Handover of VOEA Nafanua II to Samoa

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The Hon Melissa Price MP

Minister for Defence Industry

Minister for Science and Technology

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16 August 2019

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Let me start by acknowledging the Whadjuk Noongar people as the original custodians of the land on which we are meeting on today, Whadjuk Noongar Boodja.

I pay my respects to them and their cultures and to Elders past, present and emerging.

I also pay my respects to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women who have contributed to the defence of Australia in times of peace and war.

Good morning.

It’s my pleasure to be here today, as we handover Nafanua II to its new owner, Samoa.

I would like to welcome:

  • the Honourable Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, Deputy Prime Minister of Samoa — a very warm welcome to Australia Your Excellency

I would also like to welcome:

  • Her Excellency Ms Hinauri Petana, High Commissioner of Samoa
  • Commissioner Fuivaili’ili Egon Kei, the Commissioner of the Samoan Police Force
  • And, of course, Austal leaders – thank-you for hosting – Defence officials, Parliamentary colleagues and distinguished guests here today — including the crew of Nafanua.

Today is another milestone in Australia and Samoa’s long and enduring relationship. A relationship that’s built on shared interests and shared priorities.

This is the second time we’ve gifted a patrol boat to Samoa.

The first time was more than 30 years ago, when Australia gifted a Pacific Class Patrol Boat to the Samoan Police Service’s maritime wing.

It was named after Nafanua, the famous ‘Warrior Princess’ of Samoan mythology.

The legend is that:

“It was her responsibility to protect her family and save her village from enemies.”

It’s a fitting name for a patrol boat that, for more than three decades, provided maritime border security, search and rescue, and monitoring of illegal fishing.

Like Samoa, Australia is also a maritime nation.

We know the importance of protecting borders and safeguarding your exclusive economic zone — which is vital to livelihoods and your economy.

It’s why, for more than 30 years, we’ve helped Pacific Island countries — like Samoa — maintain its maritime sovereignty, and we will continue to do so for many years to come.

Our Pacific Maritime Security Program makes sure of that.

The Guardian-class Patrol Boat that we hand over today is the fourth of 21 vessels being delivered to 12 Pacific Island countries and Timor-Leste.

It offers significant improvements in capability, particularly in the areas of range, endurance at sea, seakeeping and crew facilities.

It will serve Samoa for, at least, the next 25 years, which means, in an increasingly challenging environment, Samoa can continue to patrol and secure its maritime borders.

As part of the $2 billion Pacific Maritime Security program, Australia is also upgrading infrastructure in each of the nations receiving new vessels.

In Samoa, work is being undertaken at the Nafanua wharf.

We will also continue to provide Royal Australian Navy personnel to provide support for the vessel as well as region-wide aerial surveillance, which makes the Guardian-class an even more effective asset.

And, of course, Australian industry with the Austal support team — based here in Henderson and in Cairns — will provide ongoing technical, logistical and engineering support for this vessel.

Australia is particularly proud of our Pacific Maritime Security Program.

We know these vessels are crucial to the maritime security of Pacific Island countries.

And we’re committed to helping build a more resilient region.

As our Prime Minister says, “we have special responsibilities” in the Pacific.

We’re neighbours.

We’re partners.

We’re family.

A family that looks after each other. 

A family with shared interests in security, prosperity, and sovereignty across our region.

This is certainly true for Australia and Samoa.

We’ve long supported each other across a broad range of areas, including economic growth, skills and education, health, labour mobility, Infrastructure and gender equality.

On that note, I would like to acknowledge that for the first time, last year, three female officers joined the Samoan Police Maritime Wing.

In addition to the Pacific Maritime Security Program, the Morrison Government is helping Samoa build resilience and strength in other ways.

We’re increasing Australian Defence Force engagement in the region. For instance, later this month, the Royal Australian Navy’s HMAS Choules will visit Samoa to support the Women, Peace and Security Summit.

Last weekend, Foreign Minister Payne announced that we are establishing the Australia Pacific Security College, a transformative initiative that will deliver strategic security and leadership training to Pacific security agencies, including the Samoa Police Service.

These are all elements of Australia’s Step-Up in the Pacific.

And just this week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison met with other Pacific leaders in Tuvalu to discuss our shared and ambitious agenda.

He announced that, as part of Australia’s ongoing commitment to the Boe Declaration on Regional Security, we will invest $500 million over five years from 2020 to help Pacific nations invest in renewable energy and climate and disaster resilience.

This builds on our $300 million commitment for 2016-2020.

Australia and Samoa know that we stand strong together.

Today is another step forward in our long-standing relationship a step that strengthens and reaffirms our partnership.

To the crew of Nafanua II may you have fair winds and following seas for all your journeys ahead.

May Nafanua II forever live up to its name and keep Samoa safe.

On behalf of the Australian Government, we look forward to partnering with Samoa for many years ahead.

Thank you.

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