Albanese, Manele forge stronger Australia-Solomons ties

Jul 1, 2024 | 2024, Blog, News, Solomon Islands

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese welcomed Solomon Islands Prime Minister Jeremiah Manele to Canberra on June 26, for his first international visit as Prime Minister. This significant meeting, the first between the two leaders in their current roles, comes ahead of ttheAustralia Pacific Islands Business Council’s Australia Solomon Islands Business Forum in September.

The meeting underscores the importance of the bilateral relationship, which has been further emphasized by recent visits to Honiara by Australian Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles and Foreign Minister Penny Wong.

Australia and Solomon Islands share a deep, interconnected relationship, characterised by a shared region, ocean, and historical partnership. Australia stands as Solomon Islands’ primary partner, providing the largest development and security cooperation programmes in the country, along with substantial infrastructure and economic support, and strong people-to-people links.

The leaders celebrated recent milestones, including Solomon Islands’ successful elections and the hosting of the Pacific Games, both of which saw significant security support from Pacific Islands Forum members, including Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea.

Albanese and Manele articulated a vision for a transformative partnership between Australia and Solomon Islands. They committed to working together to achieve shared ambitions and overcome challenges, focusing on strengthening Solomon Islands’ sovereignty, resilience, and progress toward economic, development, and security objectives.

Economic growth and job creation are vital for Solomon Islands’ future. Australia remains committed to supporting these goals through job creation, priority infrastructure projects, and fostering economic prosperity. As a key tourism market for Solomon Islands, Australia and Solomon Islands will continue to explore ways to attract increased international investment and secure quality infrastructure for the island nation, an Australian Government communique said.

The leaders highlighted the importance of the Bina Harbour development for Solomon Islands and acknowledged the mutual benefits of the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility scheme, which fosters community and people-to-people connections. They also expressed enthusiasm for deepening linkages through the new Pacific Engagement Visa.

Recognising Australia’s role as Solomon Islands’ primary security partner, the leaders discussed Solomon Islands’ request for Australia to assist in expanding and enhancing the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force. The Solomon Islands Government aims to grow its police force from 1,500 to 3,000 officers, with a long-term goal of 5,000 officers, as part of a decade-long transformation program. This initiative is seen as crucial for strengthening Solomon Islands’ sovereignty and regional stability.

The two sides reaffirmed the value of the Pacific Islands Forum and its foundational statements, including the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent and the 2018 Boe Declaration on Regional Security. As Solomon Islands prepares to chair the Pacific Islands Forum, both nations agreed to work together to strengthen Pacific policing capabilities and advance the Pacific Policing Initiative.

In addition to security and economic cooperation, Albanese and Manele committed to tackling climate change impacts through support for the Pacific Resilience Facility and by spotlighting the climate crisis globally via Australia’s bid to co-host COP31 with the Pacific. They also pledged to improve health systems and outcomes in Solomon Islands, including efforts to eliminate malaria by 2030 and reverse the incidence of non-communicable diseases.

Click here to read about the forthcoming Australia Solomon Islands Business Forum.