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How Imperial Australia rewards Nauru

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  • Simon Butler
    Low on money, food and water 03 January 2004 By KIM RUSCOE in NAURU ...
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 5, 2004
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      Low on money, food and water
      03 January 2004
      By KIM RUSCOE in NAURU

      <http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/0,2106,2773338a11,00.html>

      >Once the world's richest country on a per-capita basis, the Republic
      >of Nauru is verging on financial ruin.
      >
      >The island's one bank rarely has money, government workers go months
      >without pay, supermarket shelves are virtually empty, petrol pumps
      >lie idle much of the time, water is scarce and the power supply
      >unreliable.
      >
      >On Tuesday I saw people queue for hours outside the bank to withdraw
      >the maximum allowable amount of A$100 (NZ$115). It was the first time
      >in months Nauruans had access to the money in their accounts and it
      >was after 10pm before the queues were cleared.
      >
      >One man said he had not been paid by the Nauruan Phosphate Company
      >since March. If the refugees were to leave and Nauru no longer
      >received money from the Australian Government to house them, things
      >would be worse. "We're lucky they're here," he said.
      >
      >Another local believed the island's government was investing the
      >people's money to generate income.
      >
      >"I'm not happy about it, but we manage," he said. "I have chickens
      >and we go fishing with nets and my son goes diving."
      >
      >The house he and his family live in has no running water. They rely
      >on rain water collected in a tank. When they run out, they can buy
      >imported water for $3 per 3000 gallons, but orders take up to four
      >months to arrive.
      >
      >Very few petrol stations on Nauru had petrol. Where there was petrol,
      >cars queued for more than an hour to fill up. The shelves in the
      >island's biggest supermarket offered gardening supplies and
      >toiletries but little food. A few cans of asparagus spears, red
      >beans, pasta, rice, spices and sauces were all that was on sale.
      >
      >Our hotel - one of two on Nauru - had no dining area. There was no
      >hot water in the rooms and a half-gallon drum of water and a bucket
      >placed in the shower were the only means of flushing the toilet.
      >
      >The power went off frequently. When it did, there was not only no
      >alternative lighting but the water supplies dried up. The drum of
      >water had to be used for washing too.
      >
      >International calls could be made only from public cardphones, but we
      >could not find any store that sold cards. We resorted to buying one
      >from a local teacher.
      >
      >There is no public transport, no taxis and no car hire companies.
      >
      >But then, they are mostly not needed because between the Nauruan and
      >Australian governments, most outsiders are kept just that - outside.
      >
      >Visitors have to apply for visas from the Australian Government but
      >almost all are refused entry.
      >

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