Richard Butler | Exclusive Report by Daily Post VU | FEB 16th, 2023
Australia will fund the construction of a new home for Vanuatu’s Council of Ministers (COM) and National Security Council Secretariats.
This was relayed when Vanuatu’s Prime Minister (PM) Ishmael Kalsakau and Australia’s PM Anthony Albanese met for the first time and held bilateral talks on February 15, 2023 in Canberra, Australia.
The Prime Ministers (PMs) celebrated the long-standing partnership between Australia and Vanuatu and discussed the two countries’ work together on shared challenges and their mutual efforts to support a peaceful, prosperous and resilient Pacific region.
According to a joint statement issued by PM Kalsakau and his Australian counterpart, both PMs warmly welcomed the signing of the Bilateral Security Agreement in December 2022 and noted work in progress towards ratification of the Agreement. The Agreement formalises Vanuatu and Australia’s deep security partnership, giving effect to the 2018 Boe Declaration on Regional Security and building on more than forty years of practical cooperation. It also reflects Vanuatu and Australia’s commitment to working together as members of the Pacific family to address shared security challenges.
PM Albanese and PM Kalsakau agreed that as the first measure under the Agreement, Australia would fund the construction of a new home for Vanuatu’s COM and National Security Council Secretariats.
The PMs discussed Australia’s financial assistance in support of Vanuatu’s economic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic and recent natural disasters. PM Kalsakau welcomed PM Albanese’s advice that Australia would provide a new tranche of economic support to boost priority sectors of Vanuatu’s economy, including aviation, trade and PACER Plus implementation, agriculture, infrastructure, cyber security and banking.
The leaders welcomed progress towards new infrastructure projects supporting connectivity in Vanuatu with an initial focus on aviation under the Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific (AIFFP).
This work builds on Australia’s longstanding support to climate resilient infrastructure development in Vanuatu including in the security and transport sectors and within communities.
The leaders discussed plans and achievements under the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme, under which more ni-Vanuatu workers are in Australia than from any other nation. PM Albanese acknowledged the contribution of ni- Vanuatu workers to the Australian economy and community and reaffirmed Australia’s continued strong commitment to ensuring worker welfare.
Recognising skills development is a priority for Vanuatu, the leaders committed to explore new sectors and increase opportunities for skills training in Australia.
In recognition of the benefits to both countries through the connections shares across communities, families and cultures, the PMs welcomed the commencement of consultations on Vanuatu’s inclusion in the Pacific
Engagement Visa, which will boost people-to-people links.
The leaders discussed the urgency of international action to drive greater global action and deeper emissions reductions and the importance of working together to advance real and significant climate action.
PM Albanese acknowledged Vanuatu’s long standing leadership and climate advocacy and reaffirmed Australia’s support for Vanuatu’s initiative for a United Nations resolution seeking an International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion on climate change.
PM Kalsakau endorsed Australia’s bid to host COP31 in 2026 in partnership with the Pacific. The leaders committed to continuing to work together to secure ambitious climate change outcomes in the region, strengthen climate resilience and advance Pacific priorities in international climate forums.
Both PMs look forward to working closely together to further deepen the strong partnership between Vanuatu and Australia and the deep bonds between the people of both countries.
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