TESS NEWTON CAIN |
Final preparations for Vanuatu elections
Vanuatu’s snap elections will be held on Thursday 13th October. The Electoral Commission is busy getting everything in place for what is hoped will be a smooth polling day. Ballot boxes are being despatched to outlying areas. The patrol boat RVS Takuare remains out of service whilst awaiting input from Australian technicians. This leaves a serious gap in logistics assets. It has been met to some degree by air support provided by the Government of Australia. Private sector boats have also been commissioned to provide vital support to get ballot boxes out to rural areas in time for polling.
The Electoral Commission has confirmed that there are 219 candidates contesting the 52 seats in the Parliament. Campaigning will end at midnight Tuesday 11th October. It is expected that the results will be known early next week and then the work of forming a new government will begin.
Marshall Islands success at the UN Human Rights Council
Marshall Islands has secured significant success in seeking appropriate recompense for the damage inflicted on that country by years of nuclear testing and the dumping of nuclear waste.
The United Nations Human Rights Council has adopted a motion that provides for technical assistance to be provided to Marshall Islands to address the ongoing impacts of the nuclear legacy.
The motion was tabled by Marshall Islands, Fiji, Nauru, Samoa, and Vanuatu. It calls for technical assistance to be provided to Marshall Islands as they seek justice for the harm that was inflicted upon them, including its lasting health and environmental impacts.
The resolution calls for the UN Human Rights chief to table a report by the end of 2024 to document the challenges to human rights and enjoyment of life caused by the ongoing impacts of nuclear testing in Marshall Islands.
Vanuatu and Samoa seek to cap numbers of people leaving for work
In Vanuatu and Samoa there are growing concerns about the number of people, including skilled workers, who are leaving to take up temporary work opportunities in New Zealand and Australia.
Authorities in Port Vila and Apia are now considering putting a cap on the number of people who can take part in the Recognized Employer Scheme in New Zealand and the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility scheme.
Both countries are undertaking reviews of their labour mobility policies and introducing a cap on the number of people who can take up opportunities to work overseas is in contemplation as part of this process.
This comes as Australian research reveals that participation by Vanuatu, Samoa and Tonga in labour mobility programs has reached such a level that for each country there are as many people working overseas as are working for the governments.
Foreign Minister of Australia in the Pacific
Australia’s Foreign Minister, Senator Penny Wong, will spend the second half of the week on tour in the Pacific islands region.
Her trip will take her to the Republic of Marshall Islands and Nauru. It will be her first time to visit both of those countries since becoming Foreign Minister in May. It follows a number of visits she has made to the region since taking on the portfolio.
In Majuro, she will visit an outrigger canoe-making project and give a speech at the College of the Marshall Islands. President Kabua’s government will host the Minister’s delegation at a dinner.
In Nauru, she will have an opportunity to meet with President Russ Kun, who took over as leader of the country further to the elections that were held last month. Australia is a partner in substantial projects to build climate-resilient infrastructure, including a deep-water port, in that country.