Pacific news in brief for July 3

Fiji – navy

Fiji’s brand new patrol boat has finally been pulled off the reef at Fulaga where it ran aground three weeks ago.

The Guardian Class Patrol Boat RFNS Puamau, gifted to Fiji by Australia in March, had only just arrived in the country in May and was on its maiden patrol when it ran aground.

According to the Royal Fiji Navy (RFN), the vessel has been towed to the nearby island of Ogea where a thorough damage assessment will be conducted.

Meanwhile, a board of inquiry continues with its investigation into the grounding incident after which it will make recommendations based on its findings.

Papua New Guinea – review

Dismissed Madang MP Bryan Kramer has been granted leave to file an urgent review in the National Court on the PNG leadership tribunal’s decision made last year.

Governor General Sir Bob Dadae dismissed Kramer as an MP in May 2023 on the advice of the tribunal after he was found guilty of seven counts of misconduct in office.

The National reported the Supreme Court bench also quashed the National Court’s decision that refused Kramer leave to review, saying the judge erred.

The National Court on 18 August 2023 refused Kramer leave for a judicial review saying the grounds of apprehension of bias in the tribunal’s decision do not make an arguable case.

Justice Murray, speaking for the Supreme Court bench, said this was an error as it did not consider nine other grounds.

Kramer’s grounds for review were that the decision of the tribunal in May last year was in breach of natural justice, unreasonable and apprehension of bias.

Papua New Guinea

Three men in their 20s, who were taken hostage near Mt Sisa in Hela Province in PNG last Friday, have been released.

This follows police being deployed to the area.

The Post-Courier reports the Poliice Commissioner David Manning saying the kidnappers had been warned they would likely be killed if they continued to hold the hostages at gunpoint.

“PNG has had enough of these spineless criminals who take advantage of innocent people, and security forces have made it clear we will stop them,” he said.

Manning said it was clear that the kidnappers knew that police would show no mercy for such acts of criminality.

Bougainville – budget

The Bougainville House of Representatives has passed the 2024 Supplementary Budget.

Treasury and Finance Minister, Robin Wilson, said the total budget will increase from K761,186,000.00 to K776,290,100.00 (just over US$3.9m.

In a statement, the Autonomous Bouganvill Government (ABG) said this reflect recent changes in government policies, decisions and current needs.

“This budget is not just a fiscal document; it is a reflection of our strategic intent, our resilience, and our unwavering commitment to the development and prosperity of Bougainville as we progress towards greater autonomy and, ultimately, independence,” he said.

Samoa – wages

The Samoa First Union has commended the government for raising the minimum wage from $3 tālā to $4 tālā per hour as of 1 July.

Chief executive Seveaoga Saina Tomi-Setu told Samoa Observer although they advocated for an increase of $5 tālā per hour, the Union was optimistic about the new biennial review cycle.

There will be an additional increase to $4.84 tālā per hour on 1 July 2025.

Seveaoga expressed confidence that economic growth in Samoa, especially post-Covid recovery, would lead to larger future wage increases as the current increase was based on data from 2018.

Samoa – project

A project aiming to increase flood protection, supply sustainable water, and provide renewable energy in Samoa has been agreed upon between government and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The development of a US$100 million multipurpose dam intends to enhance climate resilience and adaptation in the face of natural disasters.

Finance Minister Lautimuia Afoa Uelese Vaai said the project will significantly improve the livelihoods of Samoan people, especially those that are vulnerable to the impacts of natural disasters.

Pacific – wastewater

Pacific Islands Forum secretary general Baron Waqa says the Fukushima nuclear wastewater discharge will be discussed at the next Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM).

Waqa has taken over the secretary general position from Henry Puna.

He said if leaders have direct concerns about the treated nuclear wastewater release, they will raise them at the meeting, which is later this month.

Japan maintains that the process, also being monitored by the UN’s nuclear watchdog, is safe.

Northern Marianas – auditions

Four singers from the Northern Marianas are preparing to audition in ‘American Idol’ and ‘The Voice’ later this year.

The Saipan Tribune reported the four were the winners of the inaugural Marianas Got Talent competition last year.

MGT’s Arlene Reyes said the team have been practicing hard for their auditions.

She said “music brings people together” and she hopes the teams’ aspirations will inspire young people of the Marianas.

Meanwhile, a second season of MGT begins later this month, with auditions covering all three islands (Saipan, Tinian and Rota), beginning in Rota on the 27th.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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