Pacific Predictions: what will 2017 hold for the Pacific?

This item was first published on Devpolicy on January 11th, 2017

Pacific politics will continue to be a source of fascination and concern in 2017. There will be general elections in Papua New Guinea (polling will take place between June 24th and July 8th). In addition to the ever-present concerns about money politics, logistics, cost and security, the economic crisis that country is currently experiencing will also contribute to the prevailing environment. It is always a matter of concern if governments cannot pay their bills and these concerns are exacerbated in election years. Jitteriness was increased recently, when the O’Neill government ‘delayed’ release of the IMF Article IV assessment, which has yet to appear. Another potential flashpoint is the failure (in both Waigani and Canberra) to appropriately resolve the situation in relation to the closure of the Manus refugee-processing centre. Recent violence should be seen as a serious warning as should the increasing frustration (seen most evidently on Twitter: @pontuna2run) of Ron Knight, the current MP for Manus province.

Fiji is scheduled to hold elections during 2018 but the pre-positioning that took place last year will continue during 2017. The major opposition party SODELPA has a ‘back to the future’ leader in former coup leader Sitiveni Rabuka and he has called for opposition parties to work together in coalition to unseat the Fiji First government. The electoral system in Fiji militates against independents and, in an attempt to counter this, Roshika Deo (who contested unsuccessfully in 2014) is expected to form a new party to contest.

Further afield, there will be presidential elections in France. The results may have a ripple effect in our region in relation to the finalisation of the Noumea Accords process in New Caledonia and the participation of France in the Pacific Islands Forum, the details of which are yet to become clear.

Constitutional reform is a hot topic in several Pacific island countries. Vanuatu’s attempts to progress a whole raft of measures (largely designed to engender greater political stability) faltered in late 2016. This was because the Salwai government failed to secure the two-thirds majority needed to progress legislation further to constitutional reform committee process. Whilst there are certainly elements within the government who will want to progress this if the opportunity arises, it is possible that other issues will become and remain more pressing. Chief among them is Vanuatu’s impending relegation to the Financial Action Task Force’s ‘black list’. The referendum on constitutional reform scheduled to take place concurrently with provincial elections in March is on indefinite hold.

To our north, the Republic of the Marshall Islands will hold its first Constitutional Convention once the 45-person membership has been established. The most significant item for consideration is a proposal to move from a parliamentary to a presidential system of government. Meanwhile, in Samoa, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi is seeking to have the Constitution amended to make the Samoan state Christian, a proposal that has caused concern within the wider society.

During 2016, I suggested that the new logo for the Melanesian Spearhead Group should be the Gordian knot. As we enter a new year, the internal tussles are becoming ever more entrenched. There are several strands to this knot with the issue of membership being the one that is proving the most stubborn to shift. Despite the fact that there was no leaders’ meeting in December, the foreign ministers met in Port Vila to consider the text of membership regulations and guidelines prepared by the group’s Subcommittee on Legal and Institutional Issues. In town at the same time was a large delegation of West Papuans including Benny Wenda and other key members of the United Liberation Movement of West Papua leadership. The MSG leaders’ meeting is now pencilled in for January, to be held in Port Moresby, prompting declarations of disappointment from within the ULMWP. It is hard to see the disappointment lifting any time soon given the proposal to hold the meeting in Papua New Guinea (the ULMWP would prefer that the meeting be held in Port Vila, where they have the most support from government and civil society) and the continuing non-appearance of Fiji’s prime minister at these gatherings – last month in Port Vila he was represented by Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, the former Foreign Minister and current Minister for Defence.

There are some indications that the current chair (Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare of Solomon Islands) is looking to use the current impasse over membership as an opportunity to expand the grouping. In relation to activism around the West Papua issue, this is likely to be taken forward at global levels by the Pacific Coalition on West Papua, with Sogavare as its head. Australia has had two indications recently that its ‘nothing to do with us’ stance is wearing thin in Jakarta: the ‘request’ made to Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Defence Minister Marise Payne to caution the leadership of Pacific island countries to stop interference in relation to the West Papua issue and, more recently, the rupture in defence relationships.

More generally, Australia will prepare and publish its first white paper on foreign policy in 14 years, which will complement a new ‘Pacific strategy’ promised by the Prime Minister. We hope to see a detailed and nuanced approach to relationships with the Pacific island region feature prominently in this document. It presents an important opportunity to rectify previous missteps, build on what is working well and send important messages about where our region features in Australian policy thinking on diplomacy, trade, development assistance and, critically for the Pacific, labour mobility.

Tess’s past annual predictions can be found here: 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 & 2016.

Photo credit: Flickr/GreensMPs

 

Pacific Perspectives in 2016

This item was first published on the East Asia Forum on January 6th, 2017

Authored jointly with Matthew Dornan

2016 was a big year for Pacific politics. Vanuatu and Nauru held elections — each in the context of significant concerns about governance. Censorship, deportation of the chief justice and arrests of opposition MPs have led to a serious decline in the credibility of democracy in Nauru in recent years. In Vanuatu, the election this year followed 14 members of parliament having been jailed for corruption in 2015.

Fiji’s international profile reached new highs when it assumed the presidency of the UN General Assembly. But domestically there were concerns raised about detention of opposition figures, a sudden cabinet reshuffle and the impacts of retrospective land legislation.

New Caledonia experienced volatility as it approaches the conclusion of the Noumea Accords process, at which point the population will vote on independence from France.

Economic developments have generally been less exciting, with the exception of PNG where the collapse of commodity prices has contributed to a budget crisis. Pacific island countries recorded modest economic growth averaging almost 3 per cent in 2016 — an improvement on their 2015 performance. Growth rates were volatile in many states, and remittances, aid and income from tourism and fisheries were the most important sources of revenue.

Natural disasters again had significant economic impacts. A number of countries suffered serious droughts, with deaths from famine reported in PNG. In February, Cyclone Winston struck Fiji, causing damage valued at F$2.85 billion (approximately US$1.35 billion) — equivalent to almost 30 per cent of GDP. There were 43 lives were lost and 3360 houses were destroyed. The category four cyclone occurred less than one year after Cyclone Pam (a category five storm) hit Vanuatu, causing damage equivalent to 64 per cent of the country’s GDP.

Pacific island countries continued their prominent advocacy on climate change. The Pacific Small Island Developing States group was a key driver of the 1.5 degree warming target agreed at the COP 21 summit in Paris in late 2015. On the back of this agreement, Pacific island governments pushed in 2016 for the incorporation of ‘loss and damage’ into the international climate change architecture.

They also advocated for better access to adaptation funding — advocacy that led to donor support for accessing the Green Climate Fund (GCF), and which contributed to an innovative strategy that will see Pacific micro-states submit a joint funding proposal to the GCF. Next year, Fiji will co-chair the Conference of the Parties (COP 23) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Bonn in November, and will be co-president of the United Nations oceans conference in New York in June.

Tuna fisheries also featured prominently in 2016. The eight Pacific island members of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement — who collectively supply half the world’s skipjack tuna — continue to benefit from their establishment of a vessel day scheme, which is a cartel-like arrangement that has led to dramatic increases in revenue for PNA members. In 2016, licensing revenues received by PNA members were around US$400 million, compared to revenues in 2010 of US$64 million.

This success has influenced other agreements. The US-South Pacific Fisheries Treaty collapsed in February when Pacific island countries refused to continue providing US-flagged vessels with access to tuna at discounted prices. Pacific nations and the United States agreed upon a seven-year agreement to replace the existing treaty in December, which better reflects higher prices for accessing tuna fisheries. Pacific island countries also pushed back against proposals made at the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission by the European Union and United States, which would have weakened the vessel day scheme.

Regionally, negotiations for the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER Plus) trade agreement between Pacific island countries and Australia and New Zealand proceeded with mixed success. Papua New Guinea announced in August that it would withdraw from the process, and Fiji made a similar statement before deciding to re-join negotiations. Concerns about infant industry protection and most-favoured nation status drove these decisions. This potentially leaves the two biggest island economies outside the treaty.

On a positive note, the expansion of labour mobility opportunities to Pacific islanders in Australia and New Zealand has generated significant goodwill in the region. Remittances were a key source of income for households affected by recent cyclones in both Fiji and Vanuatu.

Political tensions continue to affect regional cooperation in other areas. The dispute is ongoing between Fiji and the Pacific Islands Forum — the region’s pre-eminent political body — with Fiji’s leader maintaining his refusal to attend leaders’ meetings. Fijian Prime Minister Bainimarama has said he will attend meetings only when Australia and New Zealand withdraw from the Forum.

Instead, this year’s Forum Leaders’ meeting saw a decision to expand the group by granting full membership status to French Polynesia and New Caledonia — a move that appears to cement France as an established and future Pacific power, and reflects a shift (back) to security as the primary concern of the regional order. It remains to be seen what this will mean for the future of the Pacific Islands Forum, and for (currently lukewarm) Fijian relations with Australia and New Zealand.

Matthew Dornan (Twitter: @mattdornan) is Deputy Director of the Development Policy Centre, and Tess Newton Cain (Twitter: @CainTess) is a Visiting Fellow at the Development Policy Centre, The Australian National University.

This article is part of an EAF special feature series on 2016 in review and the year ahead.

 

Pacific Thinking & Doing – October 2016

Welcome to the October newsletter

Continuing my work with PACMAS, I travelled to Tonga to work with a group of media professionals on court reporting and how the law affects the work that they do. It was great to be back in Nuku’alofa for a few days, having last been there in 2010. There have been some very significant changes in that country in the last six years. In the political sphere, the whole society is coming to terms with what democracy means for them. In terms of the economy, there have been some very significant developments in the tourism sector, including cruise ship visits at a rate of two per month.

On arrival in Tonga, we were met with this banner to greet those attending the inaugural meeting of the Pacific-China Friendship Association. This is another example of how relationships between China and the Pacific islands are continuing to multiply and deepen in numerous sectors, including trade, diplomacy and people to people links.2016-10-24-15-02-31
This, in turn, forms part of a wider pattern of increased engagement with our region by the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) countries. Whilst I was in Tonga, the government of Vanuatu was hosting a high-level ministerial delegation from India, the first of its kind. This represents a significant development of India’s ‘Act East’ policy, which I presaged here last year.

TNC Pacific Consulting is ideally placed to support governments, think tanks and business groups from countries that are engaging with Pacific island countries for the first time. We provide current, nuanced and tailored research, analysis and strategy that can help you work in our region.

October has been largely about progressing ongoing projects and I also took part in this discussion on ‘Coffee and Controversy’ in which we looked at the impacts of seasonal labour migration schemes in Vanuatu.

 

Pacific thinking & doing – September 2016

Welcome to the September newsletter

It has been a very busy month, with lots going on around our region. It has also been a busy time for TNC Pacific Consulting as I have been working with a number of clients to progress several projects.

As part of my work with the Pacific Media Assistance Scheme (PACMAS) I travelled to Honiara in Solomon Islands. There, I facilitated a workshop on ‘media and the law’ for journalists, broadcasters, editors and communications specialists. It was my 3rd visit to Honiara since 2000 and a good opportunity to catch up with old friends and make new ones to add to my networks. I was reminded once again of how each Pacific island country is very distinct with its own culture, economic outlook and political environment. Investment in nuanced research and analysis will assist those who want to work in these exciting and challenging environments.

My work with Pacific Islands Trade and Invest has given me an opportunity to learn and think about alternative financing instruments that may be able to support private sector development in our region. Modalities such as impact investing are well established in other parts of the world and we can expect the Pacific to become more significant for investors looking to expand their portfolios. They and their intermediaries will benefit from investing in detailed knowledge and profiling at national, sectoral and business level.

It was great to join the Coffee & Controversy team early in the month to discuss women’s voices and representation in public life and decision-making in Vanuatu. A couple of weeks later, we discussed the importance of sport for our country.

Collaboration in Canberra

Collaboration in Canberra

Matthew Dornan and I often co-write on Pacific regionalism and usually we do that from separate countries and different time zones. But on a chilly day in September we got to sit in the same room and put together our analysis of what did (and did not) happen at the Pacific Islands Forum leaders’ meeting in the Federated States of Micronesia. You can read what we had to say here and you can hear Matt discussing the issues we raised with Pacific Beat here.

The main reason for my visit to Canberra was to take part in the ‘State of the Pacific’ conference hosted by the Australian National University. It was a great opportunity to catch up with a number of my Pacific colleagues to discuss politics and more, with particular focus on what might lie ahead at the sub-regional and regional levels. My presentation was part of a panel on ‘The New Pacific Diplomacy’ and was entitled ‘MSG – is the renaissance over?’ You can see the slides from my presentation here and if you would like to hear a podcast of our panel session, you can download it here.

Pacific island leaders joined their global colleagues for the United Nations General Assembly. Prime Minister Bainimarama used his address to flag (or, more accurately, restate a shift in foreign policy for his country. I discussed the possible implications of this with Pacific Beat.

 

Pacific islands thinking & doing – August 2016

During August I finalised a piece of research commissioned by the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat to inform their work around enhancing the interface between regional and sub-regional organisations. This reflects my own interest in Pacific regionalism and sub-regionalism and the growing importance of this topic for Pacific politicians and policy makers. Whilst it is largely the case that local and national issues dominate the agenda in Port Vila, Honiara and our other capital cities, there are key conversations that require our leaders to adopt a sub-regional or regional perspective. This will be to the forefront over the next week or so as our leaders meet in Pohnpei for the 47th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders’ meeting.

I also collaborated with my friends at PACMAS to deliver a 3 day workshop for journalists in Vanuatu. The focus was on court reporting and coverage of legal issues more generally. The workshop gave us a space in which we could look at how media professionals can contribute to this very important aspect of public debate in our country. It coincided with a very high profile case in the Supreme Court in which a number of men were tried for a number of charges arising out of the alleged assault of a young woman further to her having posted comments on Facebook that were critical of the behaviour of taxi drivers. The workshop was very well received and we are now working towards delivering something similar in Solomon Islands.

PACMAS workshop in Vanuatu on 'Media and the Law'

PACMAS workshop in Vanuatu on ‘Media and the Law’

During August, my family and I visited Tanna, an island in the south of Vanuatu. My work tends to be very urban-focused so it’s always good to spend even a short time in rural areas. After all, that is where the majority of Pacific island people live.

In rural Tanna 5 litres of diesel costs AU$14.30

In rural Tanna 5 litres of diesel costs AU$14.30

I often meet people whoa re new to working in the region who express their surprise and horror about how much it costs to get things done in places like Tanna. This photo provides a small but telling example of why that is.

An ongoing project I am part of is working with a team from Palladium to develop an integrated thematic roadmap to guide the future work of Pacific Women. We are focusing on the particular area of women’s economic empowerment. I am contributing by way of analysis of the particular context of Pacific economics and the realities faced by women and men in terms of employment, financial inclusion and business opportunities.

On Coffee and Controversy, I joined in discussions about the development of cruise ship tourism in Vanuatu, a ‘pick and mix‘ of things, and tourism more generally.

For the Devpolicy blog, I met with Dalsie Baniala for ‘Pacific Conversations‘. We discussed some really important and interesting things relating to the importance of regulation for telecommunications in Vanuatu and across the Pacific island region more generally.

As we move into September this is a key time for thinking about how to document this year’s activities and share learning and impact with others. Investing in this contributes to the important activity of knowledge sharing and brokering in and for our region.


 

July 2016

Welcome to my round-up of happenings during July.

July 30th is Vanuatu’s birthday and this year my adopted homeland turned 36. We are still a young country with much to learn and the Independence celebrations are always a good opportunity to reflect on our journey so far and look ahead to what is coming next.

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I’ve been busy working with the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat to develop a discussion paper that explores the opportunities and challenges associated with the interface between regional and sub-regional structures which has given me an opportunity to further develop my thinking about these issues. I have heard a few people recently make quite glib references to how we need to ‘pool our resources’ regionally to overcome national capacity restraints or achieve cost savings. This is an issue that Matthew Dornan and I explored in some detail in this paper, which informed some of the thinking that went into the Framework for Pacific Regionalism. The take-away: it’s harder than you think.

I also helped out my friends at Pacific Advisory with a feasibility study they conducted for the government of Vanuatu on how the country can make best use of our new Convention Centre. I provided a peer review of the draft report and identified some expert inputs for the study.

I travelled to Fiji to take part in the Pacific Update convened by the Asian Development Bank, the Development Policy Centre, the ADB Institute and the University of the South Pacific. It was a great opportunity to reconnect with a bunch of people from around the region and make some new friends. I gave a presentation on the challenges facing the Melanesian Spearhead Group and you can see the slides here.

We also officially launched ‘Pacific Stories’ and it was good to see the 170 copies we had available get snapped up. You can request a copy from the Development Policy Centre or download a PDF copy here.

‘Coffee and Controversy’ is going from strength to strength and is increasingly valued by politicians, officials and others in Vanuatu as a platform to discuss the pressing issues of the day. During July I took part in discussions about populism (Brexit, the rise of Trump, etc), management of the government vehicle fleet and roads and the vexed question of taxation.

In the media, I discussed the results of the Nauru elections with Pacific Beat here, the statement of congratulations to the Nauru government issues by the SG of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat here and the creation of assistant ministers by the president of Nauru here.

Other than talking about Nauru’s politics I provided this op-ed for the Vanuatu Daily Post, further to the MSG leaders’ meeting in Honiara.

As you can see, it’s been another busy month. Please do share this update with your colleagues and associates and check out how TNC Pacific Consulting can assist you to do more and better business in the Pacific.


 

June 2016

Welcome to the wrap for June 2016. Hard to believe there were only 30 days in the month as I seem to have crammed in an awful lot.

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It was great to complete a piece of work with the Pacific Leadership Program (PLP), in my capacity as their Knowledge Dissemination Adviser. Drawing on material gathered from interviews with women municipal councillors in Vanuatu, I prepared a discussion paper and a briefing note to enable PLP to share their research and learning with other development partners, policy makers and the world. I had the opportunity to present this material during a seminar held at the Australian National University (listen to the podcast here) and I also talked about it on Pacific Beat.

I enjoyed working with the team at Pacific Advisory on a project to assist the government of Vanuatu in better management of its vehicle fleet. I contributed by way of an opening think piece, recommendations about policy and legislative change, peer review of the bulk of the report and client engagement.

I also undertook a short input with Act for Peace and the Vanuatu Christian Council to assist with the development of a Food Security Checklist. My contribution will assist the project team to develop a high quality tool to facilitate collection of critical information pertaining to disaster preparation and response.

I have a secret love for organising events and so this month I hosted a book launch in Port Vila. It was a sub-launch of The New Pacific Diplomacy and a pre-launch of Pacific Stories 2We had a fabulous evening and you can see some of the photos (more great work by Groovy Banana).

I have done quite a bit of travelling in the later part of this month, to attend conferences. In Canberra I presented to a workshop convened by the Centre for Democratic Institutions. Its aim was to look at evidence based approaches to improve the level of women’s participation in political decision-making in Melanesia. And then hard on the heels of that I travelled to Nadi in Fiji to present a paper to a workshop convened by the United Nations Development Program’s Pacific Office. This was a high-level meeting of MPs, government ministers, speakers of Parliament and others to discuss the relationship between political stability and development in Melanesia.

Given my travel commitments, I have not been able to contribute to Coffee and Controversy as often as I usually do. However, in the middle of the month I joined a panel to discuss parliamentary processes, political maturity and more.

As you can see, it has been a very busy month. Please share this with those you think need to know more about how TNC Pacific Consulting can help them do business in our region.

 

2 New Pacific Publications Launched in Port Vila

PictureTess Newton Cain with Hannington Alatoa who hosted the event and Fe’iloakitau Kaho Tevi who launched the publications.

June 7th, Port Vila – overlooking Nambatu Lagoon, at Hannington’s kava bar, was the location for the Vanuatu launch of 2 new Pacific publications. The event was sponsored by TNC Pacific Consulting and was attended by public servants, members of civil society including academia and the media, students and private sector professionals.

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Fe’iloakitau Kaho Tevi launched the books. In his short but powerful speech Fe’iloakitau Kaho Tevi outlined some of the really important changes we have seen in the way that Pacific diplomacy is conducted. He gave an insight into how the leaders of the Pacific island region have, since 2009, looked for new spaces in which they can discuss issues that are of importance to them relating to new approaches to development, decolonisation and providing global leadership in relation to climate change. Mr Tevi pointed to the publication of ‘The New Pacific Diplomacy’ as one of the milestones in this ongoing regional conversation.

‘The New Pacific Diplomacy’ edited by Greg Fry and Sandra Tarte and published by the ANU Press was launched recently at USP in Suva and was sub-launched here in Port Vila. This collection documents the fundamental shift in the way that the Pacific island states engage with regional and world politics, a shift that dates back to 2009 and remains ongoing. Our region has experienced what Anote Tong (former prime minister of Kiribati) has described as a ‘paradigm shift’ in the thinking that informs Pacific diplomacy. ‘The New Pacific Diplomacy’ brings together a range of analyses and perspectives on dramatic new developments in Pacific diplomacy at sub-regional, regional and global levels, and in the key sectors of global negotiation for Pacific states – fisheries, climate change, decolonisation, and trade.

The book includes a chapter entitled ‘The renaissance of the Melanesian Spearhead Group’ written by Tess Newton Cain, principal of TNC Pacific Consulting.

Mr Tevi also launched the second edition of ‘Pacific Stories’ with reference to the inclusions that are drawn from the ‘Pacific Conversations’ series that forms part of the content published on the Devpolicy blog. He identified this series as a vehicle for exploring and documenting current Pacific thinking of established and emerging leaders.

tesslaunchingbook-45

The second edition of ‘Pacific Stories’ is co-edited by Tess Newton Cain and Matthew Dornan and published by the Development Policy Centre of the Australian National University. It brings together some of the best Pacific-focused contributions to the Devpolicy Blog. The collection covers the period from mid-2014 to the end of 2015 and explores political developments and other topics of importance to the region, including climate change, labour mobility, regionalism, gender equality, and resource management.

These publications have a lot to offer to those who need to understand more about the Pacific island region. The authors, editors and publishers hope they will be important resources for policy makers, educators, development partners, civil society, the private sector and others.

Photo Credits: Groovy Banana


 

May 2016

Welcome to the round-up for the month of May.

Across the Coral Sea, Australia is having an election. It is a longer campaign period than is usually the case and so I am doing my best to get more coverage of Pacific island issues into the mainstream media coverage. This is not an easy task, and so far there have been mixed results. The video here is of a question that I formulated with Matthew Dornan at the Development Policy Centre in the hope of it being aired on QandA May 31st. We were unsuccessful (this time) but will continue to look for other opportunities to raise the importance of the new Australian government engaging more (and better) with this part of the world, regardless of which party wins power.

PictureMay 10th line-up for Coffee & Controversy: Dan McGarry, Tess Newton Cain, Glen Craig & Hon. Jotham Napat, Minister of Infrastructure & Public Utilities

Coffee and Controversy is gaining quite a following here in Vanuatu and of course if you are somewhere else, you don’t need to miss out because the podcasts are available to download from Soundcloud. This month, I took part in discussions on combatting corruption, statutory bodies and infrastructure plans, and taxation.

Lots of media work during May, mostly focused on foreign policy and sub-regional tensions. A press release from the office of the prime minister of Solomon Islands caused a lot of discussion among those of us who are keen MSG watchers. I discussed what it might mean with Pacific Beat

Later in the month, Vanuatu’s statement of support of China’s position on the South China Sea caused some to raise their eyebrows. However, as I discussed with both Pacific Beat and Radio New Zealand International, this should not really have come as a surprise.

During May, it was lovely to attend the re-opening of Iririki Island Resort, which had been closed since Cyclone Pam last March. The Hon Prime Minister Charlot Salwai Tabismasmas gave a very important speech during the opening . He congratulated the owners on their achievement and thanked them for their confidence in the destination, he assured them of the support of the government and he challenged them (and the rest of the industry) to work to make tourism in Vanuatu more inclusive, with particular focus on the tourism industry being a market for our primary producers. This item from last year examines why this is important.

That’s all for now – please do share this with your networks to spread the word about TNC Pacific Consulting.


 

April 2016

This month saw the launch of my new website (this is it!) and thank you to all who have provided feedback and support.

It’s been great to work with my friends at the Pacific Leadership Program. We are developing some really interesting and important knowledge projects that will help them to communicate and share their research into supporting women into positions of political leadership in Vanuatu. This builds on a literature review I prepared a couple of years ago for the Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development Program, which you can read here.

Looking to the development of Pacific policy responses, I collaborated with Dr Anna Powles and Mr Jose Sousa-Santos to prepare a submission to the Specialist Subcommittee on Regionalism under the Framework for Pacific Regionalism. Ours was one of more than 40 that were received. Our submission is entitled ‘Pacific Disaster Response & Coordination Unit’ and you can read it here.

On Coffee & Controversy during April, we have discussed the opportunities and challenges associated with introducing income tax into Vanuatu and foreign policy.

I contributed to coverage by Pacific Beat of the growing tensions within the Melanesian Spearhead Group over the appointment of a new Director General to the secretariat, funding problems and controversy as to membership relating to the United Movement for the Liberation of West Papua (UMLWP) and Indonesia.

I provided some background material to Daniel Flitton of The Age for this item about ongoing concerns about the quality of governance on Nauru, with particular focus on the decision of Westpac bank to close its accounts with the government of that country.

It was great to catch up with Dr Colin Tukuitonga, the Director General of the Pacific Community whilst he was here in Vanuatu. We talked about a number of things which was a great opportunity to revisit some of the things we discussed in this interview for Pacific Conversations, back in 2014.

I enjoyed taking part in a webinar that focused on the use of social media in disaster response and management. It reinforced for me some of the issues I identified in this item I wrote further to the passage of Cyclone Pam during March last year.

Please have a look around the website to find out more about TNC Pacific Consulting and how my expertise can be of use to you.