Australia ‘keen to listen to Pacific partners’

The newly elected Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Honourable Penny Wong being garlanded while accorded a traditional welcome at the Grand Pacific Hotel this on Friday, May 27, 2022. Picture: FIJIAN GOVERNMENT

The newly elected Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong arrived into the country yesterday for a two-day official visit.

As part of her visit, she will pay a courtesy call to Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, meet government ministers and women leaders ahead of next month’s Pacific Women Leaders meeting.

She will also meet with the Pacific Islands Forum secretary general Henry Puna.

Ms Wong said they would engage in important discussions that would pave a way forward to build a stable and prosperous region.

“I look forward to visiting Fiji this week, at a time when our region faces unprecedented challenges,” Ms Wong said.

“Our government is keen to listen to our Pacific partners, because we care what the Pacific has to say, and want to be a generous, respectful and reliable member of our Pacific family.”

In a government statement, Ms Wong’s visit reaffirms the solidarity of our Pacific Family to collectively address the unprecedented challenges and build a stronger future and achieve shared aspirations — including climate actions, oceans conservation, defence and security, economic resilience, women and youth empowerment, education, health, amongst others.

“It will unfold new opportunities to boost the Australian assistance to support Fiji’s pandemic recovery and deepen defence and maritime cooperation,” the statement read.

“Expanded partnership will also be explored for the Pacific workers in Australia, an initiative that enables workers from Fiji and the region to benefit from employment opportunities in Australia.

“Currently over 24,000 Pacific workers including those from Fiji, contribute to the vital Australian industries and sending money home to support their families and developing their competencies and skills, which empowers them to improve their lives and that of their families and communities.”

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