Australia's commitment to the Pacific? No way to treat family

Australia looks to be withdrawing from the Pacific at precisely the time our Pacific neighbours are calling for increased and urgent involvement from Australia.

“Whilst it is pleasing to hear Prime Minister Morrison state today in Jakarta that he regards Australia’s relationship with the Pacific as “family”, the initial actions of the Morrison Government raise serious concerns”, Phil Glendenning Edmund Rice Centre Director said today.

“If Australia regards the Pacific as family then why remove a designated minister with responsibility for Pacific affairs from Cabinet; why decide not to attend the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF); and why seek to lessen commitment to reducing emissions and the Paris Accord - both of which impact hardest on the peoples of the Pacific? ”

Edmund Rice Centre’s Pacific Calling Partnership has worked in the Pacific for many years, especially with the peoples of Kiribati and Tuvalu. From that experience, one thing is very clear: now is precisely not the time for Australia to lessen its commitment to the Pacific.

“Climate change is the biggest threat to the very existence of life in the Pacific island nations, most particularly Kiribati, Tuvalu, and the Marshall Islands. Their nations’ leaders will all attend the PIF, and will look to Australia to take their concerns seriously”.

“Whilst Foreign Minister Senator Marise Payne will represent Australia effectively, she is not the nation’s leader”, Mr Glendenning said.

“To diminish Australia’s engagement with the Pacific Island states does not make any sense, and it is no way to treat people you publicly claim to be family. The reality of climate change and the threat it poses to the Pacific requires Australia’s actions as well as words”.

The Pacific Calling Partnership is an Edmund Rice Centre initiative working to promote knowledge of and action with the people of low-lying Pacific Island communities who are at the frontline of climate change. PCP delegations have participated in past UN Climate Summits, including the 2015 Paris Conference.

For comment/interview contact: Phil Glendenning on 0419 013 758

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