Saturday, August 29, 2009

Australia's Foreign/Domestic Policy-Made In Iron Bark?

Banjo Patterson's poem "The Man From Iron Bark" does present a supposition, that is more or less equivalent to Australia's dithering Foreign Policy.

Courtesy of Croz Walsh blog an ABC 'Counter Point' interview with Peter Thompson, a former Fiji diplomat, who labeled Australia's smart sanctions on Fiji, as disastrous.

The interview is posted below on MP3 player.






Not surprising that same cumbersome approach in Australian Foreign policy has chilled relations with China, according to Kuwait Times article.

Australia's own image of being a benevolent defender of Aboriginal rights, has since been reduced to mere rhetoric after the release of the UN Human Rights report by James Anaya, the Special Rapporteur. New Zealand Herald article, tags the Australian treatment of its native population as "abusive".

Excerpt of Reuter's article:

UN critical of Australian Aboriginal intervention

Thu Aug 27, 2009 4:08am EDT

Australia Aborigines ask U.N. for refugee status
Tuesday, 25 Aug 2009 11:39pm EDT

By James Grubel

CANBERRA (Reuters) - A senior United Nations official condemned on Thursday Australia's controversial intervention into remote Aboriginal communities, describing the measures as discriminatory and finding entrenched racism in Australia.

The UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous People, James Anaya, made the findings after a 12-day visit to Australia, where he visited indigenous communities and held talks with the Australian government.

Australia's former conservative government sent police and troops to remote Aboriginal communities in June 2007, and made special bans on alcohol and pornography, to stamp out widespread child sex abuse fueled by chronic alcoholism.

"These measures overtly discriminate against aboriginal peoples, infringe their right of self-determination and stigmatize already stigmatized communities," Anaya told reporters in Canberra. Anaya, the first UN Rapporteur on Indigenous People to visit Aboriginal communities, congratulated Prime Minister Kevin Rudd for his 2008 parliamentary apology to Australia's Aborigines for historical injustices.

But he said it was clear the entrenched racism of the past remained, and the ongoing intervention into communities in the Northern Territory continued to discriminate against Aborigines.

LIFE EXPECTANCY GAP

Rudd has made indigenous affairs a priority of his government and promised to end the 17-year gap in life expectancy between Aborigines and other Australians.

Rudd has said he would continue the controversial intervention, which has widespread support across Australia but has been strongly criticized by some Aboriginal groups.

Anaya's comments will increase the pressure on Rudd to review parts of the intervention, particularly measures that quarantine welfare payments to make sure a proportion of the payments is spent on food, clothing and healthcare.

An independent review last year found the intervention affected 45,500 Aboriginal men, women and children in more than 500 Northern Territory communities, and progress on healthcare and security were undermined by a lack of full community support.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin said the government was determined to restore laws to outlaw racial discrimination in the Northern Territory and welcomed Anaya's visit.

"I think what's important is that we recognize we have a huge task in front of us to close the gap, to close the life expectancy gap, the employment gap, the gap in education," Macklin told reporters.

"We know how big the task is and we certainly intend to keep getting on with it."

Australia's 460,000 Aborigines make up about 2 percent of the population. They suffer higher rates of unemployment, substance abuse and domestic violence than other Australians.

(Editing by Alex Richardson)






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Thursday, August 27, 2009

EU Fishing Vessels In South Pacific-Fiji Points Of Origin and Trade Negotiations.

Firm concerned about EU vessels

 

7/27/2009

A major fishing company is disturbed and disappointed that a number of European Union vessels are using Fiji as an unloading port to allegedly export fish to the EU.

Fiji Fish Marketing Group Limited Chief Executive Officer Grahame Southwick said this has been practiced for the past 18 months. “Fiji has not been reinstated as a market for fresh fish being supplied in the EU market, they have delisted Fiji as a source of fresh fish citing hygiene and other issues,” Mr Southwick said.

“But yet we are somewhat disturbed that vessels belonging to the EU countries continue fishing in the Pacific region.

“They continue to use Fiji as an unloading port to export fish to the EU and at the same time they have prevented Pacific Island countries from exporting fish to their countries,” he said Mr Southwick said it was a ludicrous situation whereby EU vessels were allowed to use Fiji as an unloading transit point and Fiji was not permitted to do so in their countries.

He said as a result Fiji and other Pacific Island countries were forced to sign an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) while Pacific Islands are still banned from exporting fish to the EU.

Mr Southwick said he was informed earlier that relevant authorities such as the Ministry of Fisheries and Foreign Affair were investigating such practices that were carried out.

He said as a result Fiji Fish faced an annual loss of $6 million in gross sales from export following the directives given by the EU. He said indirect affects included the inability to keep the company’s market share and international reputation. He said they had developed an excellent reputation in the EU for supplying quality tuna on a regular basis.



Monday, August 24, 2009

Peter Foster - Whistle Blower Or Snake Oil Salesman?

Peter Foster drops a bomb on Fiji

Thursday, August 20, 2009   

Subhash Appana

 
Peter Foster
Unannounced bombings are known to have changed the course of history.
When Japan sneaked in its attack on Pearl Harbour on December 7, 1941,
WW-II moved to the Pacific as the American giant was forced to wake up
and oblige the Imperial Japanese navy. That tipped the balance in that
war.



Then on August 6, 1945 President Truman directed the ironically named
“Little Boy” to be dropped on Hiroshima. This was followed by the “Fat
Man” on the 9th in Nagasaki to force surrender from a nation that
didn’t know the word. Emperor Hiro Hito was finally allowed to
surrender via a radio broadcast to the fallen nation on 15th August
1945.



On 13th August 2009, a finely parceled long-fused bomb was dropped on
Fiji and Australia by notorious soldier-of-fortune conman, Peter
Foster. The immediate reaction from skeptics and those with darker
concerns would be to dismiss it as the ramblings of a proven and
convicted trickster who has a huge axe to grind because he just served
more than 3 years in a Brisbane jail. Some would also see it as an
attempt by a wily mind to return to Fiji and resume the con-job.



This last point has to do with the fact that Foster has had his eyes on
a strip of Yasawa that he considers paradise on earth. That beachfront
property was leased to a New Zealander when Foster befriended him and
actually got a taste of paradise by living on the Kiwi’s goodwill.



While on paradise, Foster found out that the Kiwi held a Native Land
Trust Board (NLTB) lease that gave the actual landowners only 5% of the
monies involved. He then befriended the landowners and began to educate
them on a new formula that would give them 50% with Foster holding a
controlling interest in the new deal.



The Kiwi friend, who was conveniently forgotten in the process, got
wind of this and started asserting his contractual rights. Peter
retaliated in characteristic fashion and opened up a path of intrigue
that showed all the workings of shady dealings and questionable
decisions that became part of the Qarase government.



That saga remains unresolved and Peter wants to make a comeback –
that’s why he dropped this bomb, some say. That aside, there is no
doubt that Peter was an insider with direct connections to the inner
circle where PM Laisenia Qarase, political strategist and business
consultant Navitalai Naisoro and Qarase’s campaign manager, Jale Baba
plied their power.



Peter therefore, had firsthand knowledge about the workings of the
Qarase government. In his bomb, he has clearly mentioned names, dates
and incidents. And no one has yet talked about suing him for any wrong
doing. This itself should make skeptics take notice. Shooting the
messenger has long been considered the wrong option because it’s the
all-important message that gets ignored in the process.



Perhaps the most famous case of inside revelation by a criminal
involved testimony to a Senate Select Committee by a gangster called
Joseph Valachi in 1963. This was the first authentic insight that the
public had on the workings of the mafia; in fact this was the first
revelation of the very existence of La Cosa Nostra. If Valachi had been
ignored, America would still have pretended to be oblivious of the
existence of the mafia.



Now we have the Foster Bomb and a few of his more intriguing releases
include the fact that there was a clear post-2000 involvement by the
Australian government in Qarase’s reign. PM John Howard even seconded
his own party pollster Mark Textor to Qarase’s office to guide his 2001
campaign despite the fact that he was known to have supported the
Speight coup.



Even more intriguing is the counterfactual that despite the fact that
Police Commissioner Isikia Savua was seen to pretend helplessness on
national TV as looters plundered Suva unchecked, he was posted as
ambassador to the UN by Qarase and there was not even a squeak from
either Australia or NZ.



Foster’s allegation of complicity on the part of A/NZ does get the grey
cells churning when one recalls that it was Australia that seconded cop
Andrew Hughes as Police Commissioner in Fiji. His job was to hound and
bring to justice all the coup plotters of 2000. Yet it took him 7mths
to even interview a key figure who had fled to Australia fearing for
his life in Fiji.



Andrew Hughes was again supposed to have been involved in a plot to
have Bainimarama arrested in NZ when he came for the failed peace talks
with Qarase in Wellington. Last minute cold feet by NZ authorities let
him slip back to Fiji and oust Qarase and his nest of power posers.



The question that begs answering is if this bomb opens up issues of
intrigue leading on to the Bainimarama coup of December 2006, why are
Australia/ NZ pushing for a return to that fa├žade of democracy when
Bainimarama is clearly espousing an attempt to get Fiji truly operating
as a democracy on par with Australia and NZ? Stay tuned for more on the
Foster Bomb.

--

The opinions contained here are Subhash Appana’s own and not
necessarily shared by any organizations that he may be affiliated with,
both here and overseas. ?Email: subhasha@ais.ac.nz


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Croz Walsh On Cairns PIF Meeting.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

(-+) Cairns of Worms*

Readers wishing to read the Cairns Forum communique may do so by clicking here. The meeting discussed many issues, including Fiji on which nothing new emerged. Of some interest though, are three paragraphs that clearly indicate where the "leaders" (sic!) were "coming from."

"Para. 45. ...They [the Leaders] took careful note of the grave concerns about the situation in Fiji, as expressed directly to Leaders from respected individuals and organisations in Fiji.

Para. 46. Leaders strongly condemned ... the ongoing erosion to the traditional pillars of Fijian civil society, including the churches and chiefs. They deplored the recent detentions of church Leaders by the regime.

Para. 49. Leaders expressed their deep concern for the people of Fiji in the face of Fiji’s deteriorating economy as a consequence of the military regime’s actions, including the undermining of the private sector and the negative effect on business confidence in the absence of the rule of law.

Para. 50. Leaders called again for political dialogue in Fiji between parties on the principles of genuine, inclusive dialogue without preconditions or pre-determined outcomes. "

Comment

Well now. Having listened to your "respected" sources (and none other); having competed with George Speight to uphold the supposedly "traditional pillars of [ethnic] Fijian civil society" (with no mention, in this context, of democracy, justice or ethnic discrimination); and having blamed the Fiji Government (and none other) for the "deteriorating economy", you seem to expect the Fiji Government to respond positively to your notions of political dialogue.

That's like one hit to the head, another to the heart, a third to the stomach, and then a request for a handshake. When will you start to ask something from the factions that created the conditions that led to the military coup?

* Can of worms: A complex, troublesome situation arising when a decision or action produces considerable subsequent problems." --Wiktionary.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

ANU's Dr Katerina Teaiwa Finally Speaks- How To Understand Fiji.



Australia National University (ANU) has unleashed its new expert of Fiji socio-politics, other than the well-used and well-worn talking head/historian, Dr. Brij Lal.

Scoop online article dishonestly used a deceptive by-line when describing Dr. Teaiwa's article, using the by-line: "diversity of news" instead of the general understanding that Dr. Teaiwa's article factually alluded to: "diversity of views" as her original article was titled.

The excerpt of Scoop article:



Fiji Future Requires Diversity of News


Tuesday, 11 August 2009, 5:40 pm
Press Release: Australian National University


Pacific analysts must become more creative in their approach to thinking about Fiji and its future, an academic from The Australian National University will argue in Canberra today.

Dr Katerina Teaiwa, Pacific Studies Convenor at ANU, says that solutions for Fiji won’t be found in adversarial thinking, framed around a pro or anti-military viewpoint. She says that more lateral, creative thinking is required to map out a better future for the nation.

“We need more options than just ‘for or against’,” Dr Teaiwa says. “We cannot just roll out a series of economic or political facts which paint the bleak picture we expect to see. We have a responsibility to use these and other contextual knowledge to go further to provide more positive readings that are actually helpful for the people of Fiji as a whole,” she said.

“Anyone who lives in or is from Fiji knows that the situation is not completely hopeless. Fiji requires more diversity amongst, and collaboration between, its experts so that the situation on the ground is illuminated from multiple spheres and through multiple lenses. If we want freedom of speech, democracy and diversity on the ground, we should apply the same principles in terms of the voices and sectors we draw upon to understand the situation.”

Dr Teaiwa argues that there is a need to look more closely at modes of communication, cultural institutions and other sectors which are commonly left out of the dominant political and economic discussions about Fiji.

“The battle around race politics is played out as much in the realm of popular perception as in government policy. Popular perception is shaped not just by NGOs, newspapers, church ministers, business and political party leaders, or military rulers, but by popular culture and what islanders call the ‘coconut wireless’.

“The areas of heritage, sports, cultural policy, festivals, music, and the performing and visual arts require closer examination as they increasingly offer economic and political avenues and tools for Fiji islanders. Most importantly, as indicated by the growing importance of cultural diplomacy internationally, these arenas provide real nuts and bolts for positive nation building, regional harmony, cooperation, and peace.”

Dr Teaiwa will present her research at the 2009 Fiji Update to be held at Parliament House today.

For interviews: Dr Katerina Teaiwa: 02 6125 4323, 0405 150 334

For media assistance: Penny Cox, ANU Media, 02 6125 3549, 0424 016 978

Penny Cox
Communications Officer
Communications and External Liaison Office
Office of the Vice-Chancellor
The Australian National University
T: 02 6125 3549
F: 02 6125 8255
M: 0424 016 978
W: www.anu.edu.au/media

ENDS


Dr. Teaiwa's twitter page.

At least Dr. Teaiwa presents the situation in Fiji, in a different, in-depth, nuanced and well needed perspective on current events in Fiji and the subsequent geo-political outcomes.

(Image source: Dr Katerina Teaiwa. Photo: Stuart Hay, ANU Photography)

The excerpt of Dr. Teaiwa's most recent remarks about Fiji and the necessity for a multi-disciplinary approach in generality, presents a brand new, yet grassroot's objectivity into the recent socio-political events in Fiji.


Fiji future requires diversity of views: Expert

Tuesday 11 August 2009

 Pacific analysts must become more creative in their approach to thinking about Fiji and its future, an academic from The Australian National University argued in Canberra today.

Dr Katerina Teaiwa, Pacific Studies Convenor at ANU, said that solutions for Fiji won’t be found in adversarial thinking, framed around a pro or anti-military viewpoint. She said that more lateral, creative thinking is required to map out a better future for the nation.

“We need more options than just ‘for or against’,” Dr Teaiwa said. “We cannot just roll out a series of economic or political facts which paint the bleak picture we expect to see. We have a responsibility to use these and other contextual knowledge to go further to provide more positive readings that are actually helpful for the people of Fiji as a whole,” she said.

“Anyone who lives in or is from Fiji knows that the situation is not completely hopeless. Fiji requires more diversity amongst, and collaboration between, its experts so that the situation on the ground is illuminated from multiple spheres and through multiple lenses. If we want freedom of speech, democracy and diversity on the ground, we should apply the same principles in terms of the voices and sectors we draw upon to understand the situation.”

Dr Teaiwa argued that there is a need to look more closely at modes of communication, cultural institutions and other sectors which are commonly left out of the dominant political and economic discussions about Fiji.

“The battle around race politics is played out as much in the realm of popular perception as in government policy. Popular perception is shaped not just by NGOs, newspapers, church ministers, business and political party leaders, or military rulers, but by popular culture and what islanders call the ‘coconut wireless’.

“The areas of heritage, sports, cultural policy, festivals, music, and the performing and visual arts require closer examination as they increasingly offer economic and political avenues and tools for Fiji islanders. Most importantly, as indicated by the growing importance of cultural diplomacy internationally, these arenas provide real nuts and bolts for positive nation building, regional harmony, cooperation, and peace.”

Dr Teaiwa presented her research at the 2009 Fiji Update held at Parliament House on Tuesday, 11 August 2009. Filed under: Media Release, ANU College of Asia and the Pacific, Pacific
Contacts:

For interviews: Dr Katerina Teaiwa: 02 6125 4323; For media assistance: Penny Cox, ANU Media, 02 6125 3549, 0424 016 978


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Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Pacnews-Fiji ready to stymie free trade agreement.

Infr_container2-s.jpg

Cairns, Australia: Fiji may derail one of Australia’s  key policy objectives at the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders meeting that opens in Cairns today, even though Fiji strongman Commodore Frank Bainimarama will not be present, reports Canberra Times

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and his New Zealand counterpart John Key have been planning to use the Forum meeting to launch a new round of free trade negotiations to build on the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) the “PACER Plus’” negotiations are intended to produce “a unique agreement, with trade capacity building and trade development assistance to strengthen Pacific island countries' ability to trade”.

The department said PACER Plus would provide a framework for greater trade and economic integration between the countries of the Pacific with consequent benefits for the region and Australian business.

“Australia's primary motivation in supporting PACER Plus is to help the Forum Island countries to promote sustainable economic development. We nonetheless expect that improved market access may enhance some opportunities for Australian exporters, investors and service providers in Pacific markets”

Currently suspended from participation in the Pacific Islands Forum, the Fiji Government wrote to all parties of the PACER Agreement in June indicating that the Forum members were neglecting their obligations to Fiji by not including Fiji in discussions concerning extending PACER to the new free trade agreement PACER Plus. Fiji indicated that any discussions at the Cairns Forum meeting on PACER Plus that excluded Fiji would be invalid.

Commodore Bainimarama’s administration has enlisted the support of the Solomon Islands and other members of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu). In mid-July the Spearhead Group issued a communique that read in part that: “Leaders recognised Fiji's right to participate in regional trade and economic cooperation agreements ... The exclusion of Fiji from discussion of these agreements would be invalid and therefore the decisions pertaining to those agreements would be null and void”'

Last week, Solomon Islands Trade Minister William Haomae circulated a letter to all PACER parties, expressing formal support for Fiji's insistence that negotiations could not legitimately proceed without its participation. Fiji has invoked the dispute clause of a 2001 PACER agreement deal, while Australia insists the PACER Plus negotiations are entirely separate.

On 01 May, after the suspension of Fiji's constitution, the Pacific Islands Forum suspended Fiji's membership as it had threatened months before if Fiji had not scheduled elections by that date. The 2009 suspension was the first time a country had been suspended from the Forum in the organisation's 38-year history.

The prospect that progress towards a PACER Plus agreement may be delayed has been welcomed by a number of Pacific unions, churches and civil society groups which have argued the negotiations should not commence until 2013.

The non-government organisations say Australia and New Zealand are using their dominant regional position to push negotiations forward in their own interest and they want an extended delay so the Pacific peoples can be properly consulted about the implications of further trade liberalisation.

Pacific Network on Globalisation  (PANG) coordinator Maureen Penjueli said yesterday Pacific Island countries should “redress the compromises they have been bullied into” by supporting Fiji's call for a moratorium on PACER decisions until Fiji's exclusion was addressed.



Monday, August 03, 2009

Pacific Islands Forum Meeting-The Cracker In Cairns?

From Island Business, "Letter From Suva"(LFS) column examines the lead up to Pacific Islands Forum meet in Cairns. This meet is expected to be a cracker and already some sparks have been observed, as L.F.S describes the leak of Forum draft report.



FIJI TIME BOMB TICKS FOR FORUM

Laisa Taga - Editor-in-Chief


Australia’s Prime Minister Kevin Rudd hosts his first Pacific Islands Forum Leaders meeting in Cairns next month and those in the know expect it to be fiery and fiesty.
And that’s judging from how the June trade ministers meeting in Apia went. Observers who attended the meeting told LETTER FROM SUVA that it was obvious the meeting was split when it came to Fiji and its non inclusion at the trade ministers meeting.

“On one side you had Australia, New Zealand, Samoa and the Cooks and, on the other side, the Melanesian Spearhead Group—PNG, Solomons and Vanuatu—Kiribati and Tonga. Tonga’s PM Dr Feleti Sevele was definitely very vocal about Fiji’s non-inclusion and he was supported by other ministers including PNG’s Sam Abal.

“Most of these ministers were expressing the view that legally Fiji has every right to be at the meeting before chairman, Samoa’s trade minister Misa Telefoni, ruled the issue closed,” a Forum observer said.

“Judging from what was happening there in Apia, there would definitely be fireworks at the leaders meeting if the Fiji issue is not handled properly. It could turn out to be divisive or be a dynamite waiting to explode,” the observer said.

Already the islands are split over Fiji’s suspension by the Forum. A draft report leaked to LETTER FROM SUVA was critical about Fiji’s suspension from the Forum saying it is a major setback for regional co-operation and intergration.

The report was authored by Makurita Baaro, a former senior adviser at the Forum Secretariat (ForumSec). She was hired by the ForumSec to review the three years of implementation of the Pacific Plan.
Forum Leaders had called for an independent comprehensive review of the progress on implementation, every three years. In her report, following extensive consultation meetings totalling over 150 with all Forum members and other stakeholders across the Pacific, Ms Baaro said Fiji’s suspension would pose a major challenge to regional solidarity and the Pacific Plan.

“Already, there are differing views and an increasing polarisation amongst the Forum membership on this very sensitive issue and the subject is one that has real potential to create fragmentation and a major division amongst Forum members.”

She added that Fiji’s suspension will have far reaching and major implications, not only on regional solidarity but also on the implementation of the many initiatives under the Pacific Plan.

The leakage of the report, just a few days after it was presented to the Forum Secretariat, forced the secretariat to launch a major investigation on who leaked the sensitive report. When this edition went to press, the Forum Secretariat was still no way near identifying the culprit, although they have their own suspicions.

But why the witch-hunt? What was so sensitive about the report that ForumSec did not want people to know about? Was it the differing views revealed about Fiji’s suspension by islands countries, which is contradictory to the decision made by the islands leaders in PNG early this year? Was it because the ForumSec was caught out before it had time to censor or tone down the report?

LETTER FROM SUVA understands Ms Baaro was instructed not to include comments on Fiji in her report. But she refused. As a result, ForumSec has now put on hold payment of the rest of her consultancy fees.

Ms Baaro is being paid A$10,000 a month to carry out the review. It was to be a three-month exercise but was extended by a month. So far ForumSec has only paid her A$20,000.
It is not the first time ForumSec has tried to tone down a report. Consultants of an AUSAID review in September last year were also asked to tone down their report but refused, saying it was an independent report and as such they were entitled to their views.
This review was critical of regional organisations and the Pacific Plan, warning that if they don’t shape up and improve their act, they could lose funding from their two major donors—Australia and New Zealand. Both countries poured approximately A$130 million into regional organisations during 2005-2008.

So what now? What version of the Baaro report gets to see the light of day when it is presented to the leaders in Cairns? It will be interesting to see which version finally makes it to the leaders.
Hopefully, the ForumSec will not tone down or censor it that it does not truly reflect the views of the Forum member countries which are coming out loud and clear.

Melanesian Spearhead Group leaders (PNG, Solomons, Vanuatu and Fiji) will meet this month in a special one-day retreat in Port Vila on July 10. Although there is no set agenda, the meeting has been specifically called by the MSG chair, Vanuatu’s Prime Minister Edward Natapei, to discuss concerns about Fiji and its suspension from all Forum organised meetings.

Fiji had issued a statement expressing disappointment about being excluded from the PACER talks held in Apia, Auckland and Port Vila. The exclusion, the statement said, was a violation of its rights.

All MSG leaders have indicated they will attend the Port Vila meeting, where they are also expected to discuss their position at the Cairns meeting.

Fiji’s Bainimarama has been specifically asked by PNG’s Sir Michael Somare to attend the meeting where he will also deliver Fiji’s roadmap to 2014, when it is expected to hold an election.
Bainimarama will be banking on these leaders and on this meeting to push Fiji’s case at the Cairns meeting, after all he won’t be there.

A MSG source said the Port Vila meeting will be interesting. “MSG leaders will be asking themselves – do we consolidate on our position on Fiji, or do we have differing views?

“Meeting chairman Vanuatu’s Natapei and Solomons’ Dr Derek Sikua are likely to gravitate towards Fiji and while Somare, I think, will differ slightly. He is likely to adopt a more cautious stance, reminding the leaders that a decision has already been made and to do otherwise will undermine the intergrity of the Forum and its leaders,” the MSG source said.

“But if the MSG decides to take a stand on Fiji, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands and even Tonga will jump onboard. If this happens, we may come out with the fragmentation of the Forum,” the MSG source said. Another issue that is likely to cause fireworks in Cairns is PACER and particularly how the islands countries were railroaded by Australia into accepting its position.

What then? Australia anticipating fireworks at the Forum meeting, could use its chairmanship to douse the fire by steering clear of regional issues like Fiji and PACER and putting the current global economic crisis centre stage—an issue that affects everyone across the board, relegating regional issues as secondary issues.

Let’s hope the islands leaders will stand up and be counted and stop bending backwards to accommodate others’ interests that run counter to their own.



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