Australia’s new Pacific Minister Pat Conroy said his government is keen to revamp its relationship with the Pacific, but not as a result of China’s activity in the region.
The new government has been criticised for a reactionary approach to Pacific foreign policy, with Minister Penny Wong visiting the region shortly after China’s Foreign Minister began his tour of the Pacific.
Conroy brushed off that suggestion.
“We are keen to work with all the Pacific members of the family to secure our regional security, and that’s our key focus,” Conroy said.
“That’s why Minister one has been so fast in in visiting the Pacific.”
He said the new government wants to implement policy promises made on the campaign trail, including ambitious climate change targets and improving pathways to permanent Australian residence for Pacific Islanders.
“It is the first time that the Commonwealth of Australia, the Australian government, will allocate a specific number of permanent migration visas for a region,” he said.
“And it’s a sign of our support our enthusiastic membership of the Pacific family that we want to make it easier for Pacific Islanders to live in Australia to be permanent migrants and eventually become citizens,” he said .