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Welcome ceremony in Tuvalu

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  • His Excellency the Reverend Sir Tofiga Falani, Governor-General of Tuvalu
  • Prime Minister Natano 
  • Ministers
  • Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

Linda and I are delighted to be in Tuvalu today to celebrate the enduring and deep bonds of friendship between our two nations.

I would like to express my sincere thanks to you, Your Excellency, to the Tuvalu Government and people of Tuvalu, for the warm welcome we have received today.

That ‘welcome’ reflects the genuine warmth and friendliness of the Tuvaluan people, and the closeness of the ties between Australia and Tuvalu.

Our countries are different in many ways, not least of all size, but the commonalities that bring us together are much more important.

They include shared histories, shared values and a shared and deep commitment to working together, shoulder-to-shoulder, to tackle challenges and grasp opportunities.

It is a privilege for Linda and me to meet with you again, Your Excellency.

I very much look forward to our discussions today about the ties between our two nations — from regular government-to-government engagements, development links and, importantly, the many connections between families and communities in Australia and Tuvalu.

I am struck by how much our two nations have achieved since we established diplomatic ties in 1978.

Tuvalu can rely on Australia as its closest and most dependable economic, development and security partner.

It is also clear that in recent years our countries have grown even closer, particularly since the establishment of our High Commission here in 2019.

That closeness is reflected in:

  • the increasing number of Tuvaluan students studying in Australia under the Australia Awards Scholarships
  • the number of Tuvaluans working in Australia under the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility Scheme — helping Australian businesses, but also earning income and learning new skills that can be brought back to Tuvalu
  • the expansion of our development cooperation, including working with Tuvalu on your responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and the drought earlier this year, in enhancing education and, as Foreign Minister Wong announced during her visit in April, though additional budget support.

Now that Tuvalu’s borders have re-opened, I hope we see increasing numbers of Australians coming to visit Tuvalu — whether it be to work with Tuvalu on joint endeavours, or simply to experience and enjoy your unique culture and beautiful environment.

Australia recognises that for Tuvalu the threat of climate change is existential, and I acknowledge your global leadership on this vital challenge.

I am looking forward to visiting the Tuvalu Coastal Adaptation Project (or TCAP) to see firsthand the bold action Tuvalu is taking to protect your land from rising sea levels, by literally increasing the elevation of the country.

It sends a clear and strong message about the reality of the situation you face.

I am also aware of the action you are taking to digitise Tuvaluan culture, to preserve it for future generations.

Australia is taking strong action to decarbonise our economy and is committed to working with our regional neighbours to respond to the impacts of climate change.

We are bidding to host COP31, in partnership with the Pacific, so we can bring to the world’s attention the threat that climate change poses to this part of the world.

It is part of Australia’s commitment to bring new energy and more resources to the Pacific, including to Tuvalu, to build a strong, united and prosperous Blue Pacific region.

Your Excellency, Prime Minister Natano, Ministers …

The relationship between Australia and Tuvalu is enduring and based on strong foundations.

Ours is a rich history and we have achieved much together.

I am confident that we will continue to build on these achievements into the future.

On behalf of our Government and the Australian people, I would like to wish health, peace and prosperity to Tuvalu, and for the continuing strength of our enduring partnership.

Fakafetai lasi! [Thank you very much].