January 14, 2019

Samoa Rugby Union’s General Manager resigns

Samoa Rugby Union’s General Manager resigns

The General Manager of the Samoa Rugby Union’s High Performance Unit, Zane Hilton, has resigned.

Hilton’s resignation is effective immediately as indicated in a letter he addressed to the CEO, Faleomavaega Vincent Fepulea'i, on 13 January 2019.

“I am formally writing to inform you of my resignation from the role of General Manager of High Performance for the Samoa Rugby Union effective immediately,” said a copy of the letter received by the Samoa Observer.

“I would like to wish the Samoa Rugby Union and the Manu Samoa in particular all the best for the upcoming Rugby World Cup in Japan. It was an honour to work with this team.”

Faleomavaega confirmed Hilton’s resignation. He told the Samoa Observer that Hilton has found employment elsewhere, hence his resignation.

“Hilton is going back to his coaching job, that’s all I can say. He is probably in the process of negotiating with his other employers at the moment,” Faleomavaega said.

Contacted for a comment, Hilton said he couldn’t talk about the reason for his resignation and referred all queries to the CEO of Samoa Rugby Union.

Hilton joined the Samoa Rugby Union at the beginning of last year, brought in to fulfil a role encouraged by World Rugby to assist the quality of the game in Samoa.

During his first interview with the Samoa Observer, the former Super Rugby coach for the Melbourne Rebels acknowledged that Samoan rugby’s performance was not where the country wanted it to be.

“We got some great people, great coaches across the programme.  It’s just about getting structure and really trying to identify what it is that Samoa rugby are good at, what are we known for because I think we can all appreciate our performances are not where we want them," he said at the beginning of the year.

“We’re all about transparency here and I’ve made sure that everything is transparent, we appreciate that the community and the country are hurting because of our performances and we know that we need to improve and that starts here and that’s what I’m here to do.”

Hilton was optimistic and enthusiastic about the potential he sees in Samoan rugby.

“There’s a huge amount of potential,” he said. “The nature of everyone on the island is that they have great passion for rugby here. It’s comforting for me to come to a country where rugby is the number one game and everyone has a passion and an opinion for it, which is great because it means people are passionate about it.

“For me, the potential is endless. We got a number of Samoans who play the game well in New Zealand, Australia and around the Pacific and also in England as well. We need to make sure we identify the quality players playing overseas and develop the game on the island too.”

Prior to his time in Samoa, Hilton had been a professional coach for the past 11 years in Japan, Europe and Queensland.

Australiam PM Morrison in Vanuatu and Fiji: broadening, not deepening

Australiam PM Morrison in Vanuatu and Fiji: broadening, not deepening

By Jenny Hayward-Jones, https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/morrison-vanuatu-and-fiji-broadening-not-deepening

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison will visit Vanuatu and Fiji this week. He is the first Australian prime minister to visit Vanuatu since Bob Hawke in 1990 and the first to visit Fiji since John Howard in 2006 (both were for Pacific Islands Forum leaders meetings). Long overdue, the visits are an important next step in Australian government’s increased engagement in the Pacific Islands region, following a flurry of significant announcements in the latter part of 2018.

The visits are an important next step in Australian government’s increased engagement in the Pacific Islands region.

Australia has promised a new infrastructure fund, new diplomatic missions, more labour mobility opportunities, a new “office of the Pacific” in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, a military base in Papua New Guinea, an Australian Defence Force Pacific Mobile Training Team, and a joint undertaking (with Japan, New Zealand, and the U.S) to provide electricity to 70% of Papua New Guinea’s population.

Morrison chose to miss the Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Nauru in September last year and is clearly playing catch-up now, probably inspired by a sense of panic in Canberra that China’s growing influence in the region is now threatening Australian interests. Morrison was overshadowed during his visit to PNG for APEC in November by the “China show”, but the bilateral visits to Vanuatu and Fiji offer a chance to be seen to be making good on Australia’s case to be the Pacific’s “partner of choice”.

The prime minister’s discussions with his counterparts in Port Vila and Suva this week will likely have a strong focus on security. Australia is assisting Fiji to redevelop Fiji's Blackrock Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Camp. In Vanuatu, Morrison will be discussing further enhancement of bilateral security cooperation.

The visits to Vanuatu and Fiji will deliver a message that Australia is a strong security partner for the region and is committed to broadening bilateral relations with both countries. The inability of the Morrison government to align its Pacific islands policy announcements with domestic policies, however, constrains any genuine deepening of Australia’s relationships with Pacific Island countries.

Inconsistencies between foreign and domestic policies are of course not new or unique to Australia or indeed to Australia’s relations with Pacific Island countries. For example, international human rights advocates have argued that Australia’s poor record at home on rights for indigenous Australians and for asylum seekers is at odds with Australia’s advocacy for human rights in United Nations forums and in countries such as China, North Korea, and Myanmar, and weakens Australia’s credibility.

Credibility weaknesses in the international arena can usually be mitigated or overcome with good diplomacy and strength of argument. But domestic policies that prevent Australia from following through on commitments made to Pacific island countries are another matter.

The prime ministers of Vanuatu and Fiji know very well that the Morrison government has no comprehensive energy policy and little interest in addressing Pacific Island concerns about climate change through any further domestic commitments. Foreign Minister Marise Payne signed the Boe Declaration at the Pacific Islands Forum in Nauru, which reaffirmed that “climate change remains the single greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and well-being of the peoples of the Pacific” and a “commitment to progress the implementation of the Paris Agreement”. But the Australian government has no intention of taking any domestic action to address this threat. 

Both the Turnbull and Morrison governments have made commitments to increase labour mobility opportunities for Pacific Islanders. Recognising the considerable value of labour mobility to Pacific Island countries, the Morrison government announced on 4 September that Australia's Pacific Labour Scheme would be opened to Samoa, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu, building on Australia’s long-standing Seasonal Worker Programme. Then, only weeks later, the government flagged it would introduce an agricultural visa that threatened to destroy the Seasonal Worker Programme. It walked back from this idea but only in the face of strong objections from Pacific Island leaders, Australian experts and the opposition Labor Party. 

The handling of the Neil Prakash citizenship affair offers little room for hope in 2019 that the Australian government appreciates the importance of a whole of government approach to managing relationships in the Pacific.

It beggars belief that Canberra would not have access to legal advice (by asking its High Commission in Suva to take soundings there) that Neil Prakash could not be a Fiji citizen. For it to declare otherwise suggests that Canberra has no respect for Fiji’s laws. But even if the Department of Home Affairs was convinced Prakash could be a dual citizen, it is hardly in the national interest to send a convicted terrorist to Fiji at a time when Canberra is committing serious military and other financial resources to improve its security relationship with Suva.

The best new commitment Scott Morrison can make to his counterparts in Vanuatu and Fiji this week should not be another grand initiative but an undertaking to join up policy at home that will enable the deeper relations Australia so desperately needs with its neighbours.

Jenny Hayward-Jones is a Lowy Institute Non-resident Fellow and former Director of the Melanesia Program at the Lowy Institute. Prior to joining the Lowy Institute Jenny was an officer in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for thirteen years, serving in the Australian missions in Vanuatu and Turkey. She worked as Policy Adviser to the Special Coordinator of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands from its inception in July 2003 and in 2004.
PNG Army to recruit 300 officers

PNG Army to recruit 300 officers

The Papua New Guinea Defence Force is looking at recruiting about 300 officers this year, with first batch of 150 to occupy the Goldie Training Depot.

Defence Commander Major General Gilbert Toropo said the first 150 officers would take up six months’ training at Goldie followed by the next 150 recruits.

He said the department needed more than 300 officers but there were space limitations in accommodation.

“There is enough space for 150 in the training college and we cannot get more than that,” he said.

“Funds have been allocated by the government but the recruitment date has not been confirmed yet.”

Toropo said the department had 4000 officers in the army, navy and air force and the government was asking if it could be increased to 10,000.

He said the army can meet the 10,000 recommendation but accommodation was a problem.

The budget is not only looking at recruiting but other cost aspects such as uniforms, accommodation, salaries and cost, significant amount is needed.

Meanwhile, the re-establishment of the naval base on Lombrum Island in Manus will strengthen maritime security in PNG waters, said Major General Toropo.

He said an arrangement between the United States and Australian governments existed previously and the U.S announcement to set up base again came during November’s APEC meeting in Port Moresby.

He said the U.S used the base during World War II.

Toropo said the re-establishment of the base would tighten the maritime security system for Papua New Guinea to discourage illegal fishing, drug trafficking, sea robberies, illegal border crossing and while also building an avenue for international trade for the country and Manus.

“The discussions are underway now with them. Australia has already assisted us with boats that will be used in Manus,” Toropo said.

He said the Manus naval base was there because of the alliance PNG had with the U.S and Australia.

“Relationships have been on-going since Papua New Guinea gained independence in 1975,” he said.

He said Manus was in focus now for maritime security because too many illegal activities were going on at sea.

“There will also be indirect benefits by bringing in services that will boost the economy for PNG and Manus,” Toropo said.