On her fourth day as Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Senator Penny Wong on her first bilateral visit traveled to Fiji to address the Pacific Islands Forum.
“I’m deeply honoured to be here at the Pacific Islands Forum – the pre-eminent Pacific Institution, the heart of Pacific regionalism. For more than 50 years, the Forum has brought us together in the Pacific way. Through the Forum, Pacific nations have championed their interests on the international stage – and led international thinking on issues such as climate.”
Australia is a founding member of the Forum, a membership they treasure, said Wong.
“I’ve come here on day four because I wanted to say in person, and in the Pacific, on behalf of the new Australian Government how deeply we value being part of the Pacific family.
Wong added, “Thank you for your stewardship of our shared Blue Pacific and its amazing biodiversity.”
“Thank you for being custodians of some of the planet’s most ancient cultures, and many of the world’s languages.
“We have longstanding bonds – forged in times of crisis but sustained in peace and prosperity.”
Wong said, “One of the most powerful examples of the depth of our bond is the way our Pacific brothers and sisters have come to Australia’s aid – during the Black Summer bushfires and more recently during our devastating floods.”
“We are there for each other in good times and in bad.”
Wong reiterated the reason for her visit saying, “To make clear on behalf of the new Australian Government – and in particular on behalf of Prime Minister Albanese – our commitment to you: we will work with you to make our Pacific family even stronger.”
“We will listen. We will hear you, your ideas for how we can face our shared challenges and achieve our shared aspirations.”