Good afternoon, I’m excited to be here with the Australian Parliamentary Delegation, I’m here as Foreign Minister, and I’m accompanied by Senators Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, Penny Wong and Claire Moore.
I would like to acknowledge Commissioner Frank Prendergast, RAMSI Special Coordinator Quinton Devlin, and the Commander of the RAMSI Participating Police Force, John Tanti.
Australia and Solomon Islands are close, strong and good friends. We have worked in cooperation to ensure that Solomon Islands enjoy peace and security and, hopefully, more prosperity. The Parade I see before me today is testament to our relationship.
I first came to Solomon Islands in 2003, in the very early days of RAMSI. And what I see before me today is a very disciplined, professional Royal Solomon Islands Police Force and it is a credit to Solomon Islands, that over the past 14 years, we have been able to see the establishment of such a fine police force.
RAMSI has been a success, and indeed an example for other regions to follow. Australia was proud to lead 14 other nations to assist Solomon Islands in its hour of need and now it has succeeded because law and order has been restored. We’ve seen a reestablishment of national institutions. There is now confidence in the police force, and in these institutions, and in this nation.
The training the RSIPF have undertaken has shown that the government is right to give us an assurance that this police force can take complete responsibility for policing and national security after RAMSI draws down in June 2017. I was very impressed to learn that not only are you well trained, but you are assisting in the training of other Pacific Island forces. That you’re now undertaking a UN Mission, with officers deployed to Darfur and I know that you’ve undertaken natural disaster relief effort work, particularly in Vanuatu after Cyclone Pam.
I’m particularly pleased to learn that 50% of the police recruits for 2016 are women and that certainly ensures that the community’s confidence will be maintained in this very fine police force. May I commend every single one of the members of the Royal Solomon Islands Police force for the commitment you have made to the public service of your nation.
I’m also very pleased to see the PPF, the Participating Police Force of RAMSI, and the Police Officers of so many different countries, fifteen in all, who make up the RAMSI mission. To each one of you, and to all the officers that served in RAMSI, thank you for dedicating your time and effort and energy to ensuring the security of Solomon Islands.
This has been a remarkable exercise in regional cooperation, and Australia will ensure that it continues to be a success. There is bipartisan support for our efforts post-RAMSI. We will be investing in policing, governance, law and justice programs. We have nominated another AFP Commissioner to lead the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force, and we’ll be entering into a security treaty with the Government of Solomon Islands, to ensure that if an emergency situation arose at any time, Australia would be there to partner once again with its dear friend, the Solomon Islands.
Congratulations to your recruits, our deepest thanks to the PPF, and congratulations to all those involved in RAMSI. It is an outstanding example of the Pacific at its best.
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