AUST OFFERS TO HELP US ESTABLISH CIVILIAN DISASTER RESPONSE TEAMS
Australia has offered to assist us establish a network of civilian disaster response teams to improve its ability to deal with events such as Tropical Cyclone Winston. The issue was raised at a meeting in Suva yesterday when the Attorney-General and Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, gave a briefing on the cyclone relief effort to the visiting Australian Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells. The Senator said Fiji could learn from the success of the State Emergency Services that had been set up around Australia to deal with natural disasters such as cyclones and bushfires. And she offered Australia’s assistance to provide on the ground training for Fijians in aspects of disaster management relevant to local conditions in Fiji. The A-G outlined some of the challenges Fiji was continuing to face in dealing with the widespread destruction caused by Cyclone Winston in February. He said there was a shortage of steel and timber to meet the widespread demand for building materials and the Government was working closely with the private sector to make more available as quickly as possible. The A-G explained aspects of the Help for Homes and Adopt a School programmes, which he said were innovative but were also being hampered by a shortage of quality construction companies and tradespeople. The A-G gave the Senator a tour of the new situation room in the Ministry of Economy that is monitoring the cyclone rebuilding effort. Other issues discussed included climate change and related adaptation and mitigation and the PACER Plus negotiations.
Attorney-General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum (right), with Australia’s Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells.