PNG Kumuls PM's XIII squad announced

Posted by Niugini Nius | September 18, 2014 | Posted in ,

The PNG Rugby Football League late this afternoon announced the 21 man PNG Kumul Prime Minister’s thirteen squad to take on the Australian Kangaroos Prime Minister’s thirteen in Kokopo next month.
The squad was endorsed by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill this morning before being released in line with protocol for the 10th year anniversary of the PM’s thirteen match. 

The 21 man squad includes overseas based players Wellington Albert, Rhys Martin, Mark Mexico and 2014 Intrust Super Cup player of the year and Canberra Raiders contracted player Luke Page.

James Segeyaro, Ray Thompson, Nene McDonald and Jayden Hodges were unavailable for selection while South Sydney winger Alex Johnson is likely to be named in the Australian PM X111 side.

Both David Mead and Rod Griffin are also excluded from the Kumuls, with Mead scheduled to walk his bride-to-be down the aisle in an October wedding, likewise for Griffin.

Head coach Mal Meninga expressed confidence in the squad which was finalized in consultation with selectors and his assistant and Hunters mentor Michael Marum.

In a media statement released this afternoon, Meninga said the selection focus was on combinations and youth.

He said the Hunters who dominate the team have had a fantastic season and have proven to be worthy of wearing the infamous Kumul colors, representing PNG.

Meninga said the squad is fit and ready to take on what will be a star studded Australian team.

Mark Mexico is expected to join the squad when it assembles in Kokopo on Sunday, whilst Luke Page is waiting on visa requirements to be met before joining the team

Wellington Albert will join after getting clearance from the surgeon next Tuesday while Rhys Martin currently in the Sydney Roosters top 25 player list will finish his senior club commitments before joining the squad.

The Prime Minister’s X111 match is set for October 12 in Kokopo.
Dion Aiye - PNG Hunters 
Wellington Albert - NYC Penrith 
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Rhys Martin - NYC Roosters 
Mark Mexico - NSW Cup Cronulla 
Willie Minoga- PNG Hunters 
Luke Page - ISC Souths Logan 
Sebastine Pandia - PNG Hunters 
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Fiji’s military ruler headed for big election win

Posted by Niugini Nius | September 17, 2014 | Posted in ,

By NICK PERRY and PITA LIGAIULA Associated Press Suva,

Fiji's military ruler for the past eight years appeared to be headed to a decisive victory on Thursday to become the South Pacific nation's elected leader.

With votes from three-fifths of polling stations counted, Voreqe Bainimarama's Fiji First party was winning 60 percent of the vote, while its closest rival, the Sodelpa party, was trailing with 27 percent. The margin will ensure Fiji First will be able to rule outright in the Parliament under the country's proportional system.

A day earlier, there was excitement among thousands of voters and relief from the international community as Fijians cast ballots in the landmark election they hope will end more than a quarter-century of political turmoil.

Bainimarama, who has ruled this sunny South Pacific nation since he seized control in a 2006 coup, is popular in Fiji thanks in part to his focus on social programs, increased infrastructure spending and careful cultivation of his image through media controls.

After casting his ballot, Bainimarama was asked whether he would accept the outcome if he lost.

"I'm not going to lose. I will win. You ask that question to the other party," he said. Then he added, "Of course we will accept the election results. That is what the democratic process is all about."

The 100 or so international election observers did not report any immediate problems by the time voting closed. They have scheduled a news briefing for later Thursday. A little more than half a million of the nation's 900,000 citizens registered to vote.

The international community is prepared to drop remaining sanctions once Fiji officially restores democracy, including returning it to full membership among the Commonwealth group of nations.

Moti Ram, 73, arrived at a Suva polling station Wednesday with his whole family. "We wanted our votes to count," he said.

Abele Tubaba, from the village of Koronatoga, said he hoped whoever wins will improve development in remote areas.

"We struggle to find markets for our root crops, grog and seafood," he said, referring to a potent traditional Fijian drink. "We hope the new government brings better things for us."

Supporters say Bainimarama's popularity reflects a job well done, while detractors say he's seeking to legitimize his treasonous power grab and years of human rights abuses.

Ro Teimumu Kepa, leader of Sodelpa, said after voting that she and her candidates have done the best job they could: "We leave it to the people to decide."

Bainimarama won favor with many Fijians by improving services. He's made education free and spent tens of millions of dollars improving the roads, albeit much of it with money borrowed from China. And the economy is showing signs of life, growing by 4.6 percent last year, according to government figures.

Some see his biggest achievement as reducing ethnic tensions, which have been a big factor in the four coups Fiji has endured since 1987.

An indigenous Fijian, Bainimarama is paradoxically most popular with the large minority whose ancestors come from India. That's because he's ended preferential indigenous representation in the Parliament and abolished the Great Council of Chiefs, a group of powerful indigenous Fijians who enjoyed a privileged status in island life.

Potential Chinese investors given insight

Posted by Niugini Nius | | Posted in

Potential Chinese investors and financiers were given an insight into mining investment opportunities available in Papua New Guinea especially PNG’s efforts to diversify the country’s mineral base.

Managing Director of the Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) Philip Samar in his presentation at the7th China International Nickel Industry Summit in Fuzhou, Fujian province in China, told participants that PNG was intensifying efforts to diversifying its mineral base and that investment in other minerals other than gold, copper and silver was encouraged. He said diversification was critical for a mineral dependent country such as PNG given the volatile mineral price shifts witnessed recently and in the event of a down-turn in world commodity prices for copper and gold, you could still have other minerals to maintain the revenue flows into the country.

Mr Samar told participants that PNG had world class nickel/cobalt exploration projects some of which needed financing and capital investment in order for these projects to be advanced to the next stage of development.

Wowo Gap and Mambare nickel projects along the Owen Stanley Ranges are large projects that boast resources larger than Ramu. These two projects were highlights which captured the attention of participants at the conference. Other known nickel occurrences around the country were also highlighted.

Papua New Guinea was the spotlight of the conference given the fact that the 2 largest nickel exporters, Indonesia and the Philippines, were both passing legislation restricting the export of nickel ore to China and therefore PNG was being targeted as the next supplier of nickel ore to the region particularly China.

The conference acknowledged the significant developments to date in the maturity of both the industry and the overall government efforts in promoting the exploration and mining sector. These include the review of the Mining Act 1992, the creation of the new tenements management system and the provision of new geological datasets through the airborne geophysical surveys that has been done on highly prospective areas of PNG.

As a result of the conference, the Fuzhou Department of Commerce will be visiting the MRA next week Tuesday with a delegation of 5 business houses to further enquire on the prospects of taking up nickel prospects in the country.

The MRA delegation also held a number of meetings on the side lines of the conference with potential investors and financiers including a meeting organized by the China Development Bank (CDB) and the Fujian provincial government’s department of commerce. This meeting was attended by more than 12 Chinese companies interested in seeking out further exploration and mining opportunities in the country.

PNG backs Fiji polls through funding

Posted by Niugini Nius | | Posted in , ,

PAPUA New Guinea has not sent political observers to the Fiji elections because it was not officially invited, Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Rimbink Pato said yesterday.

Mr Pato said in a Radio New Zealand International interview that to his knowledge the Government "received no formal invitation from Fiji on that matter".

"So that was probably the reason why we haven’t sent a member there. We are supporting the natural process. We are providing 20 million dollars US (K50 million) to support the election as you know. So we’re committed to the process of democratic elections in Fiji. It’s just that we have not had formal notice," Mr Pato told RNZI.

Additional Foreign Affairs Department officials had been deployed at the PNG diplomatic mission in Suva to observe the elections which started yesterday.

"Papua New Guinea has met its commitments to support the Fijian electoral process as agreed through ongoing discussion with Fiji," said a statement from the Prime Minister’s office yesterday.

"This was the subject of ongoing coordination over recent months with the evolution of the proposed observer program that involved several differed components for consultation.

"As part of this support, Papua New Guinea has deployed additional Foreign Affairs Department officials to our diplomatic mission in Fiji.

"Papua New Guinea made a commitment of K50 million to support the Fiji electoral process – half of which was agreed to be provided before the election, which has been delivered, and half following the election.

"The first K10 million was delivered three months ago and a further K15 million was delivered last week. The remainder of this commitment will be provided according to the agreed schedule.

"Papua New Guinea wishes Fiji every success in its transition back to democratic rule and we will work with Fiji to ensure this process is successful. It is timely that Fiji’s election is scheduled for the day after PNG’s 39th independence day celebrations.

"While PNG has faced its challenges, we are celebrating another anniversary of our democracy. We look to continuing to share our experience and provide ongoing support and friendship to our friends in Pacific Island countries on a range of issues that include governance and development issues," the statement said.

But the Fiji Prime Minister’s office yesterday told reporters in PNG that instruments for an observer mission from PNG have been sent to the PNG Government. They could not give further details.

PNG Today / Post Courier

Fiji's Prime Minister Bainimarama takes lead

Posted by Niugini Nius | | Posted in

Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama party gets a commanding lead based on provisional results in the country's landmark election, Radio New Zealand reports.
Votes from more than half the polling stations have been tallied and after 12 hours of counting FijiFirst has 60 percent of the vote.
Its nearest rival Sodelpa, which has its foundations in the party of the ousted prime minister Laisenia Qarase is sitting on 26 percent.
Nearly 340,000 votes have been counted so far, more than half of those who registered to vote.
Frank Bainimarama is well in front individually, with nearly five times the votes of the Sodelpa leader and paramount chief Ro Teimumu Kepa.
Just over 40 percent of the votes in the more populated Central and Western divisions of the country have been counted.
But just one percent of votes from the remoter Eastern division have been tallied.
This area is seen by some as a stronghold of the Sodelpa party.
Fiji is voting for a new-look parliament of 50 MPs based on proportional representation.
After regular updates throughout the night, the elections authorities say the next results are not due out until later this afternoon.

Asbestos cleanup in Fiji

Posted by Niugini Nius | | Posted in

Dangerous forms of brown and white asbestos, discovered in the Tamavua Twomey Hospital complex, in Suva, Fiji, are  to be removed  beginning 16 September 2014.

The asbestos was discovered through the European Union's Pacific Hazardous Waste Management (PacWaste) project, which is being implemented by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).

Given the serious ongoing human health risk and the need for immediate action, the EU, SPREP and the Fiji Ministry of Health have agreed to fast-track an asbestos cleanup under the PacWaste project to urgently address the situation through the targeted removal and disposal of the asbestos present at the hospital. This will later be followed up by a hospital-wide decontamination plan led by the Fiji Ministry of Health and assisted by the PacWaste project.

The PacWaste project has been conducting a field survey of asbestos in 13 Pacific island countries since May 2014. The data collected will be used to identify priority interventions to minimise human exposure to harmful asbestos fibres.

"Because the forms of asbestos found in the hospital easily become airborne, and therefore can be inhaled and cause lung diseases like cancer, it represents a grave health risk to the staff, patients and visitors to the hospital," said the SPREP Project Manager, Mr. Stewart Williams.

“The PacWaste project's identification of high risk sites, such as the Tamavua Twomey Hospital, highlights the value of first conducting country wide surveys before planning interventions, so that scarce resources can be prioritised and allocated to achieve the most positive effect."

“This intervention on asbestos is just one of the first steps that the PacWaste project will take to improve the management of hazardous waste across the Pacific, through targeting priority infrastructure works, training of waste-workers, improved waste management systems and waste recycling programmes, particularly in the areas of asbestos, healthcare waste and E-waste,” said Ms Ileana Miritescu, Programme Manager at the European Union Delegation.

“These will have a profound effect, improving hazardous waste management and the environment in the Pacific island communities.”

The next steps for the PacWaste asbestos programme will include finalising the detailed regional asbestos survey and thereafter plan the follow-up needed. This will include stabilisation/encapsulation of buildings containing asbestos that may remain in use, asbestos remediation works for high risk sites, equipment purchases, capacity building, training and public awareness raising.

Critic slams Australian aid-for-trade policy

Posted by Niugini Nius | | Posted in

AN Australian aid critic has slammed the Abbott government’s foreign policy that will see an increased in aid-for-trade in Pacific Island countries increase from 12.5 per cent to 20 per cent of the aid budget by 2020.

Adam Wolfenden, a trade justice campaigner for the Pacific Network on Globalisation (PANG), a Pacific based regional network that promotes economic self-determination and justice, said the focus was "the same wine in different bottles. "

"Aid-for-Trade, and its counterpart PACER-Plus, are really about ensuring that Pacific markets are open to Australian exports and securing Pacific engagement with the global economy on terms that disproportionately benefit the regions big brothers."

He said the Pacific had always traded and that would continue, but it must be in a way that supported their economic self-determination.

"Lining up the Australian aid program to complement the demands being made in a free trade agreement shows just whose interest this is all in." Mr Wolfenden said.

He argued that the policy argues that global trade was an engine for growth and development in the region. So using aid-for-trade to increase engagement with the global economy would see incomes rise and levels of poverty decline accordingly, he added.

Mr Wolfenden said however, according to Harvard University’s Dani Rodrik "essentially, there is no convincing evidence that trade liberalisation is predictably associated with subsequent economic growth" and that "the problem isn’t trade liberalisation per se, but the diversion of financial resources and political capital from more urgent and deserving developmental priorities".

The Aid-for-Trade policy is also being used as a bait for Pacific Island trade officials negotiating the regional trade agreement known as PACER-Plus.


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