Wednesday, May 28, 2014

When the boss is fined for the employee's error

from w
This strange case of a kind of 'exorcism in Gau Island now has the outcome of fining the bosso and not just the men who ransacked a house!  Items from the Fiji on-line media. Fijilive and Fiji Sun.

Exorcism gone wrong

Shalveen Chand
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
THE Methodist Church in Fiji was ordered to pay a father and son $28,000 after an alleged exorcism organised by Methodist Church on their island village led to the destruction of their vacant home.
Father and son Ravuama Vonu and Akariva Vura filed claims against Reverend Simione Koroi, the Methodist minister on Gau Island, church steward Keverieli Vonu, the Methodist Church in Fiji, police officers on Gau, Commissioner of Police and the Attorney-General.
In their claim, the father and son said they had a house in Nacavanadi Village on Gau but didn't stay there because Mr Vonu stayed in Suva while Mr Vura was teaching on Koro Island.
In April 2007 when Mr Vonu went to his village he found the house had been broken into and the chattels were broken or damaged and missing and the concrete floor was smashed and the earth underneath dug up.
The explanation given to Mr Vonu by his relatives in the village was that the Methodist minister and the steward brought a woman to Nacavanadi Village from Naivikinikini in Lami who supposedly had cleansing powers.
During the prayer session at Nacavanadi Methodist Church, a member of the congregation supposedly became possessed with a spirit and the spirit told the congregation Mr Vonu practised witchcraft and worshipped a skull — supposedly in the house.
The minister, Mr Koroi and the steward Mr Vonu with the support of members of the congregation broke into the house and damage the house but didn't find a skull.
The plaintiffs alleged the first and second defendants breached their respective duties of care as church officials of the Methodist Church in Fiji.
In conclusion, the court said the church minister, being a religious leader in the area where people looked up to him for guidance, had misused his authority.
"He not only failed in his duty of care but induced the people in the village to destroy the properties of the plaintiffs and I have no hesitation to hold him liable for the damages caused to the plaintiffs' house and the chattels," Justice Chandrasiri Kotigalage said.
The Methodist Church was found to be vicariously liable because the church was the one responsible for the minister and failed to exercise their duty of care. The court ordered Mr Koroi and the Methodist Church to pay $28,045.76 to the father and son within 30 days.

Church to Study Sorcery Ruling

  Fiji News   newsroom
Court orders Methodist Church to pay more than $28,000 to victims
The Methodist Church will study a High Court ruling that has ordered it to pay more than $28,000 to a school teacher and his father, in an alleged witchcraft case.
Church general secretary Reverend Tevita Banivanua said last night they were aware of the ruling. He said there were two options for them – one was to file an appeal and the other was for all defendants to share the cost.
Reverend Banivanua said the church had been linked to the case because the pastor allowed a Suva prayer group into his area of pastoral jurisdiction in Navacanadi, Gau, in 2007. He said the group, led by a woman from Rewa, held a prayer session. The group claimed that during the session it received spiritual revelations that a school teacher and his father were practising witchcraft.
The group leader accused the teacher of witchcraft and worshipping a skull inside his house.
Group members then ransacked his house and dug around looking for a skull. They left without finding it. Reverend Banivanua said a report of the incident was sent to the church office and after a thorough investigation they suspended the pastor. The Reverend said the pastor was back at work.
He said a Suva lawyer, the late Qoriniasi Bale, was representing the church in the case.
“When he passed away we tended to forget this case, but now the ruling says that we have to pay $28,000 and we respect the ruling,” Reverend Banivanua said.
He said it was unfortunate that the church had been penalised, especially when the prayer group was not sent to the island by the church.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The cost of flying to Labasa

from w
Narsey points out in an article on monopolies in Fiji that the cost of flying to Labasa is exorbitant and this is really not helping the 'Look North' policy. I've only posted part of his article.
Costly 'monopolies'
Professor Wadan Narsey
Saturday, May 24, 2014
MOST political parties and candidates quite rightly see the high cost of living as a major issue for voters. Where higher prices are because of the exercise of monopoly power or "substantial market power", then some governments have tried to use the Commerce Commission to reduce the prices and cost of living, by law, because of the failure of the free markets.
This is what Dr Mahendra Reddy (chairman of the CC) has tried with hardware merchants, pharmacies, and even bakeries, even though there is quite a degree of competition in these areas, and price control can and does have all kinds of negative side effects (such as shortages and/or lower product quality).
This article is about two industries displaying clear abuses of "substantial market power" which harms consumer interests, with the Commerce Commission seemingly powerless.
The first example is the exorbitant air fares charged by Fiji Airways on the domestic routes, in the process seriously undermining development policies for the North.
The second example is the super profits squeezed from consumers by mobile companies through their pricing and other predatory practices.
Look North but
don't travel North
There have been many reports by the Fiji Bureau of Statistics pointing out the relatively higher rates of poverty in the Northern Division.
Many governments, including the Bainimarama Government, have correctly attempted to articulate "Look North" policies to accelerate northern development, to improve incomes and standards of living, and to reduce the tendency for migration to Viti Levu. Thus in the last budget, there have also been large investments in Northern Division roads and other infrastructure. There have also been a number of new tourism investments.
BUT, undermining all these efforts by government and private investors are the incredibly high air fares to and from the Northern Division (and Rotuma and the outer islands), because of the exercise of monopoly power by Fiji Airways.
The Commerce Commission well knows that when there was competition on the domestic routes, the fares were considerably lower than they currently are, which at times can be as much as the return air fare to Auckland or Brisbane.
Effectively, the monopoly domestic fares have acted like an unfair "tax" on all air travellers who travel to and from the north, thereby reducing not just their personal welfare, but also constraining economic growth of businesses, including the discouragement of tourism.
Of course, Fiji Airways profits have been boosted and as a side effect, their loans from FNPF are repaid more easily. But good economics will advise that the air travellers to the North and outer islands should NOT be cross-subsidising Fiji Airways (or FNPF).
Despite many public protests, the Commerce Commission has not been able to control the domestic air fares, but knowing Dr Mahendra Reddy, he has probably tried.
Can Dr Reddy explain to the public if there has been any government pressure on him about regulating domestic air fares?
For the forthcoming elections, all voters associated with the Northern Division, Rotuma and outer islands, can ask all political parties and candidates what would be their recommendation to the Commerce Commission for the regulation of domestic air fares.
Note that the voters in the North and outer islands could easily decide the election of eight members of parliament, and even more, if their numerous relatives on Viti Levu vote with them (the Nabua to Nausori corridor is virtually a colony of Vanua Levu).
etc etc.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Finding a bone of Rev Baker

from w
I'm really surprised that no-one today seems to know that under the pulpit at Baker Hall, Davuilevu, there was a memorial to Rev Thomas Baker. The words in Fijian on the pulpit say so, so the builders/renovators obviously couldn't understand the Fijian language.  Everyone in Davuilevu knew this - certainly in the 50s and 60s.  It;s not a surprising find at all.  Even the Fiji Times editorial ran a piece about the 'discovery' during the renovations.  A Fijian should be a consultant to the builders/renovators.
Here are what one journalist wrote:

A historical find

Ana Madigibuli
Thursday, May 22, 2014
A SIGNIFICANT piece of history, a small enclosed concrete plot that has the coffin containing a bone of the late Reverend Thomas Baker, who was killed at Nubutautau in 1867, was found at the Thomas Baker hall in Nausori on Monday.
The enclosed plot, which is underneath the hall's pulpit, was discovered by construction workers who were doing renovation work in the Baker Hall.
Davuilevu Theological College history lecturer Reverend Ilimeleki Susu said the bone was given to the former chairman of the Methodist Mission, Reverend Arthur Small, in the early 1900 by the people of Nubutautau where Mr Baker was murdered.
Mr Susu said Mr Small handed over the piece of bone to his successor Reverend Robert. L. McDonald in 1925.
"Mr McDonald, on January 7, 1926 handed over the remaining bone to the principal of the Davuilevu Theological College, Reverend Charles. O. Lelean, who then, with students from his college, did the last honour in burying Mr Baker's bone," Mr Susu said.
"The bone has been buried for 81 years at the hall and no one knew where exactly within the hall premises until the construction workers discovered it.  (Wrong)
"Mr Lelean, at the time, wrote a letter to Mr McDonald informing him of the last honour that he and his students did to the remains of the late Reverend Baker."
Mr Susu said an engraving made by Mr Lelean on the coffin reads "This casket contains a bone of Thomas Baker who was killed at Navosa on July 21 1867".
Construction worker Mukesh Chandra said he was surprised and shocked to discover a concrete plot underneath the hall while removing the timber floors.
"We did not know what it was until we read what was engraved on the plot which was "Thomas Baker 1867" then we realised that it was a small burial plot for the late Thomas Baker," Mr Chandra said.
Methodist Church general secretary Reverend Tevita Nawadra said the bone would not be removed from the hall after the renovation work was completed.
Mr Nawadra said it was a significant piece of history for all Methodists in Fiji as it showed and reminded them of the sacrifices that Reverend Baker in taking the Word of God to the people.
And the editorial from the Fiji Times.

History unfolds

Fred Wesley
Thursday, May 22, 2014
When construction worker Mukesh Chandra said he was surprised and shocked to discover a concrete plot underneath the Thomas Baker Hall on Monday, he actually echoed the sentiments of many people in Fiji.
There was no doubting the impact of this discovery though on our history.
The small concrete plot had a coffin containing a bone of the late Reverend Thomas Baker.
For those who came in late, Mr Baker was killed in the highlands of Navosa in 1867.
Driven by his desire to spread the Gospel, Mr Baker had travelled to the interior, slowly making his way through inhospitable terrain to reach Nubutautau.
Sitting about 3000 feet above sea level in the heart of Viti Levu, this little village was to be the place Mr Baker would be murdered, cooked and eaten on July 21 that year.
Caged in by mountains, it was an unlikely place to be in for a man from Playden, a village in the Rother District of East Sussex in England.
The people of Nubutautau have since lived with the tag of "killers of the Reverend Thomas Baker", the only white missionary to be killed and eaten in Fiji.
Believing they were cursed after that event, the people of Nubutautau apologised to the direct descendants of Mr Baker in 2003.
They blamed their difficulties over the years on the crime of their ancestors.
The enclosed plot, which was underneath the hall's pulpit, was discovered by construction workers who were doing renovation work in the Baker Hall.
As much as we may want to shrug off bits of our history, they have an interesting tendency to pop up when we least expect them to.
We have a history that is rich in culture and tradition.
Our history brims with tales of fierce warriors, very good seafarers, and stretches through to the hard work of our girmitiya in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
The dark side of our history isn't pleasant though.
This latest discovery is a firm reminder of our cannibalistic past.
Obviously it is a part many people will want buried forever.
This, however, is a part of our history.
In a sense, this episode brings to the fore our transition from darkness to the light.
While it stands to reason that this is all part of history, it should remind us of how much we have progressed.
It does not, however, answer many questions that have lingered since that fateful day at Nubutautau.
For a description of one of the many ceremonies of apology in the mountain village -concerning the death of Rev Thomas Baker) go to

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Geelong Fijians welcome Fiji journalists

from w
Here's a very short post in the Fiji Times about the visit to our home in Geelong by two journalists from Fiji, so Serafina, the Labasa based journo wrote this up.

Kava in Melbourne

Serafina Silaitoga
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
DESPITE being far away from home, the love for kava in the land Down Under remains a part of the Fijian community in Geelong, Australia.
Curry nights and basins of grog will always be part of social gatherings and a visit by Fijian
journalists to the community was no different.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Mothers Day in Vatuadova

from w
One of the Ratawa girls posted photos of Mothers Day yesterday in Vatuadova - some of the Ratawa mob - so I'm 'borrowed' some of them. It's nice to see two young women holding the wooden collection plates that were a gift from South Geelong Uniting church when they moved to us at East. I can't see 'The Message' Bible that came from one of our grand-kids though!
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Sunday, May 18, 2014

A good story from Malau

Those of us 'oldies' remember the old string band song 'Vorovoro, Malau, kei Vuo'  and Peceli sings it a lot because these are the people we know well, our relatives from Mali Island district.  Malau we known mainly as the port for the timber mill and for exporting sugar, but a hundred years ago it was a little town and even had a hospital which was replaced in about 1936 by the hospital at its present site above the Labasa River and opposite Labasa town.  Here's a story about Malau as told to a Fiji Times journalist.
And here's the song 'Vorovoro, Malau, kei Vuo'.

Vorovoro Malau kei Vuo
Vanua oqori eda dau domona lo
Nisa qai lutu mai na Buto 
Lelaleka tu na sala kei Vuo.

Cava cava tale me ganita
Na veiqaravi ena vale nei Rusila 
I Alumeci meda mai ciba 
Kua na kana vei Torika
O Tabeti Tavoi kei Sereima.

Vei boqi niu gadi ki vanua
kuvuraka tu nai boi ni salusalu 
Na vono salele e sa lele tu e baravi
Ciri yawa tu na vakanananu.

Kerekere noqu sere mera tini
O Malau nai kelekele ni Mere
Dua mada noqu kerekere
Kovana meu bau lele
O Kavetani e besebese sara ni tasere.

Heyday of Malau and Vuo

Luke Rawalai
Sunday, May 18, 2014
ON a hill known to the villagers of Vuo as delana (meaning "high") lie old government ruins; rubbles of concrete can be seen through bushes —remnants of the first government establishment that was to later move and develop into the present day Labasa Town.
Many of these villagers are either not originally from Vuo, nor know of the history of the village and the neighbouring port of Malau, of which its stories have nearly become the stuff of legends heard only in old iTaukei songs.
Losevati Ravunibaka is one of the few who remember some old tales of Malau and Vuo — most of which she recovered from her father, and those she experienced during her growing years. This is Losevati's account of Malau and Vuo:
Ancient Malau and Vuo
IT used to be known as the haunts of two female spirits known to the locals as the Marama ni momo (The ladies of Momo).
The two deities were known for their great beauty, often appearing in human form to seduce young men who they fancied.
According to some stories, the very behaviour of these two deities embodied the spirit of Malau and Vuo in their heyday.
The women of Malau and Vuo were known for their beauty which has been immortalised in songs such as Vorovoro Malau kei Vuo which mentions these social butterflies, among a few; Alumeci Taroicake, Tavoi, Sereima and Torika.
Vuo villager Losevati Ravunibaka said these were women of Wailevu, Kia and Mali who wielded the attention of men in the old days.
Lele mai na Adi Keva is another song that specifically mentions the beauty of Vuo and Malau back in the days. Adi Keva was a schooner which called into Malau port, bringing in sailors," she said.
"Lyrics for one of the songs reads: "Dua mada noqu ere'ere, Kovana meu bau lele, kavetani sa bese ni tasere" (I plead with the governor if I can return to my boat, as the captain has refused to give me leave)'.
"In the song, the sailors are pleading with the governor who is Alumeci Taroicake — a woman of beauty — if they can return to the schooner as she had refused to let the captain go."
Mrs Ravunibaka said that the berthing of a schooner or visiting ship meant one thing — a week of merrymaking, which extended into months at times.
Malau port
Mrs Ravunibaka said the lyrics also bore evidence to the fact that Malau used to be a port of call for the sailors back in the days putting the date to the early 1800s.
"I have heard of stories and used to have a photograph in my house (which I have since lost) of a sea plane that used to call in at Malau port and other schooners such as the Adi Keva and others," she said.
"Before the existence of the sugarcane industry which gave birth to the CSR mill in Labasa, Malau was a port of call as it housed a stone crusher and even had the hospital and the north's first ever agricultural station.
"I was told by my father that the government had opted for this location as it was close to the sea which was a major mode of transportation back then."
Mrs Ravunibaka said that the ruins of these early government station establishments could still be found a few yards above present day Vuo Village.
"Our elders used to refer to the place as delana meaning the hill as it was the only form of development that had ever touched Vanua Levu at the time.
"Early Vuo Village is located at the seashore towards the coast where the village currently stands and belonged to the Qaqaravu clan of Vuo within the Labasa district.
"It was later moved towards the road for easy transport access when vehicles came along the way and the roads began to be developed."
Report of Chinese traders
CHINESE traders began to set in from the heat of the sandalwood trade in Bua and Wainunu and came closer to Malau which was a bustling port of sorts as they settled beside the Labasa River.
Mrs Ravunibaka said later on, other small shops developed beside the Labasa River prompting the government to move its station to Labasa town which had become a shopping centre of sorts.
"I know of the Qatiotio clan who were landowners beside the Labasa River but were moved from their land in town by Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna and resettled in Vuo village as major developments took place in their land."
"They were given the piece of land at Delana where the old government station stood and to this day we recognise as our own kinsmen as it was back in the days."
"Vuo has its own traditional links to the village of Naseakula in Nasea and Vuo has been a refuge to the chiefly Qomate family during the warring days."
Mrs Ravunibaka said growing up as a young girl she used to remember her grandparents and parents paid visits to Naseakula to offer the first fruits of their farms to the chiefs of the Nasea district
"Back then the roads were mostly gravelled and my elders used to carry food on their backs to offer them to the people at Naseakula," she said.
"We still have the Qomate clan foundation at the old village site where the family used to reside before they moved back to Naseakula Village."
"However the traditional links between the people of Naseakula, Vuo, and Mali have stood the test of time and we know our status during customary events."
ACCORDING to Mrs Ravunibaka while growing up as a young girl I remember the CSR (Colonial Sugar Refining) mill that was already in operation at Vulovi just beside the infant Labasa Town.
Mrs Ravunibaka was in Class Three in 1963 when her father worked as a labourer at the mill.
"I went to school on Mali Island at my grandmother's village at Vesi and used to remember my father and other men in the village getting busy in Vuo during the crushing season," she said.
"They used to carry sugar bags to the waiting barge at Vulovi before these bags of sugar were transferred to the big sugar steamer ships that called in at Malau port.
"For us young children in Vesi village the arrival of the steamer ship signalled something — tea, tinned food and other niceties from the trading shops that had bloomed in Labasa and Malau and our predictions were never wrong."
Mrs Ravunibaka said that her parents would visit them at Vesi Village with these luxurious spoils every weekend.
"I remember the barges that my father used to travel in back in those days during his work and one was the Sharon Louise and Nanumi Au.
"This is what I know of the old government station and I consider myself lucky to know some of these colourful pieces of history about a place that I have called home for 59 years."
Labasa businessman Paul Jaduram said bags of crushed sugar would be transported from Vulovi to Vuo through barges that would wait along the Labasa River.
Mr Jaduram said one of these barges was the well known Sierra Leone and Nanumi Au.
A review of the past
MRS Ravunibaka said being the direct descendant of a kingmaker and the priesthood of Qaqaravu in Vuo she had seen a lot of changes happen in her lifetime.
"Most of the famed ladies like Alumeci Taroicake later became churchgoers in old age and the old lifestyle of Malau and Vuo simmered as development began to focus towards Labasa.
"The stone crusher later closed and the hospital and agricultural research station was no more.
"Back in my young days the area of Delana was a favourite to us young ones as it often contained many fruiting trees that were left behind after the agricultural centre moved."
Mrs Rabunibaka said that even though things had changed she would always remember those stories passed down to her by her forefathers about the colourful vibrant life that was once Malau kei Vuo na koro ni lasa (Malau and Vuo, places of merry making and fun).

The fishing grounds of the Mali Island people

from w
Until a few years ago Mali Island, Macuata, Fiji, never got into the internet news. But two things made Mali Island well-known in blogs and news.  I. The Tribe Wanted eco-tourism project for three or four yearsl  2. regarding fishing and the Great Sea Reef.  There has been a lot of poaching - both by local people and by secretive commercial fishing boats - and to manage this, the task has to become more localised.  And I hope that no-one touches the sandbar near Mali Island too as that was disappearing through some people taking away sand. My photo here is of Tui Mali, our relative.

In today's Fiji Times:

Qoliqoli trials on Mali

Theresa Fox
Monday, May 19, 2014
More than 350 people in Mali District, Macuata Province stand to benefit from a new approach to the management of their qoliqoli or fishing grounds by eradicating poaching.
District level qoliqoli management as opposed to management at the collective (qoliqoli cokovata) district level is being trialled in Mali to combat poaching and protect livelihoods.
Mali District is made up of four villages, Matailabasa, Vesi, Ligaulevu, Nakawaga and two islands, Mali and Vorovoro.
It is the smallest of the four districts (Mali, Dreketi, Sasa, and Macuata) which make up the collective qoliqoli or fishing grounds — the Qoliqoli Cokovata of Macuata (QCM).
The total area for the collective fishing ground is 1344 square kilometres, parts of which have been declared no-take or tabu areas since 2005.
The custodial owners of the qoliqoli cokovata occupy an expansive 2064 km2 of land, communing in 37 villages and three outlying islands — Mali, Kia and Macuata-i-wai. A number of settlements and cane farming homesteads are interspersed throughout with the total population living within the QCM boundaries numbering more than 4000.
Around 75 per cent of these rely on natural resource extraction for a source of income and for food.
Their participation in the sustainable management of their qoliqoli is therefore essential.
However, qoliqoli management at the four district level is often fraught with challenges because of the widespread distribution of the population.
The sheer size of the qoliqoli cokovata requires a large amount of funding to be used by the management committee of the qoliqoli especially for the financing of fish warden equipment and surveillance resources.
It turned out to be a cumbersome and ineffective method of management as poachers continued their plunder.
The qoliqoli cokovata tabu areas contribute to the conservation and sustainable management of Fijis longest and most complex reef system, the Great Sea Reef which encloses them and poaching undermines this effort.
As an area of global significance and priority to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the Great Sea Reef is home to high marine biodiversity and is a major economic source bolstering both the fisheries and tourism sectors, and sustaining thousands of lives.
WWF South Pacific, through the Australian Government's Fiji Community Development Program funded project titled "Building Effective Community Driven Governance Systems in Mali District to Enhance Community Access to Food, Income Generating Opportunities and Livelihoods", is working with Mali District to test the effectiveness of district level management of their qoliqoli as opposed to that enforced collectively by the four districts.
The overall project goal is that by 2014, Mali District would have established district level governance and financing structures that demonstratea locally relevant, feasible and replicable approach that allows the community to sustainably manage their coastal development and, local marine areas, for food and livelihood security for a community more resilient to the impacts of climate change.
Project officer Unaisi Malani said the multifaceted approach of the project involved all members of the community — youth, women and men.
Governance trainings focus on accountability and transparency and involves leaders of the community.
Financial literacy training for various groups like the women's groups, youth and individuals emphasised the importance of smart budgeting, and living within one's means.
"The training clarifies the linkages between sustainable household income and sustainable natural resource management," Malani said. "If they are able to sustainably manage their household income, they are less likely to harvest more resources than they need, allowing nature to replenish itself and marine creatures to thrive."
Fish wardens were also trained by officials from the Department of Fisheries, Fiji Environmental Law Association and also Fiji's Police Department and received an induction on the laws which govern poaching, the policing of fisheries and the legal authority of fish wardens.
Both male and female fish wardens will be equipped with real-time communications technology to strengthen enforcement close to the beach and further out to sea.
Another important aspect of the project is exploring the viability of small or micro enterprise niches that exist in the district and could provide people with an alternative source of income to that gained from fishing.
Representatives from each of the three other districts are also participating in activities and training sessions on Mali and drawing lessons from the successes of the Mali project.
If successful, this model of district fisheries management being tested on Mali will be replicated in the three other QCM districts and will hopefully sever the ugly head of poaching.
* Theresa Fox is the communications officer of WWF Pacific.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Australia cuts overseas aid in budget

from w
It is disappointing that the Australian budget has cut, drastically, its overseas aid.  I know that there needs to be attention to Australian debt and looking after its own people, but generosity towards vulnerable people in other countries is about good will and does more good than spending money on any number of fighting jets.

Budget 2014: Aid groups vent anger over cuts to foreign aid spending

Updated 2 hours 31 minutes ago
In the biggest savings measure in this year's budget, the Australian Government is cutting the country's foreign aid spending by $7.6 billion over the next five years.Aid groups say the 2014 Australian budget is a broken election promise to the world's poorest people.
"It is a complete abandonment of an aid promise. The Abbott Government has torn up its promise to increase aid," said Oxfam Australia's chief executive, Dr Helen Szoke.
Tying aid to the rate of inflation removes the decades-old practice of measuring aid as a percentage of Gross National Income (GNI).
But the foreign aid figures for most recipient countries are steady.
Australian foreign aid will be capped at $5 billion over the next two financial years, 2014-15 and 2015-16.
In a surprise move, $2 billion has been removed from the projected foreign aid budget in the 2017-18 financial year.
In 2016-17, foreign aid will grow in line with the Consumer Price Index.
Professor Stephen Howes from the Australian National University says this is a different outcome from what the Government took to the election.
"It is fairly significant cut that is going to happen over several years, basically, as inflation erodes the value of the aid budget," he said.

The Abbott Government says Australia's aid budget will be spent where it can make the most difference.
There has been an increase to aid to Papua New Guinea in return for hosting the Manus Island immigration processing centre.
Professor Howes says, overall, Australia's aid is going backwards.
"We are going to be looking at a 10 per cent reduction in our aid by the time we get to 2015-16," he said, starting his calculations from the last Labor budget in 2012-13.

Impact on 'world's most vulnerable people'

Dr Szoke says Australia's aid budget had already endured enough cuts. She says there will be an impact on the ground.
"What we know is that the Asia-Pacific region faces a perfect storm of complex challenges," she said.
"We have poor people going hungry. We have the impact of climate change. We have the issues that women face in our region in the broader Asia Pacific region.
"If Australia reduces its work in this area, then it reduces its investment in stabilising the region and helping some of the world's most vulnerable people."
Australia has international obligations under the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) to spend 0.7 per cent of its GNI on effective foreign aid by 2020.
Prior to this budget, there was bipartisan support to lift aid levels to 0.5 per cent of GNI.
Tim Costello from World Vision Australia says Australia can choose to offer more help to vulnerable people in the region.
"When you look at other things, we can find $12 billion for a joint strike air force fighter jet. We can find money for things that we choose," he said.
"This is devastating because there is a disproportionate impact on those who are most vulnerable."
Professor Howes says there is now no chance for Australia to ever meet its obligations under the MDG.
"Over the forward estimates [foreign aid spending] does fall back to about 0.3 per cent of GNI and that is where we were back in 2005-06 when the Howard Government first announced we would increase aid to $4 billion," he said.
"We are now in a different environment. We are now heading away from a MDG-type target rather than towards it.
"It has gone. Even when we had a bipartisan agreement to it we were not able to achieve it."
After the budget, performance benchmarks will be brought in to the Australian aid program.
Aid recipients will be expected to show results and value for Australian money.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Fijians in a Melbourne Uniting Church

from w
Peceli and I went up to Altona Meadows/Laverton Uniting church this morning for their Mothers' Day service. Susan is a lovely leader and it was a very good morning. Children gave little white flowers to the women. We celebrated with Communion. Our Fijians sang a lovely hymn, and two visitors from Brisbane who are down here to teach Fijian language, brought along four of their students from the Point Cook base. During Morning Tea we tested their skills by conversing with them in Fijian. Afterwards the teachers and Peceli and I had a delicious lunch of fish and prawns with Sailosi at Wyndam Vale.
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Thursday, May 08, 2014

Will ABC axe its internatonal coverage?

from w
It seems to be the wrong move to axe the international coverage by the ABC.  Money spent on good will and good communications is better than on patrol boats and super jet fighters surely.  Making friends of neighbours involves communication, not fear.  The current programs go into the Pacific and Asia.  How will this effect news to Fiji?  This is the story I read this evening.
Cabinet has approved axing of ABC's Australia Network: report
May 8, 2014 - 5:53PM

The Abbott government is set to scrap the ABC’s Australia Network international broadcasting service in next Tuesday’s budget. Cabinet approved the decision in a meeting on Wednesday, according to a report in The West Australian. The ABC has a 10-year, $223 million contract to run the network, which broadcasts to 44 countries in the Asia Pacific.
The ABC, which is finalising new partnership deals with Chinese and Indonesian broadcasters, has been lobbying publicly and privately for the government to continue to fund the service.
The ABC is required under its charter to transmit news and other programs to overseas countries to encourage awareness of Australia and enable Australians living overseas to stay abreast of national affairs.
Although some ministers are understood to believe the Australia Network could be replaced by online streaming of ABC News 24, this would be difficult in practice.
Under content distribution deals, ABC news bulletins include international stories from broadcasters such as the BBC and al-Jazeera. In many cases, the ABC is only allowed to use this footage in Australia. This is why a “geo-block” currently applies to ABC News 24’s online stream.
“The cost of the ABC obtaining full international distribution rights for any non-ABC content would be prohibitive and not a good investment in the funds we're granted to provide a news service to Australia,” ABC head of continuous news Gaven Morris said in 2010. “In some cases, international rights are not available at any cost.”
The Commission of Audit recommended the network be scrapped in its report earlier this month because it is too expensive “given its limited outreach to a small audience”.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who has oversight of the network, has said there are more cost-effective ways, including social media, to promote Australia abroad.
But business leaders including Hugh Morgan, Maurice Newman and Harold Mitchell have called on the government to retain the service because it advances Australia’s interests in the region.
In an email to staff earlier this week, ABC board member and veteran journalist Matt Peacock said it would be a “tragedy” if the network was axed and that job losses at the public broadcaster would inevitably result.