Low-cost solar batteries key to cheap electricity for Polynesian countries

A report on innovative solar energy technology for the Pacific. Video: NZIPR

By Sri Krishnamurthi with Peter Wilson in Auckland

Solar-powered batteries are the key to a future without electricity grids for Polynesian countries in the Pacific (Samoa, Cook Islands and Tonga), a study has found.

The study is funded by the New Zealand Institute for Pacific Research (NZIPR) to assess the feasibility of a low-cost, energy future – titled “Polynesian pathways to a future without electricity grids”.

The first phase of the research, conducted by Peter Wilson (principal economist and head of Auckland business for the NZ Institute of Economic Research) and his team of Professor Basil Sharp (Auckland University professor and chair in energy economics) and Gareth William (head of Solar City Energy Services), queries whether distributed solar electricity is a practical alternative to grid-based electricity.

“The project is investigating the impact of new technologies on electricity sectors in the Pacific, we are looking at whether solar panels and batteries could augment or eventually replace electricity grids and large diesel generators,” says principal investigator Wilson.

“First phase is showing that the costs of both solar panels and batteries is diminishing very quickly and it won’t be very long before they will be economic in the Pacific and so that you have the potential to start radically changing how energy is delivered to Pacific nations.”

-Partners-

While he believes it is technologically feasible now, the prohibitive cost of the batteries at the moment – the leading provider of solar batteries being Elon Musk’s Tesla Powerwall – is something that has economically got to arrive yet, but the trend is towards costs being reduced significantly.

He says that within 10 years batteries and solar panels together could have a large impact on existing electricity sectors in the islands, and he sees that as a positive development because it will make it easier to extend electricity to people who don not currently have it at a cheap cost.

Decisions needed
However, he says, it does mean that the island governments must consider what they do with their existing generators and existing distribution assets if they are found to be non-competitive against the new technology.

“While it is not economically feasible yet, the trends are there and so it’s something that the Pacific governments should start thinking about,” says Wilson.

“At the moment they’re focusing very much on using solar panels to replace their electricity generation, they’re just connecting to their existing electricity grids and existing technologies.

“We think the batteries are going to change the equation and that is something that should be looked at, and the point is that this is not just something for the Pacific Islands, it’s happening around the world and a lot of countries and a lot of companies are trying to work out what to do, but they don’t really have a solution.”

He is expecting exciting new technological developments in batteries as a means of storing electricity into the future.

“The basic technology is not changing. What is changing is the cost of the batteries and their efficiency, how much power they can hold,” says Wilson.

“We’ve all seen how cell phones have become smaller and smaller over the few last years, and a large amount of that is because the batteries getting smaller and better, electric vehicles are doing the same thing. It is the same technology just using it for a different purpose.”

Hawai’ian benchmark
Hawai’i is an example they studied because it is like the South Pacific countries.

“Hawai’i which has a similar geography to the South Pacific, it’s North Pacific and tropical country with small islands and they too have moved to replace the diesel-fired generators with solar panels,” says Wilson.

“That’s a good benchmark to look at on the technological side but the economics are slightly different because it’s bigger Island, but what we particularly looked is that is an example of what could happen.”

The next phase is due to begin as soon as the NZIPR give it the greenlight.

Peter Wilson explains the way forward. “Hopefully it starts sometime this year and that involves going out to the islands and doing on-the-spot investigations, talking to people, at the moment phase one was desk research based in New Zealand.”

“So far the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) has been very supportive of the project They’ve been funding quite large numbers of solar panels into the Pacific and they are quite keen to look at this next development which is adding batteries to that investment.”

He says the electricity generation industries are facing a major change in the evolution of the technology with what they do in their business.

‘Technological revolution’
“These industries are facing a technological revolution. They have choices, how do they respond? do they try to get ahead the curve, do they bury head in sand, do they try and make it someone else’s problem.

“We are seeing around the world this issue is being addressed, in some countries, some companies are very supportive and wanting to get to get on the bandwagon.”

Ultimately the goal is renewable energy to expand access to affordable, reliable and clean energy in the Pacific. Renewable energy targets feature prominently in all their Nationally Determined Contributions submitted under the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Already a change is underway in Australia and New Zealand with a slow but sure transformation to renewable energy.

“It’s starting to change now. You are seeing in Auckland the lines company Vector is starting to invest in large batteries (Tesla Powerwall batteries) rather than just look at extensions to the grid.

This is a project that can change the economies of scale of Pacific countries and Peter Wilson is banking on it to transform lives in Samoa, Cook Islands and Tonga.

The Pacific Media Centre shares content with the NZ Institute for Pacific Research as part of a collaboration agreement. The video was edited by Blessen Tom as part of the partnership.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Tongasat’s appeal aimed at hindering suing former PMs, says Pōhiva

Tongan Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pōhiva … plan to lodge additional legal action to force pay back of the Tomgasat money. Image: Kalino Lātū/Kaniva News

By Kalino Lātū, editor of Kaniva News  

Tonga’s Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pōhiva says he believes an appeal by Tongasat against a Supreme Court ruling over the illegal payment of millions of dollars is an attempt to hinder attempts to sue those involved and to force Princess Pilolevu to pay back the money.

Parliament tabled a submission by the government early this month to sue ex Prime Ministers Lord Sevele and Lord Tu’ivakanō for their involvement in the illegal payment of TP$90 million (NZ$60 million).

Pōhiva has revealed there was also a plan to lodge additional legal action to force Princess Pilolevu and Tongasat to pay back the money.

READ MORE: Petition to sue ex-PMs over US$50m Tongasat payment

However, he said he had discussed this with his counsel, Dr Rodney Harrison, and there was concern that the money could not be recovered and it would be very hard to investigate it.

Pōhiva told Kaniva News in an exclusive interview this week in Auckland that Tongasat’s appeal would not change Lord Chief Justice Paulsen’s decision.

-Partners-

“They are free to appeal and that was part of the judicial process, but I don’t think it would affect the Supreme Court’s decision,” the Prime Minister said.

Pohiva said he had read the decision repeatedly and marvelled at how Judge Paulsen looked at all evidence and arguments before he declared that the payments of the money made by the government of Tonga to Tongasat was unlawful within the meaning of the Public Finance Management Act.

Appeal filed
Tongasat, which is also known as The Friendly Islands Satellite Communications Ltd. (Tongasat), filed a notice of appeal against the Supreme Court decision in August.

Its counsel, W.C. Edwards, then filed the appeal in the Court of Appeal of Tonga on October 16.

The appellants said they had fresh evidence from witnesses, including former Ministers of Finance Lord Matoto, Dr ‘Aisake Eke, Sunia Fili and former Chief Secretary to Cabinet ‘Aholotu Palu.

Lord Chief Justice Paulsen issued a declaration on the legal status of the main points of the claims made in the court case in September.

He said the first tranche payment of US$24.45 million in aid grant funds received by the kingdom from the People’s Republic of China on September 4, 2008, was a grant and therefore public money within the meaning of the Public Finance Management Act.

“Following its receipt by the Kingdom, US$20,985,667 of the first payment was paid to or for the benefit of Tongasat pursuant to a purported agreement between the then Prime Minister of Tonga, Dr Feleti Sevele and Tongasat,” the judge said.

“The payment of US$20,985,667 of the first payment to or for the benefit of Tongasat was expended in breach of section 9 of the PFMA and accordingly unlawful and invalid.

Finance act breach
“To the extent that the first payment was expended to satisfy pre-existing liabilities of Tongasat that expenditure was in breach of section 30 of the PFMA and accordingly unlawful and invalid.

“The purported agreement between the then Prime Minister and Tongasat was in breach of the PFMA and in excess of Dr Sevele’s lawful powers and authority as Prime Minister and accordingly unlawful and invalid.

“Tongasat was not entitled to payment of the first payment or any part thereof under either the Agency Agreement or the Agency Termination Agreement.

“The second payment of US$25.450 million in aid grant funds received by the kingdom from the People’s Republic of China on June 9, 2011 was a ‘grant’ and accordingly public money within the meaning of the PFMA.

“Following its receipt by the Kingdom, the second payment was paid in its entirety to or for the benefit of Tongasat pursuant to a purported agreement between the then Prime Minister of Tonga, Dr Feleti Sevele and Tongasat.

“The payment of the second payment in its entirety to or for the benefit of Tongasat was expended in breach of section 9 of the PFMA and accordingly unlawful and invalid.

“To the extent that the first payment was expended to satisfy pre-existing liabilities of Tongasat that expenditure was in breach of section 30 of the PFMA and accordingly unlawful and invalid.

“The purported agreement between the then Prime Minister and Tongasat was both in breach of the PFMA and in excess of Dr Sevele’ s lawful powers and authority as Prime Minister and accordingly unlawful and invalid.

“Tongasat was not entitled to payment of the second tranche payment or any part thereof under either the Agency Agreement or the Agency Termination Agreement.”

The Pacific Media Centre has a content sharing arrangement with Kaniva News.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Banabans of Rabi short climate change documentary chosen for Nuku’alofa

The trailer for Hele Ikimotu and Blessen Tom’s short Bearing Witness documentary. Video: Banabans of Rabi

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

A short documentary, Banabans of Rabi – A Story of Survival, by Hele Ikimotu and Blessen Tom of Auckland University of Technology’s Pacific Media Centre, has been selected for the 2018 Nuku’alofa Film Festival in Tonga next month.

This is a film produced out of the three-year-old Bearing Witness climate change project, a research and publication collaboration between the PMC and its documentary partner Te Ara Motuhenga, and the Pacific Centre for Environment-Sustainable Development (PaCE-SD) and the Regional Journalism Programme at the University of the South Pacific.

Banabans of Rabi: A story of Survival.

According to the filmmakers: “During the Second World War, the inhabitants of the island of Banaba were forcibly displaced to Rabi Island in Fiji due to phosphate mining by the British Phosphate Commission.

“The island of Banaba was decimated and the Banabans had to start afresh in Rabi. The documentary follows the people in Rabi and sheds light into the problems that they face now, especially with climate change.”

Film maker Blessen Tom said on the documentary’s Facebook page: “It’s an amazing news for all of us. The festival will be the first time the full documentary is screened in public.

-Partners-

“Super excited for the Pacific screening. If you’re in Tonga on November 22-23, be sure to visit us.”

Documentary maker and senior lecturer Jim Marbrook said: “This is great and it’s a very cool first step,” adding that plans should be made for other film festival entries.

Pacific Media Centre director Professor David Robie said: “This is a tremendous achievement for starters and a reward for the really hard work that Blessen and Hele have put into making this quality and inspirational doco.”

The 2018 Nuku’alofa Film Festival.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Tongan scholars lodge protests over broadcaster’s Pacific ‘leeches’ jibe

Broadcaster Heather du Plessis-Allan … controversial attack on the Pacific Islands and Pacific Islanders. Image: Screenshot of Newstalk ZB

By Kalino Latu, editor of Kaniva News

Tongan community leaders and top scholars in New Zealand will complain to the Human Rights Commission against broadcaster Heather du Plessis-Allan’s outspoken comments against Pacific people.

The complaint will also be lodged with the Broadcasting Standards Authority of New Zealand and contact will be made with the Forum Secretariat of the Pacific Islands Forum as well as the United Nations Human Rights Council.

The action has been initiated by the executive director of Health Promotion Forum of New Zealand, Sione Tu’itahi, and came after Du Plessis-Allan commented after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s statement she would visit Nauru during the Pacific Island Forum leaders’ meeting earlier this month.

READ MORE: Pushback against du Plessis-Allan’s Pacific ‘leeches’ comments encouraging

Du Plessis-Allan told her Newstalk ZB listeners: “The Pacific Islands don’t matter. They are nothing but leeches on us.”

She also referred to Nauru as a “hell hole”, and said it was not worth attending the Forum anyway because the Pacific Islands “don’t matter”.

-Partners-

Tu’itahi said it was unfortunate that some people did not use their roles in news media wisely and instead used them to thrash the weak and those who were voiceless.

He said they must do something to stop this kind of attitude.

If not, people like Du Plessis-Allan would think they were right and would continue to do it.

Dr Malakai Koloamatangi (from left), Dr Sūnia Foliaki, Sione Tu’itahi … critical of broadcaster Heather du Plessis-Allan’s “degrading” comments. Image: Kaniva News

‘Outrageous comments’
Tu’itahi was responding after Dr Malakai Koloamatangi of Massey University asked people to share a link to an opinion piece by Luamanuvao Dame Winnie Laban on Radio New Zealand.

Luamanuvao said: “When I first heard Heather du Plessis-Allan’s comments, I was reminded of Paul Holmes’ “cheeky darkie” rant about Kofi Annan and Robert Muldoon’s labelling Pacific Islanders as “overstayers”.

“Outrageous comments are the stock and trade of some broadcasters and politicians. So, it is good to hear that some New Zealanders know and understand Pacific history, value New Zealand’s relationship with the Pacific and Pacific peoples’ contribution to New Zealand, and are prepared to speak out when ill-informed comments are aired feeding bigotry and casual racism.”

Dr Koloamatangi has described du Plessi-Allan’s comments as discriminatory, degrading, disdainful and racist (fa’ahinga lau ngali filifilimānako, tukuhifo, siolalo mo laulanu).

Dr Sūnia Foliaki, also of Massey University, said: “Nauru a ‘Hell Hole’? Yeah, it’s  a hell hole after NZ farmers benefited from the phosphate dug up to leave those holes in Nauru.”

“A march to Newstalk ZB to ask du Plessis to give us a lecture on brain holes or other holes seeing we should ALL refer to her now as the Holes Expert?”

The Tongan petition is being supported by many Tongan academics, including Professor ‘Ōkusitino Māhina, Dr Viliami Puloka, Dr Paula Onoafe Lātū and others.

Broadcaster defiant
Despite nationwide outrage and calls for Du Plessis-Allan to make an apology or resign, she has remained defiant and stood by her comments, according to Radio New Zealand.

Du Plessis-Allan’s comments were posted on social media, prompting lots of angry reactions and some abusive and offensive putdowns of the broadcaster herself.

Du Plessis-Allan invited Privacy Commissioner John Edwards to appear on her show to debate the issue last Tuesday.

He declined and she hit out: “Go back to university and do some more training. You are not good enough.”

She said Edwards’ reaction was symptomatic of “intolerance on the political left”.

“They are like all deep-thinking and progressive but the moment someone says something that they don’t want to see the nuance in, they just take the broad brushstrokes of something.”

The Pacific Media Centre has a content sharing arrangement with Kaniva News.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

PMC Seminar series: Folk wisdom: Superstition and ‘old wives’ tales’ across the Pacific

Event date and time: 

Wednesday, August 29, 2018 – 16:30 18:00

PACIFIC MEDIA CENTRE SEMINAR: Why is folk wisdom important?  In this presentation, Jourdene Aguon will explore and discuss the intersection between Pacific island communities (Samoa, Tonga, New Zealand and the Cook Islands, Guam and the Marianas) and their oral traditions, focusing on folk wisdom and its two variants: superstition and “old wives’ tales”. Interpreting a collection of historic and modern reports of these islands’ folk wisdom, we determine the commonality among them: what was important to these colonised places and what it means to have certain folk wisdom survive today.

Who: Jourdene Rosella Cruz Aguon 

When: Friday, August 29, 2018, 4.30pm-6pm

Where: Sir Paul Reeves Building,
Auckland University of Technology,
City Campus 
Room, WG903A

Contact: Dr Sylvia Frain

Report by Pacific Media Centre

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Tongan PM seeks royal audience after lawyer’s constitutional advice on law

Tonga’s King Tupou VI and Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pōhiva … vetoed laws issue. Image: Kaniva News

By Kalino Latu, editor of Kaniva News

The government of Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pōhiva has planned an audience with the King of Tonga after a New Zealand legal expert advised that the king had no right to judge the merits of legislation passed by Parliament.

A government spokesperson said the plan was made after cabinet accepted the New Zealand lawyer Dr Rodney Harrison’s recommendations.

Pōhiva told Kaniva News in a recent interview that six Amendment Bills were submitted by the Tu’ivakanō government in 2014 and were passed by Parliament.

However, when submitted to King Tupou VI in Privy Council for his approval and signature he rejected the new laws.

These amendments included Acts of Constitution of Tonga (Amendment Bill) 2014, Judicial and Legal Service Commission 2014, Tonga Police (Amendement Bill) 2014, National Spatial Planning and Management (Amendment Bill) 2014, Magistrate Court Amendment Bill 2014 and Public Service Amendement Bill 2014.

Pōhiva said the Amendment Bills 2014 were submitted by the Tu’ivakanō government after the constitution was reviewed by a Commonwealth constitutional law expert, Peter Pursglove.

-Partners-

As Kaniva News reported, Pursglove said that Tonga’s 2010 constitution did not uphold democracy, the Privy Council lacked any democratic composition or accountability and the judiciary lacked accountability and transparency.

Amendment bills left
Pōhiva said when his government came to power in November 2014, the Tu’ivakanō government had left these amendement bills for them to complete working on them.

He said they pursued some of these bills, including some that concerned the assignment of the Attorney-General to the Privy Council, which Pursgrlove said was unconstitutional.

In a response to a request by the Prime Minister’s office for an opinion on the legality of the Royal Assent Order 2011, Dr Harrison said it appeared there was a misconception that the king had the “power to grant or refuse the Royal Assent conferred by Clause 56 of the Constitution”.

Dr Harrison recommended that the government try to get the king to alter his views on his powers by “reasoned persuasion”. Seeking a judicial ruling is also an option.

The government spokesperon said the Prime Minister wanted to talk to the king first as he wanted to make sure the constitution was correctly interpreted and followed through.

He said the Prime Minister believed the king would consider Dr Harrison’s advice favourably.

Vetoed by king
Minister of Justice Vuna Fa’otusia said many of the amendments to laws and the constitution passed by Parliament were vetoed by the king because of the Judicial Committee.

The Judicial Committee was comprised of some law lords and was chaired by Lord Dalgety of Scotland. The minister said if the committee did not agree with laws and amendments to the constitutions which were already passed by the Parliament the king would reject those laws.

Dr Harrison said the Law Lords played no specific constitutional role and they did not have any constitutional function or role as scrutineers of legislation or the legislative process.

Royal Assent 2011:
56 Power of Legislative Assembly

The King and the Legislative Assembly shall have power to enact laws, and the
representatives of the nobles and the representatives of the people shall sit as one
House. When the Legislative Assembly shall have agreed upon any Bill which has
been read and voted for by a majority three times it shall be presented to the King
for his sanction and after receiving his sanction and signature it shall become law
upon publication. Votes shall be given by raising the hand or by standing up in
division or by saying “Aye” or “No”

This article is republished by Asia Pacific Report with permission.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Tuilaepa accuses Pohiva of being ‘jello’ over Samoan press freedom

Tongan Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva … something “odd” with the world press freedom rankings. Image: Samoa Observer

By Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielelgaoi has accused his Tongan counterpart ‘Akilisi Pohiva of being “jello” – jealous – of Samoa’s media freedom ranking.

Tuilaepa made the comment in response to Pohiva questioning Samoa’s ranking on the Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index.

Samoa is ranked 22nd while Tonga is ranked 51st.

READ MORE: Fifth Pacific Media Summit

Speaking at the opening of the 5th Pacific Media Summit being held in Nuku’alofa, Tonga, Pohiva suggested that something was “odd” with the rankings.

“You have all heard by now how that Tonga dropped two places from 49 to 51 on the 2018 World Press Freedom index,” he said.

-Partners-

“You have also learned that the reason for the drop is because of my government’s unfair treatment of senior journalists in the Tonga Broadcasting Commission.

“I have no problems with that but let me assure you all that it is a work in progress.

‘Continuing to talk’
“We are continuing to talk with the management and staff members of the Tonga Broadcasting Commission about improving our relationship, and of course our position in the 2019 Press Freedom Index.”

This is when he turned his attention to Samoa.

“I must say that I am surprised by Samoa’s position on the Press Freedom Index where Samoa is 22nd,” he said.

“Oh congratulations! However, what I went on about is the ongoing battle between my Samoan counterpart and the Samoa Observer. I can’t believe that Samoa is 22nd and Tonga is 51st. This is unbelievable.”

Asked for a comment, Prime Minister Tuilaepa laughed.

“Our ranking is far superior than the United States of America, which is ranked 45th and this is good news for the media and everyone who is here in my office,” Tuilaepa said.

Freedom of journalists
“I am thankful that the government puts up with you people,” he said, laughing.

“I am talking about freedom of journalists in our country and that is why the Tongan Prime Minister is somewhat “jello” (jealous) given that their ranking is very low, yet Samoa’s ranking is quite significant.”

According to Prime Minister Tuilaepa, there is a difference in the governance of Samoa and Tonga, but he did not elaborate on this.

Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu is a journalist working with the Samoa Observer.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Review of laws passed by Parliament ‘not in Tongan king’s power’

King Tupou VI … 2010 Constitution “excludes” the King and Privy Council from “governing” the Kingdom. Image: Linny Folau/Matangi Tonga

By Philip Cass of Kaniva News

The King of Tonga has no right to judge the merits of legislation passed by Parliament, according to a New Zealand constitutional legal expert.

Dr Rodney Harrison said that under the 2010 Constitution, review and evaluation of the merits of legislation passed by the General Assembly did not fall within the scope of the king’s powers of sanction and signature.

Dr Harrison said the king had withheld or deferred his signature from a number of pieces of legislation because it was deemed to be inappropriate or unconstitutional.

He said the new Constitution excluded the King and Privy Council from the role of governing the Kingdom.

He said judgements about whether legislation was constitutional went against the doctrine of the separation of powers and the role and independence of the judiciary.

He said the Royal Assent Order 2011, under which the King and Privy Council purported to act, was therefore invalid.

-Partners-

Dr Harrison was asked to give an opinion on the legality of the Royal Assent Order 2011 by the Prime Minister’s Office.

Real problem
However, Dr Harrison said challenging the validity of the Order in court would not solve the real problem, which was the regular deferral or refusal of royal assent for legislation that had been approved by Parliament.

“The underlying problem is not the legal validity of the Royal Assent Order as such,” Dr Harrison said.

“The underlying problem is the view currently held by His Majesty or at least by the Privy Council and, in particular the Law Lords as His advisors, as to the extent of the King’s power to grant or refuse the Royal Assent conferred by Clause 56 of the Constitution.

“It is that in my respectful opinion erroneous view of the King’s constitutional powers that needs to be addressed, hopefully by reasoned persuasion or if not, by judicial ruling.”

Dr Harrison said the old Tongan constitution made it clear that the three arms of government had to be kept separate as a safeguard for the proper running of the country and the safeguarding of the liberties of its people.

The Royal Assent Order 2010 challenged the underlying assumptions of the Tongan constitution. The Order allowed the King to appoint privy councillors as advisers and a Judicial Committee had also been established by the Privy Council in 2011.

Dr Harrison said any powers and functions conferred on any such committee, must be consistent with the overall scheme of the Constitution and any other statutory or fundamental legal principle.

King’s signature
Clause 41 of the Constitution required that “Acts that have passed the Legislative Assembly” must “bear the King’s signature before they become law”.

He said that under the new Constitution the king did not have complete discretion to refuse to sign an Act that had been passed by the Legislative Assembly.

He said changes to the constitution in 2010 had shifted the balance of power from the king to Parliament. This meant that the king should exercise his veto on legislation only in “truly exceptional circumstances and for compelling reason.”

Problems had arisen because the king had deferred assent to legislation passed by Parliament on the advice of Privy Councillors and the Law Lords appointed by the king to the Judicial Committee.

Dr Harrison said the Law Lords played no specific constitutional role, other than that of providing the King with advice.

They could not be permitted to operate de facto as judicial officers and did not have any constitutional function or role as scrutineers of legislation or the legislative process.

“The most fundamental problem with the Royal Assent Order is that it purports to confer on the Judicial Committee and ultimately the Privy Council power to review Acts duly passed by the Legislative Assembly and ultimately to determine whether each such Act is an ‘appropriate’ or ‘inappropriate’ recipient of the Royal Assent; and whether any such Act is or even may be unconstitutional,” Dr Harrison said.

Merits of legislation
“Under the new Constitution, review and evaluation of the merits of legislation passed by the General Assembly do not fall within the scope of the King’s powers of sanction (and signature).

“The ‘inappropriateness’ assessment falls foul of the new Constitution’s exclusion of the King and Privy Council from the role of governing the Kingdom. The constitutionality assessment does likewise, and in addition offends against the constitutional separation of powers and specifically the role and independence of the judiciary.

“If the assessments which the Royal Assent Order purports to authorise fall outside the constitutional powers of the King Himself, it necessarily follows that they cannot be empowered by means of the Royal Assent Order, as a mere Order in Council purportedly made pursuant to Clause 50(3) of the Constitution. On that basis, the Royal Assent Order must be seen as invalid.”

Dr Harrison said the Royal Assent Order was also invalid because it purported to confer the ultimate power of decision and assessment on the Privy Council, when it was only intended to provide a mechanism for giving advice to the King.

Media academic Dr Philip Cass is an adviser to the Kaniva News website. This article is republished by arrangement.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

NZ to give $6 million boost for USPNet telecommunications upgrade

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: NZ to give $6 million boost for USPNet telecommunications upgrade

USPNet … the regional University of the South Pacific’s satellite educational communications system. Image: USP

By Salote Qalubau in Suva

The New Zealand government has committed $NZ6 million ($F8.84 million) to improve the University of the South Pacific’s digital e-learning sector.

The commitment was revealed by USP Vice-Chancellor Professor Rajesh Chandra during the unveiling of the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) commemorative monument at the Laucala campus last week.

The grant is expected to boost USPNet and ICT developments.

“New Zealand contributed significantly to the development of USPNet and to ICT development that strengthened links between all our campuses and greatly improved both the administrative communication and the teaching capacity of USP,” he said.

“We are very grateful that NZ has made a grant of $NZ6 million to totally re-engineer USPNet and replace all the satellite dishes to create a 21st century learning network for the Pacific Islands. This is a special contribution from NZ to mark our 50th anniversary.”

Air force base campus
Meanwhile, New Zealand Defence Minister Ron Mark also announced two new developments in Fiji and New Zealand’s defence relationship when he joined more than 100 ex-5 Squadron servicemen and women for the unveiling of the commemorative monument to mark the land that was once home to the RNZAF 32 years ago.

-Partners-

“The New Zealand government announced the deployment of both the Royal New Zealand Navy inshore and offshore patrol vessels to Fiji later this year. The first, the IPV will be here in May, the OPV will follow after that,” he said.

“These and the deployment of the two technical advisers from the New Zealand Army and the Royal New Zealand Navy are two examples of our collaborative approach to supporting the development of our respective forces.”

Mark said he was also honoured to be able to commemorate the unveiling of the monument and the university’s 50th anniversary.

“Both of these partnerships are very important to New Zealand,” he said.

Salote Qalubau is a final year University of the South Pacific journalism student reporting for Wansolwara News.

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Tongan ban on girls playing rugby and boxing ‘not our policy’, says Pohiva

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Tongan ban on girls playing rugby and boxing ‘not our policy’, says Pohiva

A ban on girls playing rugby in state schools in Tonga has polarised public opinion. Image: Matangi Tonga Online

By Kalino Latu, editor of Kaniva News

Tonga’s Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva disagrees with a decision by his Minister of Education to ban girls from Tonga High School boxing or playing rugby.

He said the decision was not in line with his government’s policy.

“It is the government’s responsibility to provide opportunities for all the students to participate in all sports,” the Prime Minister said.

“It is for the individual students and their parents to decide whether or not they should participate in a particular sport like rugby and boxing.”

Education Minister Penisimani Fifita and his education authority had imposed the ban.

Meanwhile, a former Catholic principal said that if Catholic schools agreed with the Ministry’s decision it would be “a disgrace” for the church.

-Partners-

Fr ‘Aisake Vaisima, who was principal of ‘Apifo’ou College before he left Tonga for Fiji for a new role in January, told Kaniva News the Catholic church’s education authority had not banned its school girls from taking part in boxing and rugby.

The comments came after a controversial letter from the Ministry of Education and Training was leaked to news media, sparking an outrage that polarised international news as far away as New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom.

Majority not affected
It is understood the ban does not affect the majority of school girls in Tonga, especially at the church and private schools which are attended by 90 percent of all students in the kingdom.

In the letter, an education authority told the principal of Tonga High School, a government-sponsored institute, that a decision had been made by the Director of Education to ban its girls from participating in rugby and boxing.

The letter, which was written in Tongan, was dated March 15.

It Tongan it said:

“Ko hono ‘uhinga he ‘oku fepaki ia mo ‘etau ‘ulungaanga fakafonua ki hono tauhi ke molumalu ‘a ha’a fafine, ‘o taau mo e tala tukufakaholo na’e fatu’aki ‘a e fakava’e na’e fakatoka talu pea mei ono’aho ‘o kehe ai ‘a Tonga pea mei ha toe fonua ‘i he Pasifiki pea mo mamani.”

This translates into English as: “The reason is because it is against our culture to keep women dignified so it still upholds the tradition of which its basis had been set out since the olden days making Tonga exceptional in the Pacific and the world.”

Prime Minister Pohiva, said the letter from the Ministry of Education and Training to Tonga High School “purporting to ban girls from participating in rugby and boxing is not Tongan Government policy,” his office said in a statement this afternoon.

“Sports is good for the health and the wellbeing of the people and this government, like previous governments, actively encourages the participation of every Tongan student in all sports without discrimination.”

International reaction
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has expressed her disapproval over the ban.

Ardern said New Zealand’s aid support for sports in Tonga would not be threatened, but she disagreed with the directive.

“As a school student I played touch rugby and I would encourage all young women to engage in whatever sporting code they are interested in,” Ardern said.

“We provide funding via MFAT to Tonga to encourage children’s participation in sports. A young woman will still be able to do that through their villages, even if this dictate is made by these schools.”

The New Zealand-funded Sports for Health Rugby Programme was launched at Kolomotu’a Community Rugby Field in February.

Known as Quick Rip, it was intended to focus on girls and boys aged 13 – 18 years of age.

New Zealand provided NZ$4 million to support efforts in four Pacific countries, including Tonga, to reduce the rate of non-communicable diseases in the Pacific.

Some people on Facebook supported the ministry’s move and said rugby and boxing were sports for men only and Tongan girls should not take part in them.

Kaniva News has a sharing arrangement with Asia Pacific Report.

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Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz