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Pacific New Minute: "Abbott's Last Gaffe" on Sea Level Rise

Global Panorama / Flickr
Global Panorama / Flickr
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Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott was forced out of office Monday after a revolt in his ruling Liberal Party.  The hard line conservative's departure was met with satisfaction by his Pacific Island neighbors after what some call Abbott's last gaffe.  Details from Neal Conan in our Pacific News Minute.

On his return from the Pacific Islands Forum, an open microphone caught Prime Minister Abbott joking with Interior Minister Peter Dutton about meetings starting late in Port Moresby.  As The Prime minister chortled, Dutton remarked, "Time doesn't mean anything when you're about to have water lapping at your door."

On their return from the Forum summit, outraged Pacific Island leaders denounced the remark as unbecoming, arrogant and morally irresponsible.  Tony de Brum, foreign minister of the low lying Marshall Islands, tweeted "It seems insensitivity knows no bounds in the big polluting island."

All that after Australia and New Zealand forced a compromise on Climate Change through a summit otherwise determined to demand that the UN climate conference later this year limit global warming to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.  The final communique allows the Forum's two largest polluters to endorse a two degree limit.  The fudge bolsters Fiji's argument that Australia and New Zealand wield undue influence at the Pacific Islands Forum, and boosts a rival group - the Pacific Islands Development Forum, which pointedly excludes them.

Very little progress was reported on the other major issue - human rights in West Papua.  The communique called for consultations with Indonesia, but also recognized Indonesian sovereignty. Indonesia's observer at the summit bluntly called for Forum states to stay out of our business and not meddle.

Over 36 years with National Public Radio, Neal Conan worked as a correspondent based in New York, Washington, and London; covered wars in the Middle East and Northern Ireland; Olympic Games in Lake Placid and Sarajevo; and a presidential impeachment. He served, at various times, as editor, producer, and executive producer of All Things Considered and may be best known as the long-time host of Talk of the Nation. Now a macadamia nut farmer on Hawaiʻi Island, his "Pacific News Minute" can be heard on HPR Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
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