Deputy Prime Minister Truss and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Foreign Affairs to attend the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders' Meeting

Media Release

WT124/2014

28 July 2014

Joint release with:

Senator Brett Mason

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Foreign Affairs

Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Foreign Affairs Senator Brett Mason will visit Palau to attend the 45th Leaders Meeting of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), the Pacific region's pre-eminent regional body, held from 28 July and 1 August.

The Forum meets this year at an important time for the region. PIF leaders will consider this year's theme, ‘The Ocean: Life and Future’, and a plan to reinvigorate regional cooperation in the Pacific. They will discuss the range of issues facing the region from ocean sustainability and the more effective coordination of development assistance through security to economic growth opportunities and constraints.

Australia's high level attendance at the Forum underscores our strong and enduring commitment to the Forum and working with our fellow PIF members to meet the economic, social, political and security needs of the region.

Australia will provide $1.1 billion in official development assistance to the Pacific in 2014–15, reaffirming its standing as the region's primary development partner.

Deputy Prime Minister Truss will attend the Leaders' Retreat, while Senator Mason will represent Australia at the Forum plenary session and the Post-Forum Dialogue. PIF Leaders will be joined in Palau by high-level representatives from the Forum Associate Members, Observers and Post-Forum Dialogue partners (including China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Indonesia, India, the US, the UK and France).

Senator Mason will visit three Australian-funded projects which are helping Palau to both address a serious problem from the past and build a better future.

Senator Mason will meet with Cleared Ground Demining, the international NGO undertaking Australian-aid funded demining operations in Palau, the scene of fierce fighting during the Second World War. He will visit the Explosive Ordnance Disposal School established by Cleared Ground Demining on the island of Peleliu.

Australia is the lead donor supporting the clearance of unexploded Second World War ordnance in Palau, providing over $4.3 million in funding between 2011 and 2016 to address the problem.

Senator Mason will also visit the Palau Tourism and Hospitality School of Excellence, which Australia helped establish and support with funding of over $250,000, as well as the Palau International Coral Reef Center, which promotes sustainable fisheries management.