13 Jun 2023

Pacific news in brief for June 13

4:07 pm on 13 June 2023
Philippe Gomes

New Caledonia's former president Philippe Gomes Photo: AFP

New Caledonia - decolonisation

New Caledonia's former president Philippe Gomes says he will tell the United Nations decolonisation committee in New York that the result of the three independence referendums must be respected.

Gomes, who is a member of New Caledonia's Congress, says he will present the viewpoint of his anti-independence Caledonia Together Party at Tuesday's committee session.

His trip comes a week after the French interior minister Gerald Darmanin visited Noumea in a bid to advance discussions on a new statute for New Caledonia.

However, the pro-independence parties refuse to recognise the referendum result as the legitimate outcome of the decolonisation process.

Gomes said only consensus between the pro- and anti-independence sides can bring about a new era of stability, peace and progress.

He also said New Caledonia is indivisible and warned against any partition.

Papua New Guinea - petition

A petition has gone online calling on the United States Congress and president to keep US troops out of Papua New Guinea.

The petition, coming after the recently concluded Defence Cooperation Agreement and Ship Rider Agreement, urges Congress and the president to "abandon plans for any naval or other military base in Papua New Guinea".

According to The National, it was set up by a peace campaigner, an Oxford economics professor and a PNG diplomat and journalist.

Under the Defence Cooperation Agreement arrangements, the US plans a naval base on Manus, and various deployments in Morobe, Komo, Hela, and somewhere in Central Province.

The petition also asks for recognition and action on claims for compensation from PNG and other Pacific islands.

Tonga - show

Tonga has hosted its annual agriculture show, with hundreds of farmers from around the Kingdom displaying their best harvests and livestock for inspection by Tonga's King Tupou VI.

Women also displayed their handicrafts with some Tapa clothes valued at hundreds of dollars at the festival, which is an adaption of the ancient 'Inasi ceremony, which marks the end of Tonga's harvest season.

Organisers said this year's harvests have been plentiful thanks to extremely fertile soils - the result of nutrient-rich ashfall from last year's Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcanic eruption.

Kiribati - medical

Medical staff from China have provided free medical services to about 150 residents during a day's visit to North Tarawa in Kiribati.

According to Xinhua, the team visited the village of Buariki, where there is prevalence of asthma, diabetes, rheumatic heart disease, stroke, and skin infections.

As well as donating medical supplies, the team took blood pressure readings, gave blood sugar tests, treated wounds and did electrocardiograms.

In the afternoon, the medical team worked at a health center in Abaokoro.

Tuvalu - airport

The World Bank is giving $US23 million for Tuvalu's airport and aviation sector.

The Tuvalu Safe and Resilient Aviation Project aims to improve the safety of air travel for all Tuvaluans and visitors.

The project focuses on upgrading critical airport equipment and improvements to airport infrastructure to strengthen its resilience, as well as strengthening the capacity of aviation regulators and operators and other technical support.

French Polynesia - justice

A new public prosecutor has been appointed for French Polynesia.

The French justice minister has nominated the prosecutor in Perigueu Solne Belaouar-Faou to the position, which she is expected to take up on August 1.

Her appointment is yet to be confirmed by the magistrates' council.

She is to replace Herve Leroy.

New Caledonia - sharks

The city of Noumea has approved spending almost $US700,000 on its shark culling campaign as New Caledonia has recorded a growing number of shark attacks this year.

An additional $900,000 is being made available to install nets along the city's popular Anse Vata swimming beach, where an Australian tourist was killed.

As a result, the mayor Sonia Lagarde ordered the closure of the city beaches until the end of the year.

The Caledonia Together party voted against the culling package, saying more sharks arrive where the cull has taken place.

Dozens of sharks have been destroyed so far.

In Poum, in the territory's north, the mayor ruled out bans despite a fatal shark attack on a man fishing.

Vanuatu - chiefs

Vanuatu's National Council of Chiefs has called for an official name change of the country's largest island - Espiritu Santo.

The Council, made up of chiefs elected from all districts of the country, are asking for the name to be officially changed to Venia.

According to the Daily Post, the council says the name is the original native name of the island and that it should be restored.

The island was named Espiritu Santo by Portuguese explorer Pedro Fernandes de Queirós when he visited in 1606.

French Polynesia - airline

Air Tahiti has failed in its bid to get the French Polynesian government to compensate it for serving loss-making routes.

The carrier asked for $US5.9 million for flying a number of routes in 2018 and 2019.

According to Tahiti Nui TV, the administrative court of appeal in France upheld the ruling made in the court in Papeete three years ago.

The courts found the flight programme was not imposed on the company but was the result of its negotiations with the government.

In 2020, Air Tahiti received a subsidy from the government to rescind its plan to cut half of its routes because of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

American Samoa - hospital

A second hospital which is to be built in American Samoa will focus on five major areas which currently require off-island care.

Representatives of the contracted builders, AHL, have recently met with Governor Lemanu Mauga to discuss bolstering healthcare services.

The projects direcor says cardiology, orthopedic, ophthalmology, neurology and oncology patients generally have to travel overseas for treatment.

No firm timeline has been given on when construction on the new hospital will begin and when it will be completed.

What is clear, is those in charge do not want to duplicate any of the services LBJ Hospital is already providing.

The new hospital will be built in Tafuna Village.