Remarks at bilateral with His Excellency Mr Peter M Christian, President of the Federated States of Micronesia

09 Sep 2016
Pohnpei, Micronesia
Prime Minister

President Christian: Thank you very much and thank you for our new Ambassador, very pleased that we have him. I express a sense of shame that we have not had an embassy established in Australia to reciprocate the honour Australia has extended to the assembly by establishing an embassy. We take this very seriously and the administration that I’m in right now, if given the support of these people, we plan on a little building somewhere in Canberra to be closer to you. And I also want to thank Australia for the support in the fisheries, [inaudible] the patrol boats that have been provided to us from Australia have definitely been something that we have used and used quite well. Thank you very much for that. There are many more that we should be thankful for but normally they give me hints of what they also need to say but they haven’t done so I think we need to talk more about this. But definitely inclusive of this is several Australian scholarship programs that have come our way. Our aim is to diversify  as much as we can in our education culture rather than just Washington, Washington, Washington. We happen to have some Chinese, Australia, New Zealand educated people so thank you. It comes with a flavour that is different from our upbringing with the Americans. I know you have a very good friendship with the Americans but still.

Prime Minister: Well we are all good friends with the Americans. Well that’s fantastic - thank you very much. You’re been wonderful hosts and it’s great to be here and I’m glad that you approve of the Ambassador. He’s doing a great job; he’s already been looking after us very well today. Very keen to hear from you about your priorities for the Pacific Island Forum over the year ahead. As you know Australia has a very strong, very long standing, substantial commitment to the Pacific, however you measure it - whether you measure it in dollars, whether you measure it in people, whether you measure it in the people to people ties and the close connections between all the Pacific communities and Australia. You mentioned the patrol boats and the protection of the fisheries - that’s very important. Obviously we are often able to identify illegal fishers from aerial surveillance and other means, but you’ve got to have the means then to actually go and intercept them and deal with them - so that’s where the patrol boats are very important. Your existing patrol boats that you have are getting a bit long in the tooth and we are building another 21 patrol boats, Pacific Patrol Boats, Austal ships are building them and they will be substantially bigger vessels, more powerful vessels with a longer range. So that will be the next generation of patrol boats to give you even greater reach to protect your important fisheries, one of your most important assets. It’s very good to be here and looking forward to having a good, frank discussion with you.