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Lunch with the President of Kiribati

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It is an honour to be here with you today.

Linda and I were enchanted by the views as we flew into Tarawa.

For someone who grew up near the beach, the ocean views were not only enchanting but also comforting and familiar.

Your Excellency — thank you to you and First Lady Madame Teiraeng Maamau, the Kiribati Government and the people of Kiribati for the warm welcome Linda and I have received since arriving this morning. We are delighted to be here.

Our visit started in Eita Village, where Linda and I were fortunate to have been welcomed to your beautiful country with a traditional ceremony.

This was a very memorable moment for Linda and me and will hold a special place in our hearts for how the elders and members of the community generously shared Kiribati culture through songs, dances and traditional blessings.

Your Excellency – thank you to you and representatives from your Government for a productive discussion on the importance of the bilateral partnership between Kiribati and Australia.

Australia deeply values our partnership with Kiribati. It is a relationship that spans all parts of life.

Ranging from how our governments partnered with each other in response to last year’s drought in Kiribati, how we work together to achieve better outcomes in education and health for the people of Kiribati, and how we are building infrastructure for health and education.

Today’s discussion was very thoughtful and constructive and I am proud of Australia’s enduring support to Kiribati.

As members of the Pacific family, it is important that we are able to listen to each other. It was a great privilege to be able to hear from you, Your Excellency, and key representatives from the Government of Kiribati today.

It also was a privilege to have the opportunity to share our perspectives on our common values of transparency, democracy and openness.

And on how Australia can work with Kiribati to continue to achieve outcomes in the areas of Kiribati’s three core pillars: Health, Peace and Prosperity.

Open dialogue speaks to the strong relationship that Australia enjoys with Kiribati and Australians enjoy with i-Kiribati, including the diaspora who currently live and work in Australia through initiatives such as the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility program.

Our longstanding partnership in development cooperation puts people at the centre and importantly, aligns with your Government’s Kiribati Vision for 20 years.

I am pleased to see the recent deepening of the bilateral relationship, with the recent signing of the Memorandum of Understanding signalling strengthened cooperation in areas such as policing and borders, critical infrastructure, maritime security, and coastal protection.

Australia is listening and responding to Pacific priorities, guided by the Pacific way and the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent.

The Blue Pacific connects us, feeds communities, drives economies and is central to the culture of the Pacific family.

We stand together facing our shared challenges, including the climate crisis, with the bushfires that impacted Australia and the drought here in Kiribati. Together we can face the very real threats of climate change.

On behalf of my delegation, thank you to the Government and people of Kiribati for your hospitality and the warm welcome that we have received today.

Linda and I look forward to the Kiribati Police Service Parade that is scheduled to follow and visiting the Kiribati School and Centre for Children with Disabilities.

Both are wonderful examples of where Australia and Kiribati are working together to achieve some great outcomes. 

Your Excellency, on behalf of our Government and the Australian people, I say to you and the wider i-Kiribati community: Te Mauri, Te Raoi and Te Tabomoa.

To the health, peace and prosperity of Kiribati.

Thank you.