- In Hawaii they're importing milk from the mainland as shrinking livestock numbers cut production by half, from 24.3 million 'pounds' to 12.7 million over the past two years, reports the Honolulu Advertiser. Farmers are wailing about subsidy cuts and politicians about revitalising the livestock industry. At the same time a classic stoush is firing up between recreational fishers and commercial fishing interests in the sensitive coral reef areas. Commercial fishers reported catching 268 225 pounds of reef fish, thought to be much smaller than the recreational catch. There are no bag limits for recreational fishers and only two-thirds of the 3 200 licensed boats file the required monthly catch reports.
- The impact of the right/left switch in Samoa is starting to come through as the combination of alcohol-fuelled drivers and the dominance of left-hand-drive vehicles takes its toll. Savea Sano Malifa, writing in the Sept 27 Sunday Samoan, advocates an outright ban on night driving until the road switch concept is better accepted. Of 19 000 vehicles in Samoa, 16 000 are LHD. He questions whether the government should consider subsidising conversions from LHD to RHD and suggests more forethought should have been applied before the road switch was implemented.
- The ongoing saga of the latest Fijian coup has prime minister Voreqe Bainimarama expressing disappointment that his country's troops have been barred from joining any new UN peacekeeping operations. Of course it's just one of a number of sanctions applied against Fiji by a disapproving international community including last month's suspension of Commonwealth membership.
It's ironical that Commodore Bainimarama's objectives are unexceptionable, with the aim of achieving a genuine one-man, one vote democracy across the Indian and indigenous Fijian communities, but he obviously fails to realise that the means become the end, to loosely quote Arthur Koestler. So his intimidatory tactics, suppression of media freedoms, the snails-pace towards a promise of elections in 2014 are what distinguishes his regime to outside eyes.
- Virgin forest take up for the palm oil crop and its by-products as cattle feed is causing grief in Papua New Guinea and New Zealand respectively. Rhett Butler, writing for AUT's Pacific Media Watch points out that PNG lost over five million hectares of forest to commercial use between 1972 and 2002, trailing only Brazil and Indonesia among tropical countries, with oil palm plantations emerging as an important new driver of land use change there.
Accusations against the new landlords include the polluting of rivers and tricking the locals into unfair rental arrangements in the first place.
- In New Zealand Greenpeace has led the charge against New Zealand farmers encouraging the spread of palm oil land use by importing very large quantities of palm oil byproduct as cattle feed.
- In 1975 two Australians, two Britons and a New Zealander — the 'Balibo five' — were killed in East Timor while covering the invasion of that country by Indonesia. Last month the Australian Federal Police announced a formal investigation into the deaths following last year's finding by the New South Wales deputy state coroner Dorelle Pinch that the men were killed by Indonesian special forces 'away from the heat of battle' to prevent them reporting the invasion.
Official reports at the time confirmed the Indonesian version of events, that the men were killed in crossfire. If the enquiry proves that not to be the case, then the officials still extant who created and accepted them will be exposed.
- In Tahiti Oscar Temaru's longtime rival for the presidency, Gaston Flosse, 78, has had something of a setback. As a French senator he enjoys immunity from prosecution but now has a suspended gaol sentence hanging over his head for a premature expensive celebration of success in the 2004 presidential elections. Unfortunately he lost the election by one seat and so was liable for the US$30 000-worth of champagne and sushi he had ordered, and never paid for. More serious though is the ongoing investigation into an alleged embezzlement of US$1.5m in public funds and bribery.