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Pacific News Briefs

Prime Minister Feleti Teo
Source: RNZ Pacific

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Tuvalu's newly elected prime minister Feleti Teo says he will look to review the country's development and cooperation agreement with Australia.

The Falepili Treaty signed last year by former Tuvalu PM Kausea Natano and Australia's Anthony Albanese provides a pathway to Australian residency for Tuvaluans.

It also contains some controversial clauses around Tuvalu's security and sovereignty.

Speaking to ABC's Pacific Beat, Teo said he intends to revisit the language in the security component of the agreement.

Teo, who was part of an eminent person's group involved in early negotiations around the treaty, said even they were surprised to see its final version


Fiji Army commander Major General Jone Kalouniwai says the Republic of Fiji Military Forces needs to redeem itself as an institution.

In an address at an army church service, Kalouniwai said the military had to acknowledge past wrongdoings and seek reconciliation with those who had been affected by its actions.

He cited the coups and political upheavals in Fiji's recent history, all involving the Fijian military.

Kalouniwai urged soldiers to reach out and reconcile with those who had been wronged.


The Samoa National Provident Fund chairman will be suspended while an investigation is done into his conduct.

Concerns were raised in a letter to the Minister of Finance, from the Fund management, about the chairman's alleged abuse of authority, coupled with the recent revelation of investment loans of $67 million tālā.

The Samoa Observer reported the minister saying the suspension is part of the process of an investigation to ensure there is no interference.

The chairman was given seven days to respond to allegations raised in the letter, which ran out last week.


A new report by an environmental charity says deep sea mining may not make any money.

The Ocean Foundation said there is high uncertainty around prices for metals and the circular economy could make deep sea mining unnecessary.

Deep sea mining involves extracting rocks called nodules from the sea floor kilometres deep, which are packed with metals that can be used for electric car batteries.

However, The Ocean Foundation's report said despite electric vehicle production increasing by 2000 percent from 2016 to 2023, the price of cobalt - one of the main metals found in the nodules - had decreased.

One of the authors and deep seabed mining focal point at Foundation, Bobbi-Jo Dobush, said getting the nodules off the sea floor will be an expensive task.

"The financial modelling to date around seabed minerals has been criticised as being hyper-optimistic checking the best case scenario box at every turn," Dobush said.

"I think of it sometimes as a checklist - in order for anyone to make money off this these 10 things would have to go right - well there's no guarantee these things will go right and a lot of them seem to be going the other way."

Dobush said car batteries are moving away from cobalt and nickel.

"Seabed mining hopes to bring up metals for what miners would say is a green revolution or decarbonising our economy but these are the battery metals that are either current or last generation that we are not going to need if and when they could ever get to market."

'Desperate individuals, organizations trying to derail'

However, The Metals Company, which is looking to mine in Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ) in the Pacific's high seas is confident money will be made.

"There is no doubt that collecting polymetallic nodules from the CCZ will be an economic exercise," chief executive Gerard Barron said.

"This [report] is another attempt by a desperate group of individuals, small organisations who are trying to derail something that is inevitable and that is, where should we be getting the metals that are needed for this transition that has only just begun."

Three companies in the Cook Islands are exploring the nations waters to see if mining can happen.

Cook Islands seabed minerals commissioner Alex Herman said it is too premature to discuss the potential earnings if mining does eventually go ahead.

"We won't allow seabed minerals activities to progress to that next phase unless we're satisfied about that, so the onus is on the companies to prove that this is a commercially feasible industry."


The Saipan casino operators say a Japanese bank wants to invest US$300 million into its casino operation.

The Hong Kong-based company said its parent company, Imperial Pacific International Holdings Limited, and Kyosei Bank Group entered into a memorandum of understanding in July last year.

The money is expected to go towards the troubled casino and resort project.

Imperial Pacific International disclosed this as the Commonwealth Casino Commission began revocation hearings last week against Imperial Pacific's exclusive casino license.


A Cook Islands MP says nobody is interested in buying the NZ$1.7 million fleet of electric vehicles, purchased by the government for the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders' meeting last year.

In the opening Parliament session for the year, the new Deputy Prime Minister Albert Nicholas asked Democratic Party leader, Tina Browne, why she has one of the 25 cars purchased by the government.

Browne fired back saying none of the vehicles, which were put up for sale, have been sold.

Browne said the electric vehicle was allocated to their office by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Management because the Party's car needed replacing.

The car was used once before running out of battery and could not be charged because the charging stations were out of order.


Samoa Tourism says Upolu Island has been named as one of the most beautiful islands in the world, in an article by Showbiz Daily.

It highlights the lush green environment surrounding one of the largest waterfalls on the island.

Upolu Island is the place where Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Treasure Island, was buried.


Elsie Fukofuka is the new Regional Director Polynesia at the Pacific Community's (SPC) regional office in Nuku'alofa.

Fukofuka is a former career civil servant with the Tongan government.

She played a crucial role in establishing SPC's Polynesia regional office in Nuku'alofa, SPC said in a statement.

She has her master's degree in Public Policy from the University of Oxford, and was a civil servant for 19 years.

Meanwhile, the Kingdom of Tonga has established a diplomatic relationship with the Republic of Nicaragua.