Category Archives: Pacific

Experts Unite To Improve Health In The Region

Source: UQ News

New research partnerships tackling health challenges in the Pacific are expected to result from a unique gathering at The University of Queensland in 2018.

Hosted by UQ’s School of Public Health, the Pacific Health Governance Workshop will be the first in a series of events to address the most challenging aspects of health policy.

UQ School of Public Health researcher Dr Owen Williams said the workshop was expected to be a catalyst for joint projects in research and innovation across health, governance and development issues.

“The workshop will cover issues such as gender-based violence, pandemics, sanitation, food security and non-communicable diseases,” Dr Williams said.

“It will address the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by bringing together stakeholders to develop research agendas that are Pacific-driven, respond to needs, and create strategies for joint research and action.”

Key Pacific scholars and practitioners were awarded international scholarships to attend the inaugural event, which will feature a keynote speech by Pacific Community Director General Dr Colin Tukuitonga.

Dr Tukuitonga, who has held appointments with the New Zealand government and the World Health Organisation, will discuss the Pacific Community’s role as the principal scientific and technical organisation in the region.

“This conference brings together experts from across the Pacific region’s 26 country and territory members to address issues around where the capacity and research needs are and how we can best provide research to help Pacific Health,” Dr Tukuitonga said.

The workshop is on February 15-16 at UQ’s St Lucia campus.

Contestants Begin Activities With Church Service

By PETER ESILA ( The National )


THE six contestants in this year’s Miss Pacific Islands Pageant PNG opened their week of activities in the lead-up to the Nov 11 crowning with a church service yesterday at the St John’s Anglican Cathedral in Port Moresby.

Fr Peter Moi, told the contestants and the congregation that “the greatest amongst us is the one who is humble and who serves others, people who offer their services to others.”

The six contestants with reigning Miss Pacific Island PNG Kellyanne Limbiye and the pageant’s chaperone Antonia Singut were blessed by the Anglican Bishop of NCD, Central and Gulf Diocese Danny Bray Guka.

“It is a national event, everyone will be praying for you, strength and courage come from the Lord,” Guka told the contestants.

He also told them that the pageant would have an influence on them and they would not be the same again.

He urged them to become good role models for young people.

Singut said the day was about reflecting on the spiritual needs and spiritual basis of character building that they would need throughout the pageant.

“We have been joining this congregation for the last couple of years during the pageant,” she said.

The contestants are Miss Pacific Balance Fund Renee Jasmine Siaguru, Miss IBS Rosemary Pawih, Miss ITI Sheilla Yama, Miss Queen Emma Chocolates Naiwali Twain, Miss After Dark Fashions Rachael Ezekiel and Miss KTK Esther Aiga.

The contestants will be have a week of activities in Port Moresby till the crowning ball on Saturday at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.

The pageant provides a platform for cultural ambassadors and for women to build their potentials as agents of positive change.

The winner from the six contestants will represent PNG in the regional pageant in Fiji next month.


Tough Series for Kumuls

By : The National

KUMUL captain David Mead says tomorrow’s rugby league Tri-Series in Suva will be tough as Fiji and Australia will also test their World Cup combinations.

The 28-year-old told the Fiji media on arrival in Nadi on Wednesday said the game would gauge his team’s level against the tournament favourites as well as tournament top teams. “I guess that game is going to be tough and we need to show that we are prepared for that,” Mead, who plays for the Brisbane Broncos, said.

“This is our pre World Cup match and we want to test which combination is going to work.”

“We have a good mixture and we are looking forward to run well together this weekend.

“It is going be tough for us but know that we are out there to prepare well even though it’s a friendly match against the two teams.

“We know we are going to be out there giving it our best shot,” he added.

Mead, pictured, said it was his first time in Fiji and he looked forward to experiencing the nice and welcoming gesture that the nation was known for.

“I have heard a lot of good stories about Fiji from my family and friends who visited earlier, they said it’s a very nice and welcoming place and I am looking forward to experience that.”

Head coach Michael Marum said the side would use these games to select their combination for the first Rugby League World Cup game against Wales. He said he would make good use of this opportunity to physically test his players.

“We expect a physical game which will benefit us before selecting the best combination. It’s going to be tough and we have a good mixture of players who are striving to fulfil our world cup semi-final,” Marum said.

Marum announced his 18-man squad for the Tri-Series leaving out teenager Lachlan Lam, hooker Wartovo Puara Jr, backs Thompson Teteh and Stargroth Amean while prop Enoch Maki is the 18th man.

Catalan Dragons’ rake Paul Aiton was not considered as he joins the team next week.

The three-nation tournament will see the Kumuls face the Fiji Bati and Australian Kangaroos in three 40-minute matches over the same day.

Click TV will broadcast the series live on their PNG TV channel starting at 3.30pm tomorrow.

The match will be live streamed on the Asia Pacific Rugby League website thanks to host broadcaster, Fiji One. Kumuls: 1. David Mead (C), 2. Justin Olam, 3. Nene Macdonald, 4. Katto Ottio, 5. Garry Lo, 6. Ase Boas (VC), 7. Watson Boas, 8. Luke Page, 9. James Segeyaro, 10. Wellington Albert, 11. Rhyse Martin, 12. Nixon Put, 13. Rod Griffin; Interchange: 14. Kurt Baptiste, 15. Stanton Albert, 16. Moses Meninga, 17. Willie Minoga, 18. Enoch Maki
Fixtures: Sat, Oct 14 – 3pm Fiji Police v Australia Police, 5.30pm Fiji Bati v PNG Kumuls, 6.30pm PNG Kumuls v Australia Kangaroos, 7.30pm Fiji Bati v Australia Kangaroos. Venue: ANZ Stadium, Suva. (All matches in local time).

Trade, Commerce keen to stay with marine zone project

August 21, 2017

Source: The National

Secretary John Andrias says the Department of Trade, Commerce and Industry is happy to continue owning the Pacific Marine Industrial Zone (PMIZ) project in Madang.

“There was a NEC decision to transfer the ownership to KCH (Kumul Consolidated Holdings) but I believe there is a KCH board resolution, so basically we will revisit and take the matter back to NEC to leave the project to be implemented by (Department of) Treasury and Commerce and Industry,” Andrias said.

“We are happy to take on board and re-negotiate the new loan through the China Exim Bank if they are able to come on because they were the first to commit so we had the design completed in line with their funding.”

Andrias said the project was designed to cater for 10 canneries.

“Once the project is developed, we intend to host about 10 canneries. So far we have six.

“If we have space for 10, basically all the fish that is caught has to be brought onshore, and future – there could be policy interventions.

“We can look at innovative ways of bringing in all the catch for processing.

“We can simply give them licence to fish and bring all the fish onshore and the state can say certain percentage is free, maybe 50 per cent is free to be put into the cool storage where it can be auctioned and sold to processors.

“The risk of going out and owning a fishing vessel and fishing with all the additional costs, we have passed it on to the fishermen.”


Trade Talks Fruitful, says Fiji Minister

Fiji’s Minister for Industry, Trade, Tourism, Lands and Mineral Resources Faiyaz Koya says his talks with new Foreign Affairs Minister Rimbink Pato on trade were fruitful.

Mr Koya said the meeting in Suva last Friday involved discussions on the “way forward” with the Melanesian Spearhead Group Trade Agreement.

The two countries were involved in a trade dispute early in the year over the importation of PNG products Ox and Palm corned beef, Trukai Rice and Lae Biscuits into Fiji.

“We are looking forward to a fruitful relationship with PNG. Fiji and PNG have a lot in common.

“We discussed a few things about the way forward on the MSG Trade Agreement and a little bit on PACER Plus.

“The thoughts are pretty much the same, with respect to both countries.”

Fiji had maintained the position that talks were still going on when Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) Plus was signed in Tonga. Fiji, PNG and Vanuatu, all MSG members, were absent. Fiji said it was not consulted. When asked if Fiji’s stance on PACER Plus had changed, Mr Koya said: “We haven’t really moved too much with that.

“However, there is some work that’s going on behind the scenes between the officials.

Aust Govt to pay $70m damages to 1,905 Manus detainees in class action


The Australian government and its offshore detention contractors will pay more than $70m in compensation to nearly 2,000 refugees and asylum seekers for illegally detaining them in dangerous and damaging conditions on Manus Island.

The government on Wednesday settled a class action brought by Slater and Gordon on behalf of 1,905 refugees and asylum seekers detained on the island, rather than proceed with a six-month trial that would have involved evidence before the court from detainees of murder inside the detention centre, systemic sexual and physical abuse, and inadequate medical treatment leading to injury and death.

The detention centre was ruled “illegal and unconstitutional” by the PNG Supreme Court in April 2016. It remains operational, housing nearly 900 men, but is slated for closure in October this year.


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The Australian government and its contractors have agreed to pay compensation of $70m plus costs.

Costs will run to at least $20m, Slater and Gordon said. But the total cost could climb beyond $100m, an immigration department source confirmed to The Guardian.

The settlement was reached on the provision that the Australian government denied any and all liability for the mistreatment and false imprisonment of people on Manus Island.

The breakdown of money to be paid by the Australian government, G4S, and Broadspectrum has not been made public, but it is possible that some of the settlement could be paid by Wilson Security, which was sued by Broadspectrum and brought into the class action as a secondary defendant.

The lead plaintiff in the case was 35-year-old Iranian Christian Majid Kamasaee, who fled his homeland to escape violent religious persecution. He said the settlement was a long-overdue acknowledgement of the unnecessary suffering endured by those sent to Manus.


“This case is not just about me, it is about every person who has been trapped on Manus Island,” Kamasaee said.

“I came to Australia seeking peace, but I was sent to Manus, which was hell. I was in pain every minute of every day and I cried every night until I had nothing left.”

Kamasee said his treatment in the Manus Island detention centre was degrading and cruel.

“Sadly, many of my friends are still there.

“Our voices have never been listened to, but today we are finally being heard and I hope everyone’s suffering can be over as quickly as possible.”

The class action – even without proceeding to trial – involved 200 witness statements, 200,000 documents, and more than 50 court dates. It detailed allegations of mistreatment from detainees themselves, as well as supporting evidence from health workers and security experts.

Slater and Gordon principal lawyer Andrew Baker said the people detained on Manus Island endured extremely hostile conditions, but had refused to suffer in silence.


“Most were fleeing religious persecution and violence and came to Australia seeking protection, only to be denied their basic human rights,” he said.

“While no amount of money could fully recognise the terrible conditions the detainees endured, we hope today’s settlement can begin to provide them with an opportunity to help put this dark chapter of their lives behind them.”

Asked if he believed the Australian government had settled on the case to avoid scrutiny of detention conditions in open court, Slater and Gordon class action practice group leader Rory Walsh said: “yes”.

By denying liability as a condition of settlement, Walsh said, the government was able to continue to run that argument in other cases involving Manus and Nauru.


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“The extent to which a $70m plus costs settlement undermines the ability for them to do that, or whether indeed it passes the pub test, is a matter for others to comment on.”

The immigration minister, Peter Dutton, said settlement in the case was not an admission of liability, and that the government “strongly refutes and denies the claims made in these proceedings”.

“The commonwealth is required by the Legal Services Directions to endeavour to avoid, prevent or limit the scope of legal proceedings,” Dutton said in a statement.

“An anticipated six-month legal battle for this case would have cost tens of millions of dollars in legal fees alone, with an unknown outcome. In such circumstances a settlement was considered a prudent outcome for Australian taxpayers.”

Dutton said the DIBP was the most litigated department of the Commonwealth, with an active caseload of nearly 5,800 matters. DIBP’s legal expenditure last financial year was more than $70m.

He said the cost of Australia’s border policies had been $13.7b to date, and accused the Labor Party, which re-opened the Manus and Nauru detention centres in 2012, of losing control of Australia’s borders.

However, Iranian journalist and refugee Behrouz Boochani told the Guardian from Manus that the settlement was a concession by the Australian government its policy of offshore detention was illegal.

“The people are very happy because it’s the first time they smell a little bit of justice from Australia. I’m saying only a little bit because we still don’t know how they are planning to pay the compensation. The government has kept people in this prison for four years and must answer to the people it has damaged physically and mentally.

“This shows the government recognised that they committed a crime by sending us to this prison. It proves that the government lied to the people.”

Boochani said the future of the 900 men remaining on Manus Island remained uncertain, despite the class action settlement.

“It’s time to take us from here and give us freedom in a safe place. Freedom is more important that anything.”


Sudanese refugee Abdul Aziz Muhammad said the settlement had given men in detention hope.

“I feel very excited that at least the Australian government has admitted to what they have done to us over the last four years.”

The class action, commenced by Slater and Gordon in the Victorian Supreme Court in December 2014, was run on behalf of 1,905 refugees and asylum seekers who were held at the Manus Island regional processing centre between November 2012 and December 2014.

That period included the riots of February 2014 during which more than 70 detainees were seriously injured. Over three days of violence, refugees were shot by police, were stabbed and had their throats slits when the camp was overrun by rioters from outside. Iranian Reza Barati was murdered by security guards.

The detainees alleged in the class action they suffered serious physical and psychological injuries as a result of the conditions in detention.

In 2016, a second claim for false imprisonment was added to the action, after the PNG supreme court ruled that the detention of asylum seekers was unlawful and unconstitutional.

Following the settlement announcement, the department of immigration and border protection has been approached for comment, but has not responded.

Legal and human rights groups accused the government of agreeing to settle in order to avoid evidence of condition inside the secretive offshore camps being heard in open court.

The Human Rights Law Centre’s Daniel Webb said the case was an “important and long overdue concession that it has knowingly caused profound harm to innocent people in its care”.

He said the men still held on Manus should be brought to Australia immediately.

“Throwing money at the abuses of yesterday won’t stop the abuses of today. Nine hundred men are still languishing on a painful and dangerous road to nowhere. These men have been shot at, beaten and unlawfully detained. They’ve also suffered the mental torment of not knowing if or when their ordeal would ever end. Manus is not a safe place for them.”

GetUp’s human rights director Matthew Phillips said the settlement was concession that Australia’s offshore detention centres were inherently abusive environments.

“Make no mistake – this is hush money.

“Malcolm Turnbull and Peter Dutton will throw around a seemingly unlimited amount of taxpayer money to avoid public scrutiny of evidence of abuses occurring within Australia’s detention regime and to protect the private contractors complicit in those abuses.”

Australia confident of PNG’s Economy


AUSTRALIA maintains its confidence in the Papua New Guinea economy with renewed investment to strengthen economic ties despite the tough economic climate at present.
Australian High Commissioner Bruce Davis told yesterday’s leaders’ summit in Port Moresby about Canberra’s enduring ties which extend to the business front with strong economic two-way trade.
“Our deep enduring ties extend to business trade and investment, reflecting our strong economic partnership,” Mr Davis said.

Bruce Davis – Australian High Commissioner

“Two-way trade is worth around K14 billion with about 64 per cent of trade exported from Papua New Guinea to Australia.
“This wasn’t trade of just traditional commodities like gold and petroleum – Australia imported almost K100 million worth of coffee from your growers last year, 30 per cent increase from the year before.”
Mr Davis pointed out investments by Australian companies currently stand at around K45 billion in a diverse range of sectors from banking and finance, tourism and legal services, mining oil and gas and others.
He highlighted the importance of bilateral trade investment as a major reason to establish its consulate-general office in Lae.
“There is a market in Australia for cocoa and other agricultural products in Australia too. In fact one Australian iconic chocolate company sources a significant percentage of its cocoa from Papua New Guinea due to its very special and unique flavour.
“This reflects our continued confidence in the economic future of Papua New Guinea. We recognise that Lae is an important commercial hub of Papua New Guinea, home to your largest port, largest manufacturing, and the gateway connecting the islands and the highlands. It is also home to a specific number of Australian businesses.”
The high commissioner maintained the importance of ongoing dialogue to the partnership for both countries to take advantage of opportunities and challenges that the two face, with both being resource based economies having felt the brunt of the recent downturn in commodity.
He maintained the need to harness the Asia-Pacific markets which can be beneficial with less red tape to trade freely to grow small and medium sized businesses.

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