BY THE SECRETARY GENERAL HENRY PUNA
Visit and Keynote address by Senator the Hon. Penny Wong,
Minister for Foreign Affairs
26 May 2022
- Senator the Honourable Penny Wong, Minister for Foreign Affairs
- Heads of Missions and Representatives of the Pacific Islands Forum Missions in Suva
- Representatives of CROP agencies
- Senior Officials joining us this evening from across our Blue Pacific
- Representatives of the media
- Ladies and Gentlemen
- Kia Orana, Bula Vinaka and welcome to this very special gathering this evening.
- Minister Wong, may I, on our collective behalf, congratulate you on your successful election and appointment as Minister for Foreign Affairs for the Government of Australia.
- Your visit to Fiji this week, indeed your very first bilateral visit as Foreign Minister, represents in itself a strong shift in Australia’s political landscape and the value it attaches to its regional partners.
[Australia in the region]
- Australia is and continues to be a valued partner and member of our Forum Family and plays an influential role in our region, as the largest member of the Pacific Islands Forum.
- I must say Minister, that I was particularly heartened by your vision and commitment to integrate the Uluru Statement from the Heart and weave the voices and practice of Australia’s indigenous people into your diplomacy, moving forward.
- Indeed, our respect for culture and indigenous identity in the Pacific is what sets us apart from the rest of the world and I welcome this special move by the Australian Government.
- Together with this announcement, we have seen and heard over the last few days, a range of political commitments that have begun to shape the foundation of Australia’s renewed foreign policy direction for the Pacific region.
- At the heart of this, is your commitment to listen and work with us as partners to overcome some of the greatest challenges facing our region and our Forum Family, at this time.
- I welcome your government’s recognition of the ongoing climate crisis and your strong commitment to work with us to address this.
- Your assurance on strengthened climate ambitions, will be integral to Forum Island Countries as we begin in earnest on our preparations for COP 27 later this year. I am hopeful that we, as the Pacific Islands Forum, will take to COP 27 some of the strongest advocacy positions and priorities that we have ever developed as a Forum Family.
- This is an issue so critical for our survival and we cannot settle for anything less than urgent climate action now.
[Strengthened collective moving forward]
- As we work towards the finalisation of the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent, I am quietly hopeful that this strategy, which will represent our renewed commitment to Pacific regionalism, will set the tone for our collective action as a Forum Family, moving forward.
- Our solidarity is and should always be the basis of our collective engagement – and it will depend on our ability to work together, to listen to each other and to deliver on our regional priorities.
[Introducing Minister Wong]
- Minister Wong comes into the position of Foreign Minister at a critical time in our region’s history.
- Indeed, her illustrious background and political experience is testament to her life of service, first and foremost, to her constituents but more broadly, to Australia and Australians, the world over.
- Minister Wong, meitaki ma’ata for making the journey to Fiji and to the Secretariat this evening.
- With those very brief remarks, I invite you to deliver your keynote address.
- Vinaka vakalevu.–ENDS
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