Remarks, Pacific Skills Portal Launch

14 Aug 2019
Funafuti, Tuvalu
Prime Minister

PRIME MINISTER: I particularly want to thank you Prime Minister Sopoaga for your welcome here to Tuvalu. It’s my first visit to Tuvalu and I’m so pleased that under the circumstances you described I was able to join you here at my first Pacific Island Forum. I’m also very pleased to be here with Minister Hawke, our Minister in the Pacific we appointed after the election. He's been here for several days now and I know he's engaging well with everyone here. To President Baron Waqa, you and I have known each other for many years now and it's great to be here again with you. And I can also acknowledge Prime Minister Sogavare, it's wonderful to be catching up with you as well. 

As we come together here at the Pacific Island Forum it's very different, you know, to many of the other forums there are around the world because it is truly a family gathering. And whether we say family as kāiga, or we say it is as whānau or we say it as vuvale, or however we talk about it, that's what it is. And when families come together, they talk about the stuff that matters, that's most important to them. And over the next few days, that's exactly what we'll be doing. We'll be talking about the future of our environment. We'll be talking about the future of our economies. We're going to talk about what is talked about in every single family in the world, how our kids are going to get jobs and what jobs they're going to have in the future and how we're going to make sure that that happens. And that's a particularly big challenge here in the Pacific with such a large youth population and a growing youth population. We want to make sure they have the skills for the jobs that they're going to need.

There’s health challenges - everything from drug-resistant tuberculosis to just simply ensuring that we can deliver health services in remote areas. And as you heard on the video earlier, you know, these are challenges Australia deals with as well, no differently, just in a different context, in a different scale. We're wrestling with the issue of making sure our training is right for our young people and for those who are transitioning much later in life with different jobs. And that the jobs that we want them to go into are there and that they will be there in the future. 

Similarly, we're doing what we're doing and delivering health services and education services across what is a very vast continent. The difference between the Pacific and Australia is it's just as big, it's just blue for the islands of the Pacific and for us it’s every colour of the rainbow, from the red dirt brown to the green of our rainforests and the blue of our coasts and oceans and sands.

So we're dealing with different, different contexts but we're dealing with the same challenges and that's why I'm very pleased for us to be supporting the Pacific Skills Partnership. I've seen this in practices I've visited with my colleagues and from the forum whether I've been in Fiji or other places, and I've seen the training that takes place and it's- and I've met the students and they've come from right across the Pacific. And this is making a big difference in their lives and it's making a big difference to the one economy of the Pacific which we want to see continue to grow.

And so in being here to offer some closing remarks on this initiative I particularly want to pay a credit to you, Baron, for your initiation of this very important project and the passion you put into it and all of those who've worked on it since to bring it to today's position, and but also to you Prime Minister for bringing it together here. And so it is now launched and as part of an important program. And Australia as you know has been working on this with you. And we will continue to work with you on this. And that's why I'm pleased to say as part of the Australian Pacific training coalition we'll be putting in another hundred and fifty scholarships this program and that includes 30, 30 right here in Tuvalu.

And so there'll be more opportunities for young people right across the Pacific to go and be part of this very exciting program that is just a small part of what we consider to be, what you know I call the Pacific Step Up. And you’ve got to Step Up, you’ve got to show up. And Australia's going to show up, we're not just going to show up here, we’re going to show up for the hard conversations, the good conversations, the family conversations that we have, and that's very much the spirit in which we're engaging. And I'm looking forward to the next few days, it will be great company. And a lot of important things I think it should achieve. So thank you very much for the opportunity here to participate.