Can Australia’s prime minister convince the leaders of Pacific Island countries that he is serious about regional engagement when they are sceptical of Australia’s record on climate change?

Stepping up in the Pacific

Canberra’s renewed interest in the Pacific islands is clearly driven by anxieties about the growing influence of an increasingly powerful China. It is in this context that Australia’s 2017 foreign policy white paper indicated Australia would “step up” and “engage with the Pacific with greater intensity and ambition.” Since coming to power in 2018, Scott Morrison has made the Pacific step up his signature foreign policy initiative. He has traveled to Fiji, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands, and told island leaders he considers Pacific island countries to be “family,” indicating a level of personal investment in the political relationship with island states previously unheard of from an Australian prime minister. In large part, he appears to have been warmly embraced by his island colleagues.

Please click here to read the full “Morrison’s moment of truth in the Pacific” article published at Australian Outlook, written by Griffith Asia Institute Adjunct Research Fellow, Dr Wesley Morgan.