Saturday, January 28, 2006

Pacific workers plan

We need to have a dream in life as the saying if I dream alone its only a dream if we dream to gather then it become a reality. But does it?

Many Pacific Islanders really want the opportunity for short-term work in the Australian fruit industry. The plan has been discussed over recent years, even twenty years. Leaders from the Pacific islands Nations meets in the Pacific Forums which Australia and NZ are members and the subject is raised again and again. The dream of seasonal work in the fruit industries in Australia (such as Robinvale, Mildura, Shepparton, Griffith) is also the dream of the farmers who can't get enough workers! The farmers know that Fijians and Tongans and other Islanders work very well and are reliable.

The PM John Howard says no the plan, so does the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer. Yet groups are allowed to be guest workers from Asia and also youth from Europe.

The excuse given by Howard is that Islanders should develop their own countries first and perhaps there is as fear that too many will come and not return to the islanders where they are needed.

The story is still on the agenda though.

From ABC News

January 27, 2006. 12:00pm (AEDT)

Opposition backs Pacific workers plan

The Federal Opposition says it agrees that Australia will have to open its doors to unskilled migrants from Pacific countries, but only on a short term basis.

A report commissioned by the Federal Government has found that smaller Pacific island nations urgently need their people to move abroad in search of work to save them from economic ruin.

Opposition spokesman on Pacific Island affairs, Bob Sercombe, says the Federal Government has been putting its head in the sand over the issue.

"The question really here is that you can I think address the development needs of Pacific countries by allowing short term entry of Pacific Island workers to come and earn income in Australia, maybe learn additional skills as part of the training package associated with their work and then they return home," he said.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

School Started and other Ramblings

As my wife is in New Zealand I was worried about ust me looking after the kids and ended up having the gang from Benny Hinn staying until this morning as they had problems with the boat to Vanua Levu. My sister in law Sala was with us the last few days and My two nieces arrived from Labasa last night. So all in all a full house.

Kids started at Marist Primary on Tuesday. I think they have been stir crazy so were looking forward to school. But today they were asking when do they get their holiday.

Bale's son eparama started High school so is in Form three at Suva Grammar. Education has a new policy that forces all high schools to accept kids first choices. Grammar has a good rep now because it has a good rugby team so now instead of having two form three classes there are seven form three classes this year. It is an insane policy as there are 39 students in Epa's class and over 300 for form three. I can see they will have to change it next year but it means Epa is going to have to compete with over 300 students every year.

Interesting sticker I saw when driving to work today. As on the back of an FEA truck is stated if you dont like the way this vehicle is driving then please call these numbers. The Sticker should especially be on LTA and Telecom Vehicles.

Sticker policy shows the signs of Joe Mar who I think is one of the valuable Fijians working for Fiji.

Having Unwired is dangerous for me as first I work on my notebook all day theny go home and surf on the internet all night. Poor kids not getting much quality time with me.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Benny Hinn in Fiji

Thousands of people gathered at Suva’s Post Fiji Stadium to witness the successful start of a three-day crusade for world renowned evangelist Benny Hinn. I have my sister inlaw and two other relations that came from labasa to attend the crusade.

Last night the group left my flat at 2pm and arrived at 11pm. Today I just dropped them at the Stadium which was three quarters full at around 2pm. I was told that the service doesnt start until 6pm. So I am guessing they have to wait for four hours.


Upgrade to the Nadi Airport

Part of the family I had christmas dinner with are now in New Zealand which i posted here

It was the first time I have been to the Nadi Airport in more then one year so it was amazing to see the new stores and upgrades.

At the airport they have Pacific Green lounges situated all around the departure area. Pacific Green use cocunt tree instead of normal wood for creating furniture.
It has created a much better atmosphere. My only use for lounges is for sleeping or lying down to watch tv. But I am now seriously thinking of getting one.
The pacific green lounges are very comfortable

Photo is an example of lounge and table at the Airport only the lounge is brown. What the photo doesnt show though is that that the chair has a wide base to fit large pacific islanders which I have found a lot of overseas furniture dont take into consideration

I also had a quick look at the arrivals which has also been redesigned where there are now comfterable seats people waiting for visitors.

In the departure lounge there was still an area that was dripping water but overall
the airport now has the feeling of a high class hotel.

Show what happens when you put in good management.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Fiji Choir visits Australia

About seventy-five members of the Centenary Methodist Church choir from Suva, including many young people, have spent the past three weeks in Australia. They first visited Brisbane, performed a concert there, before journeying in two air-conditioned buses to Sydney where they participated in the Fijian Uniting churches conference at Merroo Conference Centre in the Blue Mountains. Two issues raised at the conference were Resolution 84 about 'gay' ministers which was dealt with quickly thank goodness, and sharing church property with an Australian congregation which causes difficulties at times when the original congregation wants to sell the building. Churches in Australia are in trouble, diminishing in numbers and hardly having any youth work these days. Only the ethnic churches in the Uniting Church seem to be flourishing. Of course the Penticostal churches gather huge numbers in certain places with their bright music and simplistic messages.

Then the choir group spent the last week in Melbourne and stayed at a Backpackers Hotel for the first three days, enjoyed the hospitality of the Melbourne Fijian community. Their concert at a Catholic Church hall in Yarraville was excellent, with many meke items, choral anthems, sere ni cumu folk songs, and even a lakalaka, the Lauan standing dance for men and women. Their costumes were beautiful and it was a lovely night of entertainment. One item was extremely funny about a Papua New Guinea version of the yaqona presentation, though some people thought the boys went overboard in their antics!

Some of the women from the choir visited Geelong yesterday and were taken to an op-shop to buy gifts for their relatives. Last night the whole group flew back by Air Pacific and that company kindly allowed them to carry their excess luggage for free thanks to a word from George's Dad.

Over the years, several choirs from Fiji have visited Australia, including the Labasa choir in 1985, the CBM choir in 1988, when they entertained the children at many local schools in the Geelong region. Other choirs that have visited Australia include the Kadavu Choir and the Centenary Choir two years ago. Such choir visits are good for the local Australian community in presenting a South Pacific culture and for the travellers to enrich their knowledge and networks, as well as present their Christian faith in song and dance

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Fathers thoughts about the Army

Here's my thoughts about the army and some stories. When my older brother Laisiasa went to the Solomon Islands in the 1940s he was not even eighteen. His older relatives asked him to come along to polish their boots and help, but he was a good shooter so they put him in the front line. As you know, he was one of the first Fijians to fall. We have a certificate about his sacrifice. Soldiers who came home from that war were given a spade and a shovel, that's all. The whole history of the Fijian army has been one of honour, sacrifice and not much thanks. Even today many people in the army feel that they are not thanked for their willingness to do difficult work such as in the Peace-keeping forces.

It is a big institution in Fiji and has a history of honour but in recent years it has got mixed up with politics of course.
When I was in the Bible School in Davuilevu, a relative from Vesi in Mali was Police Inspector Ratu Viliame Katonibau at Nausori and he asked me to become a policeman when I finished the course. My older sister was very angry and said she has worked hard to help me to study and I must go ahead to become a talatala. So for many years I had nothing to do with the police. Only in recent years when Romanu Tikotikoca and other police officers became my firm friends and I was involved in helping in a grief situation of a police officer who died at Queenscliff did I get to know them. I respect the institutions of law and order such as the police and the army.

So, in the present predicament, it would be unwise to dismiss the feelings of the Army Commander. There is a whole history of an honourable army, but with grievances that have not always been listened to. Even though Frank Bainimarama has presented his case in a rough way by threats, there is a whole history of the army not being given due recompense for what they do.

As Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara reminded us in the song he wrote Ciri koto e Loma ni wai siliva, young soldiers wanted to serve their country following the tradition of soliders who have gone before them, even to die for your country.
We hope and pray that things will go well for Fiji and its people.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Gas stations selling ethanol to grow in 2006

As fuel economy is now in radar of significant number of the general population Ethanol is starting to get in major car makers to take it seriously.

Below I have posted verbatim a good article on Gas stations selling ethanol to grow in 2006.

LOS ANGELES _ Drivers soon will have another choice at the pump beyond regular, premium and diesel.

This year, thousands of filling stations are expected to begin selling E85, a blend of gasoline and ethanol made from corn or other crops.

Advocates of E85 tout the fuel as a made-in-America alternative to imported oil that cuts dirty tailpipe emissions, boosts performance and, in some cases, can also save a little money.

Millions of vehicles already on the road can burn E85, but most owners instead fill up with regular gasoline because of a shortage of filling stations offering the alternative fuel.

"You may have an ethanol vehicle in your driveway and not even know it," said Anthony Pratt, senior manager of global powertrain forecasting at J.D. Power and Associates. "It was kind of the dirty little secret of the auto industry."

In years past, automakers made many of their trucks capable of burning E85 to comply with federal gas mileage regulations. But they didn't widely promote ethanol use, so consumers were unaware it was available.

That will likely change in 2006 with gas stations installing more pumps, U.S. automakers stepping up their marketing of E85, and more states such as Michigan supporting a fuel that helps farmers.

Currently, there are only about 500 filling stations, including four in Michigan, that sell E85, according to the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition, which promotes ethanol use. But by the end of the year, that number will rise to about 2,500, as filling stations take advantage of new tax credits for the costs of retro-fitting pumps and tanks, said Michelle Kautz, director of communications for the group.

"There seems to be a sea change in people's interest," said Beth Lowry, vice president of environment and energy matters for General Motors Corp. "Everybody has different reasons why they're interested."

Interest in E85 has surged along with the surge in gas prices. The war in Iraq has also attracted some consumers hoping for an alternative to imported oil.

The costs of E85 vary widely, but at times last fall, it cost 50 cents to 70 cents less than a gallon of gas, Kautz said.

But usually the cost is close to gas prices, and any price advantage is usually lost because vehicles usually burn E85 quicker than regular fuel, Pratt said.

Ford Motor Co., as part of its effort to put more innovative features in its vehicles, has set a target of building as many as 280,000 vehicles this year that can run on either E85 or regular gasoline.

Frank responds to Jone Baledrokadroka

In the front page of the Fiji times Frank Bainimarama responds to the percieved power struggle of Senior Army officer Colonel Baledrokadroka.

Some of Franks Comments were
  • Jone threatened to shoot Frank
  • Jone was never a loyal friend of Frank
  • Jone tried to get senior officers to stand against him

Another example of the fantasy land we live in and because of that there is a danger becuase some people reality is to out of whack..

From what I know/read
  • The are significant problems in the Army and that is why a large number of senior officers have resigned or are on leave
  • Commander Bainimarama threatened to have a coup with the blessing of the Labour Party
  • People in the armed forces thought a coup was going to happen otherwise, why would they tell their family not to go to Suva Town
  • Jone was appointed five days to commander position by Bainamarama, he was a school mate, led the loyal forces against the soldiers who mutinied and now he is considered disloyal uhh.

My take I trust what Baledrokadroka has said. I guessing here but I think because he was so close to Frank he didn't want him to go down a path of no return so he tried to do things that is best for Frank and the nation.

I can't seen any action from the government that isnt going to cause problems.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Fiji Based Blogs

I just read a comment from laminar_flow of Stuck in the mud of Fijian socio-cultural and socio-political limbo which lead me to a blog Promoting suva

Hopefully we can all help each other.

Update on Situation in Fiji

Things are quite carm here there were no rumurs flying around.

Major Talking points
  • Leader of the land forces who asked Bainimarama to stop threatening the government has been dismissed
  • Meeting has been organised for the Prime Minister and Bainamarama has been set for next monday
  • Police Commissioner hughes says there was no connection in them buying firearms and the current threats from the army
  • No reason was given why the police tactical response unit was put on high alert
  • It looks like ganilau is distancing himself from Bainamarama

There was a good interview by ruci mafi with the the ex leader of the land forces. He states how the army should follow the wishes of the people which is actioned through the Government.

I know I feel much better and yesterday I must have had what they call a panic attack. I think army knows this situation is affecting some people so are all in the same page in saying there are no problems

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Possibility of a Coup in Fiji

Yesterday there were rumour floating about concerning the possibility of a coup.

The following is my personal experience of what transpired
  1. A workmate first informed me in the afternoon that Bainimarama was put under house arrest.
  2. I received phone call from my sister in labasa asking if there was a coup as she was told army people were in the middle of town
  3. I called my wife asking if she has any news and told me that relations with armed force connections told them to stay out of town as their was going to be a coup
  4. For some reason this totally stressed me out so I checked if all my staff had safe transport home etc.
  5. I ended up getting a taxi home and the taxi driver had said he heard plenty rumors but no evidence.
  6. In the news they went on about misunderstanding and their was a naval exerice outside of the suva city. Qarase looked visibily shaken though when addressing the nation.

If I had to bet on what happened. I would say the navy was going to implement a coup, army got hold of it so tried to put bainimarama under house arrest. A QVS person can't put a Marist person under house arrest so their was futher discussions and it cooled down fiji style.

It is now a wait and see approach. I dont think the army will accept for Bainimarama to be sacked by Government. Bainimarama will have to resign himself. As Niko has said the Army has the guns. The only positive is that the acting president Ratu Jone Madraiwiwi is Bainimarama's chief.

Labour has now just lost a significant number of indian voters by the FLP president justifying a coup by Banimarama. Chaudry must be having fits over that comment

Update: The following is an email from my mum

All quiet on the Pacific front? I certainly hope so. I'm sure there were many people praying for good sense in stubborn people who have power.
My take in things in Fiji is that there is a contradiction between two important things - justice and mercy. If you make people accountable for the crimes they committ, then there isn't much mercy. If you forgive easily and forget, then there is no justice. It's a dilemma we have to live with. And perhaps that's what the different views are between the army leader and the political leader. Somehow you have to compromise somehow and balance both!
Dad got a phone call and a letter from {relation} who says the events of yesterday were exaggerated by the journalists. Though I wonder... There are people with passionate views who want to be heard. I hope that Ratu Jone Madraiwiwi is a wise man. I met his parents one time and they seemed to be outstanding, nice people.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Suva Point Foreshore

I just went to have lunch on the Suva Point foreshore. The council is doing a good job of renovating that area.

We had a picnic with the family that we had Christmas with. Just basic though this time tuna sandwchices with frozen juice.

On the suva foreshore the was one guy para sailing and two people setting it up. I remember another picnic where it took one guy an hour to try and get going. I suppose it would be fun experience but it looks pretty hard to start.

There were to sail karts buzzing around the foreshore. First time for me to see that. I like sailing and this looks like fun

Fiji Taxi Drivers.

Before my company gave me the rav4 I used to catch buses and when my salary increased substantially I caught taxis. In Fiji a fifteen minute ride in a taxi will cost around $5.00. So it was always in the range that I thought buying a car wouldn’t be worth it. As purchasing a car at that time was minimum over five-ten thousand dollars

So I caught taxis for around five years. Two days ago I gave my vehicle to one of my staff to travel to Lautoka so I have been getting taxis for the last two days. Problem is some of the vehicles are being repaired and it is hard to find second hand parts for CRV’s.

One thing about Fiji taxi drivers is they like to talk and because I don’t look like a Fijian they say things they would not normally say. So I always had a good take of the pulse of what was happening in Fiji.

As you probably tell by now I don’t have many friends so the only communication that I get was from workmates, taxi drivers and some family members. Today I talked to a guy that has just migrated from Labasa and he had good comments concerning the possibilities of another coup, the next election and what is happening in Fiji.

I really miss my talks with taxi drivers and I have a lot of comments about current political situation in Fiji but cant risk to have those comments on record at this point in time.

Monday, January 09, 2006

First Holiday to Fiji

Today when I went to pick up my credit card I met two people from tuatua housing I met in my HSC vacation to Fiji. Like the majority of people from labasa they have now migrated to Suva.

As some background myself and my best friend Richard were elected to the Student Council. During the first meeting Richard told the elected representatives that he would be president and I would be the treasurer. As usual no one disagreed with him

So in the final year in High School he was President and I was the treasurer and that was probably the only times besides cadets that we interacted in high school. Another strange part of my life where we were best friends outside of school but not in school

At the end of year instead of giving our speeches we went for a holiday to fiji.

One of our best experiences was with the two gang from tuatua housing. First time we got wasted on kava and another time on a mixture of rum and beer.

My scout leader once told me never to get my ears pierced or tattoos and for some reason that has stayed with me until now. So when need be I have strong will power and during one drinking session our friends from tuatua were saying how we should get tattoos. In fiji at that time there were no tattoo parlours so tattoos were done with pins and ink. Richard ended up getting the name shotgun tattood on his foot. Later on my cousin tattood ratu on his wrist but as my cousin was only in form three he didn’t know what he was doing so it got infected. He used water instead of oil.

Richard was about to go to Duntroon in Canberra for Army officer training He completed a physical before going on holiday and so after the Fiji trip the Army was suprised to see the new markings on his body.

I read that tribal tattoos are all the rage now so I think Richard was one generation to late

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Fijian Grandmother

Story about my Grandmother
I hate fruit bats, horrified by their eyes and teeth when they flap around
the mango trees. My Fijian mother-in-law, a beautiful gentle lady, said they tasted so sweet when boiled with coconut cream. She was living with us in
Rakiraki one year, blended easily into our household with two small children
and a lass from Labasa who helped me in housework because I was teaching
part-time at Penang Sangam High School.
We watched the bats swarm over the two tall trees and chased them with a
long bamboo pole. They scattered and shrilled and made a shawl of black
swooping against the moonlit sky.
Grandma had invited her near-blind friend to visit from the nearby village.
Her friend brought tapioca peelings every day to feed Kanakana and Lesumai,
my pet piglets. The two elderly ladies would sit cross-legged on a mat,
telling stories or with their hands gently moving as they tried to remember
the dance movements and text of old sitting dances. One song described the
huge tsunami of 1920 that caused so much destruction many miles inland from
I gave up on chasing the fruit bats. There would still be hundreds of
succulent mangoes for our use, to eat fresh, to pulp for the little boys, to
turn into chutney or sweet jam with slices of ginger. I'd even ladled a
sample of the new jam into a silver bowl, one of the few wedding presents
that had survived the customary scramble between relatives to loot the
gifts. That had been a shock to me, a vavalagi, that there was very little
left of the pickings from the numerous gifts we had received three years
Then I noticed Grandma and her friend had left the compound, walking down
the road, Grandma holding her blind friend's arm. I asked my husband where
they were going.
'Oh Kanakana has escaped.'
She was the fat female piglet, her name referring to her chunkiness. The old
ladies wanted to find her before a sugarcane truck got her. I was in a panic
then, and I ran down the road to join the search. We rescued Kanakana and
she survived a few more years, even the shift to Labasa, where she gave
birth to over twelve piglets every few months.
Isa, Kanakana was eventually dinner for hundreds of visitors. I refused to
eat meat that day.
The occasion was so sad. Our Fijian grandmother in her seventies had passed
away, and we were obliged to be bountiful in hospitality for the visitors.
Grandma's grave in on a small rise, not far from the houses in Vatuadova
village, a few kilometres west of Labasa town in Vanua Levu. Frangipani
shrubs are flowering and usually on each Boxing Day, the family tidy up and
plant new cuttings there.

Fiji - Sunday Morning

Kids should be going to Sunday School now but here I am blogging at work with eparama and jordan accessing the internet in the other office. It is good to see that they are interested in the internet but it is worrying what they can access.

Father is attending Fijian church conference in Australia so hopefully when he comes back he will be able to add some posts to my really blog

Mum wrote an email how we should spend more time in the park and that is something we will do today. Usually we go to the park near the Suva Bowling club but today we will try the one in Samabula.

Bale is waiting for her Visa to go to New Zealand to attend a wedding. The wedding is in Auckland and the couple are going wear traditional fijian attire.

Bale is hoping stay in New Zealand for three months. This means I will have to look after the kids by myself for three months. I am not looking forward to that but it will be good experience for bale

Friday, January 06, 2006

Alternative fuel grows on trees

The following link describes how the South Pacific nations of Vanuatu and Samoa are turning coconuts into fuel to combat the soaring cost of importing diesel.

Comment on fiji that
"The economics are too difficult" for large-scale use of coconut oil fuel, said Jan Cloin, an advisor with the Fiji-based South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission. "But for a very remote island it could still be a viable alternative."

The Fiji Electricity Authority makes about half its power from diesel. It will try coconut oil and four other biofuels in its smaller generators this year, and has sought bids for a monthly supply of 500 tons of refined vegetable oil for its bigger plants. It also plans wind and hydroelectric power projects with Pacific Hydro of Melbourne to cut its dependence on imported fuels.

Coconut oil's big advantage over wind or solar panels is that it can be used in existing generators, said Cloin at the geoscience commission.

My take on cocunut oil is that it is really only feasible for the subsistence use meaning just for generators in each of the villages. Once you start exporting cocunut oil then transportation costs makes it unviable

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