Australia and Samoa are set to sign a new deal on education and health, as Prime Minister Anthony Albanese welcomes the Samoan PM Fiamē Naomi Mata’afa to Canberra.
Mata’afa will receive a ceremonial welcome at Parliament House and sign a bilateral agreement.
She has put climate change action and the need for more regional consultation on the agenda.
Mata’afa has pushed for an end to fossil fuel subsidies and more financing for climate resilience projects in the Pacific. She also floated the idea of a European-style free movement across Australia, New Zealand and Pacific island nations.
“That whole concept there of the European common market, we’ve been talking about that in the Pacific for a long time,” she told a Lowy Institute event ahead of her talks with Albanese on Wednesday.
“I think we need to explore that.”
Mata’afa said people were having a difficult time trying to come to Australia or New Zealand to visit relatives or go on holiday.
Albanese said his government’s record on climate action had helped bolster relationships in the region.
“The entry fee for good relations in the Pacific is action on climate change,” he told parliament.
“They take that issue more seriously than any other because it’s a threat to their very existence. That’s why these relationships are so important.”
Mata’afa will be the eighth Pacific leader the government hosts as it works to build Australia’s standing in the region.
Albanese will also host his counterpart for dinner at The Lodge on Wednesday night.
“These relationships are very important for Australia’s future. They’re important for the region and will continue to work constructively,” he said.
Opposition foreign affairs spokesman Simon Birmingham said Ms Fiamē’s visit and speech calling for more action on climate change underpinned the need for global co-operation to tackle the issue.
“Globally, countries working together can change the dial when it comes to projections for climate change and the voices of Pacific Island nation leaders are perhaps the most powerful voices,” he said.