Opening remarks at the Pacific Fusion Centre

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The Hon Richard Marles MP

Deputy Prime Minister

Minister for Defence

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6 June 2023

Can I acknowledge the Honourable, Ishmael Kalsakau the Prime Minister of Vanuatu, the Honourable Jotham Napat, the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Vanuatu, His Excellency Michael Aroi, Nauru’s High Commissioner to Fiji but particularly in the context of today, the Chair of the Foreign Sub-committee on regional security, Her Excellency Heidi Bootle, Australia's High Commissioner to Vanuatu, the Representative of Teriki Paunimanu MantoiKalsakau III of Ifira island, on whose land we convene on today.

Pastor Bernard Yalimyau, Secretary-General of the Vanuatu Christian Council, Mr James Movick, Director for the Pacific Fusion Centre, and Ms. Anna Naupa, the Associate Director of the Pacific Fusion Centre, and your team, heads and senior officials of Pacific national security agencies. I am really delighted to be here today with His Excellency, High Commissioner Aroi, Prime Minister Kalsakau to open the Pacific Fusion Centre.

We often talk about living in the most complex set of strategic circumstances that the world has faced since the end of the Second World War.

We see the global rules based order being placed under more pressure than it has been at any point since the end of the Second World War.

We see that obviously with the war in Ukraine, but we see it in parts in the Indo-Pacific as well.

And as smaller countries, we are deeply invested in the global rules based order and the security which comes from that.

And we find ourselves also living in a part of the world where there is greater strategic contest.

All of this meant that in 2018, the Boe Declaration sought to speak to what security meant from a Pacific point of view.

And the fundamental principle that emanated from the Boe Declaration was that the Pacific’s security has to come from the Pacific family itself.

And this is a profoundly important principle.

It was with this in mind that the Pacific Fusion Centre began its life in 2019, in Canberra, but it was always felt that it wouldn't have proper meaning, unless it was located in a Pacific island country, and so the end of 2021, the Pacific Fusion Centre came here, to Vanuatu.

And we're deeply grateful that Vanuatu is hosting the Pacific Fusion Centre.

And of course, it puts in context the significance of today, where we open this, its offices, its home, permanent home, for the future.

And it is therefore a really significant moment in the context of Pacific security.

But the other point to understand is that in the Boe Declaration and security has a larger context, then state conflict or civil unrest, security comes from being secure from transnational crime, security comes from being secure from cyber threats, security lies in meeting the challenge of climate change, because that is the single biggest threat to security that the countries of the Pacific feel.

And to do all of that, to fuse all of that, to get coherent policy around that requires coordination across a range of different departments and different agencies, from Defence to Home Affairs, to Immigration, to cyber in each of our countries, and then across a series of country members of the Pacific Island forum.

That is what the Fusion Centre is about, there is a lot of fuse in order to be able to deal with the security challenges that we face in 2023.

This is a profoundly important organization and today is a really significant day in being able to open this, its permanent home.

There is so much thanks that goes to so many people, but I do particularly want to thank Director Movic and Associate Director, Naupa and all of your team in bringing us to this day where we're able to open the permanent home at the Pacific Fusion Centre.

You should feel really proud of what you've achieved to get to this moment. Can I say, from the perspective of the Australian Government, we are proud but ultimately deeply privileged and honoured to be able to play our part in the support of the Pacific Fusion Centre.

Thank you.


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