Duncan Roden

Negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) were finally completed in Atlanta on October 5. Final agreement on the treaty had been delayed for years as negotiating countries tried to protect their own industries while trying to gain market access in others.

The TPP was negotiated by countries on the Pacific Rim: the US, Australia, Singapore, New Zealand, Chile, Brunei, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Vietnam and Japan. These countries represent about 40% of global GDP.

The secret text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership was released on November 5 and was swiftly condemned by green groups around the world, which said the trade agreement fails to provide adequate protections for the environment.

The TPP was agreed to on September 5 by the US, Australia, Singapore, New Zealand, Chile, Brunei, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Vietnam and Japan. These countries represent about 40% of global GDP.

Democratic presidential nominee Bernie Sanders came close to winning the Iowa caucus on February 1. His opponent Hillary Clinton got 49.9% while Sanders got 49.6%. This was a remarkable achievement for a candidate who many commentators said was too radical and stood no chance against the well-entrenched and well-resourced Clinton.

A new report has found huge tax evasion by foreign logging companies that are running rampant in Papua New Guinea. The Great Timber Heist was released by the Oakland Institute on February 16.

The PNG rainforest is the third largest in the world. It covers about 80% of the country, 60% of which is untouched forest.

A cost-benefit analysis released by the Secretariat of Pacific Communities (SPC) and the European Union on potential deep sea mining (DSM) projects in three Pacific countries found that the projects can be viable. But other research suggests there remain serious concerns about the new, untested DSM industry.

Benny Wenda addressing public forum in Sydney. May 24.

West Papuan independence leader Benny Wenda has been touring Australia, spreading awareness of the West Papuan struggle for freedom from Indonesian rule.

The tasteless joking between immigration minister Peter Dutton and Prime Minister Tony Abbott about the threat of rising sea levels to Pacific Islands — caught on a microphone after the Pacific Island Forum (PIF) meeting — sums up the Australian government's attitude to the victims of its climate inaction.

The 46th PIF leaders' meeting in Port Moresby ended without reaching agreement on a united position to take to the Paris climate summit later this year. Pacific Island leaders could not convince Australia and New Zealand to agree on more ambitious targets.

Demonstration in solidarity with West Papua. Honiara, Solomon Islands.

Indonesian police beat two West Papuan students in Yahukimo, Papua Province, on September 16 for handing out leaflets about the Pacific Islands Forum.

East Timor has taken Australia to an international court in an effort to take control over large oil and gas reserves in the Timor Sea.

But this isn't the only time the Timorese have come up against Australia ― which has sought to impose its interests on the former Portuguese colony in recent decades.

The Portuguese had a presence in Timor from 1509, trading sandalwood, converting Timorese to Catholicism and fighting against the Dutch for control. In 1859, the Treaty of Lisbon finally stopped the colonial conflict, dividing the island into the Dutch western half and Portuguese east.

The High Court ruled on September 11 that an asylum seeker given a temporary visa should be allowed to apply for permanent protection. It said that immigration minister Scott Morrison's issuing of a form of temporary protection visa to a Rohingya man was "invalid".

The court said an asylum seeker can only be detained for the purpose of removing them from the country, assessing whether to grant them a permanent visa, or assessing whether to allow them to apply for a visa to live in Australia.


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