The Morrison Government urgently needs to show support for our Pacific island neighbours during this coronavirus crisis.
Over the weekend it was reported the Prime Minister explained to world leaders that COVID-19 is a dual economic and health crisis for the Pacific region and urged them to show their support.
Labor has been urging Scott Morrison to do exactly that for weeks.
There are currently 114 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Pacific.
From an economic and health perspective, the impacts of the coronavirus on this region could be catastrophic.
Tourism has been severely impacted, an industry that contributes 40 per cent of GDP to Vanuatu and Fiji for example.
From a health perspective, if COVID-19 spreads quickly in a country like Papua New Guinea, there will be dire consequences.
Currently there is only one confirmed case of the coronavirus in this nation, however public health experts are rightly concerned that PNG’s people are extremely vulnerable due to the high rates of poverty, poor nutrition, limited health services and other pre-existing health problems including tuberculosis.
To make matters worse, our Pacific neighbours are dealing with this crisis from the position where the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Governments have cut Australian health assistance to the Pacific by 10 per cent.
In some nations it has been much more extreme.
If countries like Australia don’t support the Pacific region during this pandemic, other nations will.
So while it’s essential we act quickly in supporting Australians through this crisis, the Government cannot forget about our Pacific island neighbours.