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Wednesday 20 Mar 2019 | 12:35 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 20 Mar 2019 | 12:35 | SYDNEY

Pacific links: PNG’s O’Neill keeps his seat, Mr Tomato, the Cook Islands budget and more

PNG's most recent PM Peter O'Neill has retained his seat in the recent election and his party is forecast to be called on to form government. (Photo: David Moir/ via Getty Images)
  • Dysfunction in the Papua New Guinea election continues, with claims of suspicious ghost voters turning up on the electoral roll and the resignation of the recently formed Election Advisory Committee. As always, Bill Standish provides an excellent overview.
  • The elections have also taken a bizarre turn, with electoral commissioner Patilias Gamato requesting a gag order against an anti-corruption campaigner to stop being called 'Mr Tomato'.
  • In what looks to be a swipe at Gamato, the presiding Justice Collin Makail ordered the Statement of Claim be published in newspapers in full, adding fuel to the fire of this distraction.
  • Results from the election are starting to emerge. Peter O’Neill has retained his seat and can now start the important task of Coalition building, despite a court case being mounted against ‘unconstitutional’ Sunday voting in his electorate.
  • The Speaker, Fisheries Minister and Housing Minister have all lost their seats and Health Minister Michael Malabag looks set to do the same. O’Neill’s PNC party is still forecast to secure the largest number of seats and be called on to form government.  
  • Vanuatu’s deputy Prime Minister has called for the Pacific Islands Forum to consider having a permanent model or arrangement like that of RAMSI to help island countries with law and order and natural disaster challenges.
  • A marae in French Polynesia has been awarded world heritage status after 20 years of campaigning from the territory.
  • The Cook Islands has handed down the largest budget in the country’s history totalling more than US$200 million.
  • Matthew Dornan and Neelesh Gounder assess the ‘election bonanza’ of the 2017/18 Fiji budget.

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