$1b pledge for green energy will help Pacific islands cut huge diesel bills

Pacific island nations are a step further towards cutting their high spending on importing diesel to generate electricity thanks to a pledge of more than $1 billion by donors including New Zealand for sustainable energy projects. 

Most Pacific countries spend about 10 per cent of their domestic income on importing diesel to generate electricity. Source: 1 NEWS

Investors including the European Union, the Asian Development Bank, World Bank, Japan, United Arab Emirates and Australia will put up the money, with New Zealand providing $100 million to energy projects in nine Pacific countries.

The commitments were made at a Pacific Energy Conference in Auckland yesterday which looked at how the region, hit by rising sea levels, could lead the world in climate change initiatives.

In just three years, solar energy funded by New Zealand and the EU has made a difference in Tuvalu, all its people now receiving electricity 24/7.

Most Pacific countries spend around 10 per cent of their domestic income on importing diesel to generate electricity, and in Tuvalu it's been more like 40 per cent.

"Under my Government this is totally unacceptable. This percentage should go to education and health," Enele Sopoaga, Tuvalu Prime Minister told ONE News.

Only 10,000 people live in Tuvalu so 100 per cent renewable energy such as solar power is an achievable goal, and the country is well on the way to achieving that target.

Not so in Tonga, with only 10 per cent of its power generated by renewable energy.

"It's harder to actually provide electricity to the outer islands. We've got more than 50 islands that we need to cover," said Siaosi Sovalei, Tongan Deputy Prime Minister.

And Tonga's geography means it needs more cash, which Mr  Sovalei says is why his country wants to engage the partners.

Those partners include the EU.

"There is a real need to help build up the resilience which is going to be so important for populations, particularly as in the atoll countries climate change becomes more and more of a threat," said Andrew Jacobs, EU ambassador for the Pacific.



New Zealand's refugee quota jumps to 1500 per year from 2020, Government announces

New Zealand’s refugee quota will be raised to 1500, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today. 

It was previously 1000, after being increased by the National-led Government from 750 in 2016.

"It is the right thing to do," said Ms Ardern. 

The new quota will take effect from 2020. 

Yesterday, Ms Ardern told media she wanted to see the current quota increased but a sticking point has been the vastly different policy positions of Labour's Government partners. 

Labour pledged to raise the quota to 1500 and the Green Party aimed for a quota of 5000.

Earlier this month NZ First's Winston Peters told media in Nauru that the focus needed to be on New Zealanders struggling at home.

"We have 50,000 people who are homeless back home and I can show you parts of Northland where people are living in degradation," Mr Peters said, while being questioned at the Pacific Islands' Forum.

National's Simon Bridges said yesterday if the refugee quota was lower than 1500 it would be a demonstration of "Winston Peters undermining the Prime Minister".

"If you look at the Prime Minister's rhetoric she's made great play about being a globalist, a progressive with soaring rhetoric on these issues.

"It's all very well to do the photo ops, the international pieces, but when you've got important questions like this back home that... [are] now are up in the air because of a lack of unanimity and cohesion."

Jacinda Ardern. (Richard Tindiller) Source: rnz.co.nz


Government moves to make pay equity claims easier - 'We must continue to close gap'

The Government want to make it easier for workers to lodge pay equity claims, introducing a proposed law on the 125th anniversary women first got the vote in New Zealand. 

Workplace Relations Minister Iain Lees Galloway said today he was proud to take "the next step to address historic inequities in pay for women". 

He said The Equal Pay Amendment Bill was intended to make the process of making pay equity claims simplified and more accessible.

Acting Women's Minister Eugenie Sage said the bill was "one piece of the puzzle" in striving to close the gender pay gap. 

"Discrimination has led to lower pay for many female-dominated industries, despite having similar working conditions and skill requirements to comparable male-dominated occupations."

Earlier this year, National MP Denise Lee's Members' Bill on pay equity was voted down.

It intended to "eliminate and prevent discrimination on the basis of sex" in employment pay, and to also "promote enduring settlement of claims relating to sex discrimination on pay equity grounds". 

Labour MP Megan Woods saying there were "some very simple mechanistic reasons contained within this legislation why that would not occur", and fellow MP Jan Tinetti saying "this bill does put things backwards for pay equity". Labour, National and NZ First voted against it. 

Shot of New Zealand twenty dollars.
New Zealand $20 notes (file picture). Source: istock.com

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Ms Ardern is speaking from the Beehive Theatrette. Source: 1 NEWS

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Watch: 'Cantankerous old' rescue dog's escape down Bay of Island thoroughfare prompts laughter around the world

A rescue dog named Lily from the Bay of Islands has become an overnight internet sensation after her wily escape down Kawakawa’s main street – with a giant flag in tow — put smiles on tens of thousands of Facebook users' faces.

CCTV footage of the freedom-seeking furball's runner — accompanied by Yakety Sax, the song made famous by the Benny Hill Show — has been viewed more than 320,000 times in the first 16 hours since it was posted last night.

Lucie Green, a volunteer with Bay of Islands Animal Rescue, was taking the basset hound for a walk last week when she decided to stop at a local business to buy Lily a treat.

But the dog wasn't interested in waiting to see what surprise might be in store, instead bolting despite being tied to the large Coca-Cola flag.

"It wasn't until I saw the video that I realised I had charged into oncoming traffic, which is quite alarming, but I just wanted to get hold of her before someone hit her," Ms Green told the New Zealand Herald today, describing the nine-year-old as a "cantankerous old lady".

"After taking her home I realised I still had to return the flag and pay for my sausage," she added. "I couldn't believe it."

Ms Green changed her Facebook profile picture to show Lilly late last night as the video, posted by user James Mcdonald, quickly started to take on a life of its own.

Thousands of people have since commented on the video, with many of them admiring the dog’s spirit.

"I'm laughing my guts out it's so funny," wrote Facebook user Annie Hicks.

"Crack up go doggie," added user Katie Bennett.

The basset hound, named Lily, was tied to a large flag outside a dairy. So she took the flag with her on her wild escape. Source: Facebook/James Mcdonald