Feb 20, 2018 Last Updated 5:27 AM, Feb 19, 2018

Former banker promises cuts in government spending

Two months in the hottest seat of Solomon Islands politics, Prime Minister Rick Houenipwela is already geared up to steering his country to a new direction with the passing of his government’s 2018 National Budget as his foremost priority. Focused on his new calling, the former central banker has listed a few priorities that he needed to address urgently in this new year.

Topping the list is the passing of the 2018 National Budget, which he hopes to do in next month’s sitting of parliament. As the head of government, PM Houenipwela’s other priorities for this year include stablising his country’s political and fiscal situations as well as implementing the government’s selected priority infrastructure projects. Expect the 2018 budget to be lower than those of the previous years, he promised.

“This budget will be realistic, we will only spend what we earn.” Also a priority is a new anti corruption bill, which his new government is determined to bring to the floor of parliament as soon as it is cleared by the bills and legislation committee through its public hearings.

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Canberra, Australia - Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull revealed a new cabinet line-up on the eve of 2018 by announcing a reshuffle that saw five new cabinet members and the axing of infrastructure minister, Darren Chester. Former Social Services minister Christian Porter has become the country’s new Attorney General after George Brandis resignation.

Peter Dutton will lead Home Affairs, which will take responsibility for Australia’s intelligence agencies, national security and immigration.

There will be two more junior ministers beneath Dutton. Angus Taylor will be Minister for Law Enforcement and Cyber Security, while Alan Tudge will become Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs. Michaelia Cash, already Employment Minister, has been promoted to the new title of Minister for Jobs and Innovation.

She will surrender her title as Minister for Women, which has now gone to Kelly O’Dwyer. Bridget McKenzie, who recently replaced Fiona Nash as deputy leader of the Nationals, has also joined the Turnbull cabinet.

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Personalities will clash as Fijians prepare to go to the ballot

THE personality of Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama ensured that his Fiji First party won an outright majority in the 2014 polls, but that could change come this year.

The four years has given opposition parties an opportunity to strongly challenge Fiji First policies under the 2013 Constitution, which could not be done in an era when Fiji was without a parliament and government ruled by decrees.

2018 will also see the return of former Prime Minister, Sitiveni Rabuka to the political arena who is no doubt going to be very vocal against Bainimarama. There will be 51 seats to be contested with an expected 250 plus candidates to go on the ballot paper.

The three big names to watch out for in the 2018 elections will be Frank Bainimarama’s Fiji First, Sitiveni Rabuka’s SODELPA and Dr Biman Prasad’s National Federation Party. The single constituency electoral system, which played nicely with Bainimarama in 2014 because of his popularity, will also be tested in 2018.

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ONE of Fiji’s newest political parties has not ruled out contesting Fiji’s general elections due to be held in 2018 in coalition with other parties that are opposed to the ruling Fiji First Party of Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama.

Unity Fiji is led by a former governor of Fiji’s reserve bank now economic consultant with international financial institutions, Savenaca Narube. Speaking exclusively to this magazine, Narube confirmed his party has been participating in talks with other parties, discussing many issues including fielding common candidates.

“But we are not in complete control of these discussions,” the former central bank governor added. If contesting the 2018 elections as a grand coalition could not be achieved, Narube said his party would be happy to consider revisiting the matter post elections.

The senior economist also spoke about the reasons he could not join existing parties currently forming the opposition in Fiji’s parliament, that of SODELPA and the National Federation Party.

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Pohiva storms back

Tongan Parliament votes

VETERAN politician and long-time democracy fighter Samiuela ‘Akilisi Pohiva has his job cut out for him after he was re-elected as Tonga’s Prime Minister with a 14-12 vote in the Tongan Parliament in Nuku’alofa on December 18.

Pohiva was re-elected as Tonga’s PM over his former deputy and the only other nominee for the top post, Siaosi Sovaleni. Following a day-long election process, acting Speaker of the House Lord Tangi announced the secret ballot results, after his briefing with His Majesty King Tupou VI.

“I thank all of you for the important job that you have been able to carry out today,” Lord Tangi told the members of parliament. “You have made your selection and we will now have to go on with that.” In his acceptance speech Pohiva...

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