Ladies and Gentlemen, it is a great pleasure to be here, in the stunningly beautiful country and islands of Samoa.
The natural beauty here is picture perfect and I have said this on a number of occasions, that when you open the picture books and see those beautiful pictures of Samoa it just doesn’t do it justice. I know now, having seen Samoa, why tourism is such a major national asset.
As you all know, the producers and cast of the Australian television program “Survivor” filmed here in June and July, precisely because of its unbridled natural beauty.
I was told that we had 784,000 people watch that program last night in Australia.
My mission now is to talk about Survivor, and to say this was filmed in beautiful Samoa so go there and see it for yourselves!
It is a wonder way to showcase your beautiful country.
I have greatly enjoyed my time since arriving last night and I’ve met a lot of people today.
I have had very productive discussions with the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and many of his Minister’s and I thank you for the time that you have given to me.
Today, I met some wonderfully talented women leaders – in politics and business - and I have had informative discussions with the Director General of the Secretariat for the Pacific Environment Program.
I have formally contributed to opening a road and, on behalf of donors, a state-of-the art pharmaceutical warehouse. The Prime Minister and I were there this afternoon.
There is indeed a very warm affection between Australia and Samoa and the last 24 hours have shown me, tangibly, how very real that is. It is a warmth and affection that sits well at the heart our bilateral relationship.
Incidentally, I have heard that a group of 45 students from the Don Bosco Technical College have commenced a multi-city tour of Australia performing Samoan dance this week – so we expect those personal ties to grow even deeper.
I’d like to say something else about Samoa.
I know this is a country which faces significant development challenges.
In a complex and fast-changing world, all Pacific nations, including Australia, face challenges – none of us can afford to become complacent.
But that said, let me say this, it is a remarkable achievement for a country of less than 200,000 people, in a remote location, to have built an independent, modern state and society based on values.
The Government and people of Samoa have every reason to be proud of what you have achieved to-date, and the directions you have set for your future.
A nation deeply committed to democracy and to human rights.
You are fiercely independent, but ready to work with others.
You have recognised the need to change as the world around you changes, but in a way that stays true to your distinct and precious culture.
And you know that Samoa can best develop its own potential by cooperating with the diverse nations of our Pacific family, in the Pacific way.
Your stable parliamentary democracy, your resilience and drive, including in response to natural disasters, and your productive relations with development partners all provide a strong foundation, and cause for optimism.
You work very well with your development partners. And, Samoa’s record of hosting large international meetings is a great reflection of a hospitable, energetic and committed regional partner and friend that you are.
You hosted the UN Small Islands Developing States Conference in 2014. Next month you will be hosting the Commonwealth Women’s Affairs Ministers Meeting.
Australia and Samoa will co-host the Global Climate Fund in Samoa in December.
And, of course, next year you will be hosting the Pacific Islands Forum in 2017.
Australia deeply appreciates the role you play in the region and beyond, and the quality of the relations between our two countries.
Australia and Samoa enjoy an excellent bilateral relationship and will continue to look for ways to develop our partnership and build on that partnership.
As a fellow Pacific nation, we share in your future.
Australia supports your efforts to inject new dynamism into your private sector.
And to support sustainable, well maintained infrastructure that paves the way for economic growth and a higher standard of living for all.
We’re working to make it easier for more Samoans to find work in Australia through our Seasonal Worker Program.
And we have an open mind about what innovative new ventures we might attempt together.
In concluding, can I just say what a pleasure it is, as Australia’s Minister for International Development and the Pacific, to work with a country that is doing so much.
Like any good friendship, there may be times when Australia and Samoa see things differently.
But I have every confidence that we will, at all times, be able to exchange our points of view in a spirit of mutual respect and abiding friendship.
Thank you all again for your warm welcome, and enjoy your evening.
Faafatai (Far-fe-tie) [Thank you]
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