Strengthening Australia’s commitment to the Pacific

AUSTRALIA will step up in the Pacific and take their engagement with the region to a new level, says Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

He said there will be a new package of security, economic, diplomatic and people to people initiatives that will build on their strong partnerships in the Pacific.

“From our Seasonal Workers Program and Pacific Labour Scheme to the support for Lombrum Naval Base and new Pacific Patrol Boats, we are delivering outcomes for a secure and prosperous Pacific region,” he said.

Scott Morrison and the prime minister of Papua New Guinea, Peter O’Neill, in Sydney last week announcing a joint naval base on Manus Island. Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/AAP
Scott Morrison and the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Peter O’Neill, in Sydney last week announcing a joint naval base on Manus Island. Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/AAP

“Australia has a long history of cooperation with our Pacific neighbours.  We want to work with our Pacific Islands partners to build a Pacific region that is secure strategically, stable economically and sovereign politically.

“As our 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper outlined, the stability and economic progress of the Pacific region are of fundamental importance to Australia, and no single country can tackle the challenges on its own.

“Building on a long history of Australian defence, police and border management cooperation across the region, and in line with the Boe Declaration adopted by Pacific leaders at the 2018 Pacific Islands Forum, we will enhance our security cooperation with our Pacific neighbours.

“In addition to our Australia Pacific Security College and Fusion Centre, which will address gaps in training and information sharing in the Pacific, a new Pacific faculty at the Australian Institute of Police Management will train the next generation of police leadership in the Pacific.

“Our Defence Force will work with partners to build inter-operability to respond together to the common security challenges that we face, including through the establishment of a new ADF Pacific Mobile Training Team.

“Our Government will put in place arrangements to ensure Australia has a dedicated vessel to deliver support to our partners in the Pacific, including for humanitarian assistance and response.

“This comes on top of our recent agreement with Fiji to redevelop the Blackrock Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Camp into a regional hub for police and peacekeeping training and pre-deployment preparation.

“In consultation with Pacific countries, we will convene an annual Joint-Heads of Pacific Security Forces event in Australia. This will be a powerful platform for key security figures to discuss regional security issues of importance to all Pacific countries.

“We will also build an alumni network of emerging and senior police, civilian, and military leaders to create stronger ties and enhance understanding of regional security issues.

“Better economic infrastructure in Pacific nations will contribute to stronger growth, not only in their countries but across our region, including in Australia. Productive and sustainable investment is mutually beneficial.”

Mr Morrison said they will establish the Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific, a $2 billion infrastructure initiative to significantly boost Australia’s support for infrastructure development in Pacific countries and Timor-Leste.

He said that at the same time, they will deliver an extra $1 billion in callable capital to Efic, Australia’s export financing agency.

“This will complement a new, more flexible infrastructure financing power to support investments in the region that have a broad national benefit for Australia,’’ he said.

“The ties that bind us to our Pacific family extend beyond security and economic cooperation.

“We intend to expand our diplomatic footprint to ensure that Australia has a presence in every member country of the Pacific Islands Forum.

“Building on our shared love of sport, we will fund a new grants program – the Australia Pacific Sports Linkages Program – to strengthen sports linkages between Australia and the Pacific.  We will also expand our military sporting engagements, building on the highly successful PACMIL Sevens women’s rugby union tournament for the Pacific security forces.

“We will work with our commercial media operators to ensure the Pacific can connect to quality Australian media content.

“Our commitment to the Pacific is strong and enduring and these initiatives highlight that we have listened and are working closely with our Pacific partners, including through the Pacific Islands Forum.

“These new initiatives will ensure Australia’s relationships with our Pacific friends continue to grow from strength to strength.”

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