RAMSI congratulates Australia on their National Day
Dr Austin, who is from New Zealand, said that Australia’s significant role in the regional partnership between 15 Pacific countries and Solomon Islands was of fundamental importance as Australia provides both personnel and funding to RAMSI.
“On behalf of the rest of the Pacific contributing countries, I would like to acknowledge that without Australia’s support for RAMSI - it would not exist.”
Mr Austin said the positive comments made this week by Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd during Prime Minister Derek Sikua’s visit to Australia were a confirmation of Australia’s continued commitment to a close working partnership with Solomon Islands Government, RAMSI and its regional partners to ensure a successful mission.
“Since the arrival of RAMSI in July 2003, many hundreds of Australian civilians such as lawyers, economists, development specialists, together with police and soldiers have participated in RAMSI in its task of working together with Solomon Islanders to restore law and order and help the rebuild government and the public service so that it can deliver the services that people need”, Mr Austin said.
“They have worked alongside their Pacific regional partners to help Solomon Islands”.
“I thank these people on behalf of RAMSI for their contribution, spending time away from family and friends to help a neighbour.”
Australia has contributed some $1.3 billion to RAMSI since 2003. This also involves a substantial deployment of around 170 police supported by over 130 Australian Defence Force personnel. Around 120 Australian civilian advisers are also working in and with the Solomon Islands public service.
Mr Austin said that Australians working with RAMSI has brought Australia closer to Solomon Islands and the region.
“The lives of the Australians who have worked in RAMSI have been enriched by the experience”, he said.
“They have taken home with them very fond memories of their time in Solomon Islands, and many have been active in maintaining links with Solomon Islands since their return home.”
“In fact just last week my office was contacted by Solomon Islanders living in Australia wanting to get in touch with Australians who have worked with RAMSI in the past.”
The countries that make up the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands are Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.