PM Albanese Welcomes Samoa PM to Canberra on 22 March

Prime Minister

The Prime Minister of Australia, the Honourable Anthony Albanese MP, welcomed the Honourable Fiamē Naomi Mata’afa, Prime Minister of the Independent State of Samoa to Canberra on 22 March 2023. The Prime Ministers’ bilateral talks reflected the longstanding relationship between Australia and Samoa, underpinned by mutual respect and trust. The Prime Ministers affirmed their strong partnership and commitment to work together on shared challenges and priorities to support a stable, prosperous and resilient Pacific region. Prime Minister Albanese also acknowledged Prime Minister Fiamē’s historic achievement in being elected Samoa’s first female Prime Minister, and her contribution to gender equality in Samoa and the region.

Prime Minister Albanese recognised Prime Minister Fiamē’s regional leadership and expressed his appreciation for her significant contribution to Pacific unity. Amidst an increasingly complex regional outlook, the Prime Ministers acknowledged the centrality of the Pacific Islands Forum in driving collective responses to shared regional challenges such as climate change, economic recovery from COVID-19 and regional security. The leaders welcomed Kiribati’s return to the Forum. They also underlined their commitment to continue to work together to contribute to a stable, prosperous and resilient Blue Pacific, based on the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent, regionalism and a Pacific family-first approach to peace and security.

The Prime Ministers acknowledged the urgent need to accelerate international action to address the existential threat of climate change. Their discussions reinforced their commitment to work together to advance real and significant climate action and drive the transition to net-zero, welcoming Australia’s commitment to place Pacific voices at the centre of international climate discussions. Prime Minister Fiamē expressed support for Australia’s bid to host COP31 in partnership with the Pacific. The Prime Ministers acknowledged their support and co-sponsorship of Vanuatu’s request for an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on climate change.

The Prime Ministers discussed how Australia and Samoa could work together to strengthen climate resilience in Samoa and the region, recognising the threat climate change poses to livelihoods, security and wellbeing of Pacific peoples. They reaffirmed Samoa and Australia’s close security partnership, which encompasses cooperation on maritime surveillance and ocean stewardship, policing, cyber and transnational crime.

The Prime Ministers reflected on the impacts on COVID-19 on our economies and how Australia could support Samoa on its journey and reforms towards economic recovery and resilience. They discussed how the Pacific-Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) program could best operate to ensure mutual benefit, including ensuring the program delivers for all Samoans. Prime Minister Albanese welcomed the work underway to refine Samoa’s labour mobility policy settings, and outlined the steps Australia was taking to ensure the scheme provided further opportunities for skills development. The Prime Ministers agreed to reflect these developments in a Memorandum of Understanding that would guide the PALM partnership. The Prime Ministers welcomed continued cooperation on Samoa’s human development priorities, including health, education, social inclusion and tertiary scholarships. They also welcomed progress towards support for Samoa’s infrastructure priorities through the Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific.

The Prime Ministers welcomed the strong people-to-people links between Australia and Samoa, with some 98,000 people of Samoan descent living in Australia. They recognised the important unifying role of sports in our relationship – promoting excellence, health, gender equality and social cohesion. They celebrated the achievement of Australia and Samoa’s national teams in reaching the Rugby League World Cup final in November 2022. The Prime Ministers acknowledged the other ways in which people-to-people linkages bring Samoans and Australians together – in faith, business and community. The Prime Ministers discussed Australia’s new Pacific Engagement Visa and its possibilities to further deepen people-to-people, business and educational linkages.

The Prime Ministers expressed their support for the Pacific Islands Forum’s efforts to revitalise the Pacific Leaders’ Gender Equality Declaration to advance gender equality and inclusion in the Blue Pacific.

Formalising this commitment to boost Australia-Samoa links, the Prime Ministers signed a Bilateral Partnership Arrangement, Ole fala folasia i lo ta va (”the map that guides us’). The Prime Ministers warmly welcomed the closer cooperation the Partnership Arrangement will engender across the pillars of climate and disaster resilience, security cooperation, economic growth, human and socio-economic development and people-to-people linkages. The Prime Ministers reiterated that the partnership between Australia and Samoa is based on transparency and respect for sovereignty.

The Prime Ministers agreed to continue to work closely together to further strengthen the partnership between Australia and Samoa and cooperation in support of a stable, prosperous and resilient Blue Pacific.

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