Hi, I'm Australia's Minister for International Development and the Pacific and Minister for Defence Industry, Pat Conroy.
I am speaking to you from Ngunnawal country and would like to pay my respect to Elders past, present and future.
Congratulations to AP4D on the launch of their terrific Pacific Program.
Absolutely core to shaping a shared future in the Pacific is a whole-of-nation effort, drawing together all of our national assets. Not just across government, but the private sector, civil society and academia.
The work of AP4D in bringing together the development, diplomacy and defence communities is timely and important. It brings a breadth of knowledge and innovative ideas to the table.
The complexity of issues we face is growing. As the Foreign Minister has said, the triple challenges of climate, COVID and strategic contest will challenge us in new ways.
We are committed to listening and working in partnership with our Pacific family to face these shared challenges together.
Nowhere is an integrated approach more critical than in tackling climate change, described in the Pacific Islands Forum's Boe Declaration as the “single greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and wellbeing of the peoples of the Pacific”.
We are already feeling its impacts: from the flooding and erosion of low-lying atolls of Tuvalu to the Black Summer bushfires in Australia and recent flooding across Queensland and northern New South Wales.
Under the Albanese Government, Australia is deeply committed to taking real and significant climate action at home, and to re-establishing Australia as a climate leader internationally.
At the same time, of course, the Pacific is grappling with global economic insecurity and the long-term impacts of the pandemic.
In the last few months, we've seen the clear ways in which development, diplomacy and defence issues are intersecting in the Pacific.
The much sharper global geostrategic circumstances make it clear; this trend isn't going to pass any time soon.
As we have been for decades, Australia will remain a long-term partner for the Pacific.
Foreign Minister Penny Wong's early visits to Fiji, Samoa and Tonga have emphasised the new energy we are bringing to that partnership. And I look forward to visiting myself very soon.
Our goal, fundamentally, is to work together with our Pacific family to support its long-term stability, security and prosperity.
I'm very glad that AP4D's work on the Pacific will help elevate the critical issues in front of us – and provide expert advice and assistance on how Australia can best play our part to advance our shared prosperity and security.
I wish you well with the work ahead and look forward to our continued engagement.