Deputy Prime Minister Truss Attends Pacific Islands Forum Leaders' Retreat with Pacific Leaders
01 August 2014
Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss welcomed the outcomes of the Leaders' Retreat at the 45th Summit of Pacific Islands Forum in Palau on 31 July. Attending the Retreat with the leaders of 14 other Pacific countries, he said he was pleased the Forum had adopted some important initiatives to ensure that regional cooperation in the Pacific is effective, relevant and resilient in the face of significant challenges.
Deputy Prime Minister Truss welcomed leaders' decision at the Retreat to put in place the new Framework for Pacific Regionalism, as effective and inclusive regionalism is critical to advancing the political, economic and social objectives of Forum members.
Leaders also signed a joint declaration on this year's Forum theme, ‘The Ocean: Life and Future'. Deputy Prime Minister Truss applauded the strong commitment among Pacific leaders to ocean conservation and management.
Australia is taking concrete steps to help protect the ocean resources of the Pacific island countries by renewing the Pacific Patrol Boat Program. At an estimated cost of $2 billion, the first new vessels are due to come on-line from 2018 and will enable participating nations to continue patrolling and managing their exclusive economic zones.
Deputy Prime Minister Truss was pleased to announce two complementary initiatives directed towards strengthening Pacific island countries' maritime security capacity: a program of contracted aerial ocean surveillance and the secondment of regional personnel to the Forum Fisheries Agency.
Australia is also increasing our support for Pacific regional fisheries organisations to $40 million by the end of December 2018.
Leaders at the Retreat look forward to welcoming Fiji back to the Forum after credible elections in September. Deputy Prime Minister Truss said this outcome is reflective of Australia's efforts to normalise relations with Fiji and to further strengthen our partnership with Fiji on a broad range of bilateral and regional issues.
Deputy Prime Minister Truss welcomed the leaders' decision to appoint Dame Meg Taylor from Papua New Ginea as the new Secretary General of the Forum, and thanked outgoing Secretary General Tuiloma Neroni Slade for his six years of service to the Forum. Dame Taylor's time as Vice President of the World Bank and proven expertise in improving governance and supporting private sector development make her ideally suited to this important leadership role as the Pacific enters a period of renewed regionalism.