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Australia is enjoying the highest standing ever in the Pacific

By Jeffrey Wall - posted Friday, 3 March 2023


Australia is enjoying its highest ever standing among the island nations of our region. And the Albanese Government deserves credit for that.

The challenge now is to entrench it long term. We are in good standing but that could change rapidly.

The Foreign Minister, Penny Wong, has visited the region nine times in nine months. Unprecedented.

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The Prime Minister has done well through his engagement. To its credit the Opposition has taken a bi-partisan approach. Delegations to the region by MPs and Senators have been bi-partisan. The friendly peace-loving people of the Pacific appreciate that approach.

I suspect the capacity of Senator Wong to "listen and not lecture" has paid dividends.

The strength of our relationship was well illustrated during the recent Islands Forum in Fiji.

China's clumsy attempts to divide the Forum backfired badly. The Forum is more united than ever.

There can be no doubt China has lost ground everywhere except the Solomon Islands. The elections in Vanuatu and Fiji, and the return of the Marape Government with a new pro-Australian Foreign Minister has been very beneficial.

These days I read almost no criticism of Australia. Our different approach to climate change has been widely welcomed. Visa issues are being addressed and the Pacific workers scheme is much more effective though problems remain.

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With the start of the NRL season, and the rugby union competition, the focus is moving to another strength - sport.

Around half the first grade players in the NRL have an island or Maori heritage.

The challenge now is to entrench our standing longer term. I have to say we have not had enough support from New Zealand which has massive natural disaster issues, and a government which has lost its way in our region.

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About the Author

Jeffrey Wall CSM CBE is a Brisbane Political Consultant and has served as Advisor to the PNG Foreign Minister, Sir Rabbie Namaliu Prime Minister 1988-1992 and Speaker 1994-1997.

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Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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