Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese held bilateral talks on 18 October 2023 in Canberra.
The Prime Ministers welcomed the signing of a renewed and elevated Vuvale Partnership representing the principles and priorities of both countries and reflecting the growing maturity of the bilateral relationship. ‘Vuvale’ is the word in the Fijian language for ‘family’ and it recognises our respect for each other. The updated Vuvale Partnership elevates our shared commitment to tackling climate change and strengthening our economic and trade partnership. It also has an increased focus on human development, First Nations’ peoples and culture, skills development and cyber security.
The Prime Ministers discussed the real and existential threat of climate change and Australia’s commitment to transforming our economy and working side-by-side with Pacific counterparts to achieve an accelerated and stable energy transition. The two leaders agreed to work closely together, and with other Pacific leaders, to strengthen cooperation on climate adaptation and resilience.
The Prime Ministers discussed Fiji’s economic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic, boosted by the high number of Australian tourists returning to Fiji. Prime Minister Rabuka welcomed Australia’s commitment of additional budget support this financial year to bolster economic recovery and reform.
The Prime Ministers recognised efficient visa arrangements underpin people-to-people links between Australia and Fiji. In support of Fiji’s recent steps to launch a new, more secure, ePassport, Prime Ministers agreed Fiji would be provided with early access to new mobile technologies to support a more streamlined visa application service, currently being developed. Applying for a visa will be faster and more flexible for Fijian visitors to Australia.
The Prime Ministers acknowledged the mutual benefits associated with labour mobility, and agreed to work together to overcome economic and social complexities arising from the program. Prime Ministers agreed to work together to ensure the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility scheme reflects our shared priorities and to strengthen skills development partnerships to meet Fiji and Australia’s domestic workforce needs.
The Prime Ministers agreed on the importance of regional unity, guided by the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent steered by the Pacific Islands Forum leaders. They look forward to working closely together at this year’s Forum Leaders meeting in November, in the Cook Islands.
The Prime Ministers discussed the mutual challenges we face at a time of rising tension globally, and agreed on the importance of working in partnership in our region. The leaders discussed Prime Minister Rabuka’s Zone of Peace approach for the region and its long-term benefits. Prime Minister Albanese acknowledged the valuable contribution Fiji has made to peace and security in the region, and Fiji’s long and distinguished contribution to peacekeeping operations around the world. Prime Minister Albanese was pleased to confirm Australia will meet Fiji’s request for the purchase of14 additional Protected Mobility Vehicles (Bushmasters) to support Fiji’s deployment to international peacekeeping operations.
Acknowledging increasing cyber security challenges in the region, both Prime Ministers were pleased to commit to the new Fiji-Australia Memorandum of Understanding on Cyber Security Cooperation, agreeing to work together to address emerging threats.
Australia and Fiji’s shared love of sport was highlighted through the commitment to renew Australia’s support for the Fijiana Drua (women) and Fijian Drua (men) to continue to compete in the Super W and Super Rugby Pacific competitions. Australia and Fiji acknowledged the importance of our rich shared sporting history and its positive impact on our communities, including through the participation of women and girls, and people with disabilities.
The Prime Ministers acknowledged the importance of the Pacific region’s aviation sector to support connectivity and economic growth. With Australia’s support, the Fiji National University will provide at least 70 new aviation-engineering scholarships between 2024-2028 for women and men from five Pacific island countries. These scholarships will help build critical capacity in the aviation sector across the Pacific, which is facing workforce capability limitations.
The Prime Ministers looked forward to working together closely as leaders, as ‘vuvale’, to further strengthen the partnership between Fiji and Australia for their citizens, the next generation and for the region.
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Prime Minister of Australia
We acknowledge and pay respect to past and present Elders and Traditional Custodians of Country, and the continuation of cultural, spiritual and educational practices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.