Analysis | Politics

PM Bainimarama Expected To Receive Warm Welcome When He Arrives In Canberra Today

Our PM and his counterpart, Scott Morrison, will leave behind their Tuvalu experience. And look forward to a friendly and meaningful engagement Bainimarama will visit renewable energy projects
12 Sep 2019 14:29
PM Bainimarama Expected To Receive Warm Welcome When He Arrives In Canberra Today
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (left), with Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama meet in Suva on January 17, 2019. Photo: Simione Haravanua

Analysis:

The Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, can expect a warm welcome when he arrives in Canberra today for his first official visit to Australia.

Mr Bainimarama has left his criticism of Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison back in Tuvalu, where the Pacific Islands Forum was held.

His statement was part of the ongoing discussion on climate change in his capacity as a global leader.

Earlier in the forum, he recognised the efforts by Australia to improve relations with Fiji.

He thanked Australia and New Zealand for their help in providing Fiji with support to meet its climate challenges and provision of significant climate finance.

Mr Bainimarama said: “We are bound by geography, history and shared values. Nothing must ultimately be allowed to come between us.”

Mr Bainimarama will carry those words to Australia. They give meaning and life to talks of bilateral relations and the Vuvale Partnership.

View on the coal industry

While coal plays a prominent role in the Australian economy, Mr Bainimarama has made his views known about it.

“I want to say this to the Australians, in particular about the issue of coal in relation to our collective quest for a carbon-free future: Fiji recognises that coal has always been an important part of the Australian economy, as an export revenue earner and for your national energy security.

“It has enabled you to build a strong economy that also gives you the means to support our region. We appreciate the importance to Australia – indeed all countries – of having reliable and affordable access to power.

“We respect the fact that you have your interests and we have ours. And just as we don’t expect to be told what to do in pursuit of our own interests, it is not for us to be prescriptive about how you should run your affairs.

“Having said that, I appeal to Australia to do everything possible to achieve a rapid transition from coal to energy sources that do not contribute to climate change.

“That transition should be just for your own people and just for us here in the Pacific, where we face an existential threat that you don’t face and challenges we expect your government and people to more fully appreciate.

“You are already providing leadership in renewable energy investment.”

Mr Bainimarama is expected to adopt a positive narrative in Canberra given the fact that Australia is one of our biggest development partners in the region.

He will take time to have a look at renewal energy projects.

Mr  Morrison and his team have put the Tuvalu experience behind them and have moved on.

They are going to turn on their hospitality for Mr Bainimarama and build on the relations that were given a major lift during Mr Morrison’s visit to Fiji in January when the Vuvale Partnership was born.

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