Prime Minister Mark Brown and Australian High Commissioner to the Cook Islands Phoebe Smith celebrate the 30th year anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries. AHC/24020125
Prime Minister Mark Brown has proposed a trilateral defence and security co-operation arrangement between the Cook Islands, New Zealand, and Australia.
month marks the 30th year anniversary of diplomatic relations
between Australia and Cook Islands. The two governments marked the occasion
with a reception hosted by the Australian High Commissioner to the Cook Islands
Phoebe Smith at her residence in Nikao last week.
gathering served to remind the partnership successes and lessons of the past
and opportunities for co-operation into the future.
Brown focused his remarks on the “Oa Tumanava” Partnership signed by the two
governments in 2022. “Oa Tumanava” details five pillars for future cooperation
between the Cook Islands and Australia.
proposed a trilateral defence and security co-operation arrangement between the
Cook Islands, New Zealand, and Australia.
addition to the Cook Islands defence and security arrangements with New
Zealand, Brown said: “Such a trilateral arrangement would in our view
encapsulate the existing multi-decade areas of security cooperation with
Australia including through the Defence Co-operation Program, the Pacific
Maritime Security Program, and regional mechanisms such as the Pacific
Transnational Crime Network.”
Leader Tina Browne said: “If Prime
Minister Brown has successfully negotiated improved surveillance arrangements
with Australia and New Zealand to tackle illegal fishing and prevent the
transportation of illegal drugs through Cook Islands’ waters, then
congratulations to him on this accomplishment.”
“However, if he has simply maintained the
current status quo, which is quite basic, then there is little cause for
celebration as no significant progress or achievement has been made.”
Australian High Commissioner Smith acknowledged PM
Brown’s proposal, saying Australia is open to formalising security partnerships
within the Pacific “where Pacific island countries see value in such
security agreements with Pacific island countries are founded on longstanding,
respectful and reciprocal security partnerships,” she told Cook Islands News.
welcomes instruments that outline our shared commitments as partners, the scope
of existing and new areas of security cooperation and arrangements for
deployments and other joint security activities, providing an implementation
mechanism for deeper levels of security cooperation.”
Smith said Australia and New Zealand reaffirmed their commitment to work
alongside Pacific countries as part of the Pacific, in support of their shared
interests and aspirations, at the inaugural Australia-New Zealand Foreign and
Defence Ministerial Consultations (ANZMIN 2+2) held in Melbourne on February 1.
Brown also sought sporting opportunities for Cook Islanders and access to
Australian grant funding facilities, equal to that of other Pacific nations. He
also asked for progress in Australian superannuation transfer arrangements.
announced the immigration policy change approved by the Cook Islands Cabinet
last week to enable Australian passport holders a 90-day visitor visa and
permit on arrival.
to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, the majority of the 30,000
Cook Islanders living in Australia have settled in Queensland, NSW, Victoria,
and Western Australia. They have assimilated into Australian communities adding
cultural and social richness, contributing to Australia’s economy through their
work in primary industries, construction, manufacturing, tourism, trade, sports,
education, health, government and beyond.
the reception, High Commissioner Smith launched the Stories of Friendship
Initiative, to celebrate many of the individuals who have contributed to the
bonds between the Cook Islands and Australia.
will continue to lead the Cook Islands coordination of engagement with the
government of Australia.
year anniversary will likely include a number of high-level engagements as the
two governments endeavour bring to further fruition their shared aspirations
detailed in ‘Oa Tumanava’.”