Photo by @JulieBishopMP
APIBC NEWS : 12th Aug 2017

Julie Bishop delivers speech on 'Australia in the Pacific'

Julie Bishop conveys Australia is stepping up engagement with the Pacific at the recent meeting of Foreign Ministers in Suva, Fiji.

— By Julie Bishop

Julie Bishop travelled to Suva, Fiji from 11 to 12 August to represent Australia at the second annual Pacific Islands Forum Foreign Ministers' Meeting. At this meeting, Ms Bishop delivered the following speech.

'Ladies and gentlemen, as our nearest geographic neighbours, the South Pacific is a region of great importance to Australia.

Since becoming Foreign Minister, I have visited the Pacific region more than 20 times. Our Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Senator Fierravanti-Wells, has visited 18 times, as have a number of other Australian ministers visited.

Prime Minister Turnbull and Senator Fierravanti-Wells will be at the Leaders’ Meeting in September.

What this demonstrates is that we have a focus on our neighbourhood, on the Pacific and at the Pacific Islands Forum last year, at the Leaders meeting in Pohnpei, Prime Minister Turnbull said that given the nature and complexity of the challenges we face together, Australia would step up its engagement in the Pacific.

Over the course of this year, Connie Fierravanti-Wells and I have had conversations with colleagues around the Pacific about the nature of our long-term challenges and what we need to do in response.

We listened to your feedback, and I am here today to build on that work.

A major challenge facing our region is how we lift economic growth to provide jobs for our young people.

In a world of rapid geopolitical and technological change, we all share the goal of providing peace, prosperity, stability and security for our people.

There is an observation in a Pacific Islands Forum paper that Forum members cover over 40 million square kilometres of land and sea.

We are responsible for a greater portion of the earth than the European Union and the Association of South-East Asian Nations, ASEAN, combined.

This offers great potential in terms of access to natural resources, while posing challenges due to distance from global markets and global centres.

We are the custodians of this vast space. However, in most of our countries, there are too few jobs for the growing numbers of young people.

So conscious of these challenges, the Australian Government has been looking at how we can work more closely with our Pacific neighbours.

We are committed to sustaining and improving our development assistance, to strengthen resilience in our societies and improve health, education and training, and governance.

At the same time Australia is conscious that development assistance alone will never be enough to meet all challenges.

We are also looking at where enhanced access to the Australian economy and Australian systems will provide more support to Pacific economies in addition to development assistance.

So the Australian Government is focused on three goals to strengthen our engagement:

  • we seek stronger partnerships for economic growth;
  • we seek stronger partnerships for our security; and,
  • we seek to support relationships between our people.

Together, these goals are one of Australia’s highest priorities, and will be a central feature of our foreign policy white paper which will be released later this year...'

12th August: Read the full speech

10th August: Visit to Fiji

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