Suspects in social media attack arrested; modern-day ‘Blackbirding’ as Ni-Vanuatu workers defrauded in Queensland

Florence Lengkon: speaking up against violence

Florence Lengkon: speaking up against violence against ni-Vanuatu women. Photo: Andy Martin/Facebook

Seven suspects in the matter of the kidnapping and beating of Ms Florence Lengkon have been arrested and detained. Ms Lengkon, a worker in the tourism industry, had complained on Facebook concerning the manner and behaviour of local public transport drivers. Deputy PM Natuman, responsible for tourism, was very critical of the beating on page one of Daily Post today. “Enough is enough,” he told readers and he brought his authority to bear in having the arrests achieved.

It seemed like ‘blackbirding’ days were with us once again. A Queensland company did not properly pay workers recruited from Vanuatu. Twenty-two workers were chosen but they were not paid the applicable rates for their fruit and vegetable picking. Some workers were not paid at all. The Fair Work Ombudsman took legal action against the Maroochy Sunshine company. The court held the company had broken labour laws and the matter is adjourned until June when penalties will be imposed. The case has been widely reported in the Australian, Vanuatu and regional media.

The Leader of the Opposition has questioned the removal of drums of bitumenĀ from Malekula and allegedly sent to Tanna. The Opposition claimed the product was needed for road making on Malekula. However, the Government corrected the information given saying that the drums of road surfacing material are coming to Port Vila for government planned roadworks, the Malekula road project being a personal one of the former PWD minister.

Travellers complain that Banks and Torres services of Air Vanuatu are periodically cancelled, considerably increasing their costs, taxi boats often being needed for travel to the island on which the nearest airport is located. The inconvenience is considered great, Radio Vanuatu News has reported.

The Australian-Pacific Technical College will be holding information sessions on Saturday at the VIT Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure Training Centre in Port Vila. They want interested students to come with educational records, birth certificates and/or passports and employment references. Students will learn quite a lot about APTC technical and vocational courses and assistance funding now available.

A reader writing to Daily Post Letters today congratulates PM Salwai in wanting Radio Vanuatu to ensure its reach is truly national, north to south. He questions an agreement with China allegedly made last year to obtain funding to underwrite this broadcasting objective. He asks VBTC management to confirm this funding from the Chinese Government. The Vanuatu Government was able to fund the shortwave operations of its national broadcaster until recent years. No moa nao.