Australia is looking forward to involving the Pacific in its bid to host a United Nations climate summit in the region, arguably the part of the world most affected by changes in the climate.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese left Fiji on Friday after being part of the leaders meeting that was set on a powder keg following the withdrawal of Kiribati.
Despite the speculations of other nations joining Kiribati, the Pacific held together. For Australia this was the outcome they had hoped for, the one that will keep the regional security intact.
“Our Pacific Family has come together in Fiji to find agreement on how we can tackle our shared challenges, and how we can play to our collective strengths,” said Mr Albanese.
“Australia’s commitment to stronger action on climate change was warmly welcomed by Pacific Islands Forum leaders.
“I look forward to working with leaders on our bid for Australia to host a UN climate change conference in partnership with our Pacific neighbours, because we are stronger together.”
Australia has made a considerable increase in development assistance. It wants to have more cooperation and engagement between parliamentarians in the region and the Australian Parliament, to build people-to-people relations.
Promises made before the elections still stand and Mr Albanese said one area that needs an expanded engagement is Pacific labour.
“Whether that be permanent migration, a specific program for the first time, aimed at the Pacific, or whether it be temporary labour, this can be an important way in which we not only have people-to-people relations but we benefit both the economies of Australia and the countries of origin of people either visiting or permanently migrating to Australia,” said Mr Albanese.
“We live in a period whereby we have strategic competition in this region. Australia looks forward to engaging in a positive and constructive way. We respect the sovereignty of nations in the Pacific. We want to engage with them in a respectful way going forward.”
Mr Albanese’s final act before he flew back to Canberra was to visit students at the Australia Pacific Technical College in Suva who are training to address the crisis in Australia’s age care sector.
“It was so lovely to meet Fijian students getting ready to work in aged care in Australia. We’ve inherited an aged care sector in crisis, but we’ve got a plan to fix it,” he said.
“These workers in Suva are gaining a TAFE qualification and will work in nursing homes in regional Queensland from Mackay to Toowoomba, filling critical skills shortages.
“It’s a great way of improving aged care in Australia, while boosting the economy of Fiji.”