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Advancing Pacific growth through regionalism

Australian Government - Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade:

Tuesday, 03 June 2014

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Foreign Affairs Senator Brett Mason has launched partnerships with the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) and University of the South Pacific (USP) to support Pacific growth and development over the next three years.

The $21.6 million PIFS Partnership will help the Forum—a political grouping of 16 independent Pacific states including Australia—to advance regional interests through collective policy positions and shared resource management.

‘We believe that regionalism and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat has a critical role to play in the security and development of the Pacific,’ Senator Mason said.

‘Supporting the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat in providing Pacific Island countries with the political and policy means to improve their development prospects is essential to a thriving Pacific neighbourhood.’

Senator Mason added that Australia is committed, as both a key Forum member and a development partner, to supporting Forum member countries in their development efforts through more effective regionalism.

‘I welcome this long-term agreement with Australia, which remains an invaluable partner for the Pacific Islands Forum and the whole region,’ said PIFS Secretary General Tuiloma Neroni Slade.

‘This Partnership reflects the strategic positioning of the Forum Secretariat in taking the regional agenda forward.’

Complementing the PIFS relationship, the $49 million USP Partnership will help prepare Pacific graduates for employment, labour mobility and further study.

Senator Mason hailed the university as a regional success story, promoting economic growth through a thriving workforce.

‘When people of the Pacific are educated, when they’re nurtured, you produce leaders. You produce administrators. You produce people that enhance society, make it stronger, and make it resilient. That’s why universities are so critical,’ Senator Mason said.

‘This university now has international standing, it has international quality—its courses are recognised throughout the world. This is no small achievement and that is why the Australian Government is delighted to make a further commitment to the University of the South Pacific.’

USP Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Rajesh Chandra thanked the Australian Government for its assistance, which spans the University’s 46 years of operation.
‘USP educates the leaders of tomorrow and instills in them a strong sense of regional cooperation and integration,’ Professor Chandra said.

‘All of this supports the Australian Government’s deep commitment to regional cooperation, integration and the welfare of Pacific Island Countries and people.’

He added that with 24,000 USP students across 14 campuses in 12 Pacific countries, the Partnership enhances the impact of Australia’s aid program through the high quality graduates it produces, providing a human resource pool for progressing Pacific development.

Read story: Australian Government - Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

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