Statement on Solomon Islands
- Senator the Hon Zed Seselja, Minister for International Development and the Pacific
Through COVID, tropical cyclones and volcanic eruptions, Australia has shown we will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our Pacific family, through good times and bad.
Solomon Islands will always be a valued member of our Pacific family. At Solomon Islands’ request, Australia and other Pacific countries responded swiftly to help restore calm after civil unrest in Honiara last year. In doing so, Australia activated our 2017 Bilateral Security Treaty with Solomon Islands for the first time.
This collective effort builds on a long history of Australian support to Solomon Islands through the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI) from 2003 to 2017, and the current Solomons International Assistance Force.
When members of the Pacific family work together, we can respond to the security challenges in our region. The Pacific family is best placed to provide security assistance to Solomon Islands and stands ready to assist further if needed.
Australia is aware of the proposed draft Security Cooperation agreement between China and Solomon Islands. We respect the right of every Pacific country to make sovereign decisions. We have regularly and respectfully raised our concerns with the Solomon Islands Government and will continue to do so. We would be particularly concerned by any actions that undermine the stability and security of our region, including the establishment of a permanent presence such as a military base.
Yesterday, Australia announced jointly with Solomon Islands Prime Minister Sogavare that, in response to a request from the Solomon Islands Government, Australia will extend the Solomons International Assistance Force until December 2023.
We will also build an integrated police, health and disaster management radio network across Solomon Islands.
Australia will construct a second patrol boat outpost on Solomon Islands’ eastern border, in addition to the Western Border and Patrol Boat Outpost in the Shortland Islands.
We are also providing A$22 million in budget support, which will help the Government of Solomon Islands fund salaries for essential workers and mitigate the damaging fiscal impact of the November 2021 civil unrest and COVID economic impacts.
Australia will continue working with our Pacific family, consistent with our values and the Pacific way. Last year, Australia spent a record $1.7 billion in development assistance and will continue responding to our Pacific partners’ priorities such as climate change, COVID-19 recovery and economic and security challenges.
Australia will be transparent and show respect as a reliable partner as we seek to build unity across the Pacific. We will continue supporting peace, economic prosperity, stability and democratic values across our region.