Chapter Two > Outcome Five: Strategic Policy > Defence Cooperation > South Pacific Region

Defence Cooperation

South Pacific Region

Performance Summary

The Defence Cooperation Program in the South Pacific region grew in 2003-04 by $2.5m. This was mainly the result of a full year of re-engagement with Fiji and increasing personnel costs. Increased ADF operational commitments limited the impact of Australia's bilateral relationships in the region, including the ongoing inability to conduct Air Force maritime surveillance flights over the Pacific.

The defence relationship with Fiji has now returned to a level similar to that before the imposition of sanctions by the Australian Government in the wake of the 2000 coup attempt. Australia continued to focus on enhancing the professional ethos of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces and encouraging the development of healthy civil-military relations.

A significant phase in Australia's support to the Tonga Defence Services drew to a close with the completion of infrastructure support projects in Nuku'alofa and at the Tallai Barracks. The emphasis of the Defence Cooperation Program has begun to shift towards training in communications and other specialist areas.

Relationships with Samoa, Kiribati, Tuvalu, the Republic of Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia and the Cook Islands continued to focus on support to maritime surveillance capabilities. Australia has provided Pacific patrol boats to these countries (the Federated States of Micronesia has three) and continues to provide logistics, fuel, maintenance and training. An ADF advisory team in each of these countries assists the development of sustainable national maritime surveillance capabilities.

Australia continued to promote greater multilateral cooperation in maritime surveillance through support to multilateral exercises and the development of further multilateral maritime surveillance agreements. Such measures optimise the employment of scarce maritime surveillance assets.

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Table 2.23 South Pacific Region Summary(1)
2001-02
Actual
2002-03
Actual
2003-04
Budget
Estimate
2003-04
Revised
Estimate
2003-04
Actual
2004-05
Budget
Estimate
$'000 $'000 $'000 $'000 $'000 $'000
Vanuatu 1,785 1,900 1,638 1,638 1,562 1,603
Solomon Islands 685 537 606 606 334 498
Tonga 1,470 2,407 2,435 2,435 1,902 1,149
Western Samoa 519 528 656 656 585 1,703
Cook Islands 307 316 403 403 325 346
Fiji 1,291 2,662 3,164 3,164 3,848 3,503
Republic of the Marshall Islands 639 952 1,020 1,020 1,160 882
Federates States of Micronesia 847 848 1,026 1,026 1019 1,137
Tuvalu 542 415 694 694 624 767
Kiribati 653 916 961 961 850 914
Palau 450 647 856 856 791 991
Multilateral General Assistance(2) 8,291 10,350 11,240 11,240 12,027 12,010
Total 17,480 22,478 24,699 24,699 25,028 25,503

Notes

  1. Figures may not add due to rounding.
  2. Funding relates mainly to support to the Pacific patrol boat program.

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Vanuatu

In Vanuatu, the Defence Cooperation Program centred on the provision of training, advisers and support to communications and the maritime wing of the national police. The focus of training and support from advisers was to improve the basic skills of the mobile force and enhance management. Communications support enhanced the capacity of the Vanuatu Police to coordinate operations in outer islands. Some savings in estimated expenditure were realised from structural adjustments to training and changes in ADF adviser arrangements.

The Solomon Islands

Defence cooperation with the Solomon Islands focused on returning a Royal Solomon Islands Police patrol boat to operational order and restoring the advisers necessary to support it.

Tonga

Defence cooperation with Tonga focused on training and exercises, infrastructure development and support to Tonga's three Pacific patrol boats. Training and exercises concentrated on developing communications and engineering capabilities. The completion of a new headquarters building for the Tonga Defence Services marked the end of a major phase of infrastructure development. Projected expenditure was not realised as a result of savings from infrastructure projects and a reduction in the Tongan capacity to participate in training due to operational commitments.

Western Samoa

Defence cooperation with Samoa focused on support to the maritime wing of the national police through the Pacific patrol boat program. Lower than expected expenditure was largely the result of reduced patrol boat activity following a fire on board Nafanua.

Cook Islands

Defence cooperation with the Cook Islands focused on support to the maritime wing of the national police through the Pacific patrol boat program.

Fiji

Defence cooperation with Fiji focused on training, the provision of advisers and support to infrastructure development. The increased expenditure in 2003-04 reflected the first full year of the resumption of the defence relationship. Training centred on the professional development of officers and senior soldiers, while advisers concentrated on basic skills within units. The joint construction by Fiji and Australian Army engineers of a new armoury at Queen Elizabeth Barracks will improve small arms security, and resulted in considerable skills transfer. In addition, Australia provided support to a review of Fiji's national security and defence arrangements, which will inform the Government of Fiji's consideration of its future requirements. Australia also maintained its support to Fiji's three Pacific patrol boats.

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Republic of the Marshall Islands

Defence cooperation with the Republic of the Marshall Islands focused on support to the Island's sea patrolling through the Pacific patrol boat program.

Federated States of Micronesia

Defence cooperation with the Federated States of Micronesia focused on support to the maritime wing of the national police through the Pacific patrol boat program. Slightly higher than estimated expenditure in 2003-04 was due to increases in ADF adviser costs.

Tuvalu

Defence cooperation with Tuvalu focused on support to the maritime wing of the national police through the Pacific patrol boat program. The increase in expenditure from the last reporting period was due to the restoration of the full complement of ADF advisers.

Kiribati

Defence cooperation with Kiribati focused on support to the maritime wing of the national police through the Pacific patrol boat program. A modest level of English language training was introduced to facilitate better performance on technical maritime courses.

Palau

Defence cooperation with Palau focused on support to marine law enforcement by the Palau Government, through the Pacific patrol boat program.

Multilateral General Assistance

Key activities in 2003-04 were the commencement of the Pacific patrol boat life extension program and support to multilateral exercises. The life extension program will double the life of Pacific-class patrol boats from 15 to 30 years and included the refurbishment of Tarangau from Papua New Guinea. The majority of the increase in expenditure in 2003-04 was due to the finalisation of contractual arrangements for the life extension program and the refit of Tukoro from Vanuatu.

Australia's support to Exercises Big Eye and Kuru Kuru promoted practical multilateral cooperation in maritime surveillance. Australia also supported the development of further multilateral maritime surveillance treaties, modeled on the subsidiary agreement to the Niue Treaty, between the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands. When mature, these arrangements will significantly enhance regional maritime security. In addition, Australia conducted a regional peacekeeping seminar, which increased awareness of peacekeeping issues and explored options for improving regional cooperation.

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Pacific Patrol Boat Project
Table 2.24 Pacific Patrol Boats by Country
Country Boats
Cook Islands 1
Fiji 3
Federated States of Micronesia 3
Kiribati 1
Marshall Islands 1
Palau 1
Papua New Guinea 4
Tonga 3
Tuvalu 1
Samoa 1
Solomon Islands 2
Vanuatu 1
Total 22

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