Remarks - Bilateral Meeting with Prime Minister Bainimarama

16 Sep 2019
Prime Minister

PRIME MINISTER MORRISON: It's wonderful to welcome you here to Australia as a Guest of Government it is wonderful to stand by your side this morning as we were receiving the Federation Guard and to be able to inspect the guard during those most important places in Australia looking out on the War Memorial. As Prime Minister to be able to welcome you here in this special way and to acknowledge the great friendship that Australia and Fiji has, the great friendship that you and I have built up. It was a great pleasure to be Australia's first Prime Minister to go to Fiji on a bilateral visit which I must admit at the time was a surprise to me that it had taken so long. But as you said and I remember on that night many invitations have been offered and this one has been accepted and I was very pleased to accept it and join you and Mary in Fiji but today to be able to welcome you here and to be with you yesterday, I think has been very special. As part of our Vuvale partnership and the work that we begun when I was in Suva with you and that we will bring to completion today after this meeting as we sign the Vuvale partnership. The thing I love about how we've expressed it, it's a term of intimacy, it's a term of family, and that's very much always been the basis of our relationships. The people to people relationships, the strategic relationships, the economic partnerships, they're not new they go back many many many generations and for whatever other complexities there are in the world today, one certainty is the relationship that exists between the people of Australia and the people of Fiji. And I think that will always endure the, it is just too familiar. It is too close and and it will always be enduring so I want to thank you and all of your delegation a very very large delegation who's been able to come to Australia. I look forward the discussions we’re about to have on many issues and thank you for the discussions that we have just had between us ourselves as leaders. I want to thank you for your leadership in the Pacific. The Pacific is a place that we have great passion about and particularly with yourself as a key leader in the Pacific and standing up for the Pacific and the interests of the Pacific peoples not just the peoples of Fiji. I think has shown tremendous leadership and we want to acknowledge that here as well. So I look forward to those discussions and I I thank you for accepting our invitation to be here on this occasion. It's a very important day, I know, in our relationship but also between our two countries. Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER BAINIMARAMA: Thank you Mr Prime Minister [inaudible] for the hospitality that was extended to myself and my delegation since our arrival. I would also like to thank the man and women of the Australian defence force, our Fijian community in Sydney, the congregation of the Horizon church. Thank you sir. And the coaches and staff of the Fijian rugby team for helping set my visit to Australia off to such a wonderful start. Not that we did- well that they- drew a pitch. But Prime Minister, I look forward to advancing the era of respect and openness that has and must continue to define engagement between our governments. We've already had the chance to speak one on one and talk through some pressing issues ahead of this official bilateral meeting. Neither of us are [inaudible] speaking our minds or struggle with saying exactly what we mean. And I believe we both hold a clear view all of our priorities and a shared understanding of how we can live up to the high aspirations of the Vuvale partnership. In Fiji vuvale, as you may explain, means family and few words resonate more deeply in the hearts of our people. For Fijians the bond that binds families together is a sacred, unbreakable connection. It's about more than being good mates to one another. It's about the vuvale connection demands a level of understanding here, to unprecedented in the allegiance between our governments but which has been long evident in the genuine affinity shared by the Fijian and Australian people. Members of any family are entitled to their disagreements. No one expects that our differences can be resolved quickly or easily. But we must never falter in forging common ground and common ground is what I intend to seek in our discussion on the issues that impact the lives of Fijian Australians and all Pacific people this morning which the Prime Minister's- and I said to you before we came in I was hoping that I'd be at the grounds watching the Fijians kick the Welsh up. Unfortunately for me. But you'll be coming to Fiji at the same time and I hope to be there to reciprocate this wonderful visit that you've hosted for us.