Today I depart for a three day visit to Kiribati, the Cook Islands and Tonga to reinforce Australia’s commitment to and engagement in the Pacific. This is my first visit to each of these Pacific Island nations as Foreign Minister.

In Kiribati, I will meet President Tong and his senior Ministers. Australia is Kiribati’s major development and security partner and we value our role working with Kiribati to achieve sustainable economic development, prosperity and stability.

On behalf of the Australian Government, I will congratulate the Cook Islands Government and its people on this year’s 50th Anniversary of self-government.  I will meet Prime Minister Puna and address the Cabinet.

Australia is proud to have supported the Tongan Government’s efforts on economic and governance reforms. I will meet with Prime Minister Pohiva and Tonga’s new Cabinet to discuss Tonga’s economic and fiscal reform program.

I will also launch the New Colombo Plan (NCP) in Kiribati, the Cook Islands and Tonga. Forty-six Australian students from four Australian tertiary institutions are set to gain valuable learning experiences and develop personal networks in these countries.

In Kiribati, Cook Islands and Tonga, I will discuss regional architecture and the response to Tropical Cyclone Pam; inspect our aid, defence, and policing investments; and consider means to promote the private sector, and economic and political participation of women in the Pacific.

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