Solomon Islands Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade Hon. Jeremiah Manele held a bilateral meeting with the Australian Minister for International Development and the Pacific, and the Minister for Defence Industry, Hon. Pat Conroy, in Honiara, on 25 July 2023.
The Foreign Minister took the opportunity to welcome Hon. Conroy to Solomon Islands, noting it was the Minister’s second official trip since August 2022.
Hon. Manele recognized the progressive partnership between Solomon Islands and Australia in areas such as policing and security, education, health, climate change, maritime, sports, culture, trade, and labor mobility, among others.
The Foreign Minister also highlighted the success of the Labour Mobility program and acknowledged the Australian Government for the opportunities provided for SI nationals to partake in the labour mobility scheme. The Minister commended the high economic returns in remittances the country has benefited from, as well as the skilled development opportunities for Solomon Islanders. The Minister emphasized the positive impact of the Labour mobility program has progressed and the Solomon Islands Government aspires to see numbers of SI workers continue to grow.
The Minister conveyed the government’s appreciation for Australia’s support towards preparations for the Pacific Games 2023, as well as additional support by the Australian Government towards preparations for the National General Elections in 2024.
The Foreign Minister took the opportunity to also acknowledge Australia’s support to Solomon Islands International Assistance Force (SIAF).
On Climate Change, Foreign Minister Manele conveyed Solomon Islands Government’s support towards Australia’s bid to co-host COP31 with Pacific nations, adding the value and visibility for Pacific states advocacy on climate change will be paramount in harnessing collective global actions.
On efforts to address Climate Change, both Ministers also discussed the potential for further cooperation on renewable energy projects, and the challenges faced by Solomon Islands on energy affordability.
On health cooperation, the Foreign Minister commended Australia for the renovated and recently opened High Dependency Ward at the National Referral Hospital.
The Foreign Minister also raised a possibility for collaboration on international-fee waiver initiative for SI nationals in Australia. Minister Conroy noted the proposal, and conveyed Australia’s willingness to further discuss potential education partnerships.
Foreign Minister Manele also raised the Solomon Islands Government’s request for a reciprocal visa-waiver arrangement with Australia for SI passport holders. Minister Conroy responded that the Australian Government is exploring avenues to reduce the waiting time for applicants’ visa procession.
The meeting concluded with a reaffirmation of Solomon Islands and Australia’s continued support in strengthening their mutual priorities in the various sectors of development cooperation.
–MFAET PRESS RELEASE