Vanuatu daily news digest | 25 August 2014

There is good coverage of the opening of the Vanua’aku Pati (VP) Congress in Daily Post today, highlighting the party’s President Edward Natapei emphasizing the need for reform by unifying with break-away parties. Natapei appealed to Congress to endorse the agreement he signed with NUP’s Ham Lini, PPP’s Dunstan Hilton and MPP’s Barak Sope setting a road map for the parties to be unified by the 2020 elections after a much closer political relationship for the 2016 elections. Post today also provides comprehensive reporting of the signing of the so-called Nationalist re-unification agreement. There can be little doubt of the strongly held belief that this re-unification is necessary to fight corruption and poverty. Chairman of Congress and PM of Vanuatu Joe Natuman said "Reunification will be painful for many of us, but I appeal to all of us to make the sacrifice by being the first to forgive those who have wronged us or those we have wronged."

Post reports PM Natuman as describing the Hong Kong company Vanuatu Immigration and Investment Limited (VIIL) as "genuine". However, he insists the financial rewards Vanuatu will make from CIIP must be re-negotiated. The Prime Minister had just visited the new premises of the Vanuatu Financial Services Commission in Hong Kong and was speaking to journalists at Bauerfield on his return.

In an interesting and valuable comment to the ongoing debate over Bauerfield, a reader of this blog professionally associated with AVL, reminds us that everyone seems to have conveniently forgotten that some 5 or 6 years ago, Ausaid approved funding for the upgrade of Bauerfield and had the necessary equipment and materials ready to start. But the Government of the day got into bed with various Asian partners and we now know how that has all turned out. The upgrade would have been completed well before now.

Professor Matthew Spriggs, the Honorary Curator of Archaeology at the Vanuatu Cultural Centre, and a professor of the Australian National University in Canberra, has just received a grant of 2.4 million Australian dollars, over 5 years, to research the history of archaeological research in the Pacific, from the time of the early explorers and missionaries onwards. Daily Post says the grant will allow Spriggs to set up a research team of of postdoctoral fellows and PhD students to find the people who have created our knowledge of the Pacific’s ancient past, and source their ideas.