The country’s Foreign Affairs minister Marise Payne, who paid a formal visit to the Cook Islands this week, confirmed this was part of their commitment across the “Pacific step-up” to put a diplomatic representative in every Pacific Islands Forum member country.
Australia’s step-up commits the country to a more ambitious and intensified engagement in the Pacific to support a more resilient region.
Minister Payne and Prime Minister Henry Puna discussed the new High Commission.
“I’m very much looking forward to working with the prime minister to bring that about, hopefully by the end of this year but in an appropriate period of time, and that would be, I think, a very solid demonstration of where Australia sees the trajectory of our relations with the Cook Islands and more broadly.”
Minister Payne’s two-day visit was billed as an opportunity to strengthen bilateral co-operation between the two countries, as well as promoting security and prosperity in the Cook Islands, Australia and the wider Pacific.
Payne, who is also Australia’s Minister for Women, met with the Cook Islands National Council of Women and members of the Pacific Parliamentary Women’s Caucus to discuss women’s leadership, including Cook Islands initiatives to support women and girls.
Later, the visiting minister was hosted by Education Secretary Danielle Cochrane at Tereora College followed by a visit to the Returned Services section of Nikao Cemetery, where she laid a wreath. She flew back to Australia at 2pm.