Pacific Islands Forum Chair responds to the IPCC report

The Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) has released a statement further to the recent IPCC report.

Prime Minister Bainimarama of Fiji took on the role of Chair of the Forum earlier this month.

In his statement, Prime Minister Bainimarama calls on every leader to take “immediate action” to keep the rise in global temperature to 1.5 degrees or less.

Bainimarama reflected that Pacific island countries have committed to net zero emissions by 2050 and said that they were not “hiding behind the cowardly excuse that we are too small to make a meaningful difference”.

The Chair’s statement ends with an exhortation to the world leaders attending COP26 in Glasgow: “Come with commitments for serious cuts in emissions by 2030––50 percent or more. Come with commitments to become net-zero before 2050. Do not come with excuses. That time is past.”

Continuing fallout from political upheaval in Samoa

The fallout from months of political upheaval and uncertainty continues in Samoa.

Over the weekend, the Attorney-General and the Legislative Clerk were both suspended for a period of two weeks. Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa has said that her preliminary view is she does not have confidence in Savalenoa Mareva Betham-Annadale to carry out the constitutional office.

Fiame advised the media that the Speaker of the House had informed her of the suspension of Tiatia Graeme Tualaulelei as Legislative Clerk. The Speaker had expressed a similar position that his preliminary view was that he did not have confidence in Tiatia to undertake his duties. Both officials have been given until August 30th to provide a response.

On Monday, the Commissioner of Police, Su’a Fuiavailiili Egon Keil, announced that he was resigning his post with immediate effect.

Fiji reacts to reappointment of Ahluwalia Pal as USP Vice-Chancellor

The government of Fiji has reacted strongly to the recent announcement that Professor Ahluwalia Pal has been reappointed as Vice-Chancellor at USP.

The Attorney-General, Aiyez Sayed-Khaiyoum, used a ministerial statement in Parliament to express the government’s anger at the move by the USP Council to reinstate Pal. Pal and his partner had previously been deported by the government of Fiji for breaches of immigration regulations. The government of Fiji has yet to disclose any details of the alleged breaches.

The Attorney-General went on to state that Fiji would continue to withhold core funding from USP whilst Pal was leading the institution.

The Attorney-General’s statement has drawn criticism from members of the Fijian Opposition. There have also been calls for the governments of Australia and New Zealand to intervene as the largest financial backers of the institution.

Para Olympians forced to withdraw from the Tokyo games

Several Pacific island countries have decided to withdraw from the Tokyo Paralympics that start this week.

Olympic officials confirmed that the athletes from Kiribati, Samoa, Tonga, and Vanuatu will not travel to Japan to take part.

Officials in Vanuatu cited difficulties and expenses associated with navigating quarantine regulations in Australia and their own countries (for returning athletes) as the reason for the withdrawals.

The decision comes with the added complication that some events at the Tokyo games are qualification opportunities ahead of the Commonwealth Games to be held in Birmingham next year.

Meanwhile, Tongan athletes returning from the Tokyo Olympics have been caught up in the COVID-19 outbreak in New Zealand. Having completed fourteen days in quarantine, the athletes and officials are now in lockdown with the NZ population. They do not know when a repatriation flight to Tongatapu will be available for them to get home to Tonga.

Australian ‘agricultural’ visa may have impacts on Pacific labour schemes

The Australian government has confirmed the introduction of an agricultural visa and said that the necessary regulations for its operation will be in place by the end of next month.

The visa aims to provide workers into sectors beyond agriculture, including meat processing and fisheries. The information provided by the government does not specify which countries the visa will be aimed at.

Several commentators have raised questions and concerns about the impacts that this new visa will have on the Seasonal Workers Program and the Pacific Labour Scheme. On Twitter, the Minister for Agriculture, David Littleproud, said that the new scheme “will supplement and complement those schemes and relationships”.

Meanwhile, officials in Tonga have asked DFAT to intervene in a situation that has seen their workers banned from entering Tasmania. Tonga has been declared “red” by the state government despite that country having had no instances of COVID-19 infection.


Tess Newton Cain is an Adjunct Associate Professor at the Griffith Asia Institute and project lead of the Pacific Hub.