Journalist: Please tell us about your visit to Samoa?
Minister: It has been a wonderful trip to Samoa. Australia enjoys a close and warm relationship with Samoa. Australia is very pleased to support the people of Samoa with our aid, in so many different ways. I have had the opportunity to see first-hand some of that aid at work. Today we are here with the NRL which is doing some programs, particularly with children, and we have seen a very good example here today. We have supported the NRL in Australia and one of the announcements I made while I was here was additional funding to the NRL specifically for Samoa and for projects the NRL is doing here in Samoa. I have had the opportunity to have some very good meetings with the Prime Minister. Yesterday we opened the street project of Vaitele Street which is absolutely fantastic. It is a very good project for the people of Samoa, not just economically but to help people to get around and to help them get around safely. Yesterday we also opened the National Pharmaceutical Warehouse, a very important project which will really enable the people of Samoa to benefit from the storage of medicines, particularly so that they can be distributed in a more effective and efficient manner around Samoa. It’s been a very action packed time but a wonderful trip to Samoa. And it has been very useful. Today I went to the Pacific Transnational Crime Coordination Centre which is doing fantastic work in the Pacific and a really good example of regional cooperation. So lots of things on my agenda and it has been a very worthwhile trip.
Journalist: Will you come back in the future?
Minister: Yes, certainly I want to come back. I became Minister for International Development and the Pacific in February this year and then we had elections and so this has been my first opportunity to travel in the Pacific. In the last three weeks I have visited Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji and now Samoa. So I really do hope to visit again and to continue my visits to the Pacific countries where Australia is very happy to support the people of the Pacific.
Journalist: You visited Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program (SREP). Are you going to propose more aid for SREP?
Minister: SREP is doing a fantastic job and while I was here I made an announcement for another $2.5 million, or so, for a number of Climate Change programs and that includes collaboration with universities in Australia and some of the work SREP is doing. Obviously we also support SREP and I assured them that our funding for their ongoing activities is assured.
Journalist: You mentioned that you are trying to co-operate with SREP because of climate change issues in the Pacific especially in Samoa. What was your motive to visit SREP was it to [inaudible]
Minister: Climate Change is very important to the Pacific which is an area where natural disasters are a fact of life. Part of the work we are doing regionally through the Pacific Island Forum is through a proposal for a framework for resilience and building resilience for risk management, which is very important for the Pacific. That framework will be put to the Pacific Island Forum Leaders at the meeting which will be held in Pohnpei in September, which I will attend. That framework is going to be very important for risk minimization and for management of disasters in the Pacific and so it has been very good to see the support and Samoa’s support will be most welcome for that framework. So Samoa clearly is a country, like other countries in the Pacific, where climate change and natural phenomena and natural disasters do happen and so the better prepared we are the better we are going to be when the next event happens. To be prepared and to deal with that, not just in the immediate aftermath but also in the long term preparedness.
Journalist: [inaudible] APTC?
Minister: The APTC (Australia Pacific Technical College) is a very good initiative. It was the initiative of the Howard Government in 2007 and we were very pleased that Samoa was very supportive of APTC. APTC has been a very good framework for training of young people in the Pacific and we have had almost 10,000 students go through the program which is absolutely fantastic. There are five campuses around the Pacific offering courses in Certificate II and Certificate III and diploma courses. This all helps and contributes in training young people around the Pacific so that they can then in turn contribute to the economic wellbeing and economic growth of their countries.
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