RICHARD EWART:

The preparations for Fiji's Presidency of COP23, the global climate change summit in Germany later this year, are gathering pace with the Climate Action Pacific Partnership meeting taking place at the moment. Australia is backing Fiji's leadership role to the tune of $6 million, and the Australian Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, has joined the delegates in Suva. 

CONCETTA FIERRAVANTI-WELLS:

This is the first time that we've had a Small Island States have such a role, and we are supportive of the priorities that Fiji has set for its Presidency, basically the implementation of the Paris Agreement into advanced, concrete actions. But the COP23 Meeting will, we think, be very much a Pacific COP, and that's certainly the sense that I'm getting here in Suva. So, Australia has not only leant its support, but we've also leant out financial support to Fiji with the $6 million contribution. Of that $6 million, $2 million specifically for regional consultation, so that's what we're here in Suva doing at the moment.

BRUCE HILL:

What kind of a response have you had from Fiji and other Pacific nations at this meeting in Suva?

CONCETTA FIERRAVANTI-WELLS:

Everyone's very supportive. We know the reality of the Pacific is that we live in one of the most disaster prone areas – and seven out of the ten most disaster prone countries are in the Pacific, Bruce. So the reality is that we need to look at changes in climate events and how they affect particularly the Small Island States. And Australia has been very, very supportive of the Small Island States, and their presence here, and ensuring that their voice is heard – particularly at this COP – is important for Australia. And that's why we really wanted to have a specific event here in the Pacific to feed into COP, and Australia has been very supportive of having these voices of the various stakeholders heard here in the Pacific to then take on to the meeting in Bonn at the end of the year.

BRUCE HILL:

And as you say Australia has been supportive of Fiji's Presidency of COP. Obviously, Australia would like to be friendlier with Fiji after the recent unpleasantness. However, Australia doesn't seem to be getting much out of it – Fiji still wants to kick Australia and New Zealand out of the Pacific Islands Forum.

CONCETTA FIERRAVANTI-WELLS:

Well, look, Australia is a full member of the Pacific Islands Forum and I think… Can I just say, following on from RAMSI last week, Bruce, the celebrations that marked the end of RAMSI were a very important gathering of Pacific Island leaders. Not only were we there to mark the end of RAMSI, but we were also there as Pacific Island leaders, and we met as Pacific Island Forum Leaders' Meeting. And what was very, very clear from that meeting was that we acted as a region. Yes, Australia did contribute a large portion of the funding. Of $3 billion, Australia contributed $2.8 billion, and that was a very large contribution. However, RAMSI would not have been successful, Bruce, but for the participation of all the Pacific Island Countries, whether small or large. Each sat around that table as an equal partner, and that's really the importance now. Certainly, I think that very, very much in the meeting that we had in the Solomon Islands, in Honiara, and that's certainly the sense of the work that we do. So, I think things have come quite a long way in the Pacific from those days. Certainly, as I said, Australia is very supportive of Fiji – we are doing a lot of things together, the bilateral relationship…  

BRUCE HILL:

But is Fiji supportive of Australia though? That was the question. They're still trying to kick Australia out of the Pacific Islands Forum.

CONCETTA FIERRAVANTI-WELLS:

Australia is an active participant, and are respected and seen as a full and active member. And, certainly, I can assure you that Australia and Australia's contribution, particularly to RAMSI, was very well received and I believe will form the basis of effective ongoing regional security cooperation.

RICHARD EWART:

Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, Australia's Minister for International Development and the Pacific in Suva at the moment, attending the Climate Action Pacific Partnership, part of the preparations for Fiji's Presidency of COP23, the Global Climate Change Summit due to take place in the German city of Bonn later this year.

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