibility of signing the revised Trade Agreement.
The anticipated endorsement conforms to the commitment under the Port Moresby Declaration made in November 2014 by the MSG Trade Ministers to achieving a Melanesian Free Trade Area by 2017.
Mr Kilepak also noted the consensus of Leaders in Solomon Islands in June 2015 and more recently during the MSG Chair’s visit to the capital for the need to conclude the MSGTA3 negotiations without any further delay.
This would help ensure that the Trade Agreement remains as the premier trading arrangement in the Pacific, for the socio-economic benefit of the people of Melanesia.
Mr George Tuti of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade for Solomon Islands chaired the meeting and acknowledged the commitment of MSG Members to producing a Trade Agreement that is technically sound and reflective of the political, economic and social interests of MSG as a Sub-region.
He also emphasised that the only yardstick for measuring the success of the meeting would be a successfully concluded MSG Trade Agreement that affirmed the accomplishment of the primary purpose of the Technical Working Group, which is to culminate with the signing of the revised Agreement by the Leaders later this year.
According to the MSGTA3 press release at the end of the negotiations, the key outcomes of the meeting was the consensus reached by members in the adoption of firstly, the revised Services Schedules offered by each Member to facilitate trading in services and secondly, on the Schedules of Non-Conforming Measures tabled by each Member to facilitate Cross-Border Investment flows.
These Schedules were developed and first presented to the Technical Working Group as initial offers by Members following their national consultations.
After negotiations and adoption, the Schedules would be incorporated into the legal text of the revised MSG Trade Agreement, which would be presented at the Trade and Economic Officials Meeting on 23-24 May 2016 and subsequently to the Trade Ministers Meeting on 25 May 2016. Both meetings will be held in Port Vila, Vanuatu.
The meeting was attended by Officials from the Departments of Trade, Customs, Bio-Security, Investment, Immigration, Labour and State Law from Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. Representatives of the Front de Liberational the Nationale Kanak et Solcialiste (FLNKS) were also present.Vanuatu Daily Post
4) Fiji PM Pulls Out Of Melanesian Spearhead Group Meeting
Bainimarama skips summit to attend Queen’s birthday in London
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, April 27, 2016) – Fiji’s prime minister, Frank Bainimarama, won’t be attending next week’s Melanesian Spearhead Group summit in Vanuatu.
Instead, he has told the Fiji Sun newspaper that he will be going to the Queen’s birthday celebrations in London.
The MSG summit in Port Vila is to revisit the appointment of Fiji’s Amena Yauvoli as the new director general of the MSG secretariat.
Mr Yauvoli’s selection was announced at the start of the month by Fiji’s Foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola and later confirmed by the MSG chairman, Solomon Islands prime minister Manasseh Sogavare.
But the announcement was not welcomed by Vanuatu which refuses to accept it, while Papua New Guinea says no proper process was followed.
The summit is also expected to deal with a push by Vanuatu to remove Indonesia from the MSG after Jakarta admitted its police uses torture.
Radio New Zealand International
5) Autonomous Bougainville Government In Fiscal Crisis
Dispute with national government causing civil unrest
By Anthony Kaybing
PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, April 26, 2016) – The ongoing dispute between Bougainville and the National Government over more than K600 million [US$190 million] in unpaid grants has caused a financial crisis in Bougainville.
The revenue shortage in the Autonomous Region is causing civil unrest that could lead to instability.
Businesses are experiencing severe slowdowns and service providers are not being paid by the Autonomous Bougainville Government due to a lack of funds.
Some disgruntled providers have started possessing government property – in particular vehicles – due to lack of payments.
The ABG has an annual budget in access of K350 million [US$111 million] made up of grants from the National Government and aid donor funding. But this year’s budget remains a piece of paper without substance.
Bougainville President John Momis said in January that the National Government owes his government K635 million [US$201 million] in unpaid grants.
6) New Caledonia Air Traffic Controllers Go On Strike
Domestic airline cancels dozens of scheduled flights
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, April 28, 2016) – A strike by New Caledonia’s air traffic controllers has prompted the territory’s domestic airline to cancel more than a dozen of today’s scheduled flights.
Other flights have been re-scheduled, including one bound for Australia.
The strike, which was called by the French union, is due to end tomorrow.
A minimum service is, however, being maintained and will allow the French prime minister, Manuel Valls, to land in Noumea tonight.
Durig his three-day stay, Mr Valls is awaited by the employees of the SLN nickel plant tomorrow as the plant is in a deep crisis following the recent and sharp drop of the price of nickel.
SLN staff have said they will be on strike today to express their opposition to any plan to cut jobs as part of a possible restructure ordered by the French parent company, Eramet.
They want the French state to rescue the SLN plant, with French media reporting that Mr Valls is poised to announce a $US330 million loan tomorrow.
Radio New Zealand International
7) Fiji Parliament Rejects Bid To Discuss Great Council Of Chiefs
Disbanded in 2006, opposition seeks reinstatement
By Nasik Swami
SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, April 26, 2016) – The interim government’s decision to do away with the Great Council of Chief’s (GCC) in 2006 dominated the opening of the April sitting of the Fijian Parliament yesterday.
Opposition MP Viliame Gavoka presented a petition to Parliament for the GCC to be reinstated.
In a two and half hour long debate, Government used its numbers to pass on a strong message that the reinstatement of the GCC was no longer relevant to Fiji.
The motion was defeated by 29 votes.
The Opposition had wanted the matter to be referred to a Standing Committee to allow consultation on the matter from members of the public.
While debating the motion, Mr Gavoka said the GCC was the apex of the iTaukei community.
“The GCC was the strength that made Fiji what it is today. We need the chiefs to be elevated for the peace and prosperity of this country,” he said.
Mr Gavoka said without the GCC, the country was like “a family without its father”.
“GCC needs to be linked with the people of this country as they played an important role in their lives.
“GCC made Fiji the way the world should be and also helped in freeing up resources for various developments in the country.
“The country needs a dialogue on the important role the GCC plays for the iTaukei people.”
Opposition Leader Ro Teimumu Kepa also supported the motion, saying the Government needed the support of the chiefs to make important resources available for the development of the country.
Government did not contribute to this debate yesterday.
When asked why Government did not contribute to the debate, Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said “no comment”.
But Government Whip Ashneel Sudhakar told The Fiji Times that “the Prime Minister will make a comprehensive statement on the matter”.
The PM was absent from the House yesterday. He was away overseas.
Fiji Times Online.
9) Suspected Zika cases in American Samoa top 500
The number of suspected Zika cases in American Samoa has topped 500.
It represents a steady rise, with the Department of Health reporting 400 suspected cases just a month ago.
As of last week, there were 510 cases of patients presenting with symptoms of the mosquito-born disease at the territory’s LBJ hospital and at community health centres.
The number of blood samples from suspected cases which were sent off island for testing totalled 115, of which 52 are from pregnant women.
The number of confirmed Zika cases remains at fourteen.
The number of pregnant women confirmed to have contracted Zika has not increased for several weeks and remains at 6.
Outbreak of flu in American Samoa
American Samoa is experiencing an outbreak of influenza or flu like cases which seems to be spreading on a large scale.
While no figures were released, the Department of Health was tracking a rapid rise in people with flu-like symptoms.
The LBJ Hospital’s emergency room has been full with patients with symptoms including sore throat, fever, cough, body aches and runny nose.28/4/16- RNZI
10) ADB Not Recommending Alienation Of Samoa Customary Land
Bank advised reforms refer to leasing of land, not alienation
APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, April 28, 2016) – The Asian Development Bank (A.D.B) has again dismissed claims about the individualisation and alienation of customary land.
The point is made by Robert Jauncey, Regional Director South Pacific Sub-Regional Office Asian Development Bank, in a letter to the Samoa Observer.
“All A.D.B activities in Samoa are undertaken only at the request of the Government of Samoa,” Mr. Jauncey writes (see letter in full http://sobserver.ws/en/28_04_2016/letterstotheeditor/5464/Asian-Development–Bank-responds.htm).
“Samoa is a founding member and shareholder of A.D.B, and A.D.B has provided over US$270 million in grants and concessional finance to Samoa in the past 50 years to assist Government-led development efforts.”
Mr. Jauncey referred to an earlier response from the Bank about the initial complaint raised by a group of matai that includes Fiu Mataese Elisara, of Sili, Lilomaiava Dr. Ken Lameta, of Vaimoso, Telei’ai Dr. Sapa Saifaleupolu, of Samatau and Leuluaiali’i Tasi Malifa, of Afega.
“Neither A.D.B advice nor the Samoa agribusiness support project will involve involuntary acquisition of land or displacement of people,” that response dated 2 October 2015 said.
“The fundamental principle set down by the Samoan Government is that there can be and will be no alienation of customary land.
“Reforms being explored by the government, with ADB advice, focus on potentially allowing leases of customary land – recognized in Samoan law since 1965 – to be used as collateral for financing.
“In line with the government’s stance, ADB’s support is not intended to change customary land tenure arrangements in Samoa. Underlying ownership of land will remain with customary landowners, as required by the Constitution and Samoan tradition.
“The government has been clear that any reforms will recognize and enforce the rights of customary land owners. Customary land owners will continue to have full authority to decide whether or not to enter into any lease.
Customary land owners would have the right to approve or disallow the use of a lease as collateral for a loan. Customary land owners would retain the power to approve or disallow any assignment of a lease to a third party, even in the event that a leaseholder defaults on a loan. And customary land owners would retain first right to receive lease payments and other benefits in accordance with the lease.”
11) Chinese Fish Farm In French Polynesia To Be Scaled Back
32-hectare plant expected to create hundreds of jobs
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, April 27, 2016) – The French Polynesian government says the huge Chinese-owned fish farm planned to be set up on Hao atoll will be scaled back.
The project by Tahiti Nui Ocean Foods, which is a subsidiary of the Chinese Tian Rui group, was earlier said to be worth about $US1.4 billion.
After visiting China, the French Polynesian president Edouard Fritch told a news conference in Papeete that about $US760 million would be invested over two to three years.
A permit for the 32-hectare plant is expected to be issued this year.
The plant is expected to create hundreds of jobs.
Hao was a major military base in the latter part of the last century when France carried out its nuclear weapons tests on nearby Moruroa and Fangataufa atolls.
Radio New Zealand International
12) Tahiti MP in court for abusing public funds
A French Polynesian member of the French National Assembly has appeared in Tahiti’s criminal court on charges of abusing public funds.
Jean-Paul Tuaiva is alleged to have given about 200,000 US dollars in subsidies from his parliamentary attribution to an association in Tahiti, which then disbursed the money back to him.
The prosecution has asked for a two-year suspended prison sentence, a $US20,000 dollar fine and for him to be deprived of his civic rights fro five years.
The head of the association risks being jailed for a year.
In court, Mr Tuaiva said he would quit politics at the end of his term.
He was elected four years ago as one of three French Polynesian politicians from the Tahoeraa Huiraatira Party of Gaston Flosse.
In Paris, the three joined the Union of Democrats and Independents, shunning the Tahoeraa’s erstwhile partners, the UMP.29/4/16-RNZI
13) ADB grant to assist Marshalls with drought
The Asian Development Bank and the Marshall Islands have signed a $US200,000 dollar grant agreement to help the country tackle the effects of a severe drought.
The grant is sourced from the Asia Pacific Disaster Response Fund.
ADB Pacific Department Director-General Xianbin Yao says the Marshalls have been in the grip of a severe drought since January and is expected to continue beyond July.
Mr Yao says the grant will allow the government to address peoples’ immediate needs including clean water as well as food rations and health kits.
The country’s entire population of about 50,000 has been affected by the drought and a state of disaster was declared by President Hilda Heine in March.
It is expected to take many months of normal rainfall to replenish ground water and to allow ground crops to fully recover.28/4/16 RNZI
14) Melanesian Spearhead Group bai no brukbruk: Dr Gordon Nanau
Updated 28 April 2016, 14:48 AEST
Wanpela saveman blong Pacific i tok dispela isiu long sait long apointmen blong niu Director General blong Melanesian Spearhead Group ia, em ino samting we bai ken bruk-brukim wokbung blong ol Melanesian kantri.
Dr Gordon Nanau, Lecturer long University blong South Pacific long Fiji i tok MSG ibin gat sampela isiu tu long sait long leadership na tred we ol ibin toktok longen na stretim.
Em i tok dispela disagrimen long sait long Director General blong MSG em i samting we bai ol lida iken toktok longen long Leaders Summit long Vanuatu long wik bihain na stretim.
Isiu i stap long wei Fiji i makim diplomat blong ol, Amena Yauvoli olsem niu MSG Director General; Chairman blong MSG, Solomon Islands Praim Minista i wanbel longen; Vanuatu i tok dispela apointment ino stret na em ino laikim tru; na PNG i sapotim tingting blong Vanuatu.ABC
15) PNG Supreme Kot i tok asailam sika senta blong Australia imas raus
Updated 27 April 2016, 15:33 AEST
Caroline Tiriman & Sam Seke
Supreme Kot blong Papua New Guinea i givim aut disisan olsem dispela asailam sika kalabus blong Australia long Manus Island em i brukim loa blong PNG na oli mas pasim.
Ol faifpela judges ibin kamapim toktok olsem despla senta i brukim loa we isave lukautim human rights blong ol pipal long oli noken kalabusim ol pipal nating sopos oli no brukim loa. Despla loa istap insaet long mama loa oa constitiution blong PNG.
Australia na Papua New Guinea ibin kamapim wanpla tok oraet sampla yia igo pinis blong larim ol asailam sika em oli save laik kam long Australia olsem oli mas go long Manus Island we PNG Gavman imas lukluk long ol sopos oli refugee trutru oa nogat. Sopos sampla i refugee trutru oli ken stap olgeta long PNG, na sopos nogat bai oli mas go long ol narapla kantri oa igo bek long ol mama kantri blong ol.
Australia igat strongpla polisi olsem emi no laikim wanpla refugee long kam stap long Australia.
Nau tingting blong PNG Supreme Court i kirapim planti toktok olsem despla blong Loani Henao husat ibin sanap makim Oposisan lida bifo Belden Namah husat ibin bringim despla tingting blong kirapim asailam sika kalabus igo long kot.
Loia husat i gopas long dispela keis Loanai Henao, na hia long Australia, lida blong Greens party long Australian Palaman, Richard Di Natali itok, despla tingting blong PNG Supreme Court imas mekim rot blong ol laen long oposisan na gavman long tingting gut nau na painim wanpla gutpla rot long lukautim na stretim wari blong ol refugees husat isave laik kam long Australia.
Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton itok maski PNG Supreme kot i mekim despla ruling, Australia bai noken bringim ol despla asylum seeka ikam long Australia. Na emi tokaut long midia aste olsem emi wok long toktok pinis wantem ol narapla kantri long kisim ol despla asailam sika.
Tasol lida blong ol laen husat isave sapotim ol refugee long Australia, Ian Rintoul itok Minista Dutton imas bringim ol despla pipal ikam long Australia.
Taem Supreme Court long PNG i tok Australian Asylum Detension Centre long Manus i brukim mama loa na oli mas pasim, Wanpla lawyer, Ben Lomai iwok nau blong askim Supreme Court long larim olgeta asylum seeka long lusim despla senta.
Emi laikim bai olgeta pipal em oli stap long senta imas lusim Manus na kam long Australia.
Mr Lomai i tok em i laik long kot i mekim disisan tu long ol dispela asailam sika imas kisim kompensesan.
Long wankain taim, Memba blong Manus Open long PNG palamen, Ronnie Knight i tok tupela gavman blong Papua New Guinea na Australia imas bihainim dispela disisan blong Supreme Kot long rausim dispela ditensan senta long Manus.
Mr Knight i tok tupela gavman imas bihainim tu ol promis blong tupela long sait long ol projek ol i tok bai ol i wokim long helpim ol pipol blong Manus.
Em i tok ol i mas peim ol pipol blong Manus husat i provaidim ol sevis na wok long ditensan senta, taim ol i pasim.ABC
16) Papua Nugini Akan Tutup Pusat Penahanan Pencari Suaka Pulau Manus
Terbit 27 April 2016, 19:10 AEST
Perdana Menteri Papua Nugini (PNG), Peter O’Neill, mengatakan, pusat penahanan Pulau Manus akan ditutup menyusul putusan dari Mahkamah Agung negaranya.
Mahkamah Agung PNG pada (26/4) memutuskan bahwa penahanan pencari suaka Australia di Pulau Manus adalah ilegal.
PM Peter, kini, telah merilis sebuah pernyataan yang mengatakan bahwa pemerintahannya “akan segera meminta Pemerintah Australia untuk membuat pengaturan alternatif bagi para pencari suaka”.
“Bagi mereka yang telah dianggap sebagai pengungsi yang sah, kami mengundang mereka untuk hidup di Papua Nugini hanya jika mereka ingin menjadi bagian dari masyarakat kami dan memberikan kontribusi kepada masyarakat kami,” sebutnya.
“Jelas bahwa beberapa dari para pengungsi ini tak ingin menetap di Papua Nugini dan itu adalah keputusan mereka,” sambung sang PM.
Ia juga menyatakan bahwa ekonomi lokal akan menderita sebagai hasilnya dan Pemerintah akan bekerja sama dengan Pemerintah Australia untuk memudahkan transisi.
Menteri Imigrasi Australia, Peter Dutton, mengatakan, pemerintahnya akan “melanjutkan diskusi dengan Pemerintah PNG untuk menyelesaikan masalah ini”.
“Kami akan bekerja sama dengan mitra PNG kami untuk mengatasi masalah yang diangkat oleh Mahkamah Agung PNG,” kata Menteri Peter dalam sebuah pernyataan.
“Pemerintah belum berubah posisinya bahwa orang yang telah berusaha untuk masuk secara ilegal dengan perahu ke Australia dan yang sekarang berada di penahanan Pulau Manus tak akan menetap di Australia,” tambahnya.
Ketika menghadiri acara media di Melbourne pada (27/4) sore, Peter Dutton tak menyinggung perihal kemungkinan penutupan.
Sekitar 850 orang tetap berada di pusat penahanan Pulau Manus – sekitar setengah dari mereka ditemukan sebagai pengungsi -dan sejumlah menteri di Australia telah menyatakan bahwa orang-orang yang tersisa tak akan dibawa ke Australia.
Belum ada jadwal penutupan yang dikemukakan oleh PM PNG, yang mengatakan bahwa jadwal itu akan menjadi fokus negosiasi dengan Australia.
Menteri Imigrasi Australia diminta ke PNG
Juru bicara imigrasi pihak oposisi Australia, Richard Marles, mengatakan, partainya tetap berkomitmen untuk pemrosesan pencari suaka di lepas pantai.
Ia mengatakan, Peter Dutton harus beraa di PNG untuk diskusi.
“Kalau saya ada di posisi Peter saat ini, saya akan berada di PNG sekarang. Saya akan mencoba untuk mengetahui bagaimana pemrosesan lepas pantai bisa dipertahankan … tiap pilihan lain sungguh sangat sulit,” utaranya.
Richard juga menolak untuk memasukkan atau mengesampingkan opsi apapun bagi oposisi, termasuk pilihan pemukiman kembali di Pulau Christmas.
Mantan Jaksa Agung yang menjabat pada saat penandatanganan perjanjian, Mark Dreyfus, menolak berkomentar tentang saran apa yang ia beri pada saat itu.
Pulau Christmas bersiap tampung ekstra pencari suaka
Menteri Peter Dutton sudah melakukan pembicaraan langsung dengan Menteri Luar Negeri dan Imigrasi PNG, Rimbink Pato, setelah Mahkamah Agung negara itu memutuskan bahwa penahanan pencari suaka kini tergolong ilegal.
Pada (27/4), ia mengatakan bahwa pengaturan imigrasi saat ini tetap berlaku.
“Keputusan pengadilan tentu saja mengikat pada Pemerintah Papua Nugini tetapi tidak pada Pemerintah Australia,” sebutnya.
Akhir tahun lalu, Peter Dutton mengatakan bahwa persiapan untuk mengakomodasi lebih banyak pencari suaka di Pulau Christmas sedang dilakukan, meskipun itu bergantung pada kasus pengadilan yang akhirnya dimenangkan Pemerintah.
Pada saat itu, Departemen Imigrasi dan Perlindungan Perbatasan telah merencanakan kondisi kerugian.
“Ini bijaksana untuk departemen saya … untuk memperhitungkan rencana kontingensi. Jika kami butuh untuk menampung lebih banyak orang di Pulau Christmas, ada beberapa persiapan yang sedang dilakukan di sana sekarang,” jelasnya.
17) Brèves du Pacifique – jeudi 28 avril 2016
- L’ordre du jour du prochain sommet du Groupe mélanésien Fer de Lance a beau être bien rempli, le Premier ministre fidjien a décidé de ne pas y participer. )
- Des centaines d’étudiants de l’université de Papouasie-Nouvelle-Guinée boycottent les cours pour protester contre le Premier ministre. Ils appellent Peter O’Neill à démissionner et à faire face aux accusations de corruption qui pèsent sur lui. Le Premier ministre papou est soupçonné d’avoir autorisé le versement de 30 millions de dollars au cabinet de son avocat ; une somme puisée illégalement dans les caisses de l’État. Un mandat d’arrêt a été émis en juin 2014, mais il est inapplicable pour le moment.
- Les Mariannes du nord font la guerre au sucre. Le Parlement vient d’approuver une taxe sur les boissons sucrées et les sirops. Une taxe de quatre centimes de dollars américains par once, soit environ 29 millilitres. Une canette de soda pourrait ainsi coûter 1,6 dollar contre 85 centimes actuellement, selon les entreprises du secteur, qui dénoncent cette taxe. Cela va entraîner des pertes et des licenciements, affirment-elles. En face, on fait valoir que la hausse des prix du tabac a permis de faire baisser la consommation et qu’il est urgent de lutter contre l’obésité et le diabète dans l’archipel. Le projet de loi doit encore être signé par le gouverneur du territoire.
- C’est aux Palau que la liberté de la presse est la mieux garantie dans la région Asie-Pacifique, selon l’organisation américaine Freedom House. Suivent les Îles Marshall et la Nouvelle-Zélande. Mauvais point pour les Fidji, les moins bien classées de la région.
- Deux jours à peine après l’annonce par l’Australie du choix de la France pour la construction de sa nouvelle flotte de sous-marins, le Premier de l’État d’Australie-Méridionale s’est envolé pour la France. Jay Weatherill doit y rencontrer des responsables de DCNS, le constructeur naval français. Son but : « Obtenir le maximum d’emplois possibles grâce à ce contrat ». Le projet devrait permettre de créer 2 800 postes dans cet État où le taux de chômage atteint 7,7% – c’est le taux le plus élevé du pays.
- L’Australie dans le top 10 du dopage en 2014, à la septième place. Sur l’ensemble de l’année, 49 cas ont été recensés par l’Agence mondiale antidopage, dont 20 en rugby à XIII et 9 en bodybuilding. Signalons que c’est la Russie qui a totalisé le plus grand nombre de contrôles positifs cette année-là.
18) Norfolk calls for resignation of island’s administrator
Residents on Norfolk Island are calling for the resignation of the island’s Australian administrator, accusing him of misrepresenting their views to the people and government of Australia.
Canberra ended the island’s limited autonomy and will make it a ward of New South Wales by the beginning of July.
A letter to Gary Hardgrave dated the 27th of April outlined a list of grievances, including allegations that his administration had censored all political discussion on the local government-run radio station.
The letter’s author, a former Norfolk chief minister Andre Nobbs, said the biggest grieveance with Mr Hardgrave were his false claims that the majority of the island’s residents supported the change when more than 60 percent voted against it in a public referendum.
” When you have an administrator who has misrepresented those views and that misrepresentation has led to the situation we find ourselves in now where you have got to really take it to the next level and seek some type of correction to the situation.”
Andre Nobbs said if Mr Hardgraves refused to resign, a long list of complaints would be presented to the Governor General and Prime Minister of Australia.28/4/16-RNZI
19a ) Australia’s detention camp contractor to be bought out
The Australian infrastructure company found to be holding hundreds of people in Papua New Guinea illegally has agreed to a buy-out by Spain’s Ferrovial.
Broadspectrum Limited suspended trade in its shares after PNG’s Supreme Court ruled that detaining asylum seekers and refugees flown by Canberra to Manus Island was unconstitutional.
Ferrovial has offered $US586 million to buy out Broadspectrum, which has the contracts to run the Manus detention centre as well as Australia’s camp in Nauru.
Ferrovial’s offer, which had initially been resisted, closes on May 2nd.
The PNG government said the Manus camp would close, but has given no date yet.
Broadspectrum said the developments in PNG had increased uncertainty over its contracts with Australia’s immigration authorities.
Canberra said none of asylum seekers it sent to Manus three years ago would be allowed to return to Australia.29/4/16- RNZI
20) Pacific countries faced with significant challenges to conclude EPA with EU, as October deadline looms
7:06 pm GMT+12, 27/04/2016, Senegal
By Pita Ligaiula in Dakar, Senegal
The African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Council of Ministers has been told the Pacific ACP states face significant challenges in progressing the negotiation on a comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), given the looming 01 October 2016 deadline set by the EU for ACP countries to sign and ratify the EPAs.
Only Fiji and PNG have ratified and applied the interim agreement to avoid disruptions to trade and access to EU markets for their fisheries and sugar products.
An updated paper obtained by PACNEWS on the Pacific regional position on the EPA presented at the 103rd Session of the ACP Council of Ministers in Dakar, Senegal this week said: “The EU has explicitly stated its preference that PACPs adhere to unilaterally stated that no further discussion will be held on the PACP – EU comprehensive agreement until the EU’S concerns on the Pacific regions fisheries Conservation and Management Measures (CMMS) have been addressed and satisfactorily amended” the paper stated.
The PACP Trade and Fisheries Ministers in their July meeting last year reaffirmed the Pacific region’s position in defense of its fisheries CMMS clearly articulating areas on which it was prepared to make commitments and areas which would remain redlines until further political discussions were had on the issue.
The paper said the PACP chair and Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neil after their meeting in Port Moresby last year wrote to the European Commission President seeking a political dialogue on the negotiation on the margins of COP21 in Paris last December.
“Disappointingly, the EC did not agree to this proposal.”
“The EU has maintained a very hard-line position on the contentious issues in the comprehensive EPA, especially the issues surrounding fisheries conservation and management measures. In particular, the EU has conditioned any further progress of the negotiations on clear commitments by the PACP States on amendments to the key redline issues,” the paper said.
Fisheries are the key issues in the PACP – EU negotiation in the comprehensive EPA. The Pacific provides 60 percent of the global tuna supply.
A key offensive interest of the Pacific region in its participation in the EPA was to translate its ownership of the largest tuna resource globally into sustainable economic returns for the Pacific region through feasible and practical access to EU markets.
Recent discussion on fisheries and its inclusion in the Pacific EPA has shifted from trade focus to a technical debate on the conservation and management measures (CMMs) applied in the Pacific waters.
The EU paper has leveraged the EPA process to demand changes to the fisheries management system adopted by the Pacific.
It says the Pacific region has agreed to consider working with the EU in partnership to address vast majority of the issues raised in this area, however, there remains certain contentious demands that relate to the functioning of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) Vessel Day Scheme (VDS) which the Pacific is unable to agree to.
In November 2015, the EU Trade Commissioner Cecelia Malmastrom reaffirmed her proposal for a three year deferment of the comprehensive EPA negotiations with the Pacific.
“This position is premised on the EU determination that the CMMs formulated and administered by the Pacific States need to be reviewed to ensure the sustainable management of fisheries resources and fisheries governance principles. In accordance with this determination, the EU has demanded specific changes to the CMMs applied in the Pacific waters.
“PACPS have articulated on multiple occasions that whilst they recognise that improvements can be made in their CMMS, some of these amendments are complex and will impinge on national sovereignty and will therefore require some time for further consideration.
PACP also argued that there are regional mechanisms in place to address the specific technical fisheries issues raised by the EU. In its consideration of this position, the EU has decided to defer the negotiations until their concerns have been addressed,” the paper said.
The paper said the future of the comprehensive EPA negotiations has been put forward to PACP leaders for their consideration and a final decision on this issue is likely to be made soon.
22) EU Provides Vanuatu Over $33 Million In Aid Funding
$22.6 million for development; $11.8 million for cyclone recovery
Compiled by Len Garae
PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, April 26, 2016) – The European Union (EU) has confirmed a top-up of 20 million Euro [US$22.6 million] towards Vanuatu’s National Indicative Programme Development Programme, and a further top-up of 10.5 million Euro [US$11.8 million] towards the Cyclone Pam Reconstruction Programme.
These new EU funding were announced by the Managing Director of the Asia/Pacific Desk in the European External Action Services (EEAS), Wiegand Gunnar to Vanuatu’s Foreign Minister, Bruno Leingkone who is currently in Brussels, Kingdom of Belgium, to undertake a series of meetings and consultations with both the EU authorities and the ACP Secretariat relating to ongoing support to the Government of Vanuatu.
On Tuesday last week, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and External Trade paid a courtesy call on Gunnar at the EEAS Headquarter in Brussels.
In their joint discussion Minister Leingkone commended the European Union for their assistance to Vanuatu during and after the TCPAM process, which eventually led to the support to the rural communities affected by the natural disaster in Vanuatu.
The Foreign Minister reaffirmed the Government of Vanuatu’s unequivocal commitment and support to the growing EU technical assistance under the development cooperation framework, which Vanuatu has continued to benefit from.
In his response, the Managing Director in charge of Asia/Pacific congratulated the Foreign Minister and extended his profound gratitude to the leadership of Prime Minister Charlot Salwai for his vigilant stand in supporting EU foreign policy, particularly as it relates to new and emerging global issues within the Pacific region and beyond.
Gunnar also praised the Minister for his strong recognition of gender in including one of his female senior officials and Ministry of Foreign Affairs Executive Officer, Viran Brown to be part of his delegation to these very important deliberations.
According to the EEAS Director, this is the first time that he had seen a Vanuatu Minister include a female officer on his team in the important deliberations and negotiations for Vanuatu with the EU. He encouraged the Minister to continue to promote gender equality and ensure women as Viran Brown find their niche to enter Parliament one day.
In addition, Gunnar confirmed EU’s commitment towards the Vanuatu Government’s country strategy programme and in particular the support in the National Indicative Programme (NIP) of Vanuatu including specific financial assistance for the development of rural sector, which is currently one of Prime Minister Salwai’s priorities on his Government’s 100 day priority list.
Vanuatu Daily Post
23) Saudi prince unveils plans to end ‘addiction’ to oil
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
THE powerful young prince overseeing Saudi Arabia’s economy unveiled ambitious plans on Monday aimed at ending the kingdom’s “addiction” to oil and transforming it into a global investment power.
Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said the world’s top oil exporter expects state oil company Saudi Aramco to be valued at more than $US2trillion ($F4t) ahead of the sale of less than 5 per cent of it through an initial public offering (IPO).
He added that the kingdom would raise the capital of its public investment fund to 7 trillion riyals ($F3t) from 600 billion riyals ($F332b).
The plans also included changes that would alter the social structure of the ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom by pushing for women to have a bigger economic role and by offering improved status to resident expatriates.
“We will not allow our country ever to be at the mercy of commodity price volatility or external markets,” Prince Mohammed said at his first news conference with international journalists, who were invited to a Riyadh palace for the event.
“We have developed a case of oil addiction in Saudi Arabia,” he had earlier told al-Arabiya television news channel.
His “Vision 2030” envisaged raising non-oil revenue to 600 billion riyals ($F332b) by 2020 and 1 trillion riyals ($F553b) by 2030 from 163.5 billion riyals ($F90b) last year. But the plan gave few details on how this would be implemented, something that has bedevilled previous reforms.
The 31-year-old prince gave assured answers to questions on the plan, and appeared to pitch his comments to appeal across the Saudi social spectrum, and in particular to young people, who face unemployment and an economic downturn despite their country’s oil wealth.
Even before oil prices started to plunge in 2014, economists had regarded Riyadh’s fiscal policy and economic structure as being unsustainable, but reduced income from energy sales has made reform more urgent.
The plan appeared to lift sentiment on the Saudi stock market .TASI, where shares jumped by 2.5 per cent in the heaviest trading for eight months, but it fell short of convincing skeptics that the kingdom can prosper in an era of cheap oil.
24) Vanuatu has High Rate of Retinopathy
By Mavuku Tokona- Thursday, April 28, 2016
A total of 200 patients suffering from diabetic eye related complications will be treated by the Pacific Eye Institute team at the Vila Central Hospital until this Friday.
The team which came from Fiji has been visiting Vanuatu since 2013 and performing laser and cataract surgeries on the populace of this country.
Dr Harris Ansari, a Vitreo-Retinal Ophthalmologist said: “Our team here was from Pacific Eye Institute last week and any patient who needed treatment for diabetic retinopathy, we will be treating diabetic patients and any other patients who need retinal consultancy.
“The Pacific Eye Institute goes to other countries in the pacific but since 2013 a team has been coming to Vanuatu twice a year to do the surgeries and 2014 we have been coming in to treat the diabetic patients.”
According to Dr Ansari since Vanuatu is ranked 6th place for diabetes prevalence in the pacific region it also has the highest rate of retinopathy.
“We will work overtime but we really need to get them treated. Please control your diabetes and blood pressure because both of these conditions affect the eyes very much and diabetic retinopathy and hypertensive retinopathy can lead to blindness and there is no cure,” Dr Ansari advised.
Sister in Charge of the Eye Centre Annie Bong expressed her gratitude to the Pacific Eye Institute team for their services, “We are really fortunate to have this team because they are offering us free treatment and surgeries and we don’t pay for anything.”
“I really thank them for their help. They come out of their own cost and we really thank them for the good work they have come to provide to the people of this country,” she said.
Superintendent of VCH Dr Roderick Mera acknowledged the Fred Hollows Foundation who has been funding the eye team and making these essential visitations possible.
At the moment there is no qualified ophthalmologist at VCH but by late 2018 Dr Johnson Kasso is expected to be completing his masters at the Pacific Eye Institute in Fiji.
Dr Mera explained: “Dr Johnson Kasso was our ophthalmologists registrar for close to 10 years and he’s finally gone off to complete his masters and this is something that we had to sacrifice and when he turns up we will have a fully-fledged ophthalmologist in the country and we will be able to do laser surgery to cataract surgery but that doesn’t leave us with a gaping hole; we have visiting teams and the support of referring patients and out eye nurses are very capable of handling surgeries of minor aspects.”Vanuat Daily Post
25) Lack of medical specialists
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
IN the 14 Pacific countries that are part of the Pacific Islands Forum, there are only five doctors who are trained specifically to treat ailments dealing with the ear, nose and throat.
This was revealed by Dr Berlin Kafoa on Monday during the Strengthening Specialised Clinical Services(SSCiP) in the Pacific program 7th Stakeholder Reference Group (SRG) meeting in Suva.
The SRG is the governing committee for SSCiP program and is made up of heads of health and heads of clinical services from the 14 Pacific countries of the forum.
Funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, it was initiated to strengthen Pacific Island countries’ capacity to deliver specialised clinical services through visiting medical teams, overseas patient referrals and developing Pacific Islanders’ specialist clinical skills.
Dr Kafoa said they were working to address evolving health needs in the Pacific and the lack of ear, nose and throat specialists had emerged as an area of focus for them.
“So to give you an example. Just this morning (Monday), it was very clear that in the region, there is very little specialists in terms of ear, nose and throat. So for 14 countries, we have less than five doctors who are trained specifically for that area.
“So these are new areas that we have to focus our efforts on so that in the future, we have more specialists in ear, nose and throat. So we are working on the progress of some activities, and when new things come up, we have to work on that as well.”
In his opening address to the SRG, Fiji National University chancellor Iqbal Jannif said the vision of SSCSiP was to give access to quality clinical care by 2020.
“To realise this vision, SSCSiP’s mission is to work with stakeholder development partners and specialist colleges to improve specialised clinical services in the Pacific,” Mr Jannif said.
“One of the greatest achievements has been that SSCSiP has become the focal point for specialised clinical services in the region and SSCSiP has been able to facilitate much of the collaboration and coordination supporting countries in their areas of need.”Fijitimes
26) PNG University Students Boycott Classes To Protest PM
Students call for O’Neill to step down, face corruption charges
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, April 28, 2016) – Students at the University of Papua New Guinea have decided to boycott classes in protest against the prime minister Peter O’Neill.
The Student Representative Council organised a Forum yesterday at their Port Moresby campus for students to discuss a growing list of governance issues around the prime minister.
Mr O’Neill has refused to be questioned by fraud squad police probing a major fraud case from which a series of recent high profile arrests has stemmed.
Hundreds of students gathering at the UPNG campus yesterday have called on Mr O’Neill to step aside to face corruption allegations.
They are also calling for change in leadership over the government’s handling of various issues such as draconian cyber laws currently being considered.
The campus gathering was marked by the arrival of a convoy of police vehicles and armed police officers who students claim were there to intimidate them.
The students have decided not to stage a street protest in the capital but will boycott classes and petition Mr O’Neill to stand down.
Meanwhile, the head of the Centre for Environmental Law and Community Rights, Peter Bosip, has called for a nationwide strike to enforce the prime minster to face the law over the fraud case.
Radio New Zealand International
27) New AG Appointed
One of Vanuatu’s top lawyers,
Mr. Arnold Kiel Loughman, is Vanuatu’s new Attorney General (AG).
Head of State, Baldwin Lonsdale , exercising powers vested on him by section 7 of the State Law Office Act No.4 of 1998 and on the advice of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) appointed Mr. Loughman on April 23, 2016.
Daily Post understands that out of the candidates who applied, it was a close call between Mr. Loughman and a former Supreme Court Judge and former AG, Mr Ham Bulu.
Loughman studied law at the University of Papua New Guinea as well as at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom on International Commercial and European Law.
The JSC consists of the Minister of Justice as chairman, the Chief Justice, the Chairman of the Public Service Commission and a representative of the National Council of Chiefs.
As the Principal Legal Adviser to the Government, the AG is invested with general professional superintendence over all lawyers entitled to practice in Vanuatu.
The position of the AG was previously occupied by seasoned lawyer Ishmael Kalsakau who relinquished the position to successfully contest the 2016 snap election in the constituency of Port Vila and now leads the Opposition bloc in Parliament.
The new Attorney General is the eldest son of one of Vanuatu’s first members of Parliament for Tanna constituency, late John Loughman.Vanuatu Daily Post
28) Call for three new ministries
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
THE Parliamentary Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence had recommended the Republic of Fiji Military Forces, Fiji Police Force and Immigration Department become three separate ministries.
The recommendation followed a “thorough” review of the Ministry of Defence, National Security and Immigration’s 2013 annual report by the committee.
The committee said the ministry’s permanent secretary did not have any oversight or control over the military and police. The report, which was scrutinised by the committee, stated the two institutions were headed by the commander and the commissioner and details of their functions, responsibilities and finances were not part of this report.
Tabling the report to Parliament yesterday, committee chairman Netani Rika said the report did not illustrate the full picture of the ministry.
“The committee notes that the report does not present a full picture of the functions and responsibilities entrusted to the ministry,” Mr Rika said.
“In their submissions, the ministry confirmed that the permanent secretary does not have any oversight or control over the military and police.”
The report also recommended that the National Security Council comprise of the Minister for the RFMF, Minister for the Fiji Police Force and Minister for Immigration under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister.
“That the ministry responsible for the RFMF look into the merits of expanding services to the United Nations (civil, political and humanitarian divisions).
“That the ministry responsible for the RFMF look into the merits of better equipping the navy to vastly improve its valuable service in looking after Fiji’s territorial waters and EEZ.
“That the ministry responsible for the RFMF look into the merits of expanding the training, capability and role of the RFMF Engineers Corp to enhance its rehabilitation works in times of environmental disasters,” the report recommended.Fijitimes
29) PINA says Tonga govt should remember what they fought for
The Pacific Islands News Association says it is disturbed by what it sees as government harassment and targeting of a media manager in Tonga.
Viola Ulakai said the Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva recommended her suspension to his Minister of Public Enterprises which led to a letter to the Tonga Broadcasting Commission.
The prime minister previously said Mrs Ulakai misrepresented herself when making a request for a press conference and suggested she was acting as a mouthpiece for political opponents.
Mr Pohiva led the Pro-Democracy movement in Tonga for decades before becoming the first commoner elected as prime minister but has constantly been criticised by the local press for his lack of media engagement.
The PINA president Moses Stevens said he was surprised the way the government had acted, given Mr Pohiva’s past.
“We just hope they come up with the understanding of what they have fought for, which is a democracy,” said Mr Stevens.
“Within democracy we have freedom of speech, and media freedom and freedom of expression. We (are) just encouraging our media colleagues in Tonga to engage with their government and find a way forward.”
Earlier, Viola Ulakai said she was only doing her job and as a member of the council, she was able to make such a request.28/4/16- RNZI
30) Palau Tops Asia-Pacific Region For Press Freedom
Fiji lowest ranked among Pacific Island countries
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, April 28, 2016) – Palau has come out on top in an assessment of press freedom in the Asia-Pacific region.
The report by Freedom House ranks the Marshall Islands second ahead of New Zealand and the Federated States of Micronesia.
Among the greater region’s 40 countries, Fiji is the lowest ranked Pacific Island country in 22nd place.
Last year, Nauru, which is ranked 20th, had the biggest decline of any country.
Access to Nauru is heavily restricted, with media representatives required to pay $US5,000 as a non-refundable visa application fee.
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.
Japan and Taiwan are the only Asian countries in the top ten.
Bottom of the list are North Korea and China.
Freedom House says press freedom declined to its lowest point in 12 years and only 13 percent of the world’s population enjoys a free press.
Radio New Zealand International
31) Shut your door
Published: 28 April 2016
PREMIER OF GUADALCANAL PROVINCE, ANTHONY VEKE OFFICIALLY OPENING THE CASINO, ONLY TO BE SHUT DOWN ON WEDNESDAY.
Newly opened casino told to close ‘illegal’ operation
THE Gaming and Lotteries Board has served a stop notice to the newly opened mini casino Cyber King Limited.
The stop notice, which was issued yesterday, ordered that Managing Director of Cyber King Limited Ting Kwong Hing close the business effective as of yesterday.
Members of Gaming and Lotteries Board with Police Officers from Guadalcanal Province served the Notice at Cyber King Limited at Crossroad, Henderson.
The new mini casino was opened early this week, near the Henderson area.
Speaking during the official opening on behalf of the casino owner was former deputy police commissioner Walter Kola, while the guest of honour was Guadalcanal premier Anthony Veke.
Yesterday, upon serving the stop notice, members of the Board explained to the managing director, employees, securities and those present at the premise that Cyber King Limited Casino is operating illegally and unlawfully for the reason that the company has no commercial gaming permit issued by the Gaming and Lotteries Board.
“It is simple; no commercial gaming permit issued by this Board means you are operating unlawfully and illegally as far as Gaming and Lotteries Act is concern as required under section 6 of the Act.
“Only the board has the power to administer matters pertaining the Act.
“Under the Gaming and Lotteries Act, it is the board that have overarching powers to issue commercial gaming permit and not Guadalcanal Province or any other province for that matter.”
Managing Director Ting Kwong Hing and his Chinese and local associates strongly opposed the stop notice and argued that Cyber King Limited obtained approval from the Foreign Investment Board and a business license from Guadalcanal Province and as such becomes the basis for their operation at the Crossroad, Henderson.
Gaming and Lotteries Board members however, explained the position of law that although Cyber king Limited have approval from the Foreign Investment Board and got a Business licence from Guadalcanal Province, Cyber King Limited must have a commercial gaming permit to be issued by the Gaming and Lotteries Board appointed under the Act.
“Take note, that these two documents are different.
“A business licence issued by Guadalcanal Province is not the same thing as Commercial gaming permit issued by the Gaming and Lotteries Board.
“A classic example would be with the Forestry Act, if someone or a foreigner who decided to do logging operation in any Province in Solomon Islands, that person must first get a logging licence for those concessions from the Commissioner of Forest, then with a business licence from that particular province before doing felling within its concessions.
“This is similar with Gaming and Lotteries Act,” they explained.
They said the provisions of section 6 of the Gaming and Lotteries Act makes it clear that no person shall permit or cause commercial gaming to take place in any premises unless such person is a holder of a permit issued by the Gaming and Lotteries Board.
According to Gaming and Lotteries Board, they have warned Ting Kwong Hing on several occasions already but the Chinese refused to obey.
The Board have decided to take a firm action in making sure that Cyber King Limited complies with the provisions of the Act as repeated non-compliance by the managing director Ting Kwong Hing shows someone who has less or no respect for the rule of law here.
Gaming and Lotteries Board said the firm action against Cyber King sends a clear message to foreign investors coming to do business in this country.
“Foreign investors must show respect to the applicable laws of this country and not only here to make money at the expense of Solomon Islanders by non-compliance to the law.”
The Minister responsible for gaming and lotteries activities have endorsed and applauded the action taken by his appointed Gaming and Lotteries Board.
According to the Minister of Home Affairs Manasseh Maelanga, foreigners who wish to invest in this country must be genuine investors, who are prepared to comply with applicable laws of the land and not ones who have less or no respect for the laws.
Cyber King Limited managing director refused to comment when approached yesterday.
By EDNAL PALMER/ Solomon Star.
32) Rise in total assets
Thursday, April 28, 2016
THE banking sector in the country continues to grow with the total assets of Fiji’s financial system growing by 13.8 per cent to $16.4 billion in 2015, which is more than the 8.2 per cent increase recorded in 2014.
This was revealed by the Reserve Bank of Fiji in its 2015 annual report which was tabled in Parliament yesterday.
According to the RBF, in 2015, six banks were operating in Fiji across 72 branches with an additional 103 agencies and agent banking centres.
It said while the number of bank branches increased by one, the number of agencies decreased by one when compared with 2014.
The RBF said the banking sector continued to dominate the financial system assets at 53.0 per cent, followed by the Fiji National Provident Fund and the insurance sector with 32.0 per cent and 8.8 per cent respectively.
Meanwhile in terms of the financial performance of the central bank in 2015, RBF governor Barry Whiteside said the bank recorded a lower profit of $27.9m last year compared with $28.5m in 2014.
Mr Whiteside said one fifth of the balance of Revaluation Reserve Account was also lower at $4.3m in 2015 from the $6.7m recorded in 2014.
He said the services sector provided the major incentive to growth during the year, which was backed by better than expected performance in the tourist industry as visitor arrivals reached a new peak.Fijitimes
33) Fiji Seasonal Workers Exaggerated Hardships In Australia
Labour Minister: Group making excuses to justify quitting
By Tevita Vuibau
SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, April 28, 2016) – The issue has been exaggerated and the workers that walked out tried to utilise all avenues to provide misinformation on the situation to support their reasons for walking out of their farms.
This was the word from Labour Minister Semi Koroilavesau regarding Fijians who were part of the Seasonal Worker program who walked off their jobs earlier this year.
The workers quit working for their contractor alleging they were left with hardly any money after deductions for superannuation, health insurance and board were made.
But Mr Koroilavesau, who visited Australia to discuss the Seasonal Worker Program last week, said those claims were untrue.
During his visit, the Labour Minister met Australian Ministers for Foreign and Pacific Affairs as well as Australian Government officials, employers and Fijian workers still on the program.
He said while workers on the scheme had complaints, they were nonetheless happy with the program. Mr Koroilavesau also explained that some Fijians living in Australia influenced the workers to walk off their jobs.
“Fijians who are living now in Australia should actually support the workers and not influence them to come out of the contract that has been established between the Fijian and the Australian governments.
“If they want to interact with our workers overseas, then they must interact positively by encouraging them to stay.”
He said the ministry was learning from the situation and would make adjustments to its recruiting process.
“The workers that remained on the farms are from farming communities so they would have been doing farm work and understand the physical requirements for the work.
“Those who have walked out are basically closer to town or have been around the urban areas so they don’t understand the physical requirements of working on a farm. I think that’s the main issue.
“We’ve learnt the lesson,” Mr Koroilavesau said.
Fiji Times Online.
34) Investment opportunity in PNG
Tuesday, April 26, 2016
THERE is a lot of opportunities for local investors to invest in Papua New Guinea.
However, investors should select the right kind of business to invest in and always have a business partner.
Fiji-PNG Business Council president Nouzab Fareed said Fijian Holdings Ltd had made a good investment in PNG but one mistake they made was going without a business partner.
“In PNG you cannot do business without a strategic partner,”he said.
Managing director of the Mineral Resources Development Company Ltd in PNG, AugustineMano said there was a lot of potential for investment in the Pacific.
Mr Mano said the MRDC believed in diversifying and that was one of the reasons why they invested in the Pearl Resort.
He said they spent $85million to develop the resort into what it was today and were very proud of the investment.
Mr Mano urged local investors to consider investing in PNG’s petroleum sector.
He said mining and petroleum sector was booming in PNG and investors from Fiji should tap into it.
However recent news reports have not painted a very good picture of PNG in the eyes of potential investors.
To this Mr Fareed said he personally believed there was nothing wrong with PNG.
He reiterated his advice to potential investors and said they should select their business for investment carefully and have a business partner.Fijitimes
35) More Staffing Controversies At Solomon Islands Ports Authority
AG declares sacking of CEO valid, reinstates SIPA chairman
By Bradford Theonomi
HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, April 27, 2016) – Billy Titiulu remains the chairman of Solomon Islands Ports Authority (SIPA) and he has the powers to sack the authority’s chief executive officer Colin Yow.
That was the view of Attorney General James Apania after Mr Yow insisted his sacking by Mr Titiulu was invalid.
Mr Apaniai zoomed in on the issue after a weekend of drama that saw three high profile sackings, as the SIPA saga threatens to destabilise the Sogavare government.
Minister of Infrastructure Development Jimmy Lusibaea last week took a unilateral decision to sack Mr Titiulu and SIPA board member Filipino Johnny Sy.
Mr Lusibaea accused the duo of negotiating an out-of-court settlement with Business Dynamics of Singapore, which is claiming $38 million [US$4.8 million] from SIPA for previous consultancy services.
Mr Titiulu, a former attorney general, and Mr Sy denied the allegation.
On Sunday, Mr Titiulu, who insisted his sacking was invalid, fired back and terminated Mr Yow.
The sacking was made on the grounds of insubordination.
But Mr Yow, originally from Singapore, and who is on a USD$600,000 annual tax-free salary, maintained he’s still the CEO.
However, the Attorney General Mr Apaniai told the Solomon Star yesterday Mr Lusibaea’s sacking of Mr Titiulu and Mr Sy was “null and void”.
“According to the State-Owned Enterprises Act, any sacking of the SIPA chairman can only be done by both accountable ministers – that is the Finance Minister and Infrastructure Development Minister,” Mr Apaniai said.
“Unless both ministers sign the termination letter, Mr Titiulu remains the board chairman,” he added.
“If Colin Yow thinks he is still the CEO of SIPA, he must challenge his sacking in court.
“As far as I am concerned, the decision taken by the SIPA board and its chairman to sack Mr Yow remains valid unless a court of law says otherwise.”
Despite his sacking, Mr Yow continues to occupy the SIPA chief executive officer’s chair, and yesterday he paid out more than $100,000 [US$12,700] to a newly established chamber of commerce established by the president of Malaita Ma’asina Forum Charles Dausabea.
36) Sea wall for village
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
CONCERNS over seawater intrusion into the compounds of Karoko Village can now be forgotten as the US Government commissions the newly-built sea wall today.
The project in Cakaudrove on Vanua Levu was made possible through partnership work with the US Government, through the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the Coastal Community Adaptation Project and Climate Change division.
An official statement from the US embassy stated the village shores had been greatly affected by rising seawater.
“With each passing year, Karoko community members grew increasingly anxious as theircoastline gets eroded by sea level rise and the more damaging impacts of king tide events and storm surges,” the statement said.
“Karoko has lost several metres of coast land. Waves are reaching dangerously close to homes and communal infrastructure.
“Since partnering with the US Government, through the United States Agency for International Development, the community members are sleeping a little easier with the completion of a coastal stabilisation project and disaster risk preparedness exercises.”
The project will be commissioned by Doctor Susan Brems, the USAID mission director for the Philippines, Pacific Islands and Mongolia.
The US embassy deputy Chief of Mission, Douglas Sonnek, said after living in Fiji, he had, through the media, read a lot about climate change impacts.
“I read about the impact of climate change every day in your communities who are struggling to adapt,” Mr Sonnek said.
“At the US Department of State and in embassies across the globe, we recognise this as a great challenge.
“In fact, climate change is one of the reasons behind the United States’ initiative to rebalance to Asia and the Pacific.”
Through the renewed focus on Pacific Island countries, Mr Sonnek said the US Government had expanded climate change-related assistance to the region.Fijitimes
37) Jailed for sea cucumber harvest
The National, Thursday April 28th, 2016
ELEVEN Vietnamese have been sentenced to 12 months imprisonment by the Alotau District Court for harvesting about K1 million worth of sea cucumbers in Milne Bay.
Provincial police commander Joseph Morehari said yesterday: “Their boat and 18 drums full of sea cucumber have been forfeited to the state.
“They have also been ordered to pay a fine of K20,000 each for illegally entering the country and fishing in the waters near Misima Island.
“The harvesting of sea cucumbers has been banned by the National Fisheries Authority.”
Morehari said two Filipinos were among the Vietnamese when they were caught last month by a joint Police, NFA , Immigration and Customs operation.
The Filipinos were now under the custody of the Immigration officials.
“We don’t know which vessel they were in and where their vessel sank and where the Vietnamese-crewed vessel picked them up.”
38) Solomons Police Commissioner Welcomes Anti-Corruption Bill
Proposal would create independent commission to prosecute offenses
By Eddie Osifelo
HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, April 26, 2016) – Police Commissioner Frank Prendergast has welcomed the Anti-Corruption Bill 2016.
The Bill aims to combat corruption in Solomon Islands in all its forms by:
Establishing the Solomon Islands Independent Commission Against Corruption to prevent, investigate, and prosecute corruption offences; and
Establishing a system for receiving and managing complaints about potential corruption engaged in by persons in the public and private sector; and
Introducing measures to prevent corruption, including raising public awareness about the effects and prevention of corruption.
Appearing before the Bills and Legislative Committee yesterday in Parliament, Prendergast said there was a need for the Police to work with SIICAC both in exchange of information and also providing resources.
Prendergast said also there was need for police officers to work with SIICAC at the direction of the Commissioner in terms of corruption investigations.
“I also welcomed the modernisation of corruption offences,” he said.
However, Prendergast has raised an issue on section 41 of the Bill in relation to informing subject of investigation.
It stated that as soon as practical after beginning a corruption investigation, the Director General must give each person whose conduct is being investigated written notice of investigation:
Detailing the alleged conduct being investigated; and
Inviting the person to provide a written response to the allegations before a specified date.
Prendergast said from a law enforcement perspective, it’s not always desirable to let a subject of an investigation know early on in an investigation.
He said doing that could lead to possible destruction of evidence or interference with investigation.
“Generally the process of investigation is all the evidence collected and at appropriate time these evidence will put together for subject involved in investigations
“Other than that I support the bill because the way it constructed will allow the Police to work together with the Commission,” he said.
39) World Bank Urges Pacific To Be Cautious With Seabed Mining
New report stresses need for strong governance regime
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, April 28, 2016) – A new report by the World Bank says Pacific Island countries should be cautious over any plans for mining of the seabed.
Released today, the ‘Precautionary Management of Deep Sea Mining Potential’ report recommends that Pacific countries supporting or considering deep sea mining activities proceed with a high degree of caution to avoid irreversible damage to their ecosystems.
It also stresses the need for strong governance arrangements to ensure that appropriate social and environmental safeguards are in place.
Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands have all granted permits for deep sea mining exploration and the Cook Islands recently undertook a minerals exploration tender process.
PNG is the only country in the region to have granted a license for ocean floor mining.
It has given approval for the Canadian miner Nautilus minerals to launch its Solwara 1 Project in PNG waters in 2018.
A recent report by the Pacific Community and the European Union said seabed mining could see PNG reap economic benefits of US$80 million over two years.
But the World Bank said not enough was known about the environmental and social impacts of the enterprise and likewise the appropriate fiscal regime and economic benefit to deep sea mining were not yet clearly understood.
Radio New Zealand International
40) Australians Create Recyclable Plastic Cyclone-Proof Housing
Vanuatu reportedly wants to buy thousands of homes
By Mark Solomons
MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, April 25, 2016) –From plastic to fantastic — renowned surfboard shaper Nev Hyman teams up with Sydney architect Ken McBryde to turn recycled plastic into affordable, cyclone-proof housing.
For decades, Australian surfboard shaper Nev Hyman shaped boards for world champions, but now he is shaping something quite different: affordable, cyclone-proof housing.
Mr McBryde, an expert in indigenous architecture, has designed the house to be culturally appropriate as well as strong and affordable.
Read more – http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/2016-04-19/nev-houses-designer-nev-hyman-creating-flatpack-cycloneproof-housing-for-vulnerable-pacific-nations/1571436
41) PNG to select only locals for Kumuls test
Papua New Guinea rugby league coach Michael Marum says he will select an entirely locally-based squad for next weekend’s Pacific Test against Fiji.
League’s eligibility laws have come in for criticism this week after Australia selected former Fiji Bati international Semi Radradra, while Brisbane star Anthony Milford has been involved in a tug of war between Australia and Samoa.
Michael Marum said he’s not against picking players from the NRL and offshore but has opted to back local talent this time around and plans to touch base with some others while the squad is in Australia.
“We’ve got a few of our own boys that have indicated to play for us. There are one or two more players that we’re trying to get across that are still maybe still thinking of playing for other countries. We plan to, when we go down to Sydney, all of these maybe Kumuls players invite them to camp and just sit down properly with them and see what they are thinking. In the past they probably didn’t want to come represent the country because of the previous coaching staff and management staff and that was probably part of the reason why they decided to play for the other countries.”
Michael Marum said he will finalise his 18-man squad after this weekend’s round of club matches.29/4/16 RNZI
42) Construction underway at Mini Games site in Vanuatu
Construction of the main Korman site for the Pacific Mini Games in Vanuatu has finally begun 20 months out from the scheduled start date in Port Vila.
Work was meant to begin 13 months ago before Cyclone Pam caused widespread damage to the country.
In January, organisers pushed the start date back by three months to allow more time to prepare.
The Executive Director of the Pacific Games Council, Andrew Minogue, said with a permanent government now in place and works underway, it’s encouraging to see some much-needed progress.
“The Chinese Government’s sponsored construction team started work about two weeks ago down at the site and there’s a completion date of June/July of next year and the dates of the Games have been pushed back to December to give them more time but it’s also probably a better time for all of us in the Pacific region given that all of the Pacific nations have been invited to the Asian Indoor Games in September so December I think works for everybody.”
Andrew Minogue said the new Vanuatu government also passed a budget recently that includes funding for the Mini Games and its Organising Committee, which allows staff to be hired and sporting equipment to be purchased.29/4/16 RNZI
43) Rugby league’s eligibility rules labelled too “complex”
Fiji says rugby league’s eligibility laws are so complex that a number of players and countries don’t fully understand them.
Fiji NRL Chief Executive Officer Timoci Naleba said they are disappointed Australia has selected former Bati flyer Semi Radradra for next week’s test against New Zealand.
He said they had expected to have a full strength Fijian team this year, including for next weekend’s Pacific Test against Papua New Guinea.
Timoci Naleba said there appears to be no standard eligibility rule for players and they plan to raise the matter at the upcoming Rugby League International Federation AGM in May.
“We’ve noticed that with Jarryd Hayne and a few others who have changed national jerseys over the past few years…We haven’t gone back to Semi to talk to him. I think he’s quite certain that he wants to play for Australia but what Fiji is concerned about is the process that has been followed – the only thing that we want to have clarified – because we will have other players, very good players that we have right now that might come into the same situation.”
Timoci Naleba said Fiji will also be without Marika Koroibete for next weekend’s test because they understand the Melbourne Storm star is switching codes to play union for the Melbourne Rebels.28/4/16-RNZI
44) Woods set for US Open
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
TIGER Woods has registered to play in June’s US Open at Oakmont Country Club in Pennsylvania but has not set a timetable for his return to the PGA Tour.
The United States Golf Association confirmed yesterday that Woods, who has not competed since last August while recovering from back surgeries, registered for the year’s second major on April 4, well ahead of Wednesday’s deadline.
While the 14-time major winner has registered for the June 16-19 US Open, there is no guarantee he will be at Oakmont, one of the most difficult courses on tour.
Last year, the former world number one also registered to play at the US Open but backed out after saying he was not fully recovered from back surgery.
Speculation, however, has been mounting that the three-time US Open champion could make his PGA Tour return within the next month.