Monday, October 27, 2014

seasonal workers to Australia and New Zealand

from w
At last there's a firm decision about Fiji young people able to work in Australia and New Zealand short-term.  The farmers certainly want Pacific Islanders in the fruit industry along the Murray River and other places.  A good move.  However what about the 55 year olds who became unemployed in Fiji because they had to retire. Some of them are still fit enough to work, but it seems they are not part of this scheme.

'Seasonal workers scheme to start in Jan' October 27, 2014 03:31:06 PMA+ A-||| 0 inShare   Follow @ Twitter The seasonal workers' program with Australia and New Zealand for locals is set to start early next year, as preparatory work on the Work and Holiday Visa with the Australian Government continues. Speaking to FijiLive, Ratu Inoke said the seasonal workers scheme has been agreed to by Australia and New Zealand, and begins from January next year. But, as for the Work and Holiday Visa, Ratu Inoke said Fiji is still working on how to reciprocate the programme for the benefit of Australian youths. The visa programme allows Fijian youths between the ages of 18 and 30 to work and study while on an extended holiday of up to 12 months in Australia. In his visit to Fiji in April this year, Australian Senator Brett Mason had said the go-ahead of the programme would depend on whether the Fijian Govt can offer the same arrangement for Australian youths. "That is still under discussion between Fiji and Australia," Ratu Inoke said. "We need to tidy up a few things. It is reciprocal and we are still working on ours."

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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Fijian church in Geelong

from w
Today the Fiji Geelong Friendship Club hosted  church service at East Geelong Uniting for Fiji people and friends in our region and also members of the Altona Meadows/Laverton Uniting church Fijian group. Thank you to all who came along and participated in the service, the kava and the afternoon tea at 13 Boundary Rd.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

PM in Vanua Levu

from w
Strange words have come from Fiji's Prime Minister, announcing that for those who didn't vote for him, well, it seems they don't want (his kind of) development.  Rather odd words when a Prime Minister is there for everyone and who voted for who, is past and gone.  Vanua Levu people DO want development  and development projects of course, but there are other concerns as well that go alongside projects.
from today's Fiji Times.

PM's worry

Salaseini Moceiwai
Sunday, October 26, 2014
PRIME Minister Rear Admiral (Ret) Voreqe Bainimarama says he's a bit worried about continuing with development projects in the Northern Division because a lot of voters there didn't vote for the FijiFirst party in the recent general election.
While addressing government officials and some villagers at Naulumatua House in Nabouwalu, Bua yesterday, Mr Bainimarama said a lot of people didn't want developments to take place in their respective settings, prompting them to vote for SODELPA (Social Democratic Liberal Party).
Accompanied by wife, Mary and Labour Minister Jioje Konrote and some government officials, this was Mr Bainimarama's first official tour of the North after the election.
"Dua na i wiliwili levu ni koro e Vanua Levu e ra sega ni vinakata na veivakatorocaketaki baleta ni ra sega ni digitaka na FijiFirst. E ra a digitaka ga na SODELPA (A high number of villages on Vanua Levu don't want developments because they didn't choose FijiFirst. They only chose SODELPA)."
Mr Bainimarama said such voters only wanted the restoration of the GCC and discussions about the church but they didn't want free bus fare, among other developments and incentives his government had provided for the people of Fiji.
"That's the bit that I am worried about right now, whether we should continue with developments or not in Vanua Levu."
However, Mr Bainimarama said this would be an inclusive government.
"This will be an inclusive government as I have said earlier but at the same time, we'll have to be worried about those people who don't want developments. Let's not shove developments down their throats."
He added development projects tabled out by the Commissioner Northern were basically the government's but unfortunately, a lot of people in the North didn't want them.
Mr Bainimarama said they would have to relook at the list of developments and prioritise those who needed them in the North.
Meanwhile, Mr Bainimarama and his entourage will attend the FijiFirst party's thanksgiving church service at Labasa's Subrail Park today.

And also from Fiji Times - later in the day.  Note; 'More than 200 people turned up at Subrail Park'.  Hmmmm.  Not 2000?

Party supporters attend thanksgiving service

Sunday, October 26, 2014
Update: 4:26PM MORE than 200 FijiFirst supporters today turned up at Subrail Park in Labasa to attend the party's thanksgiving church service.
Speaking at the church service party leader and Prime Minister Rear Admiral (Ret) Voreqe Bainimarama said they also had a similar thanksgiving services in Suva and the West to thank supporters.
"I also want to thank supporters, who turned up in such great numbers across the nation to vote for FijiFirst," he said.
"I know that not everyone voted for me but the fact that we secured 32 out of the 50 seats demonstrates the enthusiasm, faith and trust the Fijian people have for both the track record of my Government and FijiFirst's manifesto."
and also:

Opposition hits back - Aiyaz Kahiyum must take appropriate action against Bainimarama for breaching their own 2013 Constitution:

"SODELPA Shadow Minister for iTaukei Affairs, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, said in a statement today that less than three weeks after the first sitting of the new Parliament the Prime Minister, who promised to take care of all, has for the second time threatened the cancellation of government development for those citizens who did not vote for him.’

Reacting to the front page stories of The Fiji Times and Fiji Sun [Oct 26th] Ratu Naiqama said the comments attributed to Prime Minister Bainimarama are in breach of the constitution. They violate Sec 1 (a), (d), (e) and (f) covering Common and equal citizenry, and Sec 26 of the Bill of Rights (1), (2) and (3) covering Right to equality and freedom from discrimination.

"This latest and outrageous threat by the Prime Minister gives people a real sense of the type of government now in office," Ratu Naiqama said. "It is consistent with what he did in early 2013 with the Tui Vitogo and his people. It is similar to the threat he made to Hon Niko Nawaikula’s supporters.  Are we to assume the provisions for equality in the 2013 constitution have been abandoned?

By his utterances in the North, the Prime Minister is effectively putting Fiji First voter’s interests ahead of all other citizens creating two classes of citizens. What I want to know, Ratu Naiqama said, was how does he know who did not vote for him? What does he have from the Elections office that will allow him to identify who did or did not vote for him? No names or numbers were on the ballot papers?

"Development funds come from all taxpayers of Fiji as well as foreign donors. These are not the personal funds of PM Bainimarama to do with as he pleases. He should understand this by now. Taxpayers include many who did not vote for Frank Bainimarama and his Fiji First Party. They have equal rights for their tax dollars to be used for their wellbeing."

Ratu Naiqama called on all foreign aid donors to take heed of the stated position of the Prime Minister and be sure to secure guarantees that the funds they give to Fiji for the benefit of all the people, are not used primarily to benefit only Fiji First supporters.

Ratu Naiqama said foreign countries would do well to tread cautiously when re-establishing relations with the Government.  It appears to be following the same path of bad and vindictive governance that marked the last eight years.

Ratu Naiqama has called on the Attorney General and Minister for Justice to take appropriate action against the Prime Minister for his breach of the constitution. The Opposition will be following up in Parliament on this extraordinary threat from the Prime Minister."

Fishing in Macuata

from w
Problems are obvious when the fishermen of Mali and other places in Macuata have to go out into the deep sea to catch fish. Before these species were near the coast.  Why are the fish stocks diminishing?  Here's what is written in today's Fiji Times.

Group identifies fish species

Luke Rawalai
Saturday, October 25, 2014
FISHERMEN within the qoliqoli Cokovata of Mali, Dreketi, Sasa and Macuata recently identified 21 fish species that have diminished from their fishing grounds.
Speaking during an exercise organised by WWF Pacific at Naduri Village in Macuata, Naduri fisherman Abel Tawalagi Foster said local fish such as the bici (sweetlip), kanace (dwarf mullet), tevulu (blubber sweetlip), and karakarawa (blue parrotfish) were being fished out in the open seas.
Mr Foster said in the past these fish were commonly found within the shallow waters of their fishing grounds.
"Now people have to spend approximately $260 on fuel to catch these fishes out in the open sea," he said.
"Sometimes it is really hard to catch these fishes as they have become scarce in our fishing grounds.
"Fish like the bici and qalatoka are only caught in small sizes now compared to the big sizes of the same fish species that our ancestors used to catch in the past."
Mali fisherman Seru Moce shared the same sentiments telling workshop participants they had noticed the disappearance of local fish species from their fishing grounds too.
"This is sad since people continue to fish without recognising the effects of their actions on the marine species that we often take for granted," he said.
"We all thank WWF Pacific for taking the initiative to enlighten us on the fact that fish stocks can crash if they get over-fished and there are measures that can be taken to prevent this."

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Babasiga family in Geelong

from w
This evening Jordan, our grandson celebrated the end of Year Twelve at Geelong High School at a function at the Italian Social Club. The Year Twelve students all dressed formally and were accompanied by their close relatives. Jordan went with George and Bale, and here are some photos just before they left for the dinner. And Andrew didn't go as he's too young and in Year Ten. Congratulations Jordan.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Best wishes for Diwali

from w
It’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness…
An occasion to celebrate Victory over defeat,  Light over darkness,  Awareness over Ignorance, An Occasion to Celebrate Life …. May this auspicious occasion light up your life with Happiness, Joy and Peace.
Happy Diwali

From Fiji Sun

Methodist School Joins Festivity  October 23 by Ana Sovaraki, SUVA

Teachers of Ballantine Memorial School (BMS) came together yesterday to celebrate Diwali at the school in Delainavesi, Lami. Principal Mereoni Motukiliu said this was part of promoting racial harmony and multiculturalism in the school.
“We have quite a number of Hindu teachers here in the school so we decided to have this in the school so we could enjoy Diwali with them and show them that we appreciate them and we appreciate Diwali,” Ms Motukiliu said. “We iTaukei teachers decided to wear sarees and salwar kameez as a sign of our appreciation and significance that we too enjoy this time of the year as well.”
She said she has always stressed to the students and teachers of the school the importance of living in peace and harmony. “So for us it is not only about saying but it’s the doing that’s really important. This way the students see that we are practicing what we preach,” Ms Motukiliu said.
The school’s head of language department, Rajinesh Lingam, said they were really grateful for the kind gesture.
“This is a Methodist school and they have a lot of religious events at the school that we attend and it’s good to see that they’ve appreciated us and host this for us,” Mr Lingam said.

He said when school resumes on Friday they would be distributing sweets to the teachers and students at the school.V

Sunday, October 19, 2014

A few complaints about Labasa town

from w
In today's Fiji Times (Monday) the writer lists several problems with Labasa and what needs to be done.

'Changes' for Labasa

Pardeep Lal
Monday, October 20, 2014
LABASA Town is the main town on the island of Vanua Levu and is situated at the estuary of the Labasa River. It serves people of three provinces (Bua, Macuata and Cakaudrove). The town has great potential to become an economically much vibrant town. Being a town that has experienced peripheral sub -urban growth in the last decade, activities have since then increased in the town.
Peak days are usually busy and the following problems are encountered by urban commuters and public.
* Lack of parking space. The number of vehicles in Labasa has significantly increased but parking space has remained the same! It is impossible to find parking space in town. Supermarket parking spaces are also limited.
* Busy supermarkets. Most supermarkets have few check-out counters and long lines are common. Loud music is a nuisance in some supermarkets. The concept of shopping in a quiet environment is not experienced by shoppers in supermarkets in Labasa. Supermarkets need to improve on their service delivery by setting up more check-out counters. They need to have express counters as well.
* Unavailability of bus service after 5pm. Most bus services cease around 5pm. If bus services are available until 8pm and supermarkets and businesses are open for extended hours, it will have many benefits. More growth opportunities will be created and business will flourish in the North. It will also reduce overcrowding of supermarkets and reduce parking problems in town during the day.
* Overcrowded bus stand. It is a risk to people who cross between busses to reach the market or town. The development of the market area looks promising, however, the town must consider an alternative location for the bus stand as a matter of priority. The pollution from busses is a huge health risk while congestion is unbearable. Commuters need a safer bus stand area.
* Crossing lights and crossing locations. The non-functioning of the only crossing light in the main street further causes traffic jams. People need to be educated on rules for crossing. Pedestrians have been seen jumping onto the road at zebra crossings without any due regard to traffic. Many people do not understand zebra crossings mean you may cross only when the road is clear. The police and the Land Transport Authority must mount education programs on this aspect for the general safety of pedestrians.
* Moreover, the back road is under-utilised except during peak hours. Town must improve the back road and direct all heavy traffic (trucks, tractors, cane lorries etc.) through it to avoid congestion on the main street.
Urban population growth for Labasa is a key indicator that justifies the call for improvement of urban services. Bureau of Statistics figures show the combined urban population in the North was 19,409 in 1986. This figure leaped to 30,051 within 10 years (1996) which is a 55 per cent increase.
A large number of people from rural areas have shifted to peri-urban areas. The demand thus is on improved roads, reliable water and transport service, better housing and greener environment.
With Government's plan to develop the North further, mechanisms need to be put in place to sustain growth. Labasa must not go through the same problems and obstacles (squatter settlements, pollution, congestion, urban unemployment, overcrowding, urban flooding etc) other cities and towns (including Suva) have gone through.
Labasa Town must also work on extending its boundary. This will have long-term benefits for the town and its people. It must not be left to operate in its existing town boundary forever. Growth in the peripheral areas is indicating the town must grow outward. Many urban centres have been successful in solving urban problems such as overcrowding, congestion etc. by decentralisation of services.
Urban problems are associated with urban growth. While such problems indicate growth, the sensible approach will be to ensure sound urban planning which can only come about through better understanding of urban geomorphology.
* Pardeep Lal is a lecturer in ethics and governance at the Fiji National University's School of Social Sciences at its Labasa campus. The views expressed are his and not of this newspaper. He can be contacted on

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Pacific Islanders in protest at Newcastle

from w
I hadn't seen this story in any papers I read but a friend alerted me to the story and it's in the Guardian. There are Fijians included in the protest.

Pacific Islanders blockade Newcastle coal port to protest rising sea levels

Pacific Climate Warriors’ group aims to draw attention to climate change and protest Australia’s commitment to coal
Pacific protest
Protestors from 12 Pacific Island nations in traditional vessels join activists in an attempt to block vessels from leaving the coal port of Newcastle on Friday. Police try to clear a path through the protestors for the Rhine from Cypress. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian
A group of Pacific Islanders joined an environmental protest blockading the Newcastle coal port on Friday, disrupting shipping traffic by paddling canoes across the harbour mouth.
Members of the Pacific Climate Warriors action group traveled from nations including the Marshall Islands, Fiji, Vanuatu, Tokelau, the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea to draw attention to the effects of climate change on their island nations, and to protest Australia’s continuing commitment to coal.
The Newcastle port is the world’s largest coal handling facility. An annual flotilla blockade has been held for several years, but this was the first time protesters were joined by the group from the Pacific Islands.
Fijian protester George Nacewa had earlier told Guardian Australia the effects of climate change were “really evident back at home with coastal erosion and in terms of sea-level rise”.
“To date there has been the relocation of two villages, they’ve moved further inland,” he said. “That’s Fiji alone, and the other Pacific islands are more affected because most of them are just atolls.”
“We lose our cultural identity and we lose our land, because we identify ourselves with the land and the ocean,” he said.
On Friday morning the 30 men and women were joined by a few hundred others on Horseshoe beach at Newcastle, as well as a police presence on land and water.
After a procession of several canoes shipped from Vanuatu, Fiji and other islands, and a Polynesian war dance, the traditional vessels took to the water. There were laughs and cheers from the crowd and police when two men tipped and then sank their canoe almost immediately. Then the leader of an outrigger canoe with “Tai Tokelau” painted on the side, shouted for others to “bring the kayaks” and dozens went in on their plastic watercraft.
“If we get to stop a coal ship, then all the better,” Nacewa told Guardian Australia after returning to shore. “But at the end of the day we are here to highlight the impact of climate change. All these islanders in their costumes – they live the realities of climate change.”
MilaƱ Loeak, from the Marshall Islands told Guardian Australia the climate warriors were joining the protest to tell people their stories in the hope more would join them in their fight.
“Just last week we had a king tide that affected some homes in the villages,” said the 26-year-old, adding that droughts and floodings were frequent.
Tiny coral atolls, the Marshall Islands are “especially” vulnerable to sea level rises, she said. “It’s something very personal to me, especially seeing it first hand and seeing family members and relatives and friends and their families have to leave their homes and find new places to stay.”
Kayakers were not permitted to go beyond yellow markers just a short distance offshore, but almost immediately a large number paddled past them into the middle of the waterway.
Within half an hour, the bulk carrier, Rhine, appeared, being pulled out of the port by tugs. Protesters quickly formed a blockade, hampered on one side by police boats. Police officers used boats to push the light watercraft back, and took jetskis around canoes to create wake and spray. The 225-metre vessel was delayed for a short time until police cleared the way.
One 47-year-old kayaker, Donna Bartlett, claimed a police officer on a jetski made contact with her bright orange kayak, knocking it against another and dislocating her finger. She said jetskis on either side of a group were sending protesters in opposite directions, causing chaos.
“The jetskis come, trying to get us unbalanced,” she said. “I’m scared today but I know the stakes.”
Zana Kobayashi, 25, from Newcastle, said she’d joined the protest because the federal government “doesn’t seem to be doing anything to address concerns [about climate change].”
Kobayashi, who was in a double kayak, said police on the water confiscated their paddles and towed them out of the way of the ship. When protesters began returning to shore, another officer towed them in. She said there were “a few aggressive characters” among the police officers.
Inspector Steve Laksa told Guardian Australia several people were detained and brought to shore, but none were facing charges. In going past the yellow markers, protesters “put other persons at risk and in danger”, Laksa said.
He was unaware of reports about police jetskis hitting Bartlett’s kayak, but said: “Police were on the waterway to ensure the safety of the protesters and persons on the waterway illegally, and were asking them and giving certain directions to move back to shore.
“The information I’ve been provided and what I’ve seen for myself is that the police have given directions to the protesters and set a line to the yellow markers.
“We were concerned there were a number of protesters with children that were entering into the waterway, in the path of a large ship. We had some serious concerns and had given directions for them to move back.”
And here are some other pictures: