Regional

7th July

Marshall Islands continues inbound travel ban

The Marshall Islands has extended its ban on inbound travel to the country for another month in an effort to maintain its coronavirus-free environment. Government Chief Secretary Kino Kabua issued an updated travel advisory late...

Australia closes state border for first time in 100 years to halt coronavirus

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australian officials are closing the border between Australia’s two most populous states from Tuesday for an indefinite period as they scramble to contain an outbreak of the coronavirus in the city of Melbourne. The decision announced on Monday marks the first time the border between Victoria and New South Wales has been...

6th July

Tonga to start repatriation of stranded residents

The Government of Tonga has annouced that the first repatriation flight for Tongans overseas will begin on Thursday 9 July. This is a flight from Fiji and expected to bring 40 Tongans. Repatriation flights from New Zealand are planned for the first week of August, but discussions between the two governments are still ongoing. The...

Samoa RSE workers to return on chartered flights

Samoa’s RSE workers who finished their contracts in May and June will be returned home on chartered flights organised by the New Zealand horticulture industry. The date for the first flight is yet to be finalised but an assistant CEO of Samoa’s Ministry of Labour who is the head of the RSE division, Lemalu Nele...

Makira still waiting for cyclone relief three months on

Villagers on Makira in Solomon Islands are reportedly still waiting for relief supplies after April’s Cyclone Harold. The Solomon Star reported villages in the Haununu district on the island’s remote Weathercoast had lost food gardens and staple banana crops. Chief Hudson Haotai said the only crop to survive the storm was swamp taro, or Kakake, which...

Electoral challenge against Vanuatu speaker thrown out

A Vanuatu court has thrown out an election petition filed against the speaker of parliament, Gratien Shedrack. The challenge was filed by the former justice minister, Don Ken, who lost his Malekula seat in the March elections. Mr Ken had accused Mr Shedrack of bribery and corruption during the election campaign on Malekula. But the...

Australia targets Pacific TB

Australia is spending almost $US6 million on a project to tackle drug resistant tuberculosis in the Pacific. The Health Ministry said about half of the funding was aimed at Kiribati, where every person in Tarawa with TB over the age of two would be treated. The four-year project started last month and will also provide...

CNMI governor under fire for island trip to release deer

The Northern Marianas governor is under fire for taking a trip to the remote northern islands during the Covid-19 pandemic to release some deer. Ralph Torres flew to Pagan with YouTuber Robert Arrington, who runs a vlog called DeerMeatForDinner. The pair released four sambar deers as part of an ecotourism initiative. But opposition representative Tina...

Samoa by-election unlikely as resignation rejected

In Samoa, the territorial constituency of Gagaifomauga number 3 has rejected their MP Laauli Leuatea Polataivao Schmidt’s verbal resignation in Parliament after a meeting last Saturday. In a statement posted on Laauli’s social media platform, the constituency has called for the MP to remain in the seat and establish a new political party to save...

New Caledonia Labour Party wants independence

New Caledonia’s Labour Party has called on its members to vote for independence from France in the referendum in October. The party, which is no longer represented in Congress, had decided to abstain from the last referendum in 2018. In the lead-up to that plebiscite, its leader Louis Kotra Uregei said that as the colonised...

Food gardens for urban dwellers in Vanuatu’s capital

More than a hundred people attended a programme in Vanuatu’s capital last week to take up backyard food gardening. The programme, by the regional environment agency SPREP, is an effort to provide more fresh food and better food security for in Port Vila . Its coordinator, Heggar Molisa, says it’s been popular. “You can use...

Last Covid-19 relief flight lands in Tahiti

The last of nine Covid-19 related relief flights from France has arrived in French Polynesia, bringing in a further 100 people. The French government-sponsored flight landed in Tahiti after a stopover in Canada. The French High Commission said the Air Tahiti Nui plane carried stranded residents and patients who had completed their care in France....

Samoa extends Covid-19 state of emergency

Samoa has extended the COVID-19 State of Emergency for another month, taking the country to an unprecedented four-month lockdown. Samoa Observer reports that Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi announced that as long as there is still a threat of the virus reaching Samoa “we will continue to close our borders”. Some of the emergency orders...

Vanuatu policeman to pay damages over assault

A Vanuatu police officer has been ordered to pay US$36,000 in damages to the man he assaulted in 2015. The man was a student at Santo’s Matevulu College when he was slapped by an officer so hard his ear drums perforated. The student was among several students detained after they were accused of damaging school...

5th July

New Zealand’s Ardern launches election campaign with promises of jobs, financing

(Reuters) – With promises of extra financing for small businesses and more jobs as a severe economic downturn looms, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Sunday launched her party’s campaign ahead of September general election. Ardern’s rise to become New Zealand’s most popular prime minister in a century, buoyed by her response to the...

Protest marks Moruroa anniversary

A sit-in has been held outside the French High Commission in French Polynesia to commemorate the 54th anniversary of the first nuclear weapons test at Moruroa. The demonstration was organised by the anti-nuclear group Association 193 which again decried the recent law change tightening compensation criteria for those suffering ill-health. The group said most compensation...

Tonga government less accountable – Opposition MP

An opposition MP in Tonga says there is now less acountability within the country’s administration. Siaosi Pohiva, the son of the late prime minister, ‘Akilisi Pohiva, wants to continue his father’s push for greater accountability. Campaigns by his father’s administration to wrest control of key appointments, such as the attorney-general and police commander, from King...

Report detailing USP mismanagement will not be made public

An audit report that’s said to have found widespread corruption and mismanagement at the University of the South Pacific will not be released to the public. The decision was made after a daylong meeting of the university’s council, which ended late last night. Staff and students had called for it to be released in full,...

Northern Marianas and Guam record new Covid-19 cases

Nearly a month after registering its last case, the Northern Marianas has reported a positive Covid-19 test, bringing its total infections to 31. Health authorities haven’t released any details about the case but reports say the person was a passenger on a 27 June flight from Guam. The CNMI has concluded quarantining arrivals from Guam...

American Samoa fono uses Covid federal funds for office space

Lawmakers in American Samoa have confirmed they are receiving Covid-19 funding but that it will go towards finding suitable premises to work. The Senate President and Speaker of the House are getting cheques of $US20,000 and senators and representatives are receiving checks of $US10,000. Governor Lolo Moliga has explained the Fono had wanted to buy...

Tokelau not prepared for potential Covid-19 case

The Government of Tokelau says the three atolls are not yet in a position to effectively quarantine, isolate and manage a suspected or confirmed case of Covid-19. The government had undertaken an assessment of preparedness levels. It first shut its borders to visitors on 21 March. The government said the safety of the people was...

4th July

Niue ratifies regional PACER Plus trade agreement

Niue has ratified the regional trade agreement PACER Plus, pushing it closer to implementation. BCN reported that Finance Minister Crossley Tatui announced Cabinet approval of the PACER Plus regional document today. Niue is one of the 11 signatories to the agreement and is thought to be the seventh nation to ratify. Mr Tatui said the ratification...

Racism against Papuans is isolated: Jakarta official

An Indonesian government official has characterised recent racism against West Papuans as an isolated pattern. The Papuan Lives Matter movement has been gaining momentum in Indonesia since widspread anti-racism protests last year. The protests were sparked by racist harassment of West Papuan university students in Surabaya. A senior official from Indonesia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs...

Kiribati, UNICEF and NZ join forces for child health

Funded by the New Zealand government, the agreement targets the first 1000 days – from pregnancy to age two. Kiribati has the highest infant mortality rate in the Pacific, with one in 25 children dying before the age of one. UNICEF’s Pacific Representative Sheldon Yett said contributing to the rate were preventable diseases like diarrhoea....

PNG courthouse closed by Covid-19

Part of Papua New Guinea’s National Court in Port Moresby will be closed for a week after it was established a woman, who tested positive for Covid-19, had visited the court house. The National newspaper reported Papua New Guinea’s 11th case of the coronavirus, a 26-year-old lawyer, had been in court room one in the Waigani...

Unemployment drops slightly in New Caledonia

Unemployment figures in New Caledonia for last year show a small drop compared to 2018. The statistics showed it was 10.9 percent, meaning just under 14,000 people were out of work. A further 8500 people were not looking for work or were not immediately available for employment. The figures also showed that unemployment among young...

USP governance needs improvement: Aingimea

The new head of the University of the South Pacific aims to improve governance at the regional institution. Nauru President Lionel Aingimea took on the role of Chancellor this week. He is the 28th Pacific leader and third Nauru president to hold the position. Mr Aingimea said the USP needed strong staff and strong students...

Temaru dismisses Flosse statements on French Polynesian independence

French Polynesia’s pro-independence leader Oscar Temaru has dismissed calls by the veteran politician Gaston Flosse for French Polynesia to become independent. Mr Flosse said there should be a referendum on whether French Polynesia becomes a country in free association with France. Mr Temaru told Tahiti Nui TV that Mr Flosse’s announcement was merely the latest bait to...

Nauru marks 50 years of phosphate ownership

Nauru is today marking 50 years since the country got control of its phosphate industry. For the previous 51 years the hugely lucrative industry was controlled by the Nauru Phosphate Corporation, owned by the governments of Australia, Britain and New Zealand. Once Nauru gained control the country earned vast amounts of money, becoming the world’s...

Staff at university in Solomons to stay away in protest

Staff at the Solomon Islands National University are planning to withdraw their services from today over claims of financial mismanagement. They had earlier demanded the removal of the Vice-chancellor Dr Ganesh Chand. The Solomon Star newspaper reported they had accused Dr Chand of financial mismanagement and abuse of procurement and recruitment processes. In their letter of demand,...

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