Stepping-up Australia’s engagement in the Pacific

Group photo of Pacific nation leaders.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull MP (front row, far left) with fellow-leaders at the 2017 Pacific Islands Forum in Apia, Samoa on 8 September 2017.

Australia's step-up in engagement with the Pacific is one of the highest priorities of the 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper, launched on 23 November last year.

The White Paper commits Australia to a more ambitious and intensified engagement in the Pacific to support a more resilient region, as one of five central foreign policy goals. 

It reaffirms the commitment by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at the 2016 Pacific Islands Forum Leaders' meeting in Pohnpei, when he committed to a 'step-change' in Australia's engagement with the Pacific.

It reaffirms Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's announcements, at the 2017 Pacific Island Forum Leaders' Meeting on 8 September in Samoa, of a range of measures to strengthen Australia's engagement with the Pacific, including through:

  • stronger partnerships for economic growth
  • stronger partnerships for security
  • stronger relationships between our people.

Read more: Stepping-up Australia's engagement in the Pacific

Speaking at the launch of the White Paper, Foreign Minister the Hon Julie Bishop MP said Australia aimed to "increase support for a more stable and prosperous Pacific." 

"The Government will extend our 'step up' in the Pacific on economic and security issues, including by establishing with our Pacific partners a new Australian Pacific Security College to deliver security and law enforcement training at the leadership level," Ms Bishop said.

Malcolm Turnbull and Concetta Fierravanti-Wells walking on grass.
The Prime Minister, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, and the Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Senator the Hon Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, pictured at the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders’ Meeting, in Apia, Samoa on 8 September 2017.

The step-up responds to the significant long-term challenges faced by our partners in the Pacific, including: climate change and responding to natural disasters; sustaining economic growth and boosting education, skills and jobs for growing populations; gender equality and recognising the essential role of women in achieving better development outcomes; and the threat of major disease outbreak and tackling transnational crime. Australia's step up in engagement builds on and leverages our development assistance to the region of $1.1 billion in the Pacific in 2017–18.

Malcolm Turnbull and Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells speaking outside.

During a press conference with the Prime Minister at this year’s Pacific Islands Forum Leaders’ Meeting in Apia, Samoa on 8 September, Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, Minister for International Development and the Pacific said, “Australia's highest priority … is the stability, security and prosperity of the Pacific. After the defence of Australia, that is our highest priority”.

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Last Updated: 14 March 2018