Powered by MOMENTUM MEDIA
Powered by MOMENTUM MEDIA

Website Notifications

Get notifications in real-time for staying up to date with content that matters to you.

PM strengthens Aussie commitment to Pacific

scott morrison treasurer

In a rare move for an Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison has jetted off to Vanuatu and Fiji as he looks to reaffirm the country’s commitment to the Pacific region.

In a rare move for an Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison has jetted off to Vanuatu and Fiji as he looks to reaffirm the country’s commitment to the Pacific region.

The government has been actively "stepping up" its engagement of the Pacific region over the last few years, as "new players" such as China have had their interest in the region grow.

Advertisement
Advertisement

The visit will be an Australian PM's first to Vanuatu since 1990, and the first to Fiji since 2006.

"As my first international engagements of the year, these visits reflect the depth of Australia’s commitment to our Pacific neighbours," Prime Minister Morrison said.

"I am committed to stepping up Australia’s engagement in the Pacific to support a stable and prosperous region. I look forward to working closely together with my friends and partners in Vanuatu and Fiji to build strong bilateral relationships for the future."

PROMOTED CONTENT

The government last year committed to a $2 billion Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific, which was created with the view of supporting partners within the Pacific, however Vanuatu is concerned about their lack of inclusion in the PNG-Soloman Islands underwater cable initiative.

Tensions with Fiji are also a concern, with the country relying on a "look north" policy since Australia opposed the 2006 military coup on the island, with Fiji also heavily relying upon China financially.

This is compounded with the drama surrounding terrorist Neil Prakash, who was stripped of his Australian citizenship with the view that he possessed a Fijian passport, without consulting the Fijian government, which denies he is its concern.

Prime Minister Morrison will likely be pressed on these issues upon reaching the Pacific nation, but didn't directly address these subjects in his press release.

"In Fiji, Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama and I will elevate the bilateral relationship between Australia and Fiji to a new level. We will deepen our economic and security co-operation, strengthen our people-to-people links and work together to respond to shared regional challenges," PM Morrison said.

Vanuatu also relies heavily on China financially, with nearly 40 per cent of the government's debt owing to Beijing. In response Australia has earmarked extensive financing to support Vanuatu's infrastructure, military, security, training and sports programs. 

A joint statement from Prime Minister Morrison and Vanuatu's Prime Minister, Charlot Salwai Tabimasmas, highlighted reinforced Australia's commitment to helping Vanuatu achieve its national development goals, including in education and skills development in urban and rural areas to create jobs and economic growth; build climate resilient infrastructure; and support responsive and capable institutions to deliver services. 

Vanuatu will also receive a replacement Guardian-class patrol boat under the Pacific Maritime Security Program (PMSP). The PMSP is a $2 billion (over 30 years) program, which consists of replacement Guardian-class patrol boats, integrated aerial surveillance, and enhancements to regional cooperation. 

There are also rumours of China approaching Vanuatu about the possibility of establishing a naval base in the country, which provides further military anxieties to Australia.

However, the PM made a point of highlighting Australia as "Vanuatu’s economic, development and security partner of choice", and during the visit will open a new police college that was refurbished with Australian funding.

The government also announced last year that it would help train more than 300 new police recruits and committed to upgrading facilities used by Vanuatu's military.

PM strengthens Aussie commitment to Pacific
Scott-Morrison-Treasurer.jpg
lawyersweekly logo

 

more from defence connect

Jack Kormas
Sep 24 2020
PODCAST: LAND 129 Phase 3 and supporting sovereign UAS capabilities – Jack Kormas, managing director, Textron Systems Australia
While much of the focus for sovereign industrial capabilities has been for Defence’s big-ticket it...
Raytheon Australia announces team of Aussie SMEs for LAND 129 bid
Sep 24 2020
Raytheon Australia announces team of Aussie SMEs for LAND 129 bid
Raytheon Australia has announced its team of 10 Australian SMEs to deliver a fully sovereign Austra...
Sep 24 2020
DMTC partners with ANU for hyperspectral imaging R&D
Melbourne-based DMTC’s High Altitude Sensor Systems Program has partnered with the Advanced Instr...
FROM THE WEB
Recommended by Spike Native Network