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New Zealand Pacific regional visit

Pacific Scoop - Mon, 25/02/2019 - 4:43am

Press Release – New Zealand Government

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters is leading a New Zealand Government delegation on a Pacific regional visit this week. The New Zealand delegation is travelling to Fiji, Tuvalu, and Kiribati. This visit is a further reflection of New Zealands …
Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters is leading a New Zealand Government delegation on a Pacific regional visit this week.

The New Zealand delegation is travelling to Fiji, Tuvalu, and Kiribati.

“This visit is a further reflection of New Zealand’s energised approach to the region as part of our Pacific Reset policy. New Zealand is committed to building deeper partnerships with our Pacific neighbours,” said Mr Peters.

“In each country we are likely to discuss policy areas of mutual interest spanning from climate change, development co-ordination, and the building of deeper partnerships,” he said.

The delegation includes Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio, Associate Minister for Pacific Peoples, Carmel Sepuloni, and parliamentarians Poto Williams, Alfred Ngaro, and Darroch Ball.

The group is flying commercially to Fiji but will then travel to Tuvalu and Kiribati on a NZ Defence Force C-130 plane.

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OM receives TWO Tuia grants

Pacific Scoop - Sun, 24/02/2019 - 8:45pm

Press Release – Otago Museum

Otago Museums two applications to the Lottery Tuia – Encounters 250 Programme have been successful, netting $370 000 for community outreach programmes aimed at young people.Otago Museum’s two applications to the Lottery Tuia – Encounters 250 Programme have been successful, netting $370 000 for community outreach programmes aimed at young people.

Dr Ian Griffin, Otago Museum Director, has developed a programme called Ka mua, ka muri, Te Mahutatanga o Takero, Looking Back & Looking Forward, Mercury Rising to mark Mercury’s transit across the sun in September. This rare event coincides with the 250th anniversary of Captain James Cook’s observation of the very same phenomenon.

The programme, a partnership between cultural and scientific organisations across New Zealand, will culminate in a high profile, week-long, nationally coordinated programme of inspirational science activities, including a group of students visiting Mercury Bay to watch the transit with a group of astronomers.

Ka mua, ka muri, Te Mahutatanga o Takero has received $235 000.

Dr Griffin says, “I am really excited that the Otago Museum will be collaborating with a number of organisations across New Zealand on this project. As the sun rises on 12 November, communities across Aotearoa will come together and share the wonder of viewing a rare transit of Mercury across the sun, almost exactly 250 years (to the day) after the astronomer Charles Green saw the same phenomenon from Mercury Bay, alongside Cook.

“It will be a time to reflect on where we have come from, where we are now, and where we will be in 250 years’ time, when another transit of Mercury will also be visible – on the 500th anniversary of first encounter.”

The Museum’s Education team has secured $115 000 for the Tuia 250 Outreach Project, which will focus on themes of astronomy and celestial navigation; Māori culture and technology; early settlement and Te Tiriti o Waitangi; the impact of introduced pests on New Zealand’s biodiversity; and climate change.

A full-time Tuia Educator will be appointed to develop, deliver and evaluate the programme, which will include redevelopment of existing Education programmes for delivery throughout Dunedin in Term 1, and across Otago and Southland in Terms 2 to 4.

Education Manager Dr Kate Timms-Dean says, “The programmes will be based at schools as community hubs, with daytime programmes for school kids and night-time programmes for the wider community, utilising our Starlab portable planetarium, and VR headsets showing Māori and European navigation techniques and life on the ocean, plus telescopes and tablets”.

Another part of the programme will be a “bio blitz” to identify native species living in different locations and the risks to their survival.

Dr Timms-Dean says, “Our aim is to take the programme to more than 3000 people in Otago and Southland, but we think this is a conservative estimate and we’re hoping to double or even triple this. This would be a particularly amazing result for the investment in our next generation.”

Without the Lottery Tuia – Encounters 250 Programme, neither of these programmes would be achievable, and Dr Griffin says, “We’re delighted to receive these grants as it means that we can get our education programmes out into the regions – all around the country. We take our mandate to extend our outreach programmes very seriously. In the last financial year, we’ve taken our programmes as far afield as Niue, the Cook Islands and the Chatham Islands, as well as drawing more than 13 000 children through our LEOTC programmes, so we’re very excited that we can now develop these new programmes and reach even more people.”

“The unique, literally once in several lifetimes, opportunity presented by the transit of Mercury is an unequalled chance to get young people in front of some of the country’s best astronomers – these are potentially life-altering experiences.”

More information about the Fund can be found at https://www.communitymatters.govt.nz/lottery-tuia-encounters/ and about national commemorations of the anniversary at https://www.tuia250.nz/

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High profile US peace and climate expert visit today

Pacific Scoop - Sun, 24/02/2019 - 8:32pm

Press Release – University of Canterbury

The Student Volunteer Army Foundation and the University of Canterbury Community Engagement Hub are today (Monday 25 February) hosting an international team of leading education experts whose specialities are climate resilience, multiculturalism and …The Student Volunteer Army Foundation and the University of Canterbury Community Engagement Hub are today (Monday 25 February) hosting an international team of leading education experts whose specialities are climate resilience, multiculturalism and peace education.

The team consists of: Maya Soetoro-Ng, author, peace educator and co-founder of the Institute for Climate and Peace; Namji Steinemann, Director of AsiaPacific Ed in the East-West Center; Amanda Ellis, Director of Strategic Partnerships for the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute for Sustainability at Arizona State University; Maxine Burkett, law professor at the William S. Richardson School of Law and co-founder and Executive Director of the Institute for Climate and Peace; and Zelda Keller, program advisor at the Institute for Climate and Peace.

While in Christchurch, the team will visit inspirational post-quake sites such as the historical mural around the Convention Centre site, Gap Filler’s Dance-o-Mat, Tūranga central library, the Transitional Cathedral, the 185 Chairs memorial, the Margaret Mahy Playground and Cultivate Urban Farm.

After exploring the city’s changing context, Dr. Soetoro-Ng will facilitate a roundtable discussion on leadership for social change with young leaders from local high schools and the University of Canterbury. Following the roundtable, team members from the Hawaii-based organization, The Institute for Climate and Peace (ICP), will facilitate a futures-inspired and action-oriented workshop entitled, Forging Climate Resilient and Peace-Oriented Leadership.

Associate Professor Billy Osteen, Director of the UC Community Engagement Hub, sees this visit as a fantastic opportunity to both showcase the innovation and creativity of post-quake Christchurch and to learn more from the visitors about what else can be done through education with regard to climate resilience, peace, and social change.

Sam Johnson, Chair of the Student Volunteer Army Foundation, was particularly excited that the team requested to do an event solely focused on high school and university students as this in alignment with the Foundation’s prioritization of supporting volunteer projects in primary schools and high schools along with ongoing connections with the university based club.

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WEST PAPUA: ‘Not a big deal’ claim police, reject UN probe

Pacific Scoop - Sat, 23/02/2019 - 9:26pm

Press Release – Pacific Media Watch

aPapua Regional Police public information head Assistant Superintendent Suryadi Diaz is asking all parties not to dramatise or make a big issue out of the use of a snake during an interrogation by police.aPapua Regional Police public information head Assistant Superintendent Suryadi Diaz is asking all parties not to dramatise or make a big issue out of the use of a snake during an interrogation by police.

The statement was made in response to calls by United Nations human rights experts for an investigation into the use of the snake.

“The problem’s already been resolved, so there’s no need to make a big deal out of it anymore,” Diaz told CNN Indonesia.

READ MORE: Papuan campaigners welcome UN call to Indonesia to end torture

Diaz said the investigation conducted by the Papua Regional Police Professionalism and Security Affairs Division (Propam) into the case had already been completed.

“Propam has already dealt with the case, so it’s resolved,” he said.

Nevertheless, Diaz did not explain the results of the investigation or what sanctions would be given to the officers involved.

Speaking to journalists earlier, however, Diaz said there were several sanctions that could be applied including a written reprehend, a maximum one-year postponement of education, a postponement in regular wage increases, a postponement of one promotional period or a transfer and demotion.

Heaviest sanction
In addition to this, the heaviest sanction that can be given to officers who violate discipline is to be released from their posts or be assigned to a specific location for a maximum of 21 days.

Several UN human rights experts have urged Indonesia to investigate allegations of violence by the police and military in Papua related to the use of the snake during an interrogation.

“We urge the Indonesian government to take firm measures to prevent the excessive use of force by police and military officials involved in law enforcement in Papua,” read a statement by the UN experts.

“We are also deeply concerned about what appears to be a culture of impunity and general lack of investigations into allegations of human rights violations in Papua,” they said in the statement.

The experts, who are made up of UN special rapporteurs, also said that Papuans had been treated in “cruel, inhuman and degrading” ways.

Jayawijaya District Police Chief Deputy Senior Commissioner Tonny Ananda Swadaya claimed that it was the police officers’ own initiative to conduct the interrogation into the theft using a python.

According to Swadaya, however, it was just trick used during the interrogation so that the perpetrator would confess to their crimes. He also asserted that the snake used to frighten the suspect was a pet snake that was not poisonous and tame.

“This ended up going viral on social media, it’s been blown out of proportion in other parts of the country. Here [in Papua] the public is supportive. A tame snake, non-poisonous, it didn’t bite [the suspect] and after being given the snake, the thief admitted to the crime,” said Swadaya .

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WEST PAPUA: ‘Not a big deal’ claim police, reject UN call for snake probe

Pacific Media Watch - Sat, 23/02/2019 - 5:57pm

JAYAPURA (Asia Pacific Report/CNN Indonesia/Pacific Media Watch): Papua Regional Police public information head Assistant Superintendent Suryadi Diaz is asking all parties not to dramatise or make a big issue out of the use of a snake during an interrogation by police.

The statement was made in response to calls by United Nations human rights experts for an investigation into the use of the snake.

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‘Not a big deal’ claim police, rejecting UN call for Papua snake investigation

Asia Pacific Report - Sat, 23/02/2019 - 5:28pm

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

Papua Regional Police public information head Assistant Superintendent Suryadi Diaz is asking all parties not to dramatise or make a big issue out of the use of a snake during an interrogation by police.

The statement was made in response to calls by United Nations human rights experts for an investigation into the use of the snake.

“The problem’s already been resolved, so there’s no need to make a big deal out of it anymore,” Diaz told CNN Indonesia.

READ MORE: Papuan campaigners welcome UN call to Indonesia to end torture

Diaz said the investigation conducted by the Papua Regional Police Professionalism and Security Affairs Division (Propam) into the case had already been completed.

“Propam has already dealt with the case, so it’s resolved,” he said.

Nevertheless, Diaz did not explain the results of the investigation or what sanctions would be given to the officers involved.

Speaking to journalists earlier, however, Diaz said there were several sanctions that could be applied including a written reprehend, a maximum one-year postponement of education, a postponement in regular wage increases, a postponement of one promotional period or a transfer and demotion.

Heaviest sanction
In addition to this, the heaviest sanction that can be given to officers who violate discipline is to be released from their posts or be assigned to a specific location for a maximum of 21 days.

Several UN human rights experts have urged Indonesia to investigate allegations of violence by the police and military in Papua related to the use of the snake during an interrogation.

“We urge the Indonesian government to take firm measures to prevent the excessive use of force by police and military officials involved in law enforcement in Papua,” read a statement by the UN experts.

“We are also deeply concerned about what appears to be a culture of impunity and general lack of investigations into allegations of human rights violations in Papua,” they said in the statement.

The experts, who are made up of UN special rapporteurs, also said that Papuans had been treated in “cruel, inhuman and degrading” ways.

Jayawijaya District Police Chief Deputy Senior Commissioner Tonny Ananda Swadaya claimed that it was the police officers’ own initiative to conduct the interrogation into the theft using a python.

According to Swadaya, however, it was just trick used during the interrogation so that the perpetrator would confess to their crimes. He also asserted that the snake used to frighten the suspect was a pet snake that was not poisonous and tame.

“This ended up going viral on social media, it’s been blown out of proportion in other parts of the country. Here [in Papua] the public is supportive. A tame snake, non-poisonous, it didn’t bite [the suspect] and after being given the snake, the thief admitted to the crime,” said Swadaya .

Translated by James Balowski of Indoleft News. The original title of the article was “Polda Papua Tolak Usul Ahli PBB soal Interogasi Pakai Ular”.

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Australia and Indonesia agree to step up military cooperation

Asia Pacific Report - Sat, 23/02/2019 - 9:00am

By Gita Irawan in Jakarta

Indonesia’s Army Chief of Staff (Kasad) General Andika Perkasa and Australian Defence Force chief General Angus John Campbell have agreed to further increase military cooperation between the two countries.

The meeting between Perkasa and Campbell was held in the framework of a “courtesy call” between the military leaders of the two countries.

This was conveyed by army information office chief (Kadispenad) Brigadier-General Candra Wijaya in a written press release received by Tribune News this week.

“During the meeting, the Kasad said that the TNI AD’s (army’s) role in safeguarding and defending the unity of the land territory of the NKRI [Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia] is not easy, so in several of its activities the TNI AD always endeavors to improve professionalism and the quality of its soldiers,” General Wijaya said.

General Wijaya said that this effort include improving education and training programmes and closer cooperation with the armies of friendly countries.

General Wijaya also took the opportunity to say that Perkasa is very aware that the cooperation and the bilateral relationship between the armies of the two countries have been good.

According to General Wijaya, this cooperation is one of the biggest that the TNI AD enjoys with the armies of other countries.

Several proposals
“Because of this, the essence of the discussions at this meeting is that the two sides agree to increase military cooperation between the two countries, particularly their armies,” General Wijaya said.

General Wijaya also said that during the meeting Perkasa made several proposals to General Campbell related to military cooperation.

“This included joint training activities, the exchange of lecturers and instructors, as well as improving the education organised by the TNI AD as well as the Australian Defense Force”, General Wijaya said.

General Wijaya said that that General Campbell welcomed the suggestions made by Perkasa because the Australian Defence Force also hopes that cooperation between the two armies will continue to improve in the future.

Also present at the meeting was Kasad’s Head of Expert Staff Major-General Felix Hutabarat, Deputy Security Advisor Brigadier-General Djaka Budhi Utama, Deputy Assistant of Operations Brigadier-General Untung Budiharto and Indonesia’s Defence Attache in Canberra, Admiral R Teguh Isgunanto.

Translated by James Balowski of Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was “Bersenjata Australia Sepakat Tingkatkan Kerjasama Militer”.

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Bougainville landowners call on Momis for protection from ‘offensive’ draft law

Asia Pacific Report - Fri, 22/02/2019 - 11:30pm

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

Landowners throughout Bougainville were today calling on President John Momis for protection from a “callous opportunist.”

The landowners said that the customary laws of Bougainville and the basic human rights of landowners cannot be ignored.

A secret presentation, by an Australian, Jeff McGlinn, which was marked “strictly confidential, not for distribution” has just become public.

It evidences the unconscionable demand to strip landowners of all their rights under the Bougainville Mining Act.

McGlinn’s demand for these wholesale and draconian changes, is so that he can secure a complete monopoly over all large scale mines on Bougainville, including Panguna, without following the due processes of law, including the mandated Free Prior and Informed Consent of Landowners.

Panguna landowner Philip Miriori, chair of the Osikaiyang Landowners Association, said: “The McGlinn draft Bills, which would strip landowners of all their rights, were actually drafted by McGlinn’s lawyers. It is completely unacceptable.

“We cannot allow foreigners to draft our laws, tearing up our entire Bougainville Mining Act, and all its safeguards, just so that he and his small group of insiders, including ex PNG Defence personnel can profit personally from our lands and our struggle.”

Lawrence Daveona said: “The landowners of Bougainville call on President Momis to protect them, by immediately withdrawing these deeply offensive McGlinn drafted Bills.

Bougainville conflict
“There has been no prior opportunity for consultation. Anyone who has bothered to even read a little of the history of Bougainville, would understand that the Bougainville conflict was a plea for better mining practices and the recognition of the rights of customary landowners.”

Miriori said it would be difficult to think of something more deeply disrespectful and insensitive to landowners and the community generally than the demands of McGlinn.

“This comes at the very time the community is focused on continuing to build peace and reconciliation in the lead up to the referendum on independence.

“Unreasonable, unconscionable and unconstitutional. If passed they will be challenged and Panguna is delayed indefinitely. Nobody wins – in fact we all lose.

“The general feeling about the amendment, from the 500 people who attended, was that no one agreed with it and those present were asking the ABG members to do away with the amendment immediately.”

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West Papuan campaigners welcome UN call to halt Indonesian torture

Asia Pacific Report - Fri, 22/02/2019 - 11:02am

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

The Free West Papua Campaign has welcomed the call by the United Nation’s human rights experts for “Prompt and impartial investigations … into numerous cases of alleged killings, unlawful arrests, and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of indigenous Papuans by the Indonesian police and military”.

Benny Wenda, chair of the United Movement for the Liberation of West Papua (ULMWP), said: “The West Papuan people are crying out for their freedom and self-determination.

“In January, we handed the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights a petition of 1.8 million signatures – 70 percent of the Indigenous West Papuan population – for an internationally supervised vote, a referendum, on independence from Indonesia. Finally, the Indonesian State’s brutal repression and genocidal killing is being recognised by the United Nations.”

READ MORE: UN human rights experts condemn human rights abuse and racism in West Papua

The statement from UN experts was sparked by the torture of a political prisoner with a snake.

The UN recognised that this incident is “symptomatic of the deeply entrenched discrimination and racism that indigenous Papuans face, including by Indonesian military and police”.

The ongoing genocide in West Papua by Indonesia is estimated to have killed 500,000 West Papuans since 1969.

The UN statement continued:

“We urge the Government to take urgent measures to prevent the excessive use of force by police and military officials involved in law enforcement in Papua. This includes ensuring those, who have committed human rights violations against the indigenous population of Papua are held to account.

“We are also deeply concerned about what appears to be a culture of impunity and general lack of investigations into allegations of human rights violations in Papua.”

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN Human Rights) is the leading UN entity on human rights. The General Assembly entrusted both the High Commissioner and her Office with a unique mandate to promote and protect all human rights for all people.

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Fruit fly in Auckland – situation update 22 February 2019

Pacific Scoop - Fri, 22/02/2019 - 3:35am

Press Release – Ministry For Primary Industries

A second Facialis fruit fly has been found in a surveillance trap in the Auckland suburb of tara, just 70 metres from the first detection earlier in the week.Facialis fruit fly update

A second Facialis fruit fly has been found in a surveillance trap in the Auckland suburb of Ōtara, just 70 metres from the first detection earlier in the week.

The detection of a solitary male fly within the controlled Zone A gives us confidence our trapping programme is working, says Biosecurity New Zealand spokesperson, Dr Catherine Duthie.

“We remain of the view that it is highly unlikely that a breeding population of Facialis fruit fly would establish in New Zealand because of our climate. Facialis has never established anywhere in the world outside of Tonga.

“However, our enhanced surveillance programme in the area will continue as a precautionary measure.”

Background and current situation

Two separate single male Queensland fruit flies have been found in surveillance traps in the Auckland North Shore suburbs of Devonport (February 14) and Northcote (February 20). At the moment, these are 2 single males found quite some distance apart, and there’s no evidence of a breeding population.

The Queensland fruit fly has been detected before in the upper North Island in the past decade. Biosecurity New Zealand’s staff are well practised in dealing with this situation. Since the fruit fly was found, we’ve been working to locate any other possible fruit flies.

Two separate single male Facialis fruit flies have been found in surveillance traps in Ōtara (February 18 and 20), both within the current control Zone A.

To manage the fruit fly that has been found, a Controlled Area Notice (CAN) has been issued for all three suburbs. This restricts the movement of certain fruit and vegetables out of the Controlled Area to help prevent the spread of any fruit flies if any are present.

Find out about the Controlled Area and movement controls. You can download the CANs for Devonport, Northcote and Ōtara from the MPI website:

https://www.biosecurity.govt.nz/protection-and-response/responding/alerts/fruit-flies/

If there are no further detections, the operations in each area are expected to end 14 days after the last detection.

The fruit fly response at a glance:

Facialis fruit fly – Ōtara

• A second single male Facialis fruit fly was found on February 21, 70 metres from the first detection.

• Field crews have set up a field headquarters and are placing traps.

• 104 fruit fly traps have so far been deployed in Zone A and 125 in Zone B. additional traps will continue to be deployed into the zones over the next few days.

• Bin distribution is underway across Zones A and B. The bins are provided so local people can safely dispose of fruit and vegetable waste.

• Leaflets have been translated into a number of languages including Samoan, Tongan, Chinese, Cook Island Maori, Fijian and Hindi and are now being shared amongst the local community.

• Biosecurity New Zealand representatives will be attending a meeting with local community and church leaders tonight to update them on the situation.

• Tomorrow, field teams will be at the Ōtara market talking to residents. It is important to note, the market is outside the controlled area so people can continue to buy fruit and vegetables from the market as usual.

• While residents are enjoying the Ōtara Markets tomorrow, they will see an increased biosecurity presence around. Our friendly Biosecurity New Zealand staff will be there to provide information to local residents and hand out leaflets. It is important to note the Ōtara Markets are outside of the Facialis fruit fly control zones so residents don’t need to worry about purchasing fruit and vegetables there.

Queensland Fruit Fly – Northcote

• No new Queensland fruit flies have been found to date.

• 64 additional traps have now been deployed in Zone A and 39 traps have been deployed in Zone B. Almost 100 additional traps will be deployed into the zones within the next two days.

• Fruit fly traps in Zone A are being inspected daily, and those in Zone B are being inspected every three days. If fruit flies are present, these traps will catch them.

• Traps are placed in home gardens where fruit fly host plants (for example fruit trees) are found.

• Staff are visiting homes in Zone A, checking for fruit trees, vegetable gardens and compost facilities that could provide suitable habitat for fruit flies. Fruit and vegetable samples will be taken from home gardens to check for fruit fly contamination.

• Field workers are out in force talking to local residents, providing information about the controls and how they can support the response.

Queensland Fruit Fly – Devonport

• No new Queensland fruit flies have been found to date.

• Fruit fly traps in Zone A are being inspected daily, and those in Zone B are being inspected every three days. 92 additional traps have now been deployed in Zone A and 80 traps have been deployed in Zone B. All traps are now in place in Devonport, no further traps will be laid, but that will be reviewed if further QFF are detected.

• Bin distribution is now complete with 144 bins between Zones A and B. Collected fruit is being taken to Biosecurity New Zealand’s field laboratory.

What you can do

If you find larvae inside fruit, or believe you have seen a fruit fly, keep hold of it and call 0800 80 99 66.

If you live around Devonport, Ōtara, or Northcote: find out if you’re in the Controlled Area. If so, you will need to follow legal restrictions around movement of fruit and vegetables. Remember – if in doubt, don’t take it out.

Find out more about the Queensland fruit fly and see photos

Find out about the Facialis fruit fly found in Ōtara

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Joint Statement by Jacinda Ardern and Scott Morrison

Pacific Scoop - Fri, 22/02/2019 - 2:27am

Press Release – New Zealand Government

1. Prime Minister the Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern and Prime Minister the Hon Scott Morrison MP met in Auckland on 22 February 2019 for the annual Australia-New Zealand Leaders Meeting. Prime Minister Ardern and Mr Clarke Gayford warmly welcomed Prime Minister …Joint Statement by Prime Ministers the Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern and the Hon Scott Morrison MP, Auckland, 22 February 2019

1. Prime Minister the Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern and Prime Minister the Hon Scott Morrison MP met in Auckland on 22 February 2019 for the annual Australia-New Zealand Leaders’ Meeting. Prime Minister Ardern and Mr Clarke Gayford warmly welcomed Prime Minister Morrison and Mrs Jenny Morrison to New Zealand.

2. The trans-Tasman relationship is unique and precious. It is underpinned by two centuries of shared history, values, open borders, free trade, and joint endeavour. It is a relationship of family, of whānau.

Trans-Tasman Cooperation

3. The Prime Ministers welcomed the role that Closer Economic Relations (CER) and the Single Economic Market (SEM) agenda play in growing both economies, driving prosperity and creating jobs. The trans-Tasman trade and economic relationship sets the benchmark for economic integration. The Leaders committed to making sure the SEM agenda continues to meet the day-to-day needs of trans-Tasman business and remains ambitious and responsive to new opportunities and challenges such as the future of work, the growth of the digital economy, data and emerging technologies.

4. The Prime Ministers welcomed the Australia and New Zealand Productivity Commissions’ joint report on “Growing the trans-Tasman digital economy and maximising opportunities for SMEs”. They directed officials to consider the Report’s findings and proposed actions, including on improved digital delivery of government services; digital financial services and open banking; possible areas for the expansion of trans-Tasman data sharing; and the alignment, standardisation and streamlining of the collection and use of data, including from importers and exporters.

5. The Leaders welcomed the Report’s focus on addressing domestic barriers to digital trade. They committed to strengthening trans-Tasman cooperation on e-procurement (including electronic invoicing), payment practices, digital identity for citizens and businesses, and company director identification. Leaders took particular note of the Report’s finding that the mutual recognition of verified digital identities is a foundation for growing the digital economy, and directed officials to seek opportunities to align our processes to drive growth in the digital economy by increasing citizen and business confidence in the digital marketplace. They agreed to promote global digital trade rules.

6. The Prime Ministers welcomed the significant progress on e-invoicing since 2018. They announced the creation of the Australia and New Zealand Electronic Invoicing Board (ANZEIB) to help drive an estimated A$30 billion in savings over 10 years in Australia and New Zealand. They also announced the two countries’ intention to jointly adopt the Pan-European Public Procurement Online (PEPPOL) interoperability framework for trans-Tasman e-invoicing.

7. The Prime Ministers directed officials to maximise the opportunities and manage the risks of emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, block chain and quantum computing.

8. The Prime Ministers met the co-Chairs of the Australia New Zealand Leadership Forum (ANZLF) and other business leaders to consider further improvements to the trans-Tasman small business operating environment, including a trans-Tasman mediation mechanism for SMEs. They welcomed the ANZLF’s championing of the economic partnership and direct business input into the SEM agenda. Business leaders welcomed the Prime Ministers’ announcements on data settings, digital identities and the future of work, and committed to collaborate with government on streamlining payment practices to improve SME cash flow and viability, and on implementing e-invoicing.

9. The Prime Ministers recognised further efforts are needed to ensure policies and regulations are inclusive, and in this context welcomed the ANZLF’s launch of the Indigenous Women’s Business Network and announced Viet Nam and Malaysia as the preferred destinations for a joint indigenous/Māori business mission in 2019. Leaders also announced an inaugural Women in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) bilateral dialogue.

10. The Prime Ministers reiterated their commitment to a more streamlined and secure trans-Tasman travel experience, noting that both countries have now removed departure cards, and remained focused on more efficient passenger clearance processes through the better use of more timely data, and of digital and x-ray technology, including digital options for arrival cards and passports. Leaders also welcomed joint efforts to improve trans-Tasman movement of goods, through joint trialing of a secure trade lane for low risk cargo, and improving processes for border clearance of online purchases sent by mail.

11. The Prime Ministers recognised that this year trans-Tasman collaboration will expand into marine biosecurity through a unified approach and commitment to consistency in ballast water and biofouling management requirements. New cooperation activities will include building marine biosecurity capacity in the Pacific.

12. The Prime Ministers welcomed the five-yearly review of the Australia New Zealand Government Procurement Agreement and looked forward to practical outcomes that maximise opportunities for Australian and New Zealand suppliers and reduce costs of doing business for both government and industry.

13. The Prime Ministers welcomed the announcement that the New Zealand Infrastructure Commission will work closely with its Australian counterparts to progress the integration of the two countries’ infrastructure markets. Leaders also welcomed the trans-Tasman “Cities Symposium” in Sydney on 25-26 February and looked forward to its outcomes on tackling urban development challenges.

14. The Prime Ministers welcomed the expansion of collaborative activities under the Australia New Zealand Science, Research and Innovation Cooperation Agreement, including the launch of a trans-Tasman cyber security research programme; completion of the groundbreaking Satellite-based Augmentation System (SBAS) trial; and investigations into the feasibility of developing a shared trans-Tasman SBAS service.

15. Prime Minister Ardern welcomed Australia’s 2018 budget initiative to reunite people with their lost retirement savings and Prime Minister Morrison’s support for this initiative to be extended to New Zealanders who have worked in Australia.

16. Leaders welcomed New Zealand’s application to become an international member of the Australia’s Meeting of Cultural Ministers (MCM) as a way to strengthen collaboration on arts, culture and heritage. New Zealand and Australia will collaborate on the repatriation of ancestral remains, and a joint 18 month project on cultural indicators.

17. The Prime Ministers celebrated the depth of the trans-Tasman defence alliance and its roots in ANZAC mateship. Leaders welcomed the forthcoming annual Defence Ministers’ Meeting on 28 February, and consideration of our respective capability requirements, investment plans and opportunities for collaboration. They highlighted the valuable work of the joint Australia-New Zealand Building Partner Capacity mission in Iraq, our respective deployments in Afghanistan and elsewhere, and support for our Pacific partners.

18. The Prime Ministers agreed that the prosperity and security of the Pacific was of fundamental importance to Australia and New Zealand. The Leaders welcomed the strong alignment between New Zealand’s Pacific Reset and Australia’s Pacific Step-Up, and agreed to strengthen their partnerships with Pacific island countries and territories, the Pacific Islands Forum and other regional institutions in support of the Blue Pacific.

19. The Prime Ministers welcomed the Boe Declaration, including its recognition that climate change remains the single greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and wellbeing of the peoples of the Pacific. The Prime Ministers commended the target set by Pacific signatories for the entry into force by 2019 of the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations Plus (PACER Plus) and invited Fiji, Papua New Guinea, and the French Territories to support PACER Plus. The Prime Ministers committed to increasing labour mobility opportunities, and looked forward to New Zealand’s hosting of the 2019 Pacific Labour Mobility Annual Meeting.

20. Leaders recognised the trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement as a key pillar of the Australia-New Zealand relationship, and committed to working closely on ongoing implementation of the unique pathway to citizenship for New Zealanders who are long-term residents of Australia. They acknowledged the importance of the sensitive management of visa cancellation decisions, appeals and removals of New Zealand citizens who have been convicted of crimes in Australia, and committed to continue working together.

Regional and Global Trade, Security and Environment

21. The Prime Ministers reaffirmed their steadfast support for an open, rules-based global trading system and agreed that Australian and New Zealand citizens benefit from a global trading system that creates jobs, delivers opportunities, and lowers costs for consumers.

22. Leaders reaffirmed the World Trade Organization (WTO) as the pre-eminent global body for the development and oversight of multilateral trade rules, and the settlement of disputes, and committed to working together to ensure the WTO is modernised and strengthened, including to resolve the Appellate Body impasse and conclude meaningful disciplines on fisheries subsidies in 2019.

23. The Prime Ministers welcomed Papua New Guinea’s successful hosting of APEC 2018, the pre-eminent regional forum for promoting regional economic integration, open trade and investment, and sustainable and inclusive growth. They looked forward to New Zealand’s hosting of APEC in 2021 as an opportunity to advance shared economic interests in the Asia-Pacific region.

24. The Prime Ministers agreed that the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) will provide significant benefits to its members both individually and collectively. The CPTPP is open to other economies that can meet its high standards. Leaders committed to concluding negotiations in 2019 for a modern, comprehensive, high quality and mutually beneficial Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

25. The Prime Ministers affirmed their commitment to work together in support of a region that is open, prosperous, secure and inclusive, in which disputes are resolved peacefully in accordance with international law and without the threat or use of force or coercion, and where freedom of navigation and overflight are upheld.

26. Leaders welcomed continued close cooperation and alignment on the full range of global and regional security issues, including cyber security, countering violent extremism and the return of foreign terrorist fighters, and the deterrence and disruption of people smuggling networks. Leaders shared views on foreign interference, and agreed that New Zealand and Australia would continue to share information and work together closely to address this issue.

27. The Prime Ministers welcomed positive developments on the Korean Peninsula, including the upcoming summit meeting between the United States and the DPRK. They shared their concerns over the DPRK’s ongoing violations of United Nations Security Council resolutions and agreed on the importance of enforcing sanctions. Both Leaders remain committed to working with the international community to encourage the DPRK to take concrete steps towards complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation.

28. The Prime Ministers expressed concern with the continuing militarisation of the South China Sea and urged all claimants to take meaningful steps to ease tensions and build trust, including through dialogue. They acknowledged work towards a Code of Conduct for the South China Sea and supported conclusion of an effective Code that is consistent with international law, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, and that does not prejudice the interests of third parties or the rights of all states under international law.

29. The Prime Ministers recognised that the Paris Agreement on Climate Change marks a global commitment to taking climate action. They welcomed the rules and guidelines adopted in Katowice, which bring the Paris Agreement to life. Australia and New Zealand congratulated Fiji on completing its successful Presidency of COP23 and for introducing the Talanoa Dialogue to the international climate change process.

30. The Prime Ministers expressed their support for the protection of marine biodiversity in the Southern Ocean, including through the Ross Sea region Marine Protected Area and the proposed East Antarctica Regional System of Marine Protected Areas. The Prime Ministers expressed their disappointment at the continuation of commercial whaling, and called on relevant governments to cease this practice.

ends

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World must take moral climate stand for humanity, warns Pacific expert

Asia Pacific Report - Fri, 22/02/2019 - 12:07am

By Jope Tarai in Suva

The threat of rising global temperatures on Pacific ecosystems is not only a scientific analysis but a reality for many people in the region, with a Pacific climate change expert warning that the current aggregate emissions reductions by countries are inadequate.

Dr Morgan Wairiu, deputy director at USP’s Pacific Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development, said the Pacific would effectively lose its ecosystems and resources at current emission levels, which indicate the possibility of the global temperature rising beyond 1.5C to 3.7C.

“The world needs to take a moral stand, this is a humanity issue, more than science, the economy or anything else,” he said, highlighting the need for greater action and urgency on climate change.

READ MORE: Strongest climate solutions ‘developed together’

“The Pacific’s natural and human systems would face greater devastation if the global average temperature rises above 1.5C.”

He warned the Pacific that the parties in the Conference of Parties (COP) were not on track to keep global average temperatures below 1.5C

The Fiji-based Dr Wairiu knows all too well the dangers of climate change, spending more than 25 years championing change and assisting countries in keeping the global average temperature below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

This possibility cuts at the heart of Dr Wairui’s early formative years, growing up in his village and his boarding school supported by the lush and rich vegetation in Guadalcanal.

Pacific survival
“These ecosystems, which support the survival of Pacific people, are under threat. I remember spending long hours outdoors exploring and enjoying the village surrounding,” he said.

“In boarding school, we learnt resilience and self-sufficiency by tending to food gardens and fishing for seafood.”

Dr Wairiu, who hails from Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands, was recently one of the lead authors in the 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 1.5C special report, which assessed what had been done so far and the feasibility of keeping the global average temperature below 1.5C.

This year he has been selected as the co-ordinating lead author for the “Small Islands” chapter in the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report (IPCC AR6). The IPCC releases the assessment reports every five years, with the most recent one (IPCC AR5) released in 2014.

Dr Wairiu will be co-ordinating and guiding a number of authors within the “Small Islands” chapter of the sixth assessment report.

Dr Wairiu graduated from the University of Papua New Guinea in agriculture and returned to the Solomon Islands to serve his people in the research division at the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands.

His work focused on soil and plant growth. This proved crucial for Dr Wairiu because of the Solomon Islands’ logging industry, which coincided with his cultivated plant growth work.

Completed studies
Later, he secured a scholarship to complete his postgraduate studies at the University of London in the UK. He also completed a Masters degree at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland before returning to his home country.

Dr Wairiu then moved to Ohio State University in the US to pursue his PhD and at that stage he was examining soil carbon dynamics. Completing his PhD, he returned to his village during the tensions of the early 2000s.

Shortly afterwards, he was called by the Solomon Islands government to take up the role of permanent secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands.

Dr Wairiu joined the Waikato University as a visiting research fellow before moving to the University of The South Pacific. His progression and years of experience has culminated in his current work on climate change.

Jope Tarai is an emerging indigenous Fijian scholar, based at the School of Government, Development and International Affairs, University of the South Pacific. His research interests include, Pacific regionalism, Pacific politics and digital ethnography. This article was first published by Wansolwara.

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Police make arrests over alleged methamphetamine importation

Pacific Scoop - Thu, 21/02/2019 - 11:30pm

Press Release – New Zealand Police

Police in New Zealand and Fiji have disrupted a group of people allegedly involved in importing methamphetamine from the United States into New Zealand.“Police make arrests over alleged methamphetamine importations into New Zealand”
JOINT MEDIA RELEASE FROM NEW ZEALAND POLICE AND FIJI POLICE:

Police in New Zealand and Fiji have disrupted a group of people allegedly involved in importing methamphetamine from the United States into New Zealand.

Last week Police made a number of arrests in New Zealand and in Fiji as part of Operation Nova.

The investigation began in late December after New Zealand Customs staff detected 5 kilograms of methamphetamine hidden inside a cooking appliance.

Further enquiries by NZ Police have resulted in two further seizures of methamphetamine, also hidden inside cooking appliances, totalling 6 kilograms.

Overall, the combined 11kg seizure of methamphetamine has a street value of $5.5 million and has prevented $13 million of social harm.

“Following subsequent work by Police, a small syndicate was linked to the alleged imports,” says Detective Inspector Paul Newman, National Organised Crime Group.

Last week four men were arrested by Police in New Zealand.

A 50-year-old New Zealand national, a 33-year-old Chinese national, a 60-year-old Canadian national and a 19-year-old US national are currently facing a number of drug and money laundering charges.

They appeared in the Auckland District Court on 13 February.

Meanwhile, two National Organised Crime Group investigators have been in Fiji supporting the local authorities with their enquiries.

Fijian Police have executed a number of search warrants and detained people linked to the group.

At one address in Suva, their efforts resulted in a seizure of 39 kilograms of cocaine with a street value of about $30 million in Fiji ($19.5m in New Zealand).

This had the potential to cause $46.14 million of social harm to our communities.

A Canadian national was subsequently arrested in connection with the find.

Police believe the man is connected to the group arrested in New Zealand.

“This investigation shows the strength of New Zealand working with its close partners in the Pacific region to combat transnational organised crime groups intent on supplying methamphetamine and cocaine into the New Zealand markets,” says Detective Inspector Newman.

“It is well understood that these illicit drugs are the cause of significant social harm to our communities.”

Detective Inspector Newman says the investigation has further strengthened the working relationship between Police in New Zealand and Fiji.

At this stage Police enquiries are still ongoing and we cannot rule out further charges being laid.

Due to the nature of ongoing operations and court proceedings, Police are unable to comment further.

END

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The Helicopter View From Space Yoga Studio

Pacific Scoop - Thu, 21/02/2019 - 9:14pm

Article – Howard Davis

Written in Sanskrit at some point between the second century BCE and the fourth century CE, Patanjali’s classic definition of the purpose of yoga has been translated in a number of different ways, but they all boil down to essentially the same message …

The Helicopter View From Space Yoga Studio


”Yogaś citta-vritti-nirodha” – Patanjali, Yogasūtras.

Written in Sanskrit at some point between the second century BCE and the fourth century CE, Patanjali’s classic definition of the purpose of yoga has been translated in a number of different ways, but they all boil down to essentially the same message – the calming or quieting of “mental fluctuations.” Thus the ultimate goal of all yoga postures is to develop the ability to sit still with a straight spine, listen to the breath, and journey inward. The literal meaning of asana is not simply to assume a certain posture, but more accurately to develop the ability to find a comfortable seat.

Meditation is not what you think. It’s like driving along an eight-lane highway, constantly trying to avoid delays, accidents, and all the other traffic, and forgetting that we constitute just a small part of the general congestion around us. The problem is that gravity keeps us earthbound, our field of vision is constricted, and we are unable see past the first bend in the road. We have no idea what lies ahead, but tuning into a radio station or using Sat Nav in search of directions for the quickest route provides us with a higher elevation or ‘helicopter’ view – a better perspective that makes it possible to consult expert opinion about the optimum way to get back home. Sometimes it is not the most direct path, frequently it involves some convoluted contortions and detours along the way, and what often happens is that our bodies distract us with muscular tension, discomfort, and pain, preventing our minds from focussing on the simple act of breathing. We get stuck, feeling sad, angry, or frustrated, even though we are sitting in the driver’s seat and striving to remain in control of whatever direction our lives take us.

In an intermittently successful effort to overcome some these vicissitudes as a yoga practitioner for over forty years and an instructor for twenty, I can testify to the constant struggle to cope with the pressure and anxiety of dealing with the seemingly endless difficulties that living on this planet entails. There are many individual paths up the mountain in this particular time and place, and I have explored a wide variety of classes in cities from Rome to Hawaii, and Bangkok to Rishikesh, as well as teaching at dozens of different yoga studios, health clubs, and gyms. I received my first teacher training in Kundalini Yoga at Yoga West and took advanced courses with Erich Schiffmann at Exhale in Los Angeles, studied Conscious Communication with Yogi Bhajan in Espanola, New Mexico, and worked with Nancy Gerstein in Chicago. My personal practice is definitely a work in progress, with plenty of peaks, valleys, and plateaus still to be experienced along the way.

For the stark natural beauty of its location, however, few can compare to Space Studio, which is nestled at the top of Mt Victoria high above Wellington. It has been specifically designed to provide a breathtaking vista of a spectacular landscape where the sky collides with the sea around the Miramar peninsula in the foreground and the Rimutaka mountain range provides a distant backdrop beyond. The ever-changing views promote a sense of floating in a serene world high above the harbour below. They provide an inspiring inducement to neutralize the waves of feeling that constantly lap at the edges of our consciousness.

With over thirty years experience behind her, Owner and Director Lana Bright originally trained at the Insight Yoga Institute and the Mindfulness Training Institute Australasia. She has recruited an international team of skillful and caring instructors from as far away as Germany, Mexico, the US and UK. As an ensemble, they offer a gentle programme of finely balanced yin-yang classes that transcends the tedious repetition of endless sun salutations sadly commonplace in most vinyasa flow classes. Their collective approach to teaching orientates students towards both dynamically mobile and satisfyingly till practices for both body and mind, encourages them to focus on developing their strengths while moving beyond barriers, and leaves everyone feeling simultaneously centered, strengthened, flexible, and alert.

All classes at Space Studio are specifically designed to meet our lives’ ever-changing flux of needs and demands – whether dynamic, restful, flowing, still, strengthening, or challenging. Students are encouraged to arrive early in order to sit and meditate or just stretch out and relax. There is no need to talk in this beautiful silent space, only a compelling incentive to become aware of the organic environment, from the constant stridulation of cicadas and gentle gusting of the trees during the summer months, to the winter winds and horizontal rain, and the continuously mutating formations of cumulonimbus. Even the intermittent yawn of airplane engines arriving and departing provides a metaphoric aspiration upward toward the lifting grace of flight, while paradoxically attempting to stay firmly grounded on the mat. Plenty of props are provided to support your individual practice and the instructors always offer a plethora of options, constantly inviting us to rest more and do less than they might suggest. The idea is to listen to your body and choose whatever position feels most appropriate at that specific moment. Sometimes simply lying down and resting – even for the whole class – might be the perfect practice for our over-stressed bodies and over-stimulated minds.

Whatever practice you may personally prefer, all yoga is designed to increase our self-awareness, recalibrate the endocrine system, and strengthen the nervous system – in short, to relax, reinvigorate, and renew. At Space Studio, a sense of greater mindfulness is also cultivated in order to encourage states of both wakeful presence and increased calm. During the daytime classes, the masculine yang energy is increased, while the evening classes tend to focus more on the feminine yin energy with a gentle, restorative practice that explores more passive postures and targets the connective tissues in the hips, pelvis, and lower spine. This is an holistic process that involves concentrating the mind and healing the body through simple poses held for anywhere between five and ten minutes with the help of props such as blocks, bolsters, and straps.

The aim of all the instructors at Space Studio is to increase flexibility and encourage a feeling of deep release, while also explaining the basics of meditation by quieting down what Buddhists call the chattering ‘monkey mind’ – our constant tendency to jump back and forth between thoughts, memories, and emotions. It is not only ideal for athletic types who need to release tension in overworked joints, but also provides an excellent practice for those with limited mobility who simply want to relax. Space Studio is the perfect environment for cultivating this yin-yang balance, using the gentle susurration of the breath and the soft hum of the heart to rejuvenate all aspects of the body, mind, and spirit.

Ultimately, we may find ourselves in contact with something larger than ourselves and totally at ease in the driver’s seat, no matter what vehicle we are driving or whichever fuel we choose to put in the tank. This is the fundamental goal of yoga to which Patanjali was referring – literally, to ‘yoke’ our individual identities to a higher consciousness and merge with an expansive sense of infinite awareness. At Space Studio, achieving such an elevated perspective is never a struggle, simply a continuing process of gradually opening and deepening as we strive toward perfection in our daily practice. We may never arrive at such an ideal destination in this lifetime. Nonetheless, in the immortal words of Hamlet, it remains “a consummation devoutly to be wished.”

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Bangladesh and International Mother Language Day

Pacific Scoop - Thu, 21/02/2019 - 8:48pm

Press Release – United Nations

Concerned that one language goes extinct every two weeks, the United Nations is honouring linguistic diversity and celebrating indigenous languages on International Mother Language Day. And the roots of the Day start in a South-Asian country with a bloody …How Bangladesh spearheaded creation of International Mother Language Day
21 February 2019
Culture and Education
Concerned that one language goes extinct every two weeks, the United Nations is honouring linguistic diversity and celebrating indigenous languages on International Mother Language Day. And the roots of the Day start in a South-Asian country with a bloody and historic connection to 21 February.

“We have to protect our heritage, our culture, our existence,” said Ambassador Masud Bin Momen, of Bangladesh, the country which successfully lobbied the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1999 to create International Mother Language Day. The UN General Assembly formally recognized the Day in 2008.

The origins of the Day began before 21 February 1952, but erupted on that day, when students at the University of Dhaka and other activists protested a Government order declaring Urdu as the sole national language. Bangladesh at the time was part of Pakistan. The deadly protest provoked widespread unrest, resulting in 1956, in Bengali being granted official status.
“It is a part of our Bengali nationalism to promote and commemorate this Day for the protection of not only our language but all those struggles elsewhere around the world,” Mr. Momen told UN News.

He said International Mother Language Day also celebrates multilingualism worldwide, promoting more tolerance and a “sense of culture of peace and harmony where diversity does not mean harmful for the global citizen but diversity is also a powerful instrument.”

Watch the entire television interview with Mr. Momen on YouTube, or listen to our highlights on SoundCloud.

As part of the Day’s celebrations, the United Nations Postal Administration will issue 18 World Language stamps, each saying “hello” in English and in a dozen other languages.

A special event will be organized on 21 February in New York, organized by Bangladesh, Guatemala, Mozambique, Nigeria and Papua New Guinea, in collaboration with the United Nations Department for General Assembly and Conference Management (DGACM), the UN Department of Global Communications (DGC), the UN Postal Administration (UNPA) and the New York Office of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

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Indonesia: UN experts condemn violence against Papuans

Pacific Scoop - Thu, 21/02/2019 - 8:42pm

Press Release – UN Special Procedures – Human Rights

Indonesia: UN experts condemn racism and police violence against Papuans, and use of snake against arrested boyPrompt and impartial investigations must be carried out into numerous cases of alleged killings, unlawful arrests, and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of indigenous Papuans by the Indonesian police and military in West Papua and Papua provinces, say a group of UN human rights experts*.

In the latest reported case, a video was circulated online of a handcuffed indigenous Papuan boy being interrogated by Indonesian police with a snake wrapped around his body. The boy, who was arrested on 6 February for allegedly having stolen a mobile phone, is heard screaming in fear while the laughing police officers push the snake’s head towards his face.

“This case reflects a widespread pattern of violence, alleged arbitrary arrests and detention as well as methods amounting to torture used by the Indonesian police and military in Papua,” the experts said.

“These tactics are often used against indigenous Papuans and human rights defenders. This latest incident is symptomatic of the deeply entrenched discrimination and racism that indigenous Papuans face, including by Indonesian military and police,” they added.

Representatives of the Indonesian police have publicly acknowledged the incident, and apologised for it. However, the UN experts say that prompt and impartial investigations must be carried out.

“We urge the Government to take urgent measures to prevent the excessive use of force by police and military officials involved in law enforcement in Papua. This includes ensuring those, who have committed human rights violations against the indigenous population of Papua are held to account,” the experts said.

“We are also deeply concerned about what appears to be a culture of impunity and general lack of investigations into allegations of human rights violations in Papua,” the experts stressed.

The incident in which the boy was mistreated comes amid an ongoing military operation in Papua, which became part of Indonesia in 1969 and which has seen the growth of an increasingly vocal pro-independence movement in the past decades.

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Sol3 Mio announce South Island tour due to demand

Pacific Scoop - Thu, 21/02/2019 - 8:23pm

Press Release – Great Things

When Sol3 Mio announced North Island only dates for their Back to Basics tour, two things happened. Tickets sold like hotcakes, and South Island fans made it clear that they wanted their own tour ASAP. Today Sol3 Mio confirm that theyll take …When Sol3 Mio announced North Island only dates for their Back to Basics tour, two things happened. Tickets sold like hotcakes, and South Island fans made it clear that they wanted their own tour ASAP. Today Sol3 Mio confirm that they’ll take the Back to Basics tour to five South Island centres in May. Tickets go on sale at 9am today at sol3mio.com.

“It’s been amazing to see the response to the Back to Basics tour,” said Sol3 Mio’s Pene Pati. “Five of our North Island dates have already sold out.”

“South Island fans have made it clear that we have to go down to see them, and we’ve found a week in May where we can fit in five concerts. I’ll be flying home straight after performing La Traviata in Hawaii just to make sure the South Island doesn’t miss out on seeing us this year!”

The Back to Basics tour features Sol3 Mio as they started out – three voices and a piano, singing songs from the operatic canon and popular music songbooks, and telling stories in the inimitable Sol3 Mio style. The South Island dates purposely bring New Zealand’s favourite musical trio into theatres, so they can interact with their audience like they did in the early days.

Don’t wait around on this one. Get your tickets while you can – official ticketing links available at www.sol3mio.com.

SOL3 MIO BACK TO BASICS TOUR

NORTH ISLAND
8 March, Baycourt, Tauranga – SOLD OUT
9 March, Black Barn, Hawkes Bay – Limited tickets available
14 March, TSB Showplace, New Plymouth – Limited tickets available
15 March, Regent Theatre, Palmerston North – Limited tickets available
16 March, Opera House, Whanganui – SOLD OUT
17 March, Great Hall, Auckland Town Hall, Auckland – SOLD OUT
23 March, Turner Centre, Kerikeri – SOLD OUT
24 March, Forum North, Whangarei – SOLD OUT

SOUTH ISLAND DATES JUST ADDED
26 May, ASB Theatre, Blenheim
28 May, James Hay Theatre, Christchurch
30 May, Opera House, Oamaru
31 May, Regent Theatre, Dunedin
2 June, Civic Theatre, Invercargill

Remaining tickets for the North Island concerts and the full South Island tour are available now via www.sol3mio.com.

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PNG probe into parliament rampage still ongoing, says police chief

Asia Pacific Report - Thu, 21/02/2019 - 12:28pm

By RNZ Pacific

Papua New Guinea’s Police Commissioner says investigations are ongoing into officers who took part in a rampage through Parliament last year.

Last November, dozens of police and corrections officers went on the rampage over their frustrations about unpaid security work at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)  summit.

The Speaker of Parliament, Job Pomat, who subsequently offered officers bonuses for their work, has called for the investigation to be dropped in the spirit of forgiveness.

READ MORE: The Kramer Report allegations

But commissioner Gary Baki said the probe would continue and those responsible would be held to account.

“Why it’s taking a little bit too long, because most of the people that are involved are those that came from outer provinces,” he said.

Investigating team
“So our investigating team will have to get together and ensure that those that came in from outer provinces are clearly identified, so that their provincial police commanders in those regions can be informed accordingly that these are the people that will be required to be investigated by the investigating team.

“It’s not only in NCD (National Capital District).”

Meanwhile, the PNG opposition has questioned the integrity of the purported bill for the damage to parliament, which has been quoted at more than 8 million kina

Pacific Media Watch reports that Opposition member for Madang Bryan Kramer, who publishes the investigative Kramer Report, has made a series of allegations challenging the credibility of the damages claim and questioning whether Parliament has become a “Haus of corruption”.

This article is republished under the Pacific Media Centre’s content partnership with Radio New Zealand.

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Parliament: Questions and Answers – Feb 21

Pacific Scoop - Thu, 21/02/2019 - 4:13am

Press Release – Hansard

1. KIRITAPU ALLAN (Labour) to the Minister of Finance : What is the Government’s initial response to the independent Tax Working Group report released today?ORAL QUESTIONS

QUESTIONS TO MINISTERS

Question No. 1—Finance

1. KIRITAPU ALLAN (Labour) to the Minister of Finance: What is the Government’s initial response to the independent Tax Working Group report released today?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON (Minister of Finance): The independent Tax Working Group report was released this morning, and I want to thank the group for its hard work and say that we will now spend some time working through the options and the recommendations it contains. We established the Tax Working Group to examine the structure, fairness, and balance of the tax system. Today’s report finds that, overall, our tax system is clear and simple, but there is room for improvement. There is some unfairness that needs to be addressed. We will now work through the ways to do this to make the system as fair and as balanced as possible.

Kiritapu Allan: When will the full Government response be announced?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: As I say, we are taking technical advice on addressing the elements identified by the Tax Working Group, and will make further announcements in April on any measures to enhance fairness and integrity in the system, and we look forward to discussing the recommendations with our coalition and confidence and supply partners as we work to find consensus on the best overall package.

Kiritapu Allan: When would any changes arising from the report be implemented?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: I would like to reaffirm the commitment made when the Tax Working Group was established that no changes arising from the report will be implemented this term. We also set out some clear bottom lines: in particular, the family home is off limits, increases to income tax will not occur, and there will be no inheritance tax. Finally, as the working group has said, the Government is not bound to accept all the recommendations that have been put forward. There are options to accept some, or to phase or sequence aspects of the packages proposed by the group.

Kiritapu Allan: How does the Tax Working Group report fit with the Government’s wider programme to modernise the economy?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: The Government’s tax reform initiatives that are separate to the work of the Tax Working Group will continue while we consider today’s report. We remain vigilant to ways that the current tax system fails to address the global economic and social forces which affect our economic activity. We’ve already made some moves to restore fairness and balance, including that announced earlier this week where we are taking steps to ensure that companies in the digital economy who do business across borders pay their fair share of tax. A discussion document on the options for the design of a digital services tax will be released in May, and we will continue to work with other countries for a global solution to make sure that multinational companies pay their fair share.

Question No. 2—Prime Minister

2. Hon PAULA BENNETT (Deputy Leader—National) to the Prime Minister: Does she stand by all her Government’s statements, policies, and actions?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Deputy Prime Minister) on behalf of the Prime Minister: Yes.

Hon Paula Bennett: Does she agree with comments by the Rt Hon Winston Peters in regards to capital gains tax that, “They won’t work in this country. They won’t work in any other country. They never have worked.”?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: On behalf of the Prime Minister, the responsibility of the Prime Minister is for comments made by Ministers when they were Ministers, not beforehand. And, on behalf of the Prime Minister, I should not have to tell that member that.

Hon Paula Bennett: Does she agree with comments by the Rt Hon Winston Peters that, “You can’t possibly go into an election saying, ‘My tax policy will decided by a committee.’ “?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: On behalf of the Prime Minister, for the second time now, I am not responsible for comments made by members of Parliament before they held a ministerial warrant under my premiership. That’s the substance of the matter and whether she agrees or not here’s the fine point about a democratic constitutional Government: that is, we’re going to consult with the people of this country in the next two weeks. [Interruption] I tell you what we can trust: somebody that hasn’t got a massive vested interest in this case, somebody that hasn’t got a massive vested interest in property, and is not now thinking about the country but just her narrow, selfish, egotistical self.

SPEAKER: I am going to remind the Deputy Prime Minister that he is speaking as the Prime Minister.

Hon Paula Bennett: No, no, let him go. Does she agree with the comments by the Deputy Prime Minister just yesterday who said, “The farming community, they are in for the long haul and there is no way a capital gains tax would have any effect on them at all.”, when today’s report says it will cost farmers $700 million a year?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: On behalf of the Prime Minister, I have read the Deputy Prime Minister’s comments on the farming show. I know that he comes from a seriously agrarian background and understands the long-term ownership aspirations and intergenerational aspirations of farming families around this country, and not one of them who aspires to that will be affected by any capital gains tax.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: That’s not right. That’s not right. Read it.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: No, I’ve done some work in my time, son, not like you.

SPEAKER: Order! The pair of you.

Hon Paula Bennett: If the Prime Minister is correct in her comments, then why on earth would they be saying that it would cost $700 million a year if a capital gains tax is applied to farms?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: On behalf of the Prime Minister, there is the rub. Who is saying that and what do they mean by “if”? I mean, the criteria would be whether or not this is an expanded tax, and at this point in time it is not. It’s merely a report with a number of options—all 99—and what I’d like to know on behalf of the Prime Minister is: how come they had only four hours to study this and yet had already put out their views before the report came over their desks?

Hon Paula Bennett: Does she agree with the comments by the Hon James Shaw recently who said, “The only question we should be asking ourselves is: do we deserve to be re-elected if we don’t.” with regards to implementing a capital gains tax?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: On behalf of the Prime Minister, that is a fact, and I’m glad about that. This is the first fact I’ve heard thus far in question time—that Mr Shaw said that. Mr Shaw’s a visionary Minister and is looking to the full debate and discussion that’s going to take place over the next eight weeks. Why don’t we all show some patience and be prepared to consult with the public of this country, the businesses of the country, rather than give your own narrow venal views.

Hon Paula Bennett: Can she confirm that any changes as a result of the recommendations in the Tax Working Group’s report will be revenue-neutral?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: On behalf of the Prime Minister, it’s very difficult to come to a report—

Hon Paula Bennett: Grant just told you to say that you haven’t made any decisions.

SPEAKER: Order!

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Unlike that member, doesn’t need instructions, able to think for himself, doesn’t need a speech writer, not embarrassed by being shown up every day—no. On behalf of the Prime Minister, the Prime Minister and her colleagues are not going to come to a decision until they have had the full consultation. And I must say, the most interested person in this is the Minister of Finance—the consultation process—and when that consultation is finished, we will share with the public our findings.

Hon Paula Bennett: You got that right.

SPEAKER: Question No. 3, the Hon Amy Adams—sorry; just before you go, I am am just going to ask Ms Bennett to think about who she’s interjecting to.

Question No. 3—Finance

3. Hon AMY ADAMS (National—Selwyn) to the Minister of Finance: Will he commit to ensuring that any changes the Government makes in response to the Tax Working Group’s report are revenue-neutral to the Government?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON (Minister of Finance): In light of the last answer, I could just say “What the Prime Minister said.”, but no decisions have been taken on how the Government will respond on any aspect of the Tax Working Group’s report released today. I would note for the member that the Government specifically asked the working group to include examples of revenue-neutral packages in the final report, and we are analysing those as we speak.

Hon Amy Adams: Why is he unable to commit to that, given that he has previously said about the Tax Working Group’s programme, “We are not setting out in this process to increase or grab revenue from hard-working New Zealanders.”?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: Because that’s entirely true. We set out on this process to ensure that New Zealand has the fairest and most balanced tax system possible, and I would note that the last time there was a Government that had a Tax Working Group—a Government that member was part of—that working group recommended a capital gains tax, and a comprehensive one.

Hon Amy Adams: If this process is not about increasing taxes on New Zealanders, as he has admitted he said, why can’t he commit to it being revenue-neutral? It’s a simple question.

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: Because we are working through all of the recommendations in the report, and I’d encourage the member to read the whole report, because when she does, she will see a range of packages that include, yes, some suggestions on expanding capital income and some suggestions on cutting taxes. We’re working our way through the whole package.

Hon Amy Adams: Does he agree with the Tax Working Group that a bach, a plumbing business, or a hairdresser’s salon should be subject to a capital gains tax but a multimillion-dollar art collection should be exempt?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: As I have said in all of my answers, we have not made any decisions about the recommendations of the Tax Working Group. We are working through them to make sure that New Zealand has got the fairest and most balanced tax system it can have.

Hon Amy Adams: Does he agree with the Tax Working Group that it’s fair for corporates to be able to set off their capital losses but not families who own lifestyle blocks or baches?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: To repeat the earlier answer: we are working our way through the recommendations of the report. I think it would be good to respect the rights of New Zealanders to go through this report, make sure that their views are heard, and then the coalition Government and our confidence and supply partner will come back with a result.

Hon Amy Adams: Can he tell New Zealanders if he agrees with respected tax expert Robin Oliver, who’s also a working group member, that the costs of the capital gains tax will far outweigh the benefits, it will discourage entrepreneurship, and have a negative impact on productivity in New Zealand?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: I’ll be working through Mr Oliver’s opinion, which is part of the minority report. I do note that within that minority report, Mr Oliver shares the view of all of the members of the Tax Working Group to extend capital income taxation to residential rental properties. So I presume that is now the National Party’s policy, to endorse Mr Oliver.

Hon Amy Adams: Is it fair that someone who works hard all their life to build up a small business, create jobs, and save for their retirement faces losing a third of their assets on retirement, but a wealthy art collector with a multimillion-dollar home would be completely exempt?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: I don’t believe the member’s characterisation fairly represents the recommendation from the Tax Working Group, which we have not worked through, but I am pleased that she is focused on the issue of fairness, because that’s why we set up the Tax Working Group, that’s why we’re prepared to actually answer the hard questions that come up for Governments from time to time, and we’ll work through our response respectfully.

Hon Amy Adams: Does he think it’s good enough that, having had the report for many days longer than anyone else, he still can’t tell New Zealand whether it’s his intention to increase taxes overall and still doesn’t know, or won’t say, what he thinks is fair?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: I think what New Zealanders would want from their Government is that that Government works through the report, and I understand why the member doesn’t realise this, but actually this is a coalition Government. We’re going to work across the three parties here that represent the majority opinion of New Zealanders, and we will come up with the solution for a fairer and more balanced tax system.

Question No. 4—Disability Issues

4. GREG O’CONNOR (Labour—Ōhāriu) to the Minister for Disability Issues: What recent announcements has she made to improve employment conditions for disabled people?

Hon CARMEL SEPULONI (Minister for Disability Issues): Yesterday, Minister Lees-Galloway and I announced a proposed approach to replace the minimum wage exemption to ensure all disabled people in New Zealand are paid at least the minimum wage. The proposal will end the minimum wage exemption scheme, which allows certain disabled people to be paid less than the minimum wage. It would be replaced with a wage supplement system, which both Government and the disability sector agree is the best option to address the needs of both disabled people and employers. The proposed model will ensure that disabled workers can continue to have job security and be in rewarding work, while providing every adult New Zealander with at least the minimum wage.

Greg O’Connor: Why is this important?

Hon CARMEL SEPULONI: Currently, around 900 disabled individuals in New Zealand have a minimum wage exemption permit. Many of these individuals are on extremely low wages; 70 percent of them receive under $5 per hour for their work. The disability sector has argued for some time now for an end to this discrimination against disabled people, and the Government agrees. The minimum wage exemption also conflicts with New Zealand’s obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. By ending the minimum wage exemption scheme, we can better support disabled people to live their lives to their fullest potential and foster more inclusive workplaces.

Greg O’Connor: What are the next steps replace the minimum wage exemption?

Hon CARMEL SEPULONI: We’ve started a two-month targeted consultation programme to gain insight and feedback on the wage supplement approach. The consultation process will explicitly target the views of disabled people, their whānau, representatives, and employers. This consultation reflects our commitment to “Nothing about us without us”. Our two-month consultation is an important step in ensuring both employers and disabled people support the proposed change and have input into the design of the wage supplement approach.

Question No. 5—Regional Economic Development

5. Hon PAUL GOLDSMITH (National) to the Minister for Regional Economic Development: Does he think that increasing the tax burden on productive businesses would help or hinder investment into regional economic development?

Hon SHANE JONES (Minister for Regional Economic Development): The connection between investment and tax is a complex matter, and the introduction of any such tax is something that will be subject to both coalition discussions and widespread consultation with the very sector he’s talking about.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Does he accept that a lot of regional development depends on private sector investment—someone, somewhere, deciding to put their money into starting a new business and building it?

Hon SHANE JONES: Obviously, every day, Kiwis up and down the country, in agribusiness and related industries, are making investment decisions. They are increasing both in pace and sophistication as a consequence of my efforts.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Does he expect that substantially increasing the tax burden on investment would lead to more investment in the regions?

Hon SHANE JONES: There is a famous song in the regions of New Zealand. It goes: “Go get your marbles, put ’em in the house, get a little dirt on your hands, son.”

SPEAKER: No, the member will now answer the question.

Hon SHANE JONES: The man mentioned the word “regions”; I have responded in a very popular regional way. Of course, the regions are making investments all the time, and they will enjoy great consultation by my good self as we move forward on any tax changes. The reference to “get a little dirt on your hands, son” is the inverse relationship between Epsom and the regions.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Does he think it would encourage entrepreneurship in the regions if the owners of small regional businesses, such as a sawmill in Northland, could build up their businesses over 30 years by reinvesting tax-paid profits only to be taxed again when selling it?

Hon SHANE JONES: Obviously, the travails of privately owned, small milling businesses—obviously, tax considerations are not necessarily uppermost but will be on their mind, which is why, as the Minister of Forestry, as the Minister for Regional Economic Development, I will engage with them, but I will not be taunted and I will not respond to verbal muck. I will respond to facts.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: What advice has he received on the impact on investment into the regions, first, from the uncertainty over the imposition of a capital gains tax or not, and, second, from the imposition of such a tax, if it was introduced?

Hon SHANE JONES: Obviously, over the last 24 hours the veritable Dr Cullen and his committee have released their report. Now that that report is public, I will turn my attention to studying its provisions and, in good time, we will discuss and debate its application to the provinces.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Does he support introducing a capital gains tax for every business in regional New Zealand?

Hon SHANE JONES: Obviously, as the “First Citizen of the Provinces”, I will engage with the regions. I will talk to the stakeholders along with other Ministers and other parliamentary members of the Government. And, in good time, we will arrive at a rational and sustainable conclusion. But we will not respond, as I’ve said earlier, to verbal mucus. We won’t.

Question No. 6—Foreign Affairs

6. CLAYTON MITCHELL (NZ First) to the Minister of Foreign Affairs: Has he seen any reports on international incidents of slavery and human trafficking?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Minister of Foreign Affairs): [Interruption] Beg your pardon?

Hon Amy Adams: Carry on.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Can’t you wait?

Hon Amy Adams: Not much worth waiting for.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Well, you’re going to wait a long, long time if you keep on behaving like that.

SPEAKER: Order! Can I—

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Well, she’s all the time—

SPEAKER: No. The member will resume his seat. The Hon Amy Adams, you should know better than that, and, the Rt Hon Winston Peters, you should know much better than that. Don’t take the bait.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: It’s like taking candy from a baby, Mr Speaker. This is a very serious issue and one that this Government is dedicated to fighting in each and every way. I’ve seen reports from Europol and Interpol which suggest that of the one million migrants who entered the European Union in 2015, nine out of 10 paid people smugglers to get them there. There are lessons to be learnt from Europe’s experience, and international cooperation is vital in ensuring the inviolability of New Zealand’s borders and maximising its national interests.

Clayton Mitchell: Does New Zealand have an issue with international people-trafficking?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Immigration New Zealand’s website acknowledges that there is a lack of accurate information on the scope and scale of global people-trafficking and migration to New Zealand. This is often due to the lack of accurate data recording systems and a lack of information sharing between agencies, both domestic and international. Ultimately, New Zealand is not immune from the scourge of people-smuggling and human trafficking, which continues to affect much of the developed world, but what New Zealand will not tolerate is a degradation, particularly of women and children, while this happens.

Clayton Mitchell: What forms of international cooperation has the Government undertaken to help ensure that New Zealand is best prepared to address the issues surrounding international people-trafficking?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: On 19 December 2018, the New Zealand Government along with 151 other countries voted in favour of the United Nations Global Compact for Migration.

Hon Todd McClay: Ha, ha!

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: The compact itself does not enable any party to think it’s a joke, because it was the National Party that began the negotiations for it. New Zealand maintains full control of its own borders, retains its sovereign rights around migration policy—explicitly stated in paragraph 7 of the compact itself. It also ensures, in objective one, the collection and utilisation of data to help ensure that women and children remain seen by authorities, thereby reducing the risk that they will slip into invisibility and then, as is seen overseas, into wholesale abuse.

Clayton Mitchell: Is the Minister aware of any senior Government figures previously expressing their support for a Global Compact on Migration?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: That’s a very good question. Yes, the UN compact has earned support from figures across the political spectrum. The Speaker at the time realised—and he said—”New Zealand continues to be an open facing country, and to counter any xenophobia and intolerance of migrants”, ultimately stating that “We pledge a concerted effort spurred on by the global compact.” That was a speech that was approved by the leader of the National Party and the leader in the top echelons of the National Party, as Mr David Carter gave it to an Inter-Parliamentary Union conference in March of last year.

Hon Todd McClay: Can he explain to the House why there was so much confusion at the end of last year before he instructed New Zealand diplomats to go to the UN and sign up to this UN declaration, and can he also confirm media reports that there was one heck of a barney in Cabinet over it and that the Prime Minister got her way?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: That puts me in mind of Geoffrey Palmer’s famous warning about people spreading rumour with malice. There were two questions there; the second issue can I deal with first of all. This matter was never the subject of a raging debate in Cabinet. In fact, Cabinet colleagues so entrusted their foreign Minister, they let him handle it all by himself. As to the delay in the UN, it was because we were very cautious to ensure that as we gave our support for this document, all the criticisms that were emanating from the trolls internationally as to what it might mean would be debunked, and debunked they have been.

Hon Todd McClay: Just for absolute clarity: can the Minister, the Rt Hon Winston Peters, confirm that it was he and he alone that made the decision to sign New Zealand up to the UN migration treaty?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Well, I didn’t take that arrogant attitude towards my duties. We approach it with consultative humility as being our central, core operational modus operandi, so to speak. But I can say that it never did go to Cabinet that way. I don’t recall us having anything more than a peripheral discussion, because here we were inheriting a National Party – prepared document. We know that now and again the National Party does get it right, and in that sense we didn’t have a dispute with them, but we just wanted to make sure—

Hon Dr Nick Smith: It was a sell-out.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: —that the understanding was clear in this document. No, Mr Smith; selling out is your specialty.

Clayton Mitchell: How did the comments of UN migration compact compare to that of the New York declaration agreed to in 2016 by the previous Government?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Another good question. The reality is that in all respects, the National Party had signed up to this document. They had one of its leading members, a former Speaker, David Carter, give a speech to the IPU—that’s a world body—last year bemoaning xenophobic behaviour, and I want to know what happened to the National Party’s leadership.

Hon James Shaw: Is the Minister aware of reports that the false claims about the UN migration pact that he’s just mentioned, about the right to migrate and limiting domestic legislation, were first popularised on social media by extremist anti-Islamic and neo-Nazi groups based primarily in Europe in September last year, and is he concerned that those false claims have been picked up by New Zealand political parties?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: I am indebted to that member for asking that very pertinent question.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. There is a very, very unsavoury inference in the question that’s been asked by the Green Party, and I think it is very much an unparliamentary question. It could be framed in a different way, perhaps, but not particularly sheeted home in the way it is intended.

SPEAKER: I am going to deal with that because it is a matter which I am separately aware of, the fact that there are international claims that some particular lines originated with the groups that the member referred to and that they are very similar to lines that have been used in New Zealand and overseas by people opposing the particular pact. Therefore I think it is a reasonable question to ask, as long as the foreign affairs Minister does not purport to speak for Opposition parties or to use this as a tool for attacking them.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: I want to say I want to thank Mr Shaw for his question, because, frankly, when you’ve got debates and discussions and concerns about the involvement of certain interests against democratic outcomes in elections, this becomes a seriously important issue. Then when you see the extraordinary—not coincidence—duplication of the same phraseology, it leads one to suggest that this was what was going on. Above all, it behoves us not just in here but outside of Parliament—and, indeed, the media of this country—to be aware of just what the genesis and origin of some of these attacks might be.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I would just challenge the way you’ve just ruled on, firstly, the reasonable nature of that question and it being parliamentary, and then the response from Winston Peters. There are several countries who moved that motion in the United Nations who did not sign up. Switzerland, for example, did not sign up. Does that mean that they are now branded by Winston Peters as being associated with the very unsavoury elements that Mr Shaw put in front of the House?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Speaking to that point of order, Mr Speaker. First of all, if there was any right of that member to raise that point of order, he had to raise it when the issue was first in front of the House, not when he feels like it—

Hon Gerry Brownlee: I did.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: —no—not trying to give a ballast—[Interruption]—to an argument he’d lost.

SPEAKER: Order! No, the member will resume his seat. Mr Brownlee, you know that when a point of order is being spoken to, you do not interject. You know it very well, and the member will stop. I’m able right now to rule on Mr Peters’ point. He is absolutely correct. While it was taken up directly, if the member had additional information at the time, it should have been taken up then and not afterwards.

Question No. 7—Small Business

7. Hon JACQUI DEAN (National—Waitaki) to the Minister for Small Business: Does he think small businesses in New Zealand are facing higher costs because of this Government’s policies and actions?

Hon STUART NASH (Minister for Small Business): No.

Hon Jacqui Dean: Does he think any additional taxes will have an impact on small businesses?

Hon STUART NASH: No.

Hon Member: What about GST?

Hon Jacqui Dean: Does he think—

SPEAKER: Order! No, the member can keep going. I just want whoever the member was up the back to be quiet and let her do it.

Hon Jacqui Dean: Does he think small businesses will be more or less productive with the introduction of additional costs, such as a capital gains tax?

Hon STUART NASH: As the Minister of Finance and the Acting Prime Minister have said—I’m assuming that member is referring to the release of the Tax Working Group’s report earlier today—this Government has made absolutely no decision whatsoever on the way forward in that.

Hon Jacqui Dean: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I did ask the Minister for Small Business a pretty direct question, which was, “Does he think small businesses will be more or less productive with the introduction of additional costs, such as a capital gains tax?”

SPEAKER: And the member got an answer.

Hon Jacqui Dean: Does he believe a capital gains tax on small business will discourage or encourage investment and innovation?

Hon STUART NASH: That’s a hypothetical. I’m not prepared to answer that.

Hon Jacqui Dean: How does tax encourage investment and innovation?

Hon STUART NASH: Well, if you introduce a research and development tax credit like we’ve done to the tune of a billion dollars, what it does do is it encourages businesses to invest in research and development. If you put GST on online goods and services that are coming across from overseas, you level the playing field, so you help the 26,000 small retailers who employ 61,000 people—just two examples.

Hon Jacqui Dean: Does he think it is a good idea to tax goodwill on a business?

Hon STUART NASH: What I do think it’s a good idea to do is to put GST on online goods and services to help mainstream retailers, and that is something that the Opposition refused to support. So could I suggest that if that member was really supporting small businesses, she would support GST on online goods.

SPEAKER: No, that didn’t come close to addressing the question.

Hon Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Ministers aren’t obliged to give opinions. The question clearly asked for an opinion.

SPEAKER: They’re not obliged to give legal opinions; they are obliged to give opinions answering questions on policy areas for which they are responsible.

Hon STUART NASH: As the Minister for Small Business, I’m not responsible for tax.

Hon Jacqui Dean: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The question I asked the Minister was pretty straightforward. I asked him, “Does he think it is a good idea to tax goodwill on a business?”, and the Minister in no way addressed that question.

SPEAKER: And he has, in that way, given an answer. I don’t think it’s that satisfactory, but it did address the question.

Question No. 8—Regional Economic Development

8. JENNY MARCROFT (NZ First) to the Minister for Regional Economic Development: What recent announcements has he made in relation to the Provincial Growth Fund?

Hon SHANE JONES (Minister for Regional Economic Development): Recently, the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) that was announced will loan $7.5 million to support the development of Ōpuke Thermal Pools and Spa complex in Methven. It will create 120 jobs directly and indirectly, and it is fiscal evidence of the meaning of “ōpuke”: to expand and swell.

Jenny Marcroft: What announcement has he made to help provide other alternatives to 1080?

Hon SHANE JONES: Naturally, the $19.6 million, which was announced by me and Minister Sage, is an overdue step to enabling the Crown to encourage and incentivise other interventions which go beyond the 1080 practitioners. This will not only lead and reward people who entrepreneurially or technologically come up with alternatives, which either can boost the prospects of ridding the landscape of such pests, but also generate, in time, foreign exchange earnings.

Jenny Marcroft: Can the Minister confirm claims that only 54 jobs have been created so far through the Provincial Growth Fund?

Hon SHANE JONES: I can confirm that the miserable, inaccurate amounts that were flung around earlier this year have now been eclipsed by the truth. The reality is that we are well beyond that figure: 10 times; 560 jobs created, and not only are they rising; they are being counted.

Jenny Marcroft: How many projects has the PGF so far supported?

Hon SHANE JONES: To date, the Provincial Growth Fund has supported 229 projects. Seventy of those, admittedly, are for matters that require further viability and feasibility and business cases, but such a standard is required in order for me to fulfil the good governance stewardship requirements of being the champion of the regions and the steward of the fund.

Jenny Marcroft: What recent updates and feedback has he received about the PGF?

Hon SHANE JONES: Naturally, there is an echo chamber from Murihiku to Muriwhenua, Invercargill to Kaitāia, and nowhere was it seen more vividly than when I was recently in mid-Canterbury, where the list member for Epsom was attacking mid-Canterbury but the sitting member was leaking early the results of our deliberations and celebrating this amount of money given to the Ōpuke thermal pools.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: If the Minister is so sure that he has now created 560 jobs, why did he say in this House before Christmas that he’d created 9,000? And given that wide variety, how can we have any confidence in any figures that he provides?

Hon SHANE JONES: Without a doubt, thousands of jobs have been both identified by my good self and are the subject of high-quality feasibility and viability studies. But as the member knows, the machinery of the State moves, from time to time, painfully slowly, and it requires us to tick all the milestones. But rest assured, the figure of 560 is not only authentic, but it is growing and swelling as we speak. And over the next 18 months, he can celebrate, along with me, the many thousands of jobs flowing from this incredibly important initiative.

Question No. 9—Whānau Ora

9. JO HAYES (National) to the Minister for Whānau Ora: Does this Government believe in the Whānau Ora model?

Hon PEENI HENARE (Minister for Whānau Ora): Yes.

Jo Hayes: How confident is he that all of his ministerial colleagues across Government parties will share his enthusiasm for increasing funding for Whānau Ora in Budget 2019?

Hon PEENI HENARE: Very.

Jo Hayes: Does he believe all his ministerial colleagues will be open to expanding and growing the model, as recommended by the panel?

Hon PEENI HENARE: In light of the review, I’m confident that this Government will be working hard to make sure that Whānau Ora as a model will continue to empower families right across this country. That member knows and understands the way that the Budget cycle works in this House, and I hope that in the coming months she will be alert to the announcements of positivity from this side of the House.

Jo Hayes: How long does he expect it to take for Te Puni Kōkiri to report back to him on where Whānau Ora can be implemented in the social sector?

Hon PEENI HENARE: Whānau Ora is already active and implemented in the social sector. I am confident, in light of the review, that this year there will be some significant movement in this space for the prosperity of our people.

Jo Hayes: What guarantees can he give to Whānau Ora providers who feel they’ve been left in limbo about their futures during the period of the review?

Hon PEENI HENARE: I give all guarantees to the Whānau Ora providers, far and wide, in this country. I want to thank them for their good work in the communities and the work that they do with families, and can I remind providers, the general public, and this House that Whānau Ora as a kaupapa is actually bigger than any one individual or any one part. The kind of fundamental shift that we want to achieve for prosperity for our families is far greater than any single one part.

Question No. 10—Māori Development

10. RINO TIRIKATENE (Labour—Te Tai Tonga) to the Minister for Māori Development: What recent announcements have been made about ensuring Te Reo Māori is a living language in Aotearoa?

Hon NANAIA MAHUTA (Minister for Māori Development): Today, I announced the launch of the Maihi Karauna at Te Matatini ki te Ao. The Maihi Karauna is the Crown’s commitment to Te Reo Māori revitalisation, which has been publicly consulted on, as we determine our next steps. One of our goals is that by 2040, 1 million New Zealanders will be able to confidently speak basic Te Reo Māori. This is ambitious, as we take advantage of the momentum we are starting to see across Aotearoa. The Maihi Karauna will form the basis for the Government’s strategic focus to protect and promote Te Reo Māori revitalisation across the Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori, Te Māngai Pāho, and the Māori Television service in the first instance, and in collaboration and partnership with Te Mātāwhai.

Rino Tirikatene: What initiatives will support the implementation of te Maihi Karauna?

Hon NANAIA MAHUTA: We will be commencing the implementation of this strategy through three initiatives which are focused on rangatahi—young people—and it will support our efforts for the Unesco Year of Indigenous Language 2019: initiatives such as snap Reo, which are micro-lessons; a social marketing campaign to promote the value of Te Reo Māori; and hosting rangatahi regional workshops and a national summit. All Government agencies will also begin to develop their own Te Reo Māori plans so that we can increase the Reo capability of our public sector. A comprehensive implementation plan is currently in development. It will set out what actions will be undertaken to achieve our priorities over a five-year period. The plan will be published in September 2019. I just want to congratulate Te Māngai Pāho, who are supporting a broader range of digital media content, which will extend the reach of Te Reo Māori to a wider audience and to young people, in particular.

Rino Tirikatene: How will the Government know if the Maihi Karauna is making a difference?

Hon NANAIA MAHUTA: That’s a really good question. Effective measurement and evaluation will be critical to ensuring the success of the strategy, and we want to know that we’re measuring the right things as we work together in collaboration to achieve this. A monitoring and evaluation framework will be developed to ensure that we’re tracking these achievements. But, in short, I’m encouraged by the leadership of the Māori Language Commission and Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori, who are facilitating collaboration with all sorts of partners to get a better track of what’s happening. Also, in the area of language planning, there is the start that has already begun across the public sector to ensure that they can implement the intent of the Maihi Karauna and the Māori Language Strategy.

Question No. 11—Energy and Resources

11. JONATHAN YOUNG (National—New Plymouth) to the Minister of Energy and Resources: What particular error or errors if any, does she believe NZIER has made in its calculations of the impact of her Government’s oil and gas exploration ban outside onshore Taranaki, and what official advice, if any, has she received since the NZIER report’s publication on what the actual economic impact will be?

Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS (Minister of Energy and Resources): My concerns sheet back to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) modelling on which the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) report is based. As I said in answer to the member’s question yesterday, problems with that modelling have been very well canvassed. Some of the concerns with the data are that (1) it does not take into account the 100 square kilometres of permitted area we are honouring and the pragmatic approach we are taking with current permit holders over drill or drop provisions, (2) it assumed that there would be no Government initiatives into alternative energy industries and the creation of associated jobs, and (3) it takes no account of the costs of doing—as the member seems to suggest—nothing. The report is based on a report by MBIE, which was based on a report by GNS Science, who said their own model attempted to quantify that which is almost unquantifiable.

I also pointed out yesterday that the report does not considered new jobs that may be created via the transition of our economy and growth of new industries. A number of studies point out that renewable energy sources create more jobs than fossil fuels. For example, a Pure Advantage report found that with proper investment almost 30,000 jobs could be created in areas such as the geothermal and bioenergy industries. A third report from Business and Economic Research (BERL) said that developing a bioenergy sector could generate up to 27,000 jobs. In answer to the second part of the question, none.

Jonathan Young: Is NZIER—

Hon Gerry Brownlee: It’s all rubbish.

SPEAKER: Order!

Hon Gerry Brownlee: I was spoken to by Dr Webb.

SPEAKER: But the member’s response was delayed until his colleague was speaking.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: I was bullied.

SPEAKER: It is your fault, and you’ll be more careful in the future.

Jonathan Young: Is NZIER incorrect to conclude that her Government’s exploration ban will result in a $20,774 fall in household incomes each year for the next 30 years for every household in Taranaki; and if so, why?

Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS: Yes, because I believe the calculations that the NZIER report have produced are based on a flawed model that was in the original regulatory impact statement (RIS). I’ve just gone through in my primary answer all the reasons why I think there is a flawed methodology behind the data that is being used.

Jonathan Young: With official data showing less than six years of proved natural gas reserves left, when will the new technologies she believes will mitigate the economic impact, or transitioning away from natural gas, start to come on stream?

Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS: First of all, I don’t accept the premise of that member’s question. Actually, the latest MBIE projections are that we have 10 years of confirmed gas supplies in New Zealand, which has been the case for decades. It simply moves out. And, in fact, industry are making commercial decisions based on their own comfort with the level of gas we will have in New Zealand. We’ve had a $500 million investment from OMV in Taranaki. We’ve had Todd invest $100 million in a peaking plant. I don’t think they concur with that member’s view that the sky is about fall in.

Jonathan Young: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I did quote from the departmental report from the officials to the Environment Committee when I worded the question of “proved natural gas reserves left”, and the Minister’s answer—

SPEAKER: Well, no. The member might disagree with an answer and he might even have evidence which shows that he’s right, but there’s never been a point of order which requires a Minister to change their view in that way. Ministers, believe it or not, in the past have been wrong in their answers.

Jonathan Young: Given that the scenarios used for NZIER’s modelling are based on the Government’s official analysis set out in their regulatory impact statement which accompanied the Cabinet paper prepared in support of the now enacted Crown Minerals (Petroleum) Amendment Bill, is she now saying that the regulatory impact statement was incorrect; and if so, how?

Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS: I said at the time the legislation was going through the House that I took issue with the data that was in the regulatory impact statement. In fact, the paper that I took to Cabinet refuted a number of the findings of the regulatory impact statement. This is not news, and, in fact, that member asked me questions about it last year in the House, and I gave him the explanations then.

Jonathan Young: What specific inputs to official data that NZIER has relied on does she argue is wrong?

Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS: I spelt this out in my primary answer, but I’ll go over it again—

SPEAKER: No. The member doesn’t need to—she did.

Question No. 12—Housing and Urban Development

12. SIMON O’CONNOR (National—Tāmaki) to the Minister of Housing and Urban Development: What percentage of homes added by Housing New Zealand in the 2017/18 period were purchased or leased?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD (Minister of Housing and Urban Development): I’m advised that the number of homes leased or purchased by Housing New Zealand reduced by 16 percent in 2017-18 from 67 percent down to 51 percent of the additional homes. During that period, Housing New Zealand built 1,033 homes, purchased 305, and renewed or newly leased 805 transitional and State homes. The percentage of new builds increased from 33 percent to 49 percent in 2017-18.

Simon O’Connor: Can the Minister confirm that Housing New Zealand missed its Auckland Housing Programme targets for the 2017-18 year—building fewer houses in Auckland, while buying and leasing more than planned?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: What I can confirm is that Housing New Zealand substantially increased their new build numbers in 2017-18 over every build programme over the last five years—substantially—and it will almost double that in the year to come.

Simon O’Connor: Can he confirm—returning to Housing New Zealand’s 2017-18 report—that, of the claimed 2,188 additional homes, 1,152 were purchased or leased, making 52.6 percent of all those additional houses being purchased or leased?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: What I can tell the member is that leasing has increased. I’m advised that of the 805 leases by Housing New Zealand in the 2017-18 year, 795 were renewals of existing tenancies, with three- and five-year terms. All of those renewals—the whole 795—were of leases that were entered into by the previous Government.

Paul Eagle: What reports has he seen on Housing New Zealand’s building and acquisition programme?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: I saw claims yesterday on Breakfast TV that Housing New Zealand were building 1,500 homes in 2016. I was very surprised to learn that, so I did a bit of digging, and it turns out that of those 1,500 builds, two-thirds were not built, but were existing homes that the last Government leased or purchased.

Paul Eagle: Why does Housing New Zealand buy existing homes?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: In the last financial year, our Government nearly halved the number of existing homes Housing New Zealand buys as we ramp up their build programme. However, Housing New Zealand will continue to buy some homes for a number of good reasons—for example, the need to acquire more homes for development projects or to rehouse tenants while homes are being built and because Housing New Zealand was previously told by the former Government that, in areas where it was planning to sell off State homes, it could not build additional homes—

SPEAKER: Order! Order! We’ve gone beyond the area of responsibility.

Simon O’Connor: Does Housing New Zealand purchase homes before they enter the open market, consequently removing an opportunity from taxpaying New Zealanders?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: No. Housing New Zealand buys homes. It has an asset acquisition programme. It buys homes on the open market.

Simon O’Connor: Is the Minister aware of what his advisers and officials said in committee yesterday—that Housing New Zealand is using real estate companies to acquire houses before they reach the open market?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: Like everybody who purchases homes on the open market, Housing New Zealand uses real estate agents, but they do not have—as the Opposition have been saying—some kind of sweetheart deal with one particular real estate agency.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Yes, they do.

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: No they do not.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: He’s not being told everything.

Hon Ruth Dyson: What about yours with Fletchers?

SPEAKER: Order! Both of you. Look, Mr Brownlee, you’re not having a good day.

Simon O’Connor: Is it fair to first-home buyers—who were promised 1,000 KiwiBuild homes by 1 July—that when trying to buy a house they are competing with Housing New Zealand, who is willing to pay above market value, and has a budget of $1.3 billion?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: First, Housing New Zealand does not pay above market value. It purchases on the open market. But this Government is focused on new builds—for the reasons that I have said—that’s why we’ve cut the number of purchases by Housing New Zealand—

SPEAKER: Order! Order! The Minister has answered the question. He answered it in his first sentence.

Simon O’Connor: Is the Minister aware of what officials and advisers told the select committee yesterday—that Housing New Zealand is prepared to and does buy houses on the open market, up to, and sometimes beyond, 5 percent of market value?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: Housing New Zealand has said—and I back them—that they buy homes on the open market on commercial terms, just like everybody else does. I want to point out to the member that of the 249 homes that Housing New Zealand bought, that amounts to 0.3 percent of the more than 72,000 homes that changed hands on the market last year. That is hardly likely to make a difference.

Simon O’Connor: Has Housing New Zealand taken six times as many houses out of private ownership in the last 15 months than the 62 houses KiwiBuild added?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: I reject the premise of the member’s question. His facts are wrong.

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Rotuman Community marks International Mother Language Day

Pacific Scoop - Thu, 21/02/2019 - 2:13am

Press Release – Auckland Rotuman Fellowship Group

The United Nations celebrates International Mother Language Day today, 21 February.Rotuman Community marks International Mother Language Day by announcing Language Classes

21 February 2019
‘OTOU FÄEAG TA : RAKOA . ‘INEA’IA . MAÜR’AKIA
MY LANGUAGE : LEARN IT . KNOW IT . LIVE IT
The United Nations celebrates International Mother Language Day today, 21 February.

The Rotuman Community in Auckland, Aotearoa/New Zealand is marking the day by announcing the commencement of its Rotuman Language Classes.

Organised by the Auckland Rotuman Fellowship Group Incorporated (ARFGI), the unique and endangered Rotuman language is being taught by Elders and qualified teachers.

Chairperson Mr Faga Fasala said, “We took the initiative using our own funds and resources, to move things forward and help save our unique language”.

The Language Classes, which are free, are open to everyone and not just Rotumans, and held every Saturday from 6pm at the Fickling Centre in Three Kings, Auckland.

“Language is what makes us who we are, and is part of our culture and identity”, Mr Fasala said, “And it is our duty to preserve this invaluable taonga”.

The Group is also hosting the Rotuman Langauge Week 2019 in Auckland from 12th to 19th May of this year.

Rotuman people are a separate ethnic group with their own distinct language, culture and identity, and originate from the Polynesian Island of Rotuma.

Rotuma consists of the island of Rotuma and its nearby islets, and is located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, about 500 kms north of Fiji, and 500 kms west of Wallis & Futuna.

Rotuma was annexed by the British on 13 May 1881 (‘Rotuma Day’). Although Rotuma is its own nation, it is currently administered by Fiji as a dependency.

The Rotuman language is currently listed on the UNESCO List of Endangered Languages as “Vulnerable”.

Rotuma is described as an ‘untouched paradise’ with some of the world’s most pristine and beautiful beaches.

ends

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