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PM Bainimarama Welcomes Australia And New Zealand’s Efforts To Re-engage At Pacific Islands Forum

He said his views about their place in the forum were well known. He had maintained that Australia and New Zealand should have no voting powers in the forum, but welcomed their place at the forum meeting.
13 Aug 2019 15:34
PM Bainimarama Welcomes Australia And New Zealand’s Efforts To Re-engage At Pacific Islands Forum
Participants at the 50th Pacific Islands Forum listening to Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama’s opening address during the climate change Sautalaga in Funafuti, Tuvalu on August 12, 2019. Photo: DEPTFO News

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has welcomed a new era in which Australia and New Zealand “are attempting to re-engage with us in a more respectful and inclusive way.”

He made his remarks at the Sautalaga climate change event of the Pacific Islands Forum in Funafuti, Tuvalu yesterday.

He said his views about their place in the forum were well known. He had maintained that Australia and New Zealand should have no voting powers in the forum, but welcomed their place at the forum meeting.

“I want to express my thanks to both the Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, and his New Zealand counterpart, Jacinda Ardern, for the efforts they have made, and are making, to improve the relationship with Fiji and the other island nations,” Mr Bainimarama said.

“And especially for the support both countries are providing to enable us to meet the climate threat, including the provision of significant climate finance. We are bound by geography, history and shared values. And nothing must ultimately be allowed to come between us.

“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 governments and people to more fully appreciate.

“You are already providing leadership in renewable energy investment and are leading in research and development across many aspects of it. Please do more. And we would all welcome benefitting from that effort.”

He told Tuvalu people, God forbid, if the climate change battle failed, because the industrial nations continued to selfishly put their own interests above our own, Fiji would offer a home to them. He said Fiji had made the same offer to Kiribati.

Edited by Nemani Delabatiki.

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