On behalf of the Australian Government, I convey my sincere condolences to the Government and people of Vanuatu on the sudden passing of eminent parliamentarian and statesman, the Honourable Edward Nipake Natapei.

Mr Natapei entered Parliament in 1983 and served as Prime Minister of Vanuatu twice (2001-2004 and 2008-2010). During his career he held other senior ministerial positions including Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister. Most recently, Mr Natapei was Leader of the Opposition and President of the Vanua’aku Pati, one of Vanuatu’s oldest political parties, which was founded before independence in 1980.

Mr Natapei was widely admired in Vanuatu and the Pacific for his dedication and leadership on international issues. He was also a great friend to Australia. I had the pleasure of working with him on bilateral, regional and global issues during his term as Foreign Minister. His passing is a great loss to Vanuatu and the region.

Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time.

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