It is my great pleasure today to welcome the Prime Minister of Solomon Islands, The Honourable Rick Houenipwela MP, on his first official visit to Australia as Prime Minister.
Today we brought into effect the Bilateral Security Agreement, which replaces the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI). We are pleased to continue our support for peace and stability in Solomon Islands which RAMSI provided for 14 years.
The Prime Minister and I are advancing cooperation across a range of areas including regional security, telecommunications and cyber issues.
I'm pleased to announce that Australia and Solomon Islands will jointly fund the construction of a domestic telecommunication cable network linking remote provinces to Honiara.
This initiative will see the economic and social benefits of high speed internet extend to Solomon Islands’ highly-dispersed population. It will link Auki in Malaita Province, Noro in Western Province, and Taro in Choiseul Province, with Honiara.
The domestic cable network will extend the benefits of the international high-speed undersea telecommunications cable between Honiara, Port Moresby and Sydney.
We have also deepened our cooperation on cyber issues with the establishment of a Cyber Security Operations Centre in Solomon Islands, as well as Honiara’s agreement to partner in a Technology for Development Challenge as part of Australia’s International Cyber Engagement Strategy.
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Solomon Islands’ independence, Australia will support the establishment of a new National Birthing Centre, the Naha Clinic, providing world class health facilities to women across the nation.
As we step up our engagement in the Pacific, we are working as partners with Solomon Islands more closely than ever to ensure stability, security and prosperity in the region.