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Archived News: July 2015

From Fiji Sun (29 July 2015)

Port of Rotuma Reopens Food Crop Trade With Tuvalu

As part of the reinvigoration of a trade initiative first trialed in 2010, shipments of Rotuman-grown produce which started last month and is looking successful for future trade.

Reports from Fiji Ports Corporation state a FPC senior port facility security officer, Jeke Vakararawa who, conducted a security assessment and made compared shipment with Tuvalu to Suva.

He said delivery of the perishable cargo compares favorably with the 40 hours it takes to reach Suva from Rotuma by sea.

The Port of Rotuma was declared a Port of Entry in 2008 under the provisions of the Seaport Management Act of 2005 and the International Ships and Ports Security (ISPS) code.

Registered by the Government of Fiji and administered by Fiji Ports Corporation Ltd (FPCL) for statutory requirements, the Port of Rotuma is a second-tier port; that is, one with a specialised function that supports

From (24 July 2015) 

PM requests for assistance for upgrading of existing airport in Rotuma

By Elizabeth Rokosuka

After receiving $41 million from China for various projects, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has requested for assistance for the expansion and upgrading of the existing airport in Rotuma.

While holding a meeting with China’s Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing, Bainimarama said the present airfield in Rotuma can only accommodate light aircraft.

Bainimarama says the upgrading of the airport will be able to accommodate Fiji’s 737 jets and would give Rotuma better access to the Fijian mainland and improve development on the island.

Bainimarama adds Rotuma’s ability to get its produce to the market is severely limited by the present air transport constraints.

He says upgrading Rotuma’s airport to jet standards will be a tremendous boost to the economic prospects of this remote part of Fiji.

He told China’s Premier that Fiji is also seeking China’s support for its candidacy for the Human Rights Council for the term 2018 to 2020.

Meanwhile Bainimarama has also assured Keqiang that preparations for a Chinese Cultural Centre is well underway to mark Fiji and China’s 40 years of diplomatic relations.

From Fiji Sun (14 July 2015)

Konrote Slams Kepa’s Rotuma Petition

by Josua Tuwere, Suva

Authors of a petition against the Government's proposals to regulate Rotuman affairs are misguided and politically motivated, says Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations Jioji Konrote.

He was responding to a petition submitted by Opposition Leader Ro Teimumu Kepa in Parliament last week, signed supposedly by 577 Rotumans, protesting the proposed Rotuma Bill and Rotuma Land Bill.

The petitions demands more time for consultation with Rotumans in Fiji and abroad before any laws concerning their community are passed by Parliament.

According to Mr Konrote, the proposed legislation will provide much-needed guidelines for arbitration on chiefly and land disputes and streamline administrative processes concerning Rotumans.

“All those talking against this legislation, should go to the island and see what is being done on the island by this current Government. No other Government has done so much for Rotuma and even the Prime Minister has visited the island twice and personally overseen the development of projects on the island,” Mr Konrote said.

Mr Konrote has a home on the island and spent a considerable amount of time and effort there over the past few years on community development projects.

He questioned whether the instigators of the petition had done anything for the welfare of Rotumans during their lifetime.

Some of the features of the proposed Rotuma Bill 2015 include:

– the establishment of the Council of Rotuma that will among other things, ‘consider matters that effect or likely to affect Rotuma customs, including issues relating to traditional protocols, traditional processes of resolving disputes within the Rotuman community and general matters relating to the role of traditional leaders.’

– the establishment of the Forum of the Rotuman People to help administer the Rotuma Development Fund and assist the Council of Rotuma with its business

-A framework for the election of district chiefs on Rotuma and provisions for the appointment of a Tribunal to settle disputes over chiefly titles

– Provisions for disciplinary measures against district chiefs, including removal from their position, ‘for any action that has brought disrepute to the position of district chief or other acts of impropriety.”

Mr Konrote said the legislation would provided much needed clarity in dealing with disputes, financial management and traditional leadership and that would lead to social cohesion and development of the Rotuman community.

One of the authors of the petition, lawyer Rosie Langi, was in Parliament last week to hear Ro Teimumu present the petition that was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Social Affairs.

The main author of the petition is believed to be former High Court judge Sosefo Inoke, who now resides in Brisbane and has been vocal on social media sites protesting the presentation of the Bill before Parliament.

From Fiji Times Online (10 July 2015)

Australian Navy ship to conduct seabed mapping

By Talebula Kate

A ROYAL Australian Navy vessel will be in Fiji for the first time in eight years.

A statement by the Australian High Commission revealed as part of its regional engagement, HMAS Leeuwin arrived in Fiji today to undertake activities with the Republic of Fiji Military Forces.

The HMAS Leeuwin will conduct seabed mapping operations with the Fiji Hydrographic Office in Fiji territorial waters.

"This visit builds on talks between Fiji's Minister for Defence and the Vice Chief of the Australian Defence Force last December on the renewed maritime security partnership between Australia and Fiji," the statement read.

The first survey operation will be conducted in the vicinity of Rotuma, as proposed by the Fiji Hydrographic Office and the Maritime Affairs Coordinating Committee.

This will include mapping approaches to Rotuma Island's wharf and surrounding waters to enable safe navigation of commercial vessels.

The vessel will depart on August 19.

© Fiji Times Ltd.

Additional excerpt from Fiji Times article on 14 July

Commanding officer for the vessel, Lieutenant Commander Richard Mortimer said they would go with their counterparts from the Fiji Hydrographic Service as "apparently there has been no survey for many, many years on Rotuma Island".

"It's a seabed survey; we find out the topography of the underwater and then we make charts like maps of the sea.

"The aim of the survey is for safety navigation and to improve the ability for Rotuma to trade with other areas," Lt-Commander Mortimer said.

He said after Rotuma they would return to Suva and be joined by members of the RFMF training for damage control, engineering, and navigation.

From Fiji Times Online (9 July 2015)

Opposition hands in petition

by Vuniwaqa Bola-Bari

SPEAKER of Parliament Dr Jiko Luveni has ruled that the petition handed in yesterday by the Opposition Leader Ro Teimumu Kepa be given to the Standing Committee on Social Affairs.

She also clarified to Parliament that the two Bills—Rotuma Lands Bill and the Rotuma Bills—have been tabled in Parliament but have not been referred to any standing committee.

This she did after the Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum raised a point of order regarding the capacity of the House to refer the petition to a Bill that was already with a standing committee.

Ro Teimumu, in presenting the petition, said it was from Rotuman's and friends of Rotuman's humbly asking the House to stop and defer the further tabling and reading and the passing into law of the two Bills.

"Very briefly, these honourable people brought this petition to our office when they were ignored, shunned and cast aside by Government," Ro Teimumu said.

She said this was when they had questioned the Government of the day why they were not consulted before the Bills were tabled in Parliament.

After presentation of the petition, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the Bills were already with the standing committee and the committee could go to Rotuma and hear directly from the people or the 500 people could go to the standing committee to air their views. Opposition MP Niko Nawaikula said the committee was constrained where people could only comment on the Bill but the petition, however, provided the platform for them to give their opinions.

Dr Luveni later said petitions were a fundamental right of the citizens which was preserved in the standing committee.

"The petition that has been tabled this morning with Bills before the Parliament is clearly within the house's jurisdiction," she said.

She added though the Bills were read for the first time on May 14th, "I should point out that those Bills have yet to be referred to the standing committee."

She added even if this had not been done, there was no reason why the committee could not consider both Bills and the petition.

"It is then up to the committee to determine how to deal with them (petition) and report back to the house," Dr Luveni said.

© Fiji Times Ltd.

From Fiji Broadcasting Corporation (7 July 2015)

Petition on Rotuma Bills tabled by Opposition Leader

Speaker of the House Dr. Jiko Luveni has ruled that the petition signed by 577 people concerned with the Rotuma Bill and Rotuma Lands Bill which was tabled in Parliament in the May sitting – will be heard.

The petition was tabled by Opposition Leader Ro Teimumu Kepa this morning.

In her ruling, Dr. Jiko says there is no reason why the Committee cannot consider the bills as well as the petition.

She says there is no impediment to the petition being considered by the Committee and it is up to the Committee to decide how to deal with both the bills and the petition and report back to the House.

Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum had raised a point of order saying that the petition tabled by Kepa intervened with the powers of the standing committee.

The petition has now been tabled and assigned to the Social Committee for consideration and deliberations with a report expected in the August Parliament sitting.