The incumbent Australian coalition has panned the opposition Labor Party’s newly announced Pacific involvement policy and said “nothing new” to the existing initiative to engage with countries in the region.
On April 26, the Labor Party announced an alternative “Government Full Effort” Pacific Strategy amid continued concerns over the security agreement between the Solomon Islands and Beijing. region.
Under the new plan, Labor will “significantly increase regional aid” and aerial surveillance under the Pacific Maritime Security Program to help Pacific countries recover losses from illegal fishing from China. We aim to double the funding for this to $ 12 million ($ 8.6 million) annually. A fairly illegal fishing fleet.
Labor is also aiming to set up a $ 6.55 million Australian Pacific Defense Academy to train security guards in the area.
In addition, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) will receive an additional $ 8 million (4 years) annually for broadcasts to the region, including shortwave radio and commercial TV content. There is also training for Pacific journalists.
Labor plans also include initiatives to facilitate funding of the region’s weathering infrastructure and regular research trips to counter China’s commitment to interference.
“Workers’ plans will restore Australia’s position as the first-choice partner for Pacific families,” shadow foreign spokesperson Penny Wong said in a statement. “The void (Prime Minister) created by Scott Morrison is filled by others who do not share our interests and values.”
Mr Wong said the plan was developed in consultation with a Pacific partner.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it was no different from the existing Pacific step-up, dismissing the plan and saying that the party had little understanding of the complexity of the region.
“I think (workers) think the way to solve the Solomon Islands problem is to send ABC,” he told 2GB radio on April 26th. “Their answer to solving the Solomon Islands problem is to have a question and answer session in Honiara.”
Treasury Minister Simon Birmingham told ABC that the government had done “many things” in the Labor Party’s plans.
“We have a” government-wide approach. ” It is called the Pacific Office. It is a gathering of people from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Ministry of Defense and Communications, and many other major sectors. “
Birmingham pointed out existing defense training facilities such as the Australian National Defense Academy and the Australian Pacific Security University.
“We have a strong Pacific Labor Movement Program and we have a structured program with a true focus on climate adaptation and resilience, so these. [things] Everything is in progress. “
On April 24, Prime Minister Morrison said Prime Minister Manasesogabale of the Solomon Islands had promised to ensure that there was no military presence in Beijing in the region.
U.S. and Australian leaders have been scrambling for the past few weeks to keep the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from stepping into the South Pacific region after the details of the secret security agreement have been revealed. increase.
According to the leaked draft agreement, Beijing, with the consent of the Solomon Islands, will send police, troops, weapons and even naval vessels to “protect the safety of Chinese personnel and the major Solomon Islands projects. Can be done. ” “
Experts warn that the move could lead to the militarization of areas similar to the South China Sea.