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Pacific links: Manus, PNG students, Fiji flag change on ice, why Islanders are rugby stars and more

Pacific links: Manus, PNG students, Fiji flag change on ice, why Islanders are rugby stars and more
Published 24 Aug 2016 

By Harriet Smith, an intern with the Lowy Institute's Melanesia Program

  • The PNG Supreme Court has ruled both PNG and Australian governments are responsible for closing the asylum processing centre on Manus Island, after deeming the centre unconstitutional in April. Last week the two governments announced they would close the centre but gave no timeline or suggestion on what would happen to the detainees. The joint statement came five months after PNG’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill called for the centre to close. 
  • PNG’s opposition leader Don Polye has described a government decision to raise the cost of election nominations fees ‘ridiculous and undemocratic’. The cost will rise from 2000 kina to 10,000 kina, or more than $A4000. 
  • Students in PNG have prioritised reconciliation with the University of PNG management in preparation for the resumption of studies next week. Classes had originally been cancelled for the year after the bloody conflict between students and police in June, but were reinstated after the university council opted to lift the suspension. 
  • Fiji’s Prime Minister has announced that plans to change Fiji’s flag have been postponed in order to prioritise the continuing recovery from Tropical Cyclone Winston.
  • New books featuring local stories have also been created to assist Fijian children traumatised by the disaster.
  • In light of Fiji’s Olympics rugby gold, The Economist attempted to explain why Pacific Islands nations have a particular talent for rugby.
  • Pacific Island countries have condemned ‘misleading’ statements on the PACER Plus trade deal which allege it will diminish sovereignty.
  • Tony Hiriasia from ANU has released a paper on kin-based politics in the Solomon Islands. It looks at how kin relationships are more central to political alliances in rural constituencies than gifting.
  • Australia has selected Tanna, a drama set in Vanuatu, to be its entry in the Oscar's foreign-language section. The film, made in the Nauvhal language, won the audience prize at Venice Critics Week last year.
  • A recent episode of ABC's Q&A featured heated debate on the issue of climate change but, as newly elected Federal MP Linda Burney pointed out on the program, the Pacific Islands nations are already seeing the impact, a reality highlighted in this news report from PNG.

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