24 Apr 2024

Pacific news in brief for April 24

11:40 am on 24 April 2024
Aseri Radrodro is the new leader of Fiji's SODELPA party.

Aseri Radrodro is the new leader of Fiji's SODELPA party. Photo: RNZ Pacific/Kelvin Anthony

Fiji - politics

The kingmaker party in Fiji's three-party coalition government has a new leader to drive them through to the 2026 election.

Aseri Radrodro, who has been named as SODELPA leader said he is looking forward to preperations.

As Fiji Times reports the SODELPA leader's appointment was confirmed at their annual general meeting in Suva on Saturday.

Former leader and Deputy Prime Minister Viliame Gavoka said he supports Radrodro's appointment.

Guam - airline

Guam-based air cargo service Asia Pacific Airlines is facing US$2.9 million in civil penalties proposed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The Pacific Island Times reported this is for several safety violations including the hiring of unqualified pilots.

According to a notice published by the FAA, Asia Pacific allowed unqualified pilots to fly on 163 Boeing 757 flights, between December 20, 2022 and Feberuary 1, 2023, and continued to do so despite the agency's warning.

The FAA also cited the carrier for "conducting 30 flights with Boeing 757 aircraft that did not comply with conditions and limitations when certain equipment was out of service".

Asia Pacific had 30 days to respond after receiving the FAA's enforcement letters.

Papua New Guinea/China - MOU

Papua New Guinea international trade and investment minister Richard Maru said China is fast becoming PNG's most important trading partner.

The National reported Maru met with China's deputy commerce minister, Tang Wenhong on Sunday in a high-level bilateral meeting in Port Moresby, where PNG signed a five-year MOU with China.

Mura said PNG was keen to strengthen and deepen its relationship with China, anchored on trade and investment.

He also welcomed the three weekly flights coming to PNG from China.

Samoa - drugs

Samoa's senior Supreme Court Justice Vui Clarence Nelson has raised concerns about the increase in hard drug offending.

The Samoa Observer reported Justice Vui had queried the Attorney General's Office on its position on treatment for methamphetamine users - being mindful that the Salvation Army offers treatment only for those who take marijuana and alcohol.

He said the court can't keep sending people to prison because it's not working.

Attorney-General office lawyer, Maiavatele Timothy Fesili, welcomed the idea of exploring other options and programmes for offenders.

Fiji - retirement

Fiji's government has announced it will extend the retirement age from 60 to 62 years.

Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka said the change is being made to address skill shortages within the civil service.

Under the new policy, positions categorized as having "scarce skills" will be eligible for an extended retirement age.

Careers being considered as having scarce skills include physicians, nurses, civil engineers, software developers and special education teachers.

The seasonal workers' schemes in Australia and New Zealand have been blamed by Fiji's Ministry of Health for a labour shortage of nurses.

Pacific - plastic

An expert said the UN Plastics treaty could have have major benefits to Pacific nations if it isn't watered down.

Negotiators from 175 countries have gathered in Ottawa, Canada this week for the last major round of UN plastics treaty negotiations before the treaty is finalized - which is expected later this year in Busan, Korea.

UC Santa Barbara's Project Scientist, Neil Nathan said the plastics industry produces more greenhouse gas emissions than either the global aviation sector or marine shipping.

He said this treaty presents a monumental opportunity in a time of urgency - to not only reduce dependence on plastic, but to take more steps toward collective climate goals.

Niue - NZ visit

The Speaker of the New Zealand Parliament, Gerry Brownlee, is in Niue with several MPs.

During the four-day visit the Members of Parliament were set to meet with youth representatives, village councillors and leading women figures on the island.

On Wednesday, the delegation was to hold discussions with the members of the Niue Assembly.

On Anzac Day on Thursday, Brownlee and his delegation will be hosted by the Niue RSA for the Dawn Parade at the National War Memorial in central Alofi.

The delegation will depart Niue on Friday.

Fiji/Tonga - ANZAC

Tonga and Fiji will commemorate ANZAC Day with dawn services on Thursday.

Nuku'alofa will host their service at the Pangai Lahi Cenotaph at 6am local time.

Organisers say the event will be attended by members of the Royal Family, the Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers, members of the diplomatic corps and invited guests.

In Suva, the service will be held within the grounds of the Suva Military Cemetery at Reservoir Road, commencing at 5.25 am Fiji time.

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