Australian coal is sinking our Pacific islands

Coal burning power station. Coal is the dirtiest fossil fuel and a major conributor to climate change. File photo/Pixabay

Australia, the world’s largest coal exporter, is actively trying to undermine the Pacific islands by continuing to promote coal – the dirtiest of the fossil fuels that are driving the world’s warming climate. 

As Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull prepares to meet with his island counterparts this week in Apia, Samoa, Pacific civil society groups say Australia’s promotion of coal puts their communities at risk.

Pacific island countries, including some of the world’s most vulnerable low-lying islands, are demanding greater ambition to tackle climate change and renewed political commitment to the 2015 Paris Agreement.

The Vanuatu flag flies at a 2014 blockade of Australian coal export port Newcastle by Pacific islanders campaigning against climate change. Photo: 350.org

The Vanuatu flag flies at a 2014 blockade of Australian coal export port Newcastle by Pacific islanders campaigning against climate change. Photo: 350.org

On Thursday, Pacific Islands Forum leaders will consider a ‘united’ Pacific voice to take to the COP23 climate negotiations in November.  At those talks – to be held in Bonn, Germany – the world’s eyes will be on the Pacific as Fiji takes over as president of the UN climate negotiations, the first time a small island developing state has held this important role.

However, members of the Pacific Islands Climate Action Network (PICAN) say there is a low probability of an authentic ‘united’ Pacific voice being forged in Apia, with Australia’s presence and economic interests being historically responsible for watering-down regional climate declarations.

Australia’s continued promotion of coal – the dirtiest of the fossil fuels that are driving the world’s warming climate — jeopardises negotiation outcomes, and ultimately the safety of the entire Pacific region.

Maina Talia, from the Tuvalu Climate Action Network (TuCAN), said Pacific island leaders Read the rest of this entry »

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Opinion: a call for a tolerant, understanding and caring Vanuatu

A call for a tolerant, understanding and caring Vanuatu

By Michael Taurakoto

MP Andrew Napuat’s recent statement on the supremacy of Christian principles in Vanuatu society raises important issues that leaders throughout Vanuatu should deliberate and consider carefully.

It is true that the founding fathers and mothers of this country were primarily Christian. This is a testament to the important role Christian churches played in educating and training the leaders that would take the then colony of New Hebrides to independence in 1980.

It is understandable then that our national motto and the preamble to our Constitution make specific reference to God as the inspiration behind the struggle for political independence and freedom.

What is also true is that these same founding fathers and mothers crafted and enacted a Constitution which guarantees fundamental individual rights and freedom from discrimination on the basis of, among other things, religious beliefs.

Today, Vanuatu is a diverse country. While Christianity is still the dominant religion, making up 82.4% of the population (2009 Census), we have to acknowledge that the rest of the population, totalling over 40,000 citizens, do not necessarily share the same Christian beliefs as the majority of us. Read the rest of this entry »


Giving our children sustainable futures through multilingual education: Vanuatu’s UN Ambassador speaks on International Mother Languages Day

Odo Tevi, Vanuatu's Ambassador to the United Nations

Odo Tevi, Vanuatu’s Ambassador to the United Nations

Speech by Odo Tevi, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Vanuatu to the United Nations, New York, in Commemoration of the International Mother Language Day, 21st February 2017

I have the honour to provide remarks this evening on the important theme: “Towards Sustainable Futures through Multilingual Education”. This topic is timely given that we are celebrating the ‘International Mother Language Day’ today.

This is also important as we are embarking on Read the rest of this entry »


A household survey essential before taxation changes, says ILO

tax Vanuatu

There is one item in today’s news which the Vanuatu Daily Digest feels should be compelling reading for everyone, certainly the dozens of townspeople the editor meets on buses from day to day. All are bewildered by the range of ideas politicians, government officers and experts are expressing on the topic of taxation for wage earners and companies. The item referred to is a front page article in Daily Post in which Jonas Cullwick carefully details the recommendations of a wages specialist of the International Labour Organization (ILO) on the income tax proposal. What’s more, the ILO specialist is here for the rarely-reported Tripartite Labor Advisory Council, TLAC, which represents Vanuatu’s government, employers and workers in the country. TLAC held a public lecture and meeting at the Grand Hotel. The ILO expert, Daniel Kostzer, says Vanuatu needs a more evidence-based approach to the issue of taxation and a household survey is necessary. Yes, indeed. And the ILO must Read the rest of this entry »


Opinion: PACER Plus is a poor deal for Vanuatu businesses that we should walk away from

Vanuatu says no to PACER Plus

As negotiations for PACER Plus, the proposed regional free trade agreement between Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Island Countries draw to a close, we can now see what it contains—and more importantly, what it means for Vanuatu producers. Read the rest of this entry »


Response from Vanuatu Registry Services Ltd to the PM’s statement on CIIP in Parliament

It is a sad day when Vanuatu’s Prime Minister resorts to the privilege afforded to statements made in Parliament to repeat a defamatory statement made by “others”.

The allegation that “… the monies have been retained by the agent, presently seeking judgement against the government through court hearings, have been moved to Caribbean tax havens, others reveal” is wholly and utterly Read the rest of this entry »


Under the microscope: Vanuatu’s transition out of Least Developed Country status

Microscopists from provincial medical facilities receive training under the supervision of the Chief Microscopist in Port Vila, Vanuatu 2012. Photo: Paul McGinty / DFAT

Closer examination is needed of the challenges that may arise from Vanuatu’s graduation from LDC status. File photo/Paul McGinty/DFAT

By Dr TK Jayaraman

Vanuatu is in the news again.

Along with three other Pacific Island countries, which enjoy the status of least developed country (LDC) for special treatment by international donor community including various multilateral funding agencies aside from industrialised nations, Vanuatu has made the right signals once again, as it would be graduating soon.

Addressing the Comprehensive High-level Mid-term Review by the UN of the Implementation of the Program of Action for the LDCs in Antalya in Turkey in late May 2016, Vanuatu’s Special Envoy stressed the need for reducing the extreme vulnerability to external shocks beyond domestic control.

The anxiety of Vanuatu, Read the rest of this entry »