The Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, has announced in a press statement that “Australia will step up in the Pacific and take it’s engagement with the region to a new level with a new package of security, economic, diplomatic and people to people initiatives will build on our strong partnerships in the Pacific.”
PM Morrisonn stated: “from our Seasonal Workers Programme 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.”
“Australia has a long history of cooperation with our Pacific neighbours and wants to work with our Pacific Islands partners to build a Pacific region that is secure strategically, stable economically and sovereign politically.”
The 2017 Australian Government through it’s Foreign Policy White Paper has outlined, that 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.
The Australian Government continues to be firm that “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 Australia Pacific Security College and Fusion Centre, will address gaps in training and information sharing in the Pacific, and also a new Pacific faculty at the Australian Institute of Police Management will train the next generation of police leadership in the Pacific.
The Australian Government reiterated that its “Defence Force will work with partners to build interoperability to respond together to the common security challenges that we face, including through the establishment of a new ADF Pacific Mobile Training Team.”
The 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.
The increased commitment comes on top of a 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, Australia will convene an annual Joint-Heads of Pacific Security Forces event and this will be a powerful platform for key security figures to discuss regional security issues of importance to all Pacific countries.
Australia has also committed to building 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.
The Australian Government 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.
At the same time, Australia 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.
The bold statement by Australia also speaks of “ties that bind Australia to its Pacific family extend beyond security and economic cooperation.”
Australia also intends to expand its diplomatic footprint to ensure that Australia has a presence in every member country of the Pacific Islands Forum.
Among the many commitments, the Australian Government also hugely committed itself to sport, stating that “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.”
Australia has also committed to improve and work with commercial media operators to ensure the Pacific can connect to quality Australian media content.
The Australian Government recent announcement of the further commitment to the Pacific is strong and enduring and these initiatives highlight that “Australia has listened and is working closely with its 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.