Published: Sun, November 11, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Australia anticipated to announce billion greenback mortgage fund for Pacific

Australia anticipated to announce billion greenback mortgage fund for Pacific

"This is our patch, this is our part of the world", Morrison said in his most detailed foreign policy speech since becoming prime minister in August.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday (Nov 8) announced a A$3 billion (S$2.99 billion) package to boost ties with Pacific island nations amid growing concerns about China's growing influence in the region.

A new Pacific facility is to be established at the Australian Institute of Police Management to train Pacific police leaders.

Australia will also establish a Defence Force mobile training team for deployment to the Pacific to upskill local forces.

The number of Chinese fishing vessels operating in the tuna-rich waters of the Pacific has also increased from 244 in 2010 to over 600, according to data from Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission.Without mentioning China by name, Morrison hailed common values with island nations and said he would expand Australia's diplomatic footprint to "every member country of the Pacific Islands Forum".

To complement the new fund, the Government plans to give Australia's export financing agency access to an extra $1 billion to invest in projects "which has a broad national benefit for Australia".

"The government I have the privilege to lead, is returning the Pacific to where it should be; front and center", Morrison said in a speech announcing the new Pacific initiative.

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Marise Payne spoke after meeting with China's chief diplomat Wang Yi on the first visit to Beijing by an Australian foreign minister in almost three years as both countries pursue a thaw in relations.

"We are getting on with business with China", he told reporters. In the aftermath, China froze Australian ministerial visits for about a year.

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne held the fifth China-Australia Foreign and Strategic Dialogue here on Thursday, with both officials vowing to promote bilateral ties on the basis of mutual trust and win-win results.

Wang said that he had agreed with Payne that the two countries could combine their respective strengths and embark on trilateral cooperation with Pacific island countries.

Earlier this month, Australia said it would help PNG develop a naval base, beating out China as a possible partner for the port development.

While the Pacific has traditionally been seen as Australia's diplomatic turf and is the biggest recipient of foreign aid from Canberra, China has been increasing loans to small, indebted Pacific island nations. Canberra said it was concerned about "undue concentration of foreign ownership by a single company group".

"While China and Australia do not always agree, it is vitally important that we always match our words with actions", he said.

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