THE Head of Australia’s Office of the Pacific, Mr Ewen McDonald, has visited Honiara, where he met with representatives from the new Solomon Islands Government.
Over a two day visit on 7 and 8 May, Mr McDonald called on Prime Minister the Hon Manasseh Sogavare, Minister for Foreign Affairs the Hon Jeremiah Manele, and Minister for Planning and Aid Coordination the Hon Rick Houenipwela.
This is the second time Mr McDonald has travelled to Solomon Islands as Head of the Office of the Pacific since he was officially appointed in January this year. Mr McDonald accompanied Australia’sMinister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Marise Payne to Honiara in February.
Mr McDonald said that Australia was committed to working in close partnership with Solomon Islands, and he deeply valued the opportunity to meet with representatives from the new Solomon Islands Government.
“I offer my warm congratulations to Prime Minister Sogavare on his recent election,” he said.
“I have enjoyed productive discussions with the Prime Minister and his ministers about ways both our nations can work together on regional security issues, development cooperation and recently announced Pacific initiatives, including the new Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility and the expanded Pacific Labour Scheme,” he said.
“The establishment of the Office of the Pacific earlier this year reflects the Australian Government’s commitment to take our engagement with the Pacific to a new level.
“The Office of the Pacific will support the delivery of the Australian Government’s package of new initiatives in the Pacific, including labour mobility and infrastructure financing.
“My role is to engage with and support our Pacific Island partners to ensure Australia’s development assistance is delivering on our shared priorities. I am also focused on seeking out new opportunities for Australian business engagement with the Pacific,” he said.
Mr McDonald was formerly Australia’s High Commissioner to New Zealand, with accreditation to the Cook Islands and Niue. He has extensive experience in senior positions working with Pacific colleagues on foreign policy, development and humanitarian issues. He has worked hard to advocate for Pacific voices in international bodies including the UN, ADB and World Bank.