Solomon Islands Caretaker PM calls on Australia for a more serious dialogue on reciprocal visa waiver

Manasseh Sogavare (Photo: O.U.R Party Solomon Islands/Facebook)

Solomon Islands caretaker Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has re-emphasised Solomon Islands’ call to Australia for a serious and genuine dialogue on a visa reciprocal arrangement beyond the Pacific Engagement Visa (PEV).

Caretaker Prime Minister Sogavare made the request at the Australian Day 2024 event hosted by Rod Hilton, Australia’s High Commissioner in resident.

Highlighting key achievements of the firm, productive, and expanding SI-Australia relations, the caretaker Prime Minister bring to the fore, the need of having a serious and genuine dialogue on a visa reciprocal arrangement with Australia beyond the Pacific Engagement Visa (PEV).

“This will demonstrate, the maturity of the partnership between our two countries and further enhance our bilateral ties even further as well as enhancing our people-to-people links,” said the caretaker PM.

He added, Solomon Islands has signed visa reciprocal arrangement with many countries including in the broader Asia-Pacific region…. “prompting a genuine question as to why it is so difficult with Australia and in by the same token, New Zealand who members of the Pacific Islands Forum family are. I encourage a more serious and genuine dialogue on this subject with timelines to reach win-win solutions.”

On the expanding SI- Australia relations key achievements, Manasseh Sogavare on behalf of the people of Solomon Islands highly acknowledge the Pacific Labour Mobility Scheme- more than 6000 Solomon Islanders have entered the Australian market. This employment opportunity in Australia has assisted individuals and their families but on the national scale, address youth bulge as well as supporting the national economic recovery from the 2020 pandemic and place the country on a path of economic growth and prosperity.

The caretaker Prime Minister is also deeply grateful for Australia’s substantial financial contribution towards national general elections, especially the forthcoming National General Elections.

Australia’s Coral Sea Cable investment does not only bridge the digital divide but also provide the basis for a reliable, accessible, and affordable telecommunication network in the country.

While raising the need for more schools for boys and girls, the caretaker Prime Minister is indebted to Australia for injecting significant financial contribution to the national education sector.

The caretaker Prime Minister Sogavare acknowledged the support provided by Australia to Solomon Islands resulting in the successful hosting of the 17th edition of the Pacific Games – the largest and the best-ever Pacific Games by far.

Australia’s ongoing partnership (together with Fiji, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand) with the RSIPF in the maintenance of law and order, peace and stability in the country was also highly commended.

“I acknowledge with sincere appreciation Australia’s huge financial contributions to ensure the safety and security of the 2023 Pacific Games, and no doubt the upcoming national, provincial and HCC elections,” Sogavare stated.

He explained, in terms of international peace and security, Solomon Islands reaffirms the importance of adopting tools of multilateralism and diplomacy in resolving disputes driving home the strong notion that dialogue and consultation will always bring longer and lasting peaceful solutions.

The caretaker Prime Minister extend his deep appreciation to all Australians in Australia and throughout the world. Sogavare salutes the sacrifices and achievements of all Australians in Solomon Islands – many of whom work and or invested in Solomon Islands.

The Australian High Commissioner to Solomon Islands, Rod Hilton assured Solomon Islands of Australia’s strong and enduring commitment as a bilateral partner.

“A partnership bound by mutual respect, sovereignty and achievements.” High Commissioner Hilton said Australia’s friendly relationship with Solomon Islands covers a wide spectrum of critical sectors- infrastructure, Private sector, education, Health, Foreign direct investment, security, sports among others.

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