Speech at the launch of the Lowy Institute Pacific Aid Road Map

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JULIE BISHOP: Prime Minister Tuilaepa, Prime Ministers,Ministers of Pacific Islands nations, Dame Meg Taylor, diplomats, key guests,Michael Fullilove and Jonathan Pryke from the Lowy Institute, friends ofAustralia, friends of Samoa, friends of the Pacific.

MyMinisterial colleague Connie Fierravanti-Wells and I are delighted to be herewith the Australian High Commissioner Sara Moriarty and our High Commissionteam on the eve of the Pacific Islands Forum, to be held here in Apia tomorrow.

I well rememberhosting the first Foreign Ministers Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Sydney in2015 because since I became Foreign Minister in 2013 I have made Australia'srelations with the Island nations in the Pacific one of our highest foreignpolicy priorities. We have a specific minister for the Pacific in the Ministerfor the International Development and the Pacific. I have made 34 visits to thePacific in my time, I will make more. Together our high-level visits,underscore the commitment that we have to this part of the world.

Australiaand the Pacific are bound by geography, by history, by the connections betweenour people and the deep affection that exists between the people of Australiaand the people of the Pacific and our shared vision for peaceful, prosperous,stable and secure Pacific region.

Australia isa longstanding and enduring friend of the Pacific. Together with New Zealand wehave provided substantial development assistance over many, many years and ourassistance comes in ways that drive economic growth, that drives the reductionof poverty and that drives a better standard of living for all.

In health,we are focused on the eradication of disease through our regional healthinitiatives. We are focused on building the resilience of the public healthsystems in your nations. We drive capacity building in education. Today withthe Prime Minister we launched the third phase of the Australian PacificTechnical Coalition, now named the Australian Pacific Training Coalition thatreflects the commitment we have to working with departments across the region,partnering with universities, TAFEs, other institutions, business, governmentsto build skills and jobs growth here in the Pacific. In health and education weinvest in human capital, human resources, in defence and security.

Our defencepersonnel, our police, our border security management are all designed topartner with you to keep your country, your region safe. Our Pacific maritimeprogram, the old Pacific patrol boat program, whereby we are gifting patrolvessels with aerial surveillance capability, are all designed to ensure thatyou have control over your maritime domain, that you retain your sovereignty,that you protect your jurisdiction whether it is against smuggling, drugs,other forms of transnational crime, illegal fishing.

Our programsare designed to build resilience and I am pleased to say that this year Australiahas set a record amount for our development assistance into the Pacific. Whilenational budgets are under strain around the world, Australia has ensured thatour aid budget to the Pacific has increased to a record high of $1.3 billion.It is how you spend this money that is so important and we want to ensure thatin all of our investments into your nations we build local communities, westrengthen societies, and we ensure that you are sovereign, sustainable andgrowing economies.

Australiaand New Zealand together make up over 50 per cent of the development assistanceinto the Pacific but we both welcome support and cooperation from othercountries and from other institutions. Longstanding partners like Japan, theUnited States, partners like China, the EU, in fact, the UK post-Brexit willhave a much larger presence in the Pacific. When we were at the CommonwealthHeads of Government meeting in London in April Great Britain announced thatthey would be expanding their diplomatic footprint across the Pacific with newposts in Samoa, Vanuatu, Tonga. And this is to be welcomed because no onecountry or two countries can meet all the development needs of the Pacific.

It issomething we must do in partnership and that is our message and it is why weare so delighted to support the Lowy Institute's Pacific Aid Map. For the firsttime we will be able to see at a more granular level the aid flows into thePacific. This is good news because we want to ensure that aid goes where it ismost needed, that there is a level of transparency about it, that we cancollaborate and partner with other donors and that there is no unnecessaryduplication. I urge all donor nations, all partners to the Pacific to providethe information to Lowy so they can feed it into this online map that will giveus all a clear and effective picture of the requirements of the Pacific – andthat is what we all want. To realise the vision of an open, free, prosperous,safe, secure Pacific we have to work together in pursuit of that common goal.

Icongratulate the Lowy Institute for undertaking this task, technology withdevelopment assistance and we have a very clear picture, with great clarity asto the development needs of the Pacific and this will ensure that your trustedpartners, your trusted friends in Australia and New Zealand and others, willcontinue to partner with you as this region is, and remains, one of the mostdynamic and beautiful in the world.

I amdelighted to be here this evening, Michael. Congratulations to the Lowy Institute.

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