Scott Morrison’s attempts to repair relations with Pacific nations has been dealt another blow after former Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, launched an extraordinary attack midway through the Prime Minister’s tour of Vanuatu and Fiji.
In an opinion piece for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, the former minister slammed Morrison’s key Pacific initiative – the infrastructure financing facility – accusing it of being “disingenuous” and “not in the long-term interests of Pacific Island countries”.
This latest Coalition division follows Peter Dutton’s bungling of the Neil Prakash citizenship issue. Mr Morrison will now need to spend his time in Fiji repairing the damage that Dutton’s incompetence has inflicted on the bilateral relationship with Fiji.
Labor has long argued that Australia must demonstrate greater leadership in the Pacific and play our part in ensuring a stable and prosperous region.
But the chaos and division inside the Coalition continues to undermine Australia’s engagement in the Pacific.
Mr Morrison’s announcement of funds for projects to deal with the impacts of climate change is welcome, but disingenuous.
No issue has done more damage to Australia’s standing in the region than the Coalition’s refusal to take seriously the issue of climate change.
The Pacific has felt the impact of the record $11 billion in aid cuts under this government.
A quick trip by Morrison to the Pacific after years of his government’s neglect of these critical relationships isn’t going to fix that.
Unlike the Morrison Government, we will treat our Pacific partners with respect. Unlike the Coalition, we understand the need to reflect our commitments to our Pacific neighbours in our actions.
A Shorten Labor Government will work in partnership with Pacific island states to contribute to the security and prosperity of the entire region.
Authorised by Noah Carroll, ALP, Canberra.