June 21, 2022

Australia and the Pacific - finding new ways to shape a shared future with the region

Australia and the Pacific - finding new ways to shape a shared future with the region

Working together with Pacific island countries to address regional priorities such as climate change, digital connectivity and development challenges will help Australia to anchor its engagement with the Pacific and consolidate partnerships of mutuality, respect and shared leadership, according to a new report and four-pillar plan being launched today by the Asia-Pacific Development, Diplomacy, & Defence Dialogue (AP4D). 

With a newly-elected government in Australia, there is currently an opportunity for a rhetorical reset framed in terms of long-term, generational partnership. Australian and Pacific interests will not always perfectly align, but the report outlines how engagement will reap mutual benefits when it is based on Pacific priorities and sees the region as valuable in its own right rather than through the lens of geostrategic competition. By contributing to building stronger, resilient and prosperous societies, Australia is investing in a more secure and stable immediate neighbourhood.

The new report and options papers from AP4D are the culmination of six months of consultations with more than 140 experts from across the development, diplomacy and defence communities both in Australia and the Pacific. They outline a vision for what an integrated approach to foreign policy looks like in practice for Australia in the Pacific.

 AP4D Program Lead, Melissa Conley Tyler said:

“While recent developments have brought the Pacific to the forefront of Australia’s foreign policy debate, it would be a mistake to view the region only in geopolitical terms. At a time of intensifying competition there may be pressure for Australia to take a short-term and transactional approach towards the region. Such crisis thinking would be unnecessary and counterproductive.”
“Australia’s interest in the Pacific, and the attention it pays to it, should remain clear, consistent and coherent, irrespective of whether there are crises or not. Shared challenges and mutual threats require long-term, sustained attention.”
“Australia’s scale in the region means its actions are consequential and it can have a positive impact on the trajectory of Pacific island countries. This is of mutual benefit: stronger, more resilient and more prosperous societies mean a more secure and stable immediate neighbourhood.”
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