By Kaniva News
Senior officials from Australia’s Foreign Affairs Department have admitted they are investigating the concept of a “grand compact” with some small Pacific nations, including Tonga.
The idea has been pushed some Australian politicians, academics and officials for decades.
It is seen in some circles as a way of curbing the growth of Chinese power in the region.
- READ MORE: Australian foreign affairs official confirm they are studying US, NZ compact deals with Pacific nations
- LISTEN: ABC Pacific beat news item
One of the suggestions is that Australia could allow permanent residency or even citizenship for people from Kiribati, Tuvalu, Tonga and Nauru in return for Australia managing their vast – and valuable – exclusive economic zones.
Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd put forward a similar proposal which was attacked by Tuvalu’s then Prime Minister leader, Enele Sopoaga, as “imperial thinking.”
“The days of that type of imperial thinking are over,” Sopoaga told the ABC.
Both New Zealand and the United States have compacts with some Pacific island states.
No sign of serious consideration
However, the ABC’s Pacific Beat said there was no sign that the Australian government was currently seriously contemplating the idea or has plans to take a proposal to Pacific governments.
North Queensland Toyota Cowboys lock Jason Taumalolo is expected to miss this Saturday night’s clash with the Dragons in Townsville.
As Kaniva News reported earlier, the Tongan international was expected to be off for four weeks after tearing a calf muscle during a game against Newcastle last Sunday afternoon.
In June he missed a game with Cronulla at Queensland Country Bank Stadium due to bone bruising on his knee.
The Cowboys are due to take the field against the Dragons at 8.30pm Queensland time.
Tongan High School students will now stay at school until they are 18.
New school leaving age
The Education Act 2013 has been updated to reflect the new school age, which is now 4-18. The new law came into effect on Tuesday.
The Education Department’s Truancy & Reconciliation Division Leader Kalafitoni Latu told Radio Tonga the compulsory leaving age was meant to help all students get a better education.
He said the ministry would push children who are of legal age, to attend school in accordance to the law.
Uhatahi Tu’amoheloa, who manages the grassroots Just Play project in Tonga, has described online mentoring by the English Football association as a blessing.
Two of the FA’s leading coaches, head of Grassroots Delivery, Les Howie and coach mentor officer, Steve Smithies, are providing virtual mentoring to Pacific players in Tonga, Fiji and Samoa.
“This is like a new era for us having the FA running mentoring sessions,” Tu’amoheloa said.
“Our participants at the first session were mainly volunteers from Just Play, but at the second session our national team coaches were also on board,” she said.
Repatriation flights from Fiji and Kiribati arrived in Tonga this week.
Health Minister ʻAmelia Afuhaʻamango Tuʻipulotu told Radio Tonga the repatriation flight from Fiji would be the last.
The flight from Kiribati was chartered by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and brought back seven passengers and a body.
Flights from Auckland remain in limbo because of the re-appearance of community transmission of covid-19 in the New Zealand community.
Republished with permission from Kaniva News’ Mediawatch.