2019 in review: Stepping up Pacific engagement

2019 in review: Stepping up Pacific engagement

International Policy International Engagement
Thursday, 19 December 2019

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

Five Pacific Island country leaders pose for the family photo before the Leaders Retreat at the Pacific Islands Forum in Funafuit, Tuvalu on 15 August 2019.  From left to right, the leaeders are Kiribati's President Taneti Maamau, Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna, Tonga's Prime Minister Akilisi Pohiva, Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare.

2019 has been the year of the Pacific Step-up. Australia has returned the Pacific to the front and centre of our strategic outlook, foreign policy and personal connections. Six world leaders made official visits to Australia as Guests of Government in 2019, five of whom were from the Pacific.

Hosted by the Prime Minister of Australia, the Hon Scott Morrison MP, these visits were important opportunities to strengthen international ties and collaboration.

The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet assisted with visits to Australia by:

  • the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, the Honourable James Marape MP from 21 to 26 July;
  • the Prime Minister of Samoa, Hon Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi from 5 to 8 September;
  • the Prime Minister of the Republic of Fiji, the Honourable Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama from 12 to 17 September;
  • the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mr Mark Rutte from 9 to 11 October;
  • the Prime Minister of Solomon Islands, the Hon Manasseh Sogavare MP from 7 to 12 November; and
  • the Prime Minister of Cook Islands, the Hon Henry Puna from 11 to 13 November.

The Prime Minister also visited five Pacific island countries: Fiji, Vanuatu, New Zealand, Solomon Islands, and Tuvalu.

The substantial two-way visit program in 2019 assisted the Government in progressing its Pacific agenda on a broad front. Key outcomes from the Prime Minister’s engagements included the signing of the Australia-Fiji ‘Vuvale Partnership’; a Pacific climate and resilience support package, including a pledge of $500m over five years to regional climate programs; a commitment to negotiate an Australia-PNG Comprehensive Strategic and Economic Partnership; and a $250m grant-based bilateral infrastructure program fund in Solomon Islands.

Australia has stepped up our partnership with the Pacific to a new level, supporting our Pacific family to be independent sovereign states, and working together in addressing the many challenges and opportunities that face our region.