Prime Minister Hon. Manasseh Sogavare used the occasion to commemorate Australia’s National Day to highlight and acknowledge a number of key developments in which Australia assisted the country with.
Prime Minister Sogavare acknowledged Australia’s assistance in establishing two border security outposts in the Western and Eastern parts of the country.
He also made mention of the current Solomon Islands Assistance Force in active deployment in the country.
The Prime Minister further highlighted Australia’s assistance in the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force communication project which aims to provide communication in blind spots along the Solomon Islands- Papua New Guinea border. PM Sogavare added, this will complement the government’s telecommunication policy to connect the rest of the country.
PM Sogavare acknowledged the Australian government in its assistance towards the hosting of the 2023 Pacific Games as well. “Australia will be sending a big contingent to the games and the country is looking forward to host them.”
He further pointed out that another highlight of the relationship between Solomon Islands and Australia is the Pacific Labour Scheme. At the moment under 5000 Solomon Islanders are engaged under the scheme and the benefits of the program have been felt throughout the country.
The Prime Minister revealed, according to the Central Bank report of 2021, total remittance coming back into the country is around $215 million and this will continue to rise as more workers are going to Australia under the scheme.
He underlined the importance of continuing deeper economic integration with Australia and encourage freer movement of peoples between the borders of the two countries.
Prime Minister Sogavare further acknowledged Australia’s assistance in the area of education under the Education Sector Support Program (ESSP) whereby the program involves upskilling of teachers’ knowledge, establishment of classrooms and dormitories. The PM acknowledged Australia’s awards program saying it continues to yield productive human resources for the country.
He also acknowledged visits by Foreign Minister Penny Wong and Minister for International Development and the Pacific Pat Conroy, saying their presence in the country last year have further deepen areas of mutual and common interests between the two countries.
The Australia National Day is celebrated on the 26th of January annually, and this year’s celebration is held at the residence of the Australian High Commissioner at Ngosi.
Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare was the guest of honour and he also has the honour in greeting the new high commissioner designate Rodney Hilton. Hilton took over from Dr Strahan who completes his tenure as the High Commissioner of Australia in Solomon Islands.
Meanwhile, outgoing Ambassador Dr. Lachlan Strahan is thankful that Australia is Solomon Islands partner of choice adding, “Australia takes that role very seriously and will continue to honour it.”