Australian Foreign minister Wong to lead bipartisan trip to Tuvalu

(L-R) Opposition counterpart Simon Birmingham and Australian Foreign minister Penny Wong

Australian Foreign minister Penny Wong and opposition counterpart Simon Birmingham will travel to Tuvalu for talks on security and climate change. 

The foreign minister will lead the second bipartisan Pacific visit of the government’s term and visit the Pacific Island nation’s capital Funafuti on Wednesday. 

The trip is a demonstration of Canberra’s deep commitment to Tuvalu, as regional tensions soar over China’s expanding influence. 

Senator Wong and Senator Birmingham will both meet with Prime Minister Feleti Teo and his cabinet to discuss the landmark Falepili Union. 

The section of the union which says Australia must “mutually agree” to any security deals the Pacific nation inks with other countries has been controversial. 

Under the agreement, Australia will offer permanent residency to up to 280 people from Tuvalu every year, due to the threat climate-fuelled disasters posed to the low-lying island. 

The foreign minister said Australia and Tuvalu were working together to manage the effects of climate change and protect the nation’s future. 

“Australia’s partnerships with our Pacific neighbours are critical to Australia’s security and to the security, safety and prosperity of our region as a whole,” Senator Wong said. 

“The government and opposition visiting together is a clear statement to the region, that Australia is a steadfast partner in ensuring a region that is peaceful, stable and prosperous.” 

Senator Birmingham said Australia’s commitment to Tuvalu was based on mutual respect and deep friendship. 

“Australia is stronger when we speak with one voice, which we emphatically do through these displays of bipartisan commitment to our Pacific Island neighbours,” he said. 

This will be Senator Wong’s second visit to Tuvalu, who will return to Australia with Senator Birmingham on Thursday