November 13, 2018

PNG PM O’Neill Encourages APEC to Forge Ahead

PNG PM O’Neill Encourages APEC to Forge Ahead

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill encouraged APEC senior officials to push ahead with policy progress, as he welcomed them to Port Moresby for this week’s APEC Economic Leaders’ Week.

Senior officials from the 21 APEC economies have commenced policy deliberations in Port Moresby to continue to build common ground towards advancing regional economic integration and connectivity, digital entrepreneurship and market access for businesses of all sizes.

The 12-13 November proceedings will be followed by the APEC Ministerial Meeting on Thursday, and culminate with a meeting of APEC Leaders on Saturday and Sunday, chaired by Prime Minister O’Neill.

“This has been a long road for a small economy like ours,” Prime Minister O’Neill said of hosting APEC in 2018.

“Policy discussions are going well. I look forward to receiving them with the Leaders over the next few days,” he told senior officials at their meeting.

This week’s meetings aim to provide greater policy direction in APEC for delivering trade that harnesses new, technologically-driven growth drivers, sparks business innovation and employment, and brings better quality of life to people in all areas of the region.

Under the theme “Harnessing Inclusive Opportunities, Embracing the Digital Future”, they come at a time of global economic uncertainty. The APEC region accounts for half of global trade and 60 per cent of world GDP.

“We meet during a very crucial period, both globally and regionally, amidst economic uncertainty and other challenges that threaten the economic prosperity and integration and stability of our region,” said Ambassador Ivan Pomaleu, 2018 Chair of APEC Senior Officials.

“While this uncertainty, on the face of it, may appear to some to suggest disunity or disharmony, in my view, it demonstrates to us the heightened need for us here today to stand in solidarity and be more strategic in how we respond to these challenges and identify and harness the opportunities in a productive and inclusive manner where all economies can benefit,” he told officials.

An APEC report tabled at the meeting highlights the need for increased investment in infrastructure throughout the region, especially in the transport (road and rail), energy and telecommunications sectors.

Quality infrastructure investment supported economic growth, in terms of improving productivity, speeding up the flow of goods and people and thereby trade, and improving delivery of health, sanitation and other essential services. It also supported inclusive growth by helping to reduce poverty and connecting remote regions.

Many economies are undertaking structural reform of their policies to ensure ongoing quality infrastructure development, including changes to legal frameworks and government procurement practices to facilitate private sector investment.

Other reforms under way include deregulating network industries, adapting regulatory systems in light of technological change and reforming institutions such as state-owned enterprises and infrastructure funding models.

APEC economies will collectively need to spend $1.7 trillion per year between 2020 - 2025, rising to more than $2 trillion per year in the 2030 - 2035 period, to meet infrastructure needs, the 2018 APEC Economic Policy Report said.

The increased spending arises from population growth, aging populations, transport and connectivity needs, the rise of digital infrastructure, the need to ensure crisis-ready infrastructure and the need to renew aging infrastructure. Press release
PNG Parliament gets makeover for Chinese President Xi meeting

PNG Parliament gets makeover for Chinese President Xi meeting

Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet Governor-General Sir Bob Dadae at the Grand Hall of Parliament as part of his two-day State visit to the country this week.

Clerk to Parliament Vela Konivaro told The National that Parliament had been closed to the public in the past few weeks to allow workers to prepare the premises for the president’s visit.

“President Xi will be paying a courtesy call on Sir Bob at Parliament’s Grand Hall so we have to make sure everything is prepared and all the security measures are in place,” he said.

Xi will arrive on Thursday.

“Parliament was closed to the public because of the work being done for Xi’s visit,” he said.

“A lot of work was done within Parliament’s precincts and we did not want the public to avoid disruptions.

“This was internal Parliament controls in place so that our work is uninterrupted.”

He said most of the work was completed.

Xi will also open the Independence Boulevard and will be accorded a 21-gun salute.

PNG Kumuls and Hunters pair to join Wynnum Manly Seagulls

PNG Kumuls and Hunters pair to join Wynnum Manly Seagulls

By Seagulls Media

BMD Wynnum Manly Seagulls are pleased to announce the signing of Papua New Guinea internationals Rahdly Brawa and Edene Gebbie.

Both players have recently been involved in tests for the Kumuls side against the England Knights and the Australian Prime Minister’s XIII.

Brawa (27-years-old) is a highly respected member of the PNG Hunters side and was named the club’s Players’ Player of the Year at their 2018 awards night.

The lock forward is a strong leader on and off the field, and plays with a high level of toughness and determination. Brawa gets through a mountain of work in the middle, averaging 115 run metres and 37 tackles per game.

Excitement machine Gebbie (23-years-old) made a lot of noise in his debut season in the Intrust Super Cup and collected the Hunters’ Rookie of the Year award for his efforts.

The fullback/winger is electric with the ball in hand, scoring 10 tries on the season and averaging 126 run metres per game.

Seagulls CEO Hanan Laban believes the Kumuls’ pair will make a big contribution to the Club in 2019.

“We are very excited to bring two high quality players in Rahdly and Edene to the Seagulls – both have proven records in the Intrust Super Cup and are test players for their country.

In Rahdly, you have a player who plays above his weight, and with plenty of heart every week. He is tenacious in attack and defence, and we believe he will bring a lot of positive energy to our side.

Edene is one of the best athletes in the competition who possesses speed and lethal finishing ability. He has the potential to take his game to another level at Wynnum Manly.

It is a great opportunity for both Rahdly and Edene to come to Australia to further their careers. We look forward to working with both players and helping them achieve their dreams in rugby league.”

November 12, 2018

Kiwis, Mate Ma'a Tonga and Kangaroos to compete in top division of newly-unveiled Oceanic Cup next year

Kiwis, Mate Ma'a Tonga and Kangaroos to compete in top division of newly-unveiled Oceanic Cup next year

The Kangaroos will likely have to wait another year for their much-wanted tour of Great Britain, after the Rugby League International Federation revealed their planned rolling schedule for the next eight years.

Under the plan that will be put to players associations on both sides of the globe for consultation, Great Britain will tour the southern hemisphere next year and face the Pacific nations and New Zealand, but not Australia.

The Kangaroos will then take a tour of Great Britain at the end of 2020 in a bid to ramp up interest ahead of the 2021 World Cup there the following year.

It means next year's end-of-season schedule will be similar to 2018's for Australia, with Tests against the Kiwis and Tonga as part of a newly-formed Oceanic Cup that will give more certainty to the Pacific nations.

The trio of nations will compete in the top division, while Samoa, Papua New Guinea and Fiji will face off the in the Oceanic Cup's second tier.

No dates have been announced, but it's likely some of the matches not involving the Kangaroos could be played during the NRL's representative weekend in June.

"It was refreshing to see the way in which we were all able to work together, particularly the Pacific nations, to deliver the framework for this calendar," NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said.

The announcement comes after the ARL commission announced its preferred schedule in July, which included the Kangaroos touring Great Britain at the end of 2019.

It's believed coach Mal Meninga was keen to split the long tours of the northern hemisphere, given the team is due to return there for the 2021 World Cup.

However under the new RLIF proposal, the ARLC's preferred calendar won't be implemented.

Great Britain have only played as a unit intermittently, with England, Scotland and Wales featuring as standalone countries.

They last turned out at home against New Zealand in 2007 and last played Australia in 2006.

Meanwhile the previously mooted Nines World Cup for 2019 has also been confirmed for the end of next season, with the new Western Sydney Stadium believed to be a possible location.

"The whole international rugby league world has looked to us to complete this important piece of work. The discussions this week have been extremely collaborative and positive," RLIF CEO Nigel Wood said.

"This is a complex process and if we can put all the pieces of the jig-saw into place we will have a very exciting programme.".


Australian PM and Defence ministers outline new Pacific engagement plan

Australian PM and Defence ministers outline new Pacific engagement plan

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has used an address at Lavarack Barracks in Townsville to outline the government’s new Pacific engagement policy, while Defence Minister Christopher Pyne has doubled down on proposals to redevelop facilities at Manus Island to support Australia’s ‘Pacific pivot’.

On the back of recent announcements made by the Prime Minister regarding the nation's continuing and enhanced engagement with Asia. Prime Minister Morrison has launched a Australia's 'Pacific pivot', which will focus on enhancing the nation's strategic engagement and presence in the region. 

“The long-term funding commitment is critical to executing the government's plans for Defence, and ensures that defence strategy, capability and resources are fully aligned,” the Prime Minister said. 

The nation's defence capabilities, service men and women and, now more than ever, industry are critical to enhancing the nation's ability to engage with and secure the Pacific region. 

“Defence must have confidence in its funding so it can develop and implement long-term plans. Australian defence industry also needs funding certainty to confidently invest in the infrastructure, skills and capability so that it can play its part as a fundamental input to defence capability,” PM Morrison said. 

Australia's recent history of engagement with the region has been marred by three distinct scenarios: 

*The military intervention in the Solomon Islands as part of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI); 

*The souring of diplomatic relations between Australia and Fiji; and 

*The offshore processing of asylum seekers at Manus Island. 

The nation's commitment to the region, however, is based on more than just these three engagements, rather Australia has, as outlined in the 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper, sought to re-engage with the Pacific and ensure that it remains one of the nation's highest foreign and defence policy priorities. 

"The government that I have the privilege to lead is returning the Pacific to where it should be – front and centre of Australia’s strategic outlook, our foreign policy, our personal connections, including at the highest levels of government,” PM Morrison said. 

"This is our patch. This is our part of the world. This is where we have special responsibilities. We always have, we always will. We have their back, and they have ours. We are more than partners by choice. We are connected as members of a Pacific family," the PM said in response to concerns about the growing prominence of Chinese finance, aid and infrastructure development in the region. 

Enhancing Australia's military capability in the region is essential to the success of the government's new 'Pacific pivot', and includes: 

*An increased number of operational deployments by the Royal Australian Navy to the region to support maritime training exercises; and 

*The local construction of the new Pacific Patrol Boats, which will be gifted to regional partners to support increased maritime security. 

Foreign Minister Marise Payne reinforced the Prime Minister's comments, saying, "In addition to our Australia Pacific Security College and Fusion Centre, which will address gaps in training and information sharing in the Pacific, a new Pacific faculty at the Australian Institute of Police Management will train the next generation of police leadership in the Pacific. 

“Our Defence Force will work with partners to build interoperability to respond together to the common security challenges that we face, including through the establishment of a new ADF Pacific Mobile Training Team.”

Central to the mobility and functionality of this mobile training team is the introduction of a dedicated new vessel to deliver support to Australia's regional partners, including for humanitarian assistance and crisis response. 

Further enhancing this announcement, the Prime Minister reaffirmed the government's commitment to develop the Lombrum Naval Base in Papua New Guinea to serve as a focal point for Australian leadership and defence capability in the region.

He said, “We’re co-operating to develop the PNG Defence Force’s Lombrum Naval Base... It will mean more Australian ships can visit PNG.” 

The Prime Minister highlighted the role Australia-based SMEs will play in supporting the nation's pivot to the Pacific, namely through key defence acquisitions including the $5.2 billion (US$3.7 billion) LAND 400 Phase 2 deal, which will provide the Army with 211 leading-edge Boxer CRVs, the $35 billion (US$25 billion) SEA 5000 Hunter Class frigates, which will serve as the backbone of Australia's surface fleet, and the $17 billion (US$12 billion) F-35 programme. 

“Now of course, our Defence capability plans do not end there – from new frigates and patrol vessels to the Joint Strike Fighter – all of these platforms draw on small and medium-sized enterprises from right across the nation,” the Prime Minister said. 

Australia's pivot to the Pacific provides new opportunities for Australian businesses of all shapes and sizes as the nation continues to invest in both regional infrastructure and defence capability to ensure the enduring peace, prosperity and stability of “our patch” .


10 Solomon Islands MPs investigated for corruption

10 Solomon Islands MPs investigated for corruption

There are 10 cases of corruption involving Members of Parliament (MPs) that are currently under active investigation by the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force.

Police Commissioner Matthew Varley revealed this at his weekly conference at the Rove Police Headquarters, last Thursday.

“There are 10 active investigations that are occurring at the moment,” Varley said.

He said there are other cases that are before court or in front of the DPP for assessment.

Varley again brushed aside allegation that there is going to be a mass arrest of Members of Parliament (MPs) planned, adding that is a fabrication and a complete lie.

“We will deal with cases individually as they come up for finalisation and as the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) sanction them for charges.

“We will do that in our own time when the evidence is ready,” Varley said.

Varley said when took over as police commissioner; he discovered there were a lot of cases on their books in the corruption team that was not resolved for many years.

He said there was also no rule system for them to be able to priorities and triage those cases.

“... so for the past year, we have been developing and implementing a new review and triage system on corruption cases in the RSIPF.

“I can tell you that almost 100 of those cases have been fully reviewed, categorised and prioritised.”

The police chief said they have close off 18 cases that did not have satisfactory evidence or did not meet the standard for a reasonable prosecution in court after assessing them.

“However there are 75 cases currently on hand in the corruption team.

“Those cases are in various stages of progress and they have all being reviewed under our new triage system and they have been reviewed and categorised not only by the corruption team but also by senior management in the RSIPF.”

He said out of that, there 10 active investigations that are occurring at the moment.


November 10, 2018

Great Britain Lions to play PNG Kumuls in 2019 Southern Hemisphere Tour

Great Britain Lions to play PNG Kumuls in 2019 Southern Hemisphere Tour

PNG Kumuls in action against the Lions 2017 World Cup
A Great Britain tour to the southern hemisphere in 2019 has been given the go-ahead by the Rugby League International Federation.

The tour, which the RLIF board says is subject to consultation with the major playing leagues and the players' representatives, is part of an eight-year rolling contract approved in principle at the end of a four-day summit in York.

The Lions will not meet Australia, who will tour England in 2020, but will play matches against New Zealand, Tonga, Samoa, Fiji and Papua New Guinea.

Great Britain have not competed since 2007, when the decision was made to focus on England, Wales and Scotland as separate sides.

Ralph Rimmer, chief executive of the Rugby Football League, said: "These are exciting times for the sport in general and particularly the chance we have to both take a Great Britain team to the southern hemisphere next year and then welcome the Kangaroos in 2020.

"There is still some discussion to complete on 2019 but everything looks to be moving in a positive direction."

The RLIF unveiled plans for a two-division Oceania Cup in 2019, with Australia, New Zealand and Tonga playing in one group and Samoa, Fiji and Papua New Guinea the other.

The board also confirmed that Australia will host the inaugural Nines World Cup in 2019 and approved financial support for the Americas Championship and a new competition for nations in the Middle East and Africa.

RLIF chief executive Nigel Wood said: "The whole international rugby league world has looked to us to complete this important piece of work.

"The discussions this week have been extremely collaborative and positive.

"This is a complex process and, if we can put all the pieces of the jigsaw into place, we will have a very exciting programme.

"There is some further consultation to be undertaken with leagues and playing groups together with some important commercial evaluations before we could make final announcements, however we are confident that we can complete these discussions before Christmas."

Source: Sky Sports
US Coast Guards  provide security for APEC in Port Moresb, PNG

US Coast Guards provide security for APEC in Port Moresb, PNG

United States Coast Guard unit PSU 305, Commander Michael McCarthy spoke to local media  expressing how pleased he and his team are in Papua New Guinea, providing water security for APEC 2018.

“We’ve had some fishermen out at sea, but we have spoken to them and passed on some flyers and it’s been a very friendly exchange", said Commander McCarthy.

There are eight (8) Coast Guard boats, working with the PNG Joint Security Task Force, including water police (maritime technique), taking watch of the areas that are out of bounds to the general public, fishermen and sailors during APEC Leaders Week from November 12-18, 2018.

Areas of restricted movement and the main locations that the U.S. coast guard will be patrolling include the APEC Haus and the three cruise ships, including the Pacific Jewel which berthed today.

November 8, 2018

Taiwan's six Pacific allies won't join China-hosted forum: MOFA

Taiwan's six Pacific allies won't join China-hosted forum: MOFA

Chinese flags up on light poles  in Port Moresby, PNG 
None of the six diplomatic allies of the Republic of China (Taiwan) in the South Pacific will take part in a China-hosted summit in the region to be held on 16 November in Papua New Guinea , a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) official said Wednesday.

Taiwan's six allies in the South Pacific -- Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu -- were invited to the China-Pacific Islands summit ahead of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in PNG, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu confirmed at a legislative hearing.

But none of them have agreed to attend, said Chang Chun-yu , deputy head of the MOFA's Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, at the same hearing.

“We therefore believe the Beijing-organised summit will not affect Taiwan's relations with its diplomatic allies in the region,” Chang said.

Wu stressed that the ministry is closely monitoring every attempt made by Beijing to lure Taipei's diplomatic allies to avoid losing another one.

Taiwan has lost five diplomatic allies to China since President Tsai Ing-wen took office in May 2016, the most recent one being El Salvador in August, cutting the country's number of allies to 17.

According to the MOFA, Australia, New Zealand, the Cook Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga, and Vanuatu will participate in the China-led summit.

More details of the summit have yet to made public, according to the ministry.

Two Vanuatu Ministers sacked

Two Vanuatu Ministers sacked

Two Vanuatu Ministers - Minister of Infrastructure and Public Utilities, Jotham Napat and Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry, Fisheries and Biosecurity, Matai Seremaiah - were terminated Wednesday.

The Instrument of removal orders were signed by Acting Prime Minister Bob Loughman, as per the powers conferred on him by subarticle 42(3) of the Constitution.

Their dismissal follows reports of a motion of no confidence in the Salwai-led Government.

However, Speaker of Parliament, Esmon Saimon has confirmed to Daily Post last night that no motion has been deposited at his office.

“No motion has been deposited at my office as we speak,” he said.

Nevertheless, the Speaker mentioned that he is aware of speculations of a motion currently circulating as MPs lobby for more signatures.

Sources said so far over 27 MPs have signed the motion.

MP Napat and MP Seremaiah are two very active, outspoken leaders and this was evident when they held the two ministerial portfolios over the last two years. 

Leaders of Party (LPV) President, Napat said he has been committed to the party’s promise of strength, integrity and leadership since launching the LPV and has been a loyal servant of the Salwai Government. 

According to a statement issued by the LPV president last night, he was advised the Deputy Prime Minister Bob Loughman had terminated him and Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries as ministers Wednesday afternoon. 

“No reason was given for their termination,” the LPV President stated. 

“We became aware via social media posts some of our coalition colleagues had become threatened by our party’s support in Vanuatu. We were elected to represent our constituents and have done so with integrity.

“We are deeply saddened some of our colleagues have put their own interests ahead of the people of Vanuatu. This is not something the Leaders Party of Vanuatu condones.

“We are proud of our achievements as a party, representing our constituents and as members of the Salwai government. 

“We have delivered many projects and policies that have seen growth throughout Vanuatu. We will continue to serve the people of Vanuatu and hope our colleagues in government will share our vision of putting the people first rather than their own self-interest,” he said.


November 7, 2018

Fiji's $800m imported fossil fuel bill

Fiji's $800m imported fossil fuel bill

Fiji's annual imported fossil fuel bill amounts to $800 million (US$400 million) and this price varies with the fluctuating fuel prices.

Pacific Regional representative Green of Growth Planning and Implementation (GGPI) Katerina Syngellakis revealed this figure during a press conference on Pacific Islands Transport Forum at the University of the South Pacific last week. Syngellakis said the Pacific region as a whole had an annual import fossil fuel bill amounting to $6 billion (US$3 billion).

“Now all that fuel is being imported into Fiji and some of it is being reshipped to other smaller Pacific Island countries like Tuvalu and Kiribati.”

She said for Fiji alone its annual imported fossil fuel bill accounted for 60 per cent to 100 per cent of its annual gross domestic product which indicated how much we spent and depended on importing fossil fuel.

Sailing for Sustainability Fiji Ltd director Alison Newell also stated during the press conference that the cost of fuel was completely outside the control of any of the Pacific Island countries.

“And so what we are seeing in the global fuel industry at the moment is with international shipping for instance the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has already brought in fuel quality controls which includes monitoring the sulfur contents of the fuel which isn’t a greenhouse gas but it has a huge health implications.

“There is a global ban that will kick in 2020 where ships are not allowed to carry high fuel oil,” Newell said.

“The reality is the transition that we need if we are going to try and meet 1.5 degrees is so huge that nobody in the Pacific is going to be able to do it alone and it is going to depend upon all of us working together collectively and as a fundamental role with the private sector and government along with academic institutions.”

The Pacific Islands Transport Forum which starts today is a great platform for the University of the South Pacific to showcase some of their students’ research and ideas in terms of looking for local solutions for our transport challenges.

Meanwhile,transforming the transport sector to invest in new technology that will reduce our dependence on fossil fuel transport systems is a challenge.

Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF) team leader Program Management Mark Borg, in a Pacific Islands Transport Forum press conference last week, said the transport sector was a multi-trillion dollar industry when we considered aviation, shipping and land transport.

Borg said most of the transport sector was managed by the private sectors and therefore it was important for the private sector to be deeply involved in the transition of sustainable transport.

“Unfortunately up to now there has been little investment from government, international communities or even from the private sector in leading this strategy and what we are asking the private sector to do is to invest more money into new technology which will move us away from our current dependence on fossil fuels,” Borg said.

“We are just not here talking about the climate change issue and the emissions because as you know the Pacific contributes very little of those emissions but importantly our dependence on fossil fuels which is all imported and all that money we spend on fossil fuel can be better spend by our countries on social issues — on education and health.”

Borg added the transport forum today was not only about climate change but about our countries development and making better use of our resources.

“One thing we want to do is to at the forum is to try and demonstrate through an exposition running parallel to the forum where we want the private sector to come and show what is already available.

“There has been quite a lot of technology being developed recently that are already available on the market like electric vehicles, hybrid vehicles and new recharge stations for these vehicles that are completely solar so the world is moving in the right direction but not as fast as we would like it to. “As Pacific Island countries, we usually lack behind. We need to catch up because it is important for our countries.

“This time around we want to be at the forefront of these technologies and as we go along there are going to be more technology being developed in the sector and we need people to see this technology, touch them with their hands and make a judgement on whether they would be able to use this new technology rather than the old one that relies on fossil fuels.”.


Refugees in PNG Capital sent back to Manus Island for APEC Security reasons

Refugees in PNG Capital sent back to Manus Island for APEC Security reasons

REFUGEES who are in Port Moresby will be sent back to Manus Island as part of security preparations for the APEC Leaders’ Summit in Port Moresby next week.

Already 21 who were brought to Port Moresby for medical reasons were sent back last week. Their repatriation is a precautionary measure by authorities after concerns were raised by some embassies during the APEC preparation phase several months ago.

Manus provincial police commander Chief Inspector David Yapu said 16 of the 21 refugees were flown to Manus on November 2, while an additional five were repatriated on November 3, 2018.

Mr Yapu said the 21 refugees are now accommodated at East Lorengau Refugees Transit Centre (RTC) at ward two, while 300 men are camped at West Lorengau Refugees Transit Centre at ward one.

November 6, 2018

Cook Islands PM to attend APEC Leaders Summit in PNG

Cook Islands PM to attend APEC Leaders Summit in PNG

Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna will join Pacific Islands Forum Leaders in a dialogue with APEC Leaders hosted by Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby later this month.

The APEC process involves 21 economies which include Japan, Singapore, the People’s Republic of China, Russia, the United States, Philippines and others; and from the PIF Group Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

APEC represents approximately 59% of the world’s GDP and 49% of world trade and the Annual APEC Leaders Meeting entails discussions that promote free and open trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region.

This is the first time PNG is hosting APEC and is also the first time PIF Leaders have been invited to attend in APECs 29 year history.

“I want to commend Prime Minister O’Neil for embracing our Pacific Leaders in this engagement with APEC,” said  Puna. “This APEC/PIF Leaders Summit is an invaluable opportunity to discuss with APEC Leaders our Blue Pacific priorities, as articulated at our Annual PIF Summit in Nauru a few weeks ago and garner an understanding of APECs priorities and where there might be scope for trade and economic co-operation between us,” said Puna.

“For the Cook Islands, PNG’s theme for this year’s APEC Summit of ‘Harnessing Inclusive Opportunities, Embracing the Digital Future’ is a particularly relevant one, given our own recent efforts and investment towards strengthening the Cook Islands international connectivity through the Manatua Cable in partnership with Samoa, French Polynesia, Niue and New Zealand.”

In addition to the PIF-APEC Leaders’ Summit, while in Port Moresby the Prime Minister will join with other Pacific Leaders for a meeting with President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping who will be attending the APEC Summit.

Last year marked 20 years diplomatic relations between the Cook Islands and China and discussions with President Xi are expected to include the region’s priorities as articulated by PIF Leaders, current co-operation and possible future initiatives.

“We have a maturing relationship with China which we’ve evolved collaboratively with them over the last 20 years,” said Puna. “They have been a valuable and constructive partner who have supported our development priorities for a number of years and I look forward to meeting with President Xi to discuss current and possible future co-operation initiatives, both the bilateral and our collaborations in the multilateral fora.”

The Cook Islands delegation will also meet with other APEC delegations while in Port Moresby, including New Zealand, Australia, Japan and other APEC members in attendance.


APEC Act will not harm Papua New Guineans : Tkatchenko

APEC Act will not harm Papua New Guineans : Tkatchenko

Papua New Guineans’ lives will not be harmed or threatened under the APEC Safety and Security Act, says APEC Minister Justin Tkatchenko.

In a press briefing, the APEC Minister countered concerns that the amended Act violates PNG’s constitution.

Concerns have been raised in the past few weeks over the amended APEC Safety and Security Act 2018.

Members of the Opposition, including church groups, highlighted that the legislation grants foreign security forces immunity from criminal or civil prosecution.

The Sunset Clause in particular has caused apprehension in the country as it allows foreign security forces to use ‘lethal force’ if required.

However, Minister Tkatchenko has given the assurance that PNG’s laws will protect its citizens.

“What the APEC security act does is allow the close protection officers (CPO) of the world leaders that are coming here to act their rights to protect their leaders, which is highly unlikely,” stated Tkatchenko.

“But at the end of the day, that applies to all APEC meetings throughout the world. Same situation. We’re not doing anything new here.

“And the APEC security act has a Sunset Clause; it finishes at the end of this month. Not next year, this month. So let’s not expand the truth and lie about this very important act that has been passed by the National Parliament.”

Tkatchenko further said if the Act had not been approved, a lot of the economies would not be attending as they would not have their leaders’ security guaranteed.

New Zealand  to send Defence Force personnel to APEC

New Zealand to send Defence Force personnel to APEC

New Zealand will deploy a patrol vessel, a surveillance aircraft and more than 120 Defence Force personnel to assist with the APEC summit in Papua New Guinea next week.

The frigate HMNZS Otago will assist with maritime security, while a P-3 Orion will provide aerial surveillance.

Thirty Special Operation Forces personnel will also support PNG security forces on the ground in Port Moresby.

Foreign Minister Winston Peters said the security of APEC was vital.

He said New Zealand was also assisting PNG with diplomatic training and ambulance operations ahead of the summit.

“New Zealand has also been working alongside the Australian government in co-ordinating the capacity assistance,” he said.


November 4, 2018

Kumuls come from behind to beat England Knights 32 - 22

Kumuls come from behind to beat England Knights 32 - 22

The Papua New Guinea  LNG Kumuls maintained their home ground record at the Oil Search National Football Stadium following a competitive 32-22 win over the England Knights on Saturday.
The win was also an early birthday present for Kumul captain David Mead who turned 30 years old yesterday as his birthday falls on November 4.
Despite having only 5,686 spectators in attendance, the home team led by Mead and the aggressive tackles by Nene Macdonald, who was later named man of the match, was a collective team effort to give the spectators something to cheer for.
THE England Knights took an early lead on the scoreboard by scoring two tries to Tom Lineham and Tom Davies in the opening 20 minutes of play. Dec Patton successful converted two from two that gave them a 12-0 lead over the home team.
The Kumuls regrouped and reshuffled their attacking sets with substitutes coming off the bench to add the extra boost. Ase Boas was also at the back-end of setting up plays for Nixon Putt to slice through for a try.
The visitors did not let the tempo down as they muscled up in defense resulting in a one-on-one strip to send Jack Walker for their third try of the opening half.
Again Patton found the uprights to add the two points to make it 18-0.
Macdonald put on his trademark aggressiveness in defence which kept the home fans cheering at the top of their voices. And with the seconds counting down to half-time, Justin Olam crossed over for the second try. Watson Boas was superb in his kicking, converting two from two for a 18-12 halftime score.
At the restart, the Kumuls refreshed and polished up on their opening half approach. This time the halves combination of Kyle Laybutt, Ase Boas and Watson Boas shifting to dummy half, gave the visitors some headache in their defensive sets.
It was strong and physical style of play, especially in defence from both teams resulting in brawl among players but match referee John Stone was in control to settle the situation and allow play to continue.
Kumuls had the upper hand on the scoreboard scoring three tries to Ase Boas, Mead, Macdonald while Watson had a field day with his boots kicking three from three, including a penalty to give the Kumuls a 32-22 victory.
Watson also improved his success rate registering six from six successful conversion attempts compared to their opening match in Lae.
Lineham bagged a double for the visitors in their only try scored in the second half with an unsuccessful conversion attempt. Post courier/ PNG Today
New Caledonians decide to stay with France – for now

New Caledonians decide to stay with France – for now

By Nic Maclellan in Noumea, New Caledonia

Voters in New Caledonia have voted against independence in Sunday’s referendum on self-determination. Turning out in unprecedented numbers, a majority of voters decided to stay within the French Republic. However the vote for independence was much stronger than predicted by recent opinion polling and in campaign statements from leading anti-independence politicians.

More than 174,000 people were asked to vote on the question: “Do you want New Caledonia to accede to full sovereignty and become independent?”

At close of counting on Sunday night, unofficial results show 43.6 percent voted Yes for independence while 56.4 percent voted to stay within the French Republic.

With final counts re-confirmed overnight, the formal results will be announced on Monday morning (Noumea time) by Francis Lamy, the President of the Control Commission established by the French government to administer the vote.

There were significant differences across the country, with 75.8 per cent voting Yes in the Northern Province and 82.1 per cent Yes in the Loyalty Islands Province, two regions where the majority of the population are indigenous Kanak.

In contrast, the larger Southern Province, with a majority non-Kanak electorate, voted strongly 73.71 per cent to stay with France, with only 26.29 per cent of southern voters opting for independence.

Turnout varied across the country, but there was an unprecedented, strong mobilisation in many areas. By 12 noon on Sunday, 41.81 per cent of registered voters had gone to the polls (in comparison, during the 2014 local elections, 27.27 per cent had voted by midday). By 5pm on Sunday, the turnout had increased to 73.68 per cent.

At close of counting on Sunday night, the overall turnout was more than 80 per cent, based on 86 per cent participation in the North, 83 per cent in the South, but only 58.8 per cent in the outlying Loyalty Islands.

Differing reasons

In Noumea, voters lined up at schools, town halls and other polling locations across the capital. People from the outlying island groups who could not afford to travel to their home island voted at a special voting centre at a sporting complex in the inner-city suburb of Valee du Tir.

Talking to people as they exited the booths, it was clear that that there were significant differences between Kanak and non-Kanak voters, and between younger and older voters.

In polling booths in the wealthy beachside suburb of Anse Vata, the voters – mainly European – were concerned about their future. In exit-poll interviews, “stability” and “security” were words that recurred again and again. An elderly couple was worried about the quality of the health system in an independent state, a school teacher about the quality of education: “We’ve made great advances in the last twenty years – we no longer teach the kids about Charlemagne and the Gauls. But we shouldn’t throw this away by choosing independence.”

Another woman said: “We’re a small country and we need protection. We have great wealth with our nickel, and many countries are eyeing our wealth.”

One woman in Anse Vata was reluctant to lose access to the European Union provided by a French passport (“we’re French after all”), while another said simply: “I want to stay within the French Republic. That’s all.”  

In the working class suburb of Riviere Salee, there were mixed reactions. One Tahitian man, joined by his son who was voting for the first time, said he was open to independence in the future, but not now: “We’re not ready. The FLNKS has failed to do the work needed to persuade people about how they’ll pay for the future.”

In contrast, a number of Kanak voters were clear in their support for the Yes campaign. One women told me: “I’m voting for independence, for the future of my country, of our identity.” Would the young people turn out to vote? “I truly think the young will vote today. They too know what this is about.”

Another young Kanak woman, turned away from the booth and redirected to another polling station, said simply: “I will vote Yes for my country.”

French reaction

Speaking from Paris after the counting of votes, French President Emmanuel Macron welcomed the decision of New Caledonian voters, stating “there is no other path than that of dialogue.”

Despite the French State’s ongoing strategic interests in the South Pacific, Macron presented the French government as a “strictly neutral” partner in the referendum. He highlighted the “transparency and sincerity” of the referendum process, noting the presence of observers from the United Nations and neighbouring Pacific countries.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe arrives in Noumea on Monday morning, to spend the day meeting with political leaders and French officials, in order to gauge the reactions of competing parties in New Caledonia and encourage calm over the next six months (New Caledonians go to the polls in May 2019, to elect representatives to the three Provincial assemblies and national Congress.)

In a gesture showing their ongoing determination to continue the independence struggle, two key independence leaders may not travel to Noumea to meet the Prime Minister during his lightening visit to the French Pacific dependency. Instead, Edouard Philippe is scheduled to fly north to the northern provincial capital of Koohne, to meet Daniel Goa, president of Union Calédonienne (UC) and Paul Neaoutyine, president of the Parti de Liberation Kanak (Palika).

Prime Minister Philippe will present the French government’s reaction to the referendum in a televised interview before he flies out of New Caledonia on Monday night.

Islands Business and PACNEWS will continue reporting from New Caledonia in coming days, with updates and analysis from different political leaders....


November 3, 2018

PNG Defence Force equipped for APEC

PNG Defence Force equipped for APEC

Four years of preparation has come to this; a week of providing high end security to a high level meeting of 21 countries in Port Moresby.

That has been the story of the Papua New Guinea Defense Force (PNGDF) since the announcement that the country will be hosting the 2018 APEC Leaders’ Summit.

 In a hand over- take- over parade at the Murray Barracks in Port Moresby yesterday, the reigns of responsibility were handed over to the man who is going to be overlooking the defense force’s security team operation, Col. Ezekia Wenzel. The control was handed over from Force Preparations Commander, Col. Siale Diro, to mark the end of preparations and start of APEC security operations.

 Col. Wenzel said the PNGDF is APEC ready with its troops and equipment to support the police in the Joint security efforts in this month’s APEC Leaders’ Summit.

“For the last four years have been very much preparing to be part of the overall security task group in support of the APEC leaders meeting,” said Col. Wenzel.

 “We are expecting over a thousand troops supported by land mobility, aircrafts and ships with other partners as well, so we are looking at quite a number of force elements that have been assigned as part of Joint Task Force Kibung.”

 “We also have the flexibility to increase the size of the force as the situation changes or as threat escalates,” he added.

The overall training and preparations involved military partners, including Australia, the US, New Zealand, Indonesia and China.

Col. Wenzel said the PNGDF now has the capability to work with police, who are leading the security operations, and other security partners to ensure top end security is provided during the Leaders week.

 Meanwhile, the APEC Leaders Week will start on the 12th and end on the 18th of November.

source: LEGENDFM

November 1, 2018

New Caledonians poised to cast long-awaited vote on independence from France

New Caledonians poised to cast long-awaited vote on independence from France

New Caledonia, an idyllic French island territory in the southwestern Pacific, votes Sunday on whether to seek full independence from Paris.

Thirty years in the making, Sunday’s referendum will call 174,154 voters to the polls to test the appeal of remaining a part of France, a vector of state subsidies but also, some feel, a kind of neglect.

France took possession of the tropical archipelago in 1853, and the Pacific territory – like Australia, located 2,000 km to the west – began its colonial period as a penal colony. Declared a French Overseas Territory in 1946, New Caledonia is one of 13 such overseas territories -- the so-called “confetti of the French empire” – scattered around the globe. Nickel-rich, New Caledonia is home to 269,000 people, 39 percent of whom are indigenous Melanesians, known locally as Kanaks, while 27 percent are Caldoches, descendants of French settlers, alongside a smattering of other minorities from Polynesia, Indonesia and Vietnam.

In the 1980s, longstanding resentments between Kanaks and Caldoches, not least over indigenous land seizures by colonists, boiled over into deadly violence that claimed more than 70 lives. In 1988, between the two rounds of the French presidential election, a violent attack and a two-week-long hostage-taking by Kanak separatists on Ouvéa Island left four gendarmes, two soldiers and 19 separatist militants dead.

The French-brokered reconciliation that followed sought to rebalance wealth and political power. Subsequent accords gave New Caledonia its own special status that has allowed for gradually increasing autonomy. A local assembly based in the capital, Nouméa administers its own affairs in many areas, although Paris still controls the islands’ defence, foreign affairs and higher education policy. For some, New Caledonia’s relative autonomy today is reason not to fear an independent future. For others though, that autonomy dilutes the need to make a clean break from France.

Economic interests lie at the heart of the debate. Opponents of independence argue that New Caledonia, aided by French subsidies, has a higher standard of living than say, neighbouring Vanuatu. Kanaks supporting independence though complain of endemic discrimination and the high price of goods and real estate, which are pushed up by the high wage levels of French civil servants.

The lead-up to the high-stakes referendum, observers note, has been relatively peaceful, considering the fraught, decades-long lead-up to Sunday’s vote.

“We really sense a certain serenity in the end, as if the referendum wasn’t going to be all that important, when it is after all punctuating a 30-year process of peace and decolonisation,” the Université de Nouvelle-Calédonie’s Pierre-Christophe Pantz told FRANCE 24 on Thursday. “But it is precisely because of that, of those 30 years, that people can’t see anything other than peace and can’t imagine that anything else could happen.”

Few expect New Caledonia to vote in favour of independence from France on Sunday, with polls suggesting that as many as 69 percent of voters could turn down the prospect of parting ways.

“We have everything we need with France – schools, hospitals,” suburban Nouméa homemaker Marceline Bolo, who describes herself as “proud to be French”, told Agence France-Presse.

Indeed, for “no” voters, one argument for staying on with France is the 1.3 billion euros that Paris injects into New Caledonia’s coffers annually and fears over what that loss would represent.

New Caledonia boasts a quarter of the world’s known supply of nickel, a core component for manufacturing stainless steel, electronics and coins. But it has suffered of late from its dependence on a natural resource that lost half of its value between 2011 and 2016.

“We are eager for this election to happen. It has frozen investments and the intentions of business leaders, who no longer have any visibility,” Daniel Ochida, president of New Caledonia’s Medef business confederation, told AFP, highlighting fears over lost French subsidies should independence prevail at the ballot box. “Most business leaders want us to continue with France so as not to disrupt the economy,” he added.

But not everyone agrees that the dividends of the current association with Paris ultimately warrant remaining French. “This vote is a farce because it has been announced in advance that the no-to-independence side is going to win, so there is a real credibility problem with the vote,” Bernard Alleton, a member of the Solidarité Kanaky collective told FRANCE 24 on Thursday.

Doubts have also been raised over voter lists since only indigenous Kanaks and New Caledonians who have been residing in the territory since at least December 31, 1994.

The 1998 Nouméa Accord requires France to allow an independence referendum by November 2018; it also provided for two further referenda to be held before 2022 in the event of a “no” result after this first vote.

Alleton notes that separatists favour moving forward on Sunday’s vote anyway with an eye to tabulating support ahead of the subsequent referenda planned.

“What is legitimate is the Kanak people’s demand for independence in order to have its rights, to recuperate its land and to be able to develop and keep its culture,” said Alleton, who argues that Kanaks remain marginalised in New Caledonian society.

As for the big picture, meanwhile, there is also a geopolitical argument for maintaining the link with a major European economic and political power, even one halfway across the globe.

There are concerns that China could take advantage of a newly independent New Caledonia to increase its influence in the Pacific. Some observers fear that a newly independent New Caledonia is more susceptible to being drawn into Beijing’s orbit – as has happened in neighbouring Vanuatu.

“It’s a trade war,” Chérifa Linossier, president of New Caledonia’s small- and medium business confederation, told AFP. “Even with France and Europe, I don’t think that we are armed in the face of China, which invests $3 trillion in the Pacific every year.”

French President Emmanuel Macron has spoken of the importance of ties between France and New Caledonia in containing the threat of Chinese hegemony in the region.

Still, on a visit to Nouméa in March, Macron told a crowd six months before the referendum that he would not take a side in the campaign. “It isn’t up to the head of state to take a stance on a question that is put to Caledonians alone and such a stance actually would only disturb and bias the debate,” the French leader said, before adding, “What I want to tell you from the bottom of my heart… is that France would not be the same without New Caledonia.”

Macron is due to speak just after the results on Sunday’s vote are announced. French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe, for his part, will travel to New Caledonia on Monday with Overseas Territories Minister Annick Girardin.


China, Fiji vow to further step up all-round practical cooperation

China, Fiji vow to further step up all-round practical cooperation

China and Fiji pledged on Tuesday to further strengthen all-round practical cooperation between the two countries.

The pledge came as Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi met here separately with Fijian President Jioji Konrote, and Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.

During his meeting with Fijian President Jioji Konrote, Wang said China, as a developing country, will always stand by other developing countries as well as small and medium-sized countries.

The China-Fiji relations have witnessed rapid development since they established strategic partnership featuring mutual respect and common development four years ago, Wang noted, adding that China sees and develops its ties with Fiji from a strategic and long-term point of view.

China's support and assistance for Fiji has no political strings attached, is not intended for pursuing selfish interests, nor is it targeting any third party, Wang said.

China is willing to share experience of state governance with Fiji, strengthen mutually beneficial cooperation, assist in Fiji's development and jointly safeguard the legitimate rights of developing countries, he added.

Konrote said Fiji cherishes the strategic partnership with China. He thanked the Chinese side for offering assistance in bridge construction, infrastructure, agriculture and education, which has brought tangible benefits for the Fijian people.

Fiji is willing to learn from China's development experience and enhance mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries, he said.

While meeting with Fijian Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, Wang said China-Fiji friendship has withstood the test of changes in the international arena.

China and Fiji not only always treat each other on an equal footing, but also respect, understand and support each other, he said, adding that China firmly supports Fiji in pursuing a development path that suits its national conditions and enjoys the support of its people.

China always maintains that all countries, big or small, are equal, and China always stand by developing countries and uphold the legitimate interests of small and medium developing countries, Wang said, noting that this is the fine tradition of China's diplomacy.

China has never attached any political strings to its assistance for developing countries, nor does it seek selfish interests, the Chinese state councilor also stressed.

China-Fiji cooperation belongs to the South-South cooperation and mutual assistance between friends and brothers, he added.

Noting that China attaches importance to Fiji's role in the South Pacific island countries, Wang said China stands ready to step up all-round practical cooperation with Fiji and align the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative and Fiji's 20-year National Development Plan.

He called on the two sides to start negotiations on free trade agreement at an early date so as to uphold multilateralism and free trade through concrete actions.

Wang welcomed Fiji participating in the first China International Import Expo (CIIE) which is slated to kick off next Monday.

For his part, Bainimarama said that over the past 43 years since the establishment of the diplomatic relations between Fiji and China, the bilateral relations have enjoyed fast development with booming friendly exchanges and mutual cooperation in such fields as trade, investment, sports and localities.


Australian Navy to use overhauled PNG military base as China concerns grow

Australian Navy to use overhauled PNG military base as China concerns grow

Australian war ships will make port visits to an enlarged naval base on Papua New Guinea, expanding the Navy’s presence to Australia’s north as concerns rise over Chinese interest in the region.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison revealed on Thursday he had signed an agreement with PNG counterpart Peter O’Neill for a joint redevelopment of the naval base at Lombrum, Manus Island.

Australia is expected to pay for much of the upgrade — a signal of the government’s eagerness to hold onto its status as PNG’s preferred security partner rather than risk having Beijing step in and fill the role.

“This initiative will further enhance interoperability between our defence forces, and deepen our maritime security co-operation, including through increased Australian ship visits over time,” Morrison said.

He said the redevelopment of the base - which was established by the US during World War II and later used by Australian naval ships for resupply in the 1950s and 1960s - would more broadly boost the “strong partnership with the PNG national government” and provide economic opportunities for Manus Islanders.

Australia and other countries in the region will be watching closely the upcoming APEC meeting in Port Moresby, where China will have a heavy presence. Chinese President Xi Jinping is making a full state visit and will arrive two days before the meeting to hold his own talks with Pacific leaders.

China has been busily helping the PNG government develop infrastructure and there were reportedly fears that it might finance a new port on Manus Island, which would have prompted concern in Canberra as it would have boosted Beijing’s strategic influence.

The Chief of the Royal Australian Navy, Vice Admiral Mike Noonan, said the redevelopment was “hugely important” to deepening ties with PNG and added that Australian ships could visit the base for resupplying.

“We operate in and around that region quite routinely. We’ve got a number of patrol boats operating up there through the north end of Australia at the moment,” he said.

He said the base would be helpful for Australian ships when “there is a logistic requirement for us to pop in there and maybe spend a couple of days in the region engaging with local people”.

He said the size of the Australian ships able to use the base would depend on the final redevelopment, though it would not be able to dock Australia's largest warships, the 200-metre Landing Helicopter Docks.

Fairfax Media understands the principal aim is to allow the base to host more patrol vessels, meaning Australia and PNG could carry out joint exercises and operations. But it would be useful if larger vessels such as Australia's frigates - which would typically carry out longer-range missions - could also use the facility. That will depend on the final details negotiated between the two countries.

Scholars say Lombrum is well-located strategically because it gives clear access to the Pacific Ocean, where China is expected to increasingly challenge traditional US naval dominance.

A Chinese naval ship recently challenged the USS Decatur in the South China Sea - nearly causing a collision - while the American destroyer was carrying out a “freedom of navigation” exercise - sailing close to one of China’s artificial island to challenge its dubious territorial claim.

The US Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral John Richardson, who was visiting Canberra on Thursday, said China had breached normal safe and professional protocols and hoped they would not do it again.

“Clearly the incident around the Decatur encounter departed from that. We would hope that future operations would return to adherence to this,” he said.

Asked later during a conference call what kind of increase in Chinese naval activity he was seeing in the region, Admiral Richardson said: “China is clearly a growing nation in a major strategic expansion and so we should not surprised that maritime activity in the region is increasing, including Chinese maritime activity.”

Admiral Richardson said he and Vice Admiral Noonan had discussed freedom-of-navigation operations but it was Australia's own decision whether it wanted to carry those out.

Papua New Guinea and Australia Strengthen Relations with Prime Ministerial Bilateral Meeting

Papua New Guinea and Australia Strengthen Relations with Prime Ministerial Bilateral Meeting

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister,  Peter O’Neill  has met with his Australian counterpart, Prime Minister Hon. Scott Morrison MP, to advance a number of bilateral initiatives.
The Prime Ministers discussed bilateral relations and agreed to work together to improve and strengthen engagement between both countries.
"Scott Morrison and I agreed that part of our strengthening of relations would be to hold a Leaders Summit on a Annual basis.
This will be held alternatively between cities in both countries.
“Joint security strengthening and capacity building is an important part of our engagement.
“We have agreed to continue with the Australian Federal Police programme but with some refinement, particularly with a focus on frontline policing.
“An important initiative will be to establish a Joint Naval base in Manus.
"This will provide economic security and surveillance around our vast maritime areas, as well prevent illicit trading, drug smuggling and fishing."
"As we prepare for the APEC Summit this month, we have agreed to advocate climate changes issues during the Leaders’ meeting along with Australia's committed to its emission targets.
“Prime Minister Morrission said he is looking forward to visiting Papua New Guinea for APEC and will use the opportunity to engage with the people of our Nation and Pacific Leaders."
In relation to the the development program with Australia, PM O’Neill said there will be a strengthening of engagement in targeted areas.
“We have agreed to refocus partner support on key infrastructure projects, roads, communication, energy or power supply.
“This will strength the Government's economic and social agenda, and enhance the quality of life in our country."
In the meeting Prime Minister Morrison congratulated the Papua New Guinea Government on its first successful sovereign Bond that demonstrates markets confidence in the Government’s leadership and economic management and performance."
Prime Minister Morrison further invited Prime Minister O’Neill to Australia next year for a State Visit.
PNG Political Parties merge in a bid to remove PM O'Neill

PNG Political Parties merge in a bid to remove PM O'Neill

The merging of PNG Party with the National Alliance is a clear demonstration of the Opposition’s determination to do everything in its power to change the Prime Minister.

In a statement released today, the Member for Moresby North-West and former prime minister, Sir Mekere Morauta, said: “Papua New Guineans must now stand up and take the opportunity offered by this merger to talk to like-minded Members of Parliament on the Government benches to work with the Opposition to replace the Prime Minister.

“We know that there are some very good Members on the other side, even in PNC, who want change as they know that this Prime Minister is not fit to run the country.

“They feel trapped by the Prime Minister’s net, and we want to assure them that there is a way out. We don’t want to change the Government; we want to change the Prime Minister. He is our common enemy.

“I am urging Papua New Guineans to come out and tell Peter O’Neill that ‘enough is enough’. He has been given enough opportunity – six years - to repair the country and change course from the path of destruction he has set. But we cannot put up with him any longer.”

Sir Mekere said it was a public shame that polio and leprosy had returned to Papua New Guinea; that there were drug shortages all over the country; that teachers had suffered a pay cut and that schools were closing.

“The list goes on.”

Sir Mekere said the strengthened Opposition would bring extra focus on the problems with APEC, and more general issues brought about by the current government’s corruption, waste and mismanagement.

“I am very happy to join National Alliance along with my PNG Party colleagues, and together work with like-minded Members on the other side to replace the Prime Minister,” he said.

“The National Alliance is a well-established party with a record of stability and competent management. It has some outstanding Members of Parliament in its ranks.

“PNG Party has a record of undertaking reform and restoring the country to good health following the havoc caused by a previous PNC government.

“The two parties combined bring an unparalleled set of skills and experience and provide the best hope Papua New Guinea has to repair the damage of the last six years.”

(From left: Belden Namah, PNG Party Leader, and member of PNG Party, Sir Mekere Morauta, have joined forces with National Alliance Leader Patrick Pruaitch and his team)

Press release

October 30, 2018

PNG Kumuls determined to bounce back against England Knights

PNG Kumuls determined to bounce back against England Knights

PNG Kumuls team at training : PNG Kumuls Photo
KUMULS captain David Mead says his side are determined to square the series against the England Knights on Saturday.
The fullback, who turns 30 on Sunday, told the media at a training session at the National Football Stadium that the team were disappointed with their 16-12 loss in Lae last Saturday.
“We wanted to go out there and perform and win the game for PNG but that didn’t happen on the weekend,” Mead said of the loss.
“We’re hurting a little bit but we’re moving on and looking forward to the weekend.
“Big lesson for us is to respect the ball. We tried to push passes too much and came up with a lot of errors and we were up against a really good side like the PM’s game. We have to make the most of our chances and turn things around.
“I’m definitely confident with this team.
“When it comes to these kinds of games you have to take the chances and we’ll look to do that this weekend,” Mead said.
Mead said the team had pulled up well from the weekend and were doing light sessions to get ready for the second game of the series.
“We’ve watched the video and we need to focus on completing our sets which was something we didn’t do very well last week.”
Mead said the team had let in some soft tries on the edges and needed to address that deficiency.
The Catalans Dragons No.1 said the Kumuls would improve on their last performance and also welcomed the challenge the Knights had brought.
“The Knights ran hard and played smart moving the ball well so it’s on us to defend that.
Mead, who knows what it is like to miss a crucial kick at goal, refused to place any blame on halfback Watson Boas, who missed three conversions.
“There’s a lot of things that we could have done better in the game but we never blame an individual for losing the game.”
Mead said the Kumuls debutants had done well.
“I thought our debutants played well. They all have a lot of potential and just have to concentrate on working to improve their games and give their best every time they wear the jersey.”
“We’re all looking forward to the weekend.
“You never want to lose especially at home so we’re going to go out there and put on a good performance.”
Kyle Laybutt joins the squad today while James Segeyaro is yet to confirm his return to the team.
The final team will be announced on Thursday afternoon. The National/ONE PNG

UK Club signs PNG International

UK Club signs PNG International

The  Featherstone Rovers have signed PNG international Thompson Teteh, , for next season.
The 29-year-old centre was part of the Kumuls 2017 World Cup squad and PNG’s gold medal winning rugby league nines team at the 2015 Pacific Games.
Teteh is a former teammate of fellow Rovers signings Ase and Watson Boas at both international level and for the PNG Hunters.
He has also appeared for Queensland Intrust Super Cup outfit Redcliffe Dolphins.
“We are delighted to have brought Thompson Teteh in for the 2019 season,” Rovers general manager Davide Longo said.
“He is a player we have been monitoring for a couple of years and has received attention from a number of Super League clubs.
“Alongside Ase and Watson, he will add an element of international class to next year’s squad.
“He is an exciting and powerful player, who has experience at the highest level.” Longo feels that the Featherstone’s latest signings have put the club in a strong position heading into next season.
The Rovers general manager has promised more additions before next year’s campaign.
“The addition of those qualities, added to the championship exposure of our recruits from Batley and the enthusiastic hunger of the academy stars we’ve signed, means our team for next season is striking the perfect balance,” Longo said.
“We are not content yet though and will make further additions ahead of 2019.” – DailyMail

October 29, 2018

UK, PNG commence dialogue on trade

UK, PNG commence dialogue on trade

The United Kingdom would honour the current Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) with PNG and other ACP member states that have existing preferential trade relations with the European Union, after Brexit.
The United Kingdom Minister for Trade Policy, George Hollingbery said this while briefing ACP Trade Ministers on Brexit on 25 October at ACP House Brussels.
PNG was represented at the meeting by Joshua Kalinoe, Papua New Guinea Ambassador to ACP and EU.
Mr Hollingberry advised ministers that UK will honour the existing EPA that ACP countries have with EU. Accordingly, priority for UK is to work with existing parties to trade under the current EPA until similar Agreements are negotiated and implemented after 2021.
Soon after the Briefing Ambassador Kalinoe met with Mr Hollingsbery to exchange views on the current work by officials from UK and PNG to negotiate a similar EPA with the one that PNG has with EU.
They noted that trade officials from PNG and UK will meet at the margins of the ACP-EU Joint Trade Ministers Meeting in Brussels to continue the dialogue.

BSP ceases Bank Service fees

BSP ceases Bank Service fees

Up to K20 million will be forgone in 2018 in relation to bank service fees previously charged by Bank South Pacific.
A host of banking charges were either forgone entirely or reduced earlier in September this year.
“We have also been able to announce within the last month or fee reductions with BSP in regards to our customers and the annual revenue forgone for those particular fee reductions will be in the vicinity of around K20 million from the time they are announced.
“As we pointed out in some of the public announcements made with those fees.
“In large we have been looking to rationalize our deposit products as we move towards our new banking system in 2020.
“One of the older accounts which we are moving customers away from has been the old Kundu Saver account where customers will get charged K3 a month whether they use the account or not and we are now migrating customers to another packaged account where you are able to get transactions with that K9.50 a month or you go to a, Pay As You Go account, which charges you based on the transaction usage without any monthly fee,” BSP CEO Robin Fleming said.
He said reductions will continue for reduced and eliminate transaction fees, dormant account fees, including some loan service fees, where customers who have had residential property loans where there would have been a fee on top of the interest rates.
“There are no fees registering with any of our mobile banking and any of our internet banking, rather electronic and digital offerings.
“We are ensuring profitable return for our shareholders as much as possible for our customers’ perspective, hence the migrations to accounts which are very competitive in the market place and we don’t charge the fees associated with those.
“We will continue to pass on the benefits to our shareholders with a strong interim dividend which we paid (over a week ago) at at 32t per share as part of over K160 million.
“We still remain the largest non-mining tax payer in the country and endeavoring as much possible customers benefit from our low cost offerings,” he said. Post corier/one png

Noble Center towers Port Moresby skyline

Noble Center towers Port Moresby skyline

With the construction and property development sectors in Port Moresby taking off in a hype of activity, the preferred direction for construction within the heart of the Port Moresby Central Business District has always been up.
The city’s CBD will now see a new building set to dominate the skyline overlooking the famous Fairfax Harbour.
The building is the Noble Center, totally developed by China Railway Construction Engineering Group (PNG) Real Estate Co. Ltd (short for CRCEGRE) .
China Railway is no stranger to building many large and modern buildings in big cities in China as well as in Tanzania, Africa.
Still under construction the Noble Center currently stands 20 floors, already peaking over the CBD precinct, and once fully completed will stand at 23 floors above ground, with two basement levels.
Standing at almost 100 meters, it will be the tallest building in the country, completing a two and a half year construction period that started in December 2016 and ends in the second half of 2019.
The tower’s two basement levels (and Level 1 to Level 7) will cater for car parks; while the ground floor, level 8, and 22 are for commercial cliental. Levels 9 to 21 are office floors.
The building is connected with three major city roads of Stanley Esplanade, Champion Parade, and Musgrave Street.
The building is the first architectural work to incorporate vertical landscaping concept, as the building aims at creating an unprecedented office environment in PNG.
The building will have a Roof Gym, Sky cafeteria, Ground retail to vary the business environment, incorporating a gardenia working atmosphere.
For each office floor the total usable area is about 1100 square metres.
China Railway is the owner of the building in what is a pure commercial office building investment.
Growing interest has already been shown for the building.
Also in addition to the hype and interest around the tallest structure in town and the appreciation of architectural art, CRCEGRE is running what it calls the Noble Center photo competition.
It will see three categories of prizes from smart phones and smart watches to be given away to seven lucky winners under the theme of architectural photography.
Photo entrants will have to take any architectural picture of a building in Port Moresby that they deem is unique.
The photos can be sent to email address with entrants names and contact numbers. Entries will close on Friday November 2 this week, and the winners will be announced on November 7. Post Courier

Minister reveals 30-year target to put PNG in world’s top 50

Minister reveals 30-year target to put PNG in world’s top 50

National Planning Minister Richard Maru says he wants to see Papua New Guinea among the top 50 developed nations by 2050.
He was speaking on Thursday during the unveiling of the PNG Development Cooperation Policy (DCP) 2018-2022.
Papua New Guinea is currently ranked 156th out of 187 countries on the Human Development Index, according to the United Nations Development Programme.
“That is a long shot as we have to compete with 155 other countries before we get there,” Maru said.
“Our vision that we must get there in 30 years’ time.
“Our biggest needs are infrastructure like roads, electricity, undersea cables (communications) and so on.”
Maru said the very first DCP was in 2015.
“With a review of the policy due, my department undertook a consultative process in May 2018 to look at the achievements this far, the challenges and how best we go forward,” he said.
Maru said that they found during the review that provinces and districts were benefitting from donor funds.
“This practice was creating unequal distribution of resources across the country,” he said.
“We cannot leave others behind.
“We also found out that donors come here with their plans that had worked in other countries expecting it to work here, which in most cases, do not work here.
“On the utilisation of technical advisers, aid received by PNG is likened to boomerang aid with large components of development partner-financed programmes employing many foreign technical advisers. “In addition, there is limited skills and knowledge transfer between international technical advisers and local counterparts.
“That trend must stop as we want more locals to take the responsibility to take on these jobs.
“I know you experts don’t trust PNG experts, but in this policy, we want you to provide assistance and capacity to this programme to support our departments.
“You must get PNG experts and all expert position should be advertised for Papua New Guineans only.” The National/ONEPNG

October 28, 2018

PNG's Airline Air Niuginin Chuuk crash report released

PNG's Airline Air Niuginin Chuuk crash report released

A preliminary report on the incident involving Air Niugini Boeing 373-800 at Chuuk Airport in the Federated State of Micronesia last month was released last Friday.

The report that was uploaded on Accident Investigation Website only shows factual information of what transpired during the time of the incident.

According to the report, conclusions and analysis and recommendations on the investigation will be provided in the final report as the investigation is still ongoing.

In the preliminary report, the Department of Transportation, Communications and Infrastructure has classified the occurrence as an accident.

According to report on the history of the flight, the plane was scheduled to fly passengers from Pohnpei to Chuuk, Federated States of Micronesia.

At 23.45 UTC1 (09.45 local time) the aircraft impacted the water of Chuuk Lagoon about 1500 ft (460m) short of the runway 04 threshold, during its approach to runway 04 at Chuuk International Airport.

As the aircraft settled in the water, it turned clockwise through 210 degrees and drifted 460 ft (140 m) south east of the runway (04) extended centerline, with the nose of the aircraft pointing about 265 deg.

There were 12 crew members and 35 passengers on board. Six passengers were seriously injured and one passenger was fatally injured.

The 12 crew members and 34 passengers exited the aircraft and were promptly rescued and brought to shore by US Navy divers (who were the first on the scene), Chuuk State government boats, Red Cross, Transco, and more than 20 privately-owned boats.

Local divers located the fatally injured passenger in the aircraft three days after the accident.

The aircraft was damaged by impact forces with no other damage reported.

The aircraft is owned by Loftlieder / Icelander. The aircraft manufacturer is Boeing Company and the aircraft was manufactured in April 19, 2005 and registered in PNG and operated by Air Niugini Limited.

The pilot in command at that time was a 52-year-old Papua New Guinean who has been in command of the plane almost four months, with copilot, a 35 year old Australian being as copilot in Boeing for two weeks.

The investigation is reviewing the ground-based navigation aids, on-board navigation aids, and aerodrome visual ground aids and their serviceability at the time of the accident.

All communications between air traffic services (ATS) and the aircraft were normal.

The aircraft was fitted with a solid-state cockpit voice recorder and a separate solid-state flight data recorder. The SSCVR (P/N: 980-6022-001 & S/N:04448) and SSFDR (P/N: 980-4700-043 & S/N: 17869) were manufactured by Honeywell Aerospace. The CVR was installed at the rear fuselage of the aircraft. The SSFDR was installed in the ceiling at the rear of the passenger cabin.

An examination of the data showed that the SSFDR data and the SSCVR audio from the accident flight had been successfully recorded. The data was good quality.

Other electronics components of the aircraft were recovered by the local divers.

The initial examination of video taken by the divers showed that the main landing gear separated from the aircraft during the water impact. The rear fuselage behind the wing had fractured during the impact sequence.

The aircraft sank in 90 ft of water to the Chuuk Lagoon seabed.

A post mortem was conducted on the deceased passenger by the FSM State Pathologist, and at the request of the FSM Investigator-in-Charge, a confirmation Post Mortem was conducted by the PNG State Pathologist in Chuuk.

The Pathologists’ report will be examined by the investigation.

The areas of organizational and management information which may have directly or indirectly influenced the operation of the aircraft is the subject of the ongoing investigation. The organizational

On October 23, 2018, Air Niugini Limited informed the investigation of the following Safety Actions taken and proposed following the accident and stated:

Chuuk (TKK) and Pohnpei (PNI) Airport categories have been changed from CAT B to CAT X (CAT X being more restrictive) operations by Air Niugini Limited.

Other similar airports in the Air Niugini Boeing network are being reviewed and may be re-categorized accordingly.

Additional training and qualifications required for Category X training requirements for Flight Crew to be initiated.

UK not in “aid race” with China, says Clarke

UK not in “aid race” with China, says Clarke

The establishment of a United Kingdom (UK) Mission in Samoa does not signal the start of an “aid race” with other development partners, says UK High Commissioner to Samoa, Laura Clarke.

Clarke recently toured Apia ahead of the handing over of the role to a diplomatic colleague who will be based in Samoa. 

Clarke is also the High Commissioner to New Zealand and is based in Wellington.

Responding to questions on whether the UKis throwing her hat in the ring for influence in the Pacific over China amidst international concern,Clarke said no.

“I think it’s all to the good that there are multiple partners for Samoa to work with but I would not characterise it as an aids race,” she said.

“China has its own way of doing aid, and it has vast resources and they have a much bigger presence.”

Clarke said it is time the existing relationship of the UK was strengthened and for further partnership opportunities to be developed.

Furthermore, the UK will be careful not to duplicate development work already happening, but rather to work where help is needed.

But she added it is the nature of foreign policy and diplomacy for countries to want to engage and influence other nations.

“Certainly, geopolitics are alive and well in the Pacific,” Clarke said.

“There are many areas where we work together and have a shared interest, like with climate change, and I think it’s important that countries, particularly developing countries always have options.”

The approach of the aid and development, as it has been under the European Union, will be to focus on sustainability and capacity building rather than infrastructure, with the diplomat calling it a “different approach”.

“We generally do programmes that build capacity, build expertise, technical assistance, that sort of thing."

“We are also trying to future proof it. We don’t want a situation where you have to keep providing aid, you want to capacity build with the end goal being self-sufficiency,” she added.

Clarke said development should ensure loans and debt agreements are sustainable.