Carr wraps up Pacific tour in Vanuatu | Pacific Beat

Carr wraps up Pacific tour in Vanuatu

Carr wraps up Pacific tour in Vanuatu

Updated 13 February 2013, 11:04 AEST

Australia's Foreign Minister, Bob Carr is in Vanuatu on the last leg of his "Father Christmas" like tour of the Pacific.

In Solomon Islands he dispensed more Australian aid for the tsunami recovery, in Kiribati aid was promised for education and infrastructure and in Samoa extra help was provided for the recovery effort from cyclone and flood damage.

His talks in Vanuatu will centre on the troubled Canberra - Port Vila relationship that plummeted when Vanuatu expelled Australian police trainers last year.

Presenter:Geraldine Coutts

Speaker:Sean Dorney, Australia Network Pacific Correspondent

 

DORNEY: They had a working breakfast in Apia, Senator Carr and Prime Minister Tuilaepe and although I wasn't privy to what went on, I did ask Senator Carr afterwards considering how Prime Minister Tuilaepe has been very forthright in his views in relation to Commodore Bainimarama in Fiji. He had been told by the Samoan Prime Minister and he said well, you'll have to ask him about that. I didn't get that chance, but Senator Carr went on to say that they had a lot of focus on whether the elections that have  been promised for September, next year, whether they are going to be truly open and democratic and he used the words that even those who lose will appreciate what went on and those who want to establish political parties should be able to do so.
 
I believe Prime Minister Tuilaepe did put fairly strongly to Senator Carr his views on Commodore Bainimarma, and as we know they're fairly strong.
 
COUTTS: They have been in the past. And was there talk about independent monitors to oversee the 2014 election?
 
DORNEY: That I don't know, Geraldine. All Senator Carr would say is that the concentration now was on ensuring that whatever elections did happen were open and fair and that every person in Fiji would have the opportunity to vote for whoever they wanted to.
 
COUTTS: And while you're in Vanuatu Sean, and we'll get to that, but yesterday when we spoke, you were about to spend the day touring the damaged sites from the tsunami and also the recent devastation. And what else did you do, what else did Senator Carr visit while he was still in Samoa?
 
DORNEY: Yeah, well the first thing after that breakfast, was a tour of some of the devastated parts of Apia. We didn't actually leave the capital, but there is still evidence of quite a lot of destruction. Most of the damage we saw was probably more do to flooding than to the cyclonic winds, but the flooding came with the cyclone and there are cars still smashed up and wrecked and washed together. We stood above that river or that creek that runs through Apia, that burst its banks and caused so much trouble and you can still see there are logs and debris still down there in that valley that we were overlooking. 
 
Then we went to a school where one of the buildings had been absolutely smashed up by the cyclone and it was there that Senator Carr announced this extra seven million dollars to help Samoa recover. 
 
After that, he went on to the Australia-Pacific Technical College, where this was a John Howard initiative actually, but Australia is spending quite a deal of aid money on training people in trades, that. He met some plumbers, even watched some people putting together a toilet. He also spoke at length to quite a number of those students in hospitality and various other trades from all over the Pacific. He spoke to Solomon Islanders and Papua New Guineans and Tongans and Samoans and various other Pacific Island students who are studying there and he was encouraging them all to use their skills when they acquired them in the best possible way when they went home.
 
COUTTS: Sean, a bit more on the flooding if you don't mind in Samoa. One of the stories that was coming out while they were in the grip of the cyclone was that a dam on somewhere in Samoa biurst, which had a huge impact on the amount of flooding that followed because of that?
 
DORNEY: Well, I wasn't fully aware of that, but you could see that that was possibly the reason that this, that this, looks a relatively mild creek, I described in on television as a river, but it's hardly a major river. But it's obvious that some enormous amount of water came rushing down there and that's what destroyed a lot of those homes and swept away a lot of those vehicles and left them all sort of smashed up and quite a number of the vehicles are just piled up one on top of the other, not far from the side of that creek.
 
COUTTS: Now, you are in Vanuatu at the moment, Sean and Senator Carr met with Prime Minister Kilman last night. Do we know anything more of the conversation?
 
DORNEY: Well, I'm sure the Australian Federal Police issue came up. There's been no official statement or announcement on that. As you're probably aware Senator Carr has been a bit distracted by a nuclear bomb in North Korea, but yes, they had discussions yesterday. Today Senator Carr is going to be announcing some significant money for infrastructure development here in Port Vila and he's also going to go to the One Small Bag Theatre Group and watch I think a rehearsal of a scene for "Love Patrol". But I managed to get a quick interview with Sato Kilman after they had spoken. He said Vanuatu was extremely grateful to Australia for the aid that was being provided. 
 
And I asked him a question or two about the Phocea the super yacht that's still anchored here in Port Vila Harbour and he said that initially yes, there were some legal issues in relation to its arrival and there had been a number of court cases, but those now had been settled or disposed with and that he had given an order for the Phosea to be released and I said, yes, but it seems that the Port Authority aren't letting it go. He said that he believed that the problem was not so much the Port Authority's a the moment, but getting a sufficient crew to be able to sail the Phocea out of Port Vila Harbour.
 
There are issues, of course, in relation to it registration, as to whether it's legally registered anywhere and I've been told that there's even been some suggestion around Port Vila that it could be turned into a state yacht for receptions. But Mr. Kilman did not elaborate on that. He actually described it as a pretty unfortunate incident, but his position on it is that the reason that it's still here is that they can't find a crew.
 

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