Australia to spend $2 billion in Pacific

Thursday November 08, 2018 Written by Published in Economy

Plans by Australia to donate AUD 2 billion towards infrastructure development in the Pacific were with enthusiasm yesterday by deputy prime minister and finance minister Mark Brown.

 

Brown announced Australia’s mega-spending spree at a press conference at the Office of the Prime Minister.

“For the Cook Islands, we are very pleased with this news,” Brown said.

“It’s a credit to our engagement with Australia, in particular over the past five years, which has encouraged Australia to look at the Cook Islands one of the countries it does want to engage more with.

“In some ways it’s also a reflection of the geo-political situation in the Pacific.

“For many years now the Pacific has been neglected by a lot of our traditional government partners, and the voice of the Pacific is not being heard.

“In the absence of that (voice), we have seen other non- traditional partners or donors such as China come into this space.

“Now, it is encouraging that the voice of the Pacific is being heard.

“New Zealand and Australia are now actually cutting into the Pacific, making their presence known and also putting money behind the needs, particularly infrastructure, that Pacific island countries have been crying out (about) for many years.”

Brown said that during his last three years as finance minister, discussions with other finance ministers in the region had been about establishing a Pacific facility for infrastructure

resilience purposes to enable countries in the region to access funds a lot more easily.

“Being combined with the Asia Pacific region we tend to get lost (among) the huge demands of Asian countries that are much larger

“Our voice our argument for a Pacific resilience has been out there for three years. It is very encouraging to hear that Australia is going to commit $2 billion solely for Pacific infrastructure.

“It is good news indeed…great news.

“The Pacific is being heard, this supports the new commitment to the Pacific,” 

Meanwhile in Australia, prime minister Scott Morrison said in a speech yesterday it was time for Australia to open a new chapter in relations with its Pacific family.

“This is not just our region, or our neighbourhood, it’s our home,” said Morrison.

The Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility would issue grants and long-term loans for “high priority” projects including telecommunications, energy, transport and water, he added.

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