Australia can’t afford to neglect South Pacific: Bernardi

Australian Conservatives Release

Australian Conservatives Leader Cory Bernardi says the country can’t afford to neglect our own region of the South Pacific.

The South Australian Senator says Prime Minister Scott Morrison has made a ‘good start’ with his $250 million infrastructure investment for the Solomon Islands, but it will take a ‘concerted effort’ over time to counter other established influences in the region.

The Australian reports, the move to deepen Australia’s commitment to its “Pacific family” came as the US this week accused China of threatening ­regional security and warned the Indo-Pacific was its “priority theatre”.

The Prime Minister, who made the Solomon Islands his first trip abroad since the election, also emphasised Australia’s commitment to supporting Pacific nations’ security, saying it was crucial to underpinning the economic development of island neighbours.

He said Australia’s Pacific “step up” would be at the forefront of his new government’s agenda and declared he determined to come to the Pacific before the start of the 46th parliament next month to send a clear message about his commitment to the region.

Mr Morrison’s visit – the first by an Australian prime minister to Honiara in more than a decade – is widely seen as part of a US-led effort to encourage Taiwan’s Pacific allies to resist Beijing’s diplomatic advances and promises of infrastructure funding under its Belt and Road Initiative.

Senator Bernardi has told Paul Murray Live on Sky News, Australia should invest in nations ‘on our doorstop desperately in need of help’, rather than letting ‘a frenemy’ do it and Australia could do even more for the Solomons.

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