Photo: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas
Today I hosted a barbeque for my fellow Pacific leaders following the conclusion of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Port Moresby.
We discussed opportunities for strengthening our cooperation as members of the Pacific family, including Australia’s recently announced initiatives for our region.
Building on these recent announcements, we will streamline access to Australia through the launch of a Pacific–Australia Card (PAC), an initiative designed to improve the travel experience of visiting Pacific Island leaders, including from the political, business and sporting spheres.
We will also deepen educational links by providing a new package of scholarships for Pacific students to study in Australian secondary schools, increase opportunities for technical education, and expand our school partnerships program (BRIDGE) to build teacher-to-teacher links with the Pacific.
Finally, we will encourage our churches to work more closely together through a new Church Partnerships Program.
These programs build on my joint announcement with the Minister for Foreign Affairs on the 15th of November, when we outlined plans to expand the Pacific Labour Scheme and establish a dedicated Office of the Pacific in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
I look forward to working closely together with my Pacific friends to implement these initiatives.