Indo-Pacific Regional Infrastructure Partnership

Labor welcomes today’s announcement by Australia, the United States and Japan of a trilateral partnership to invest in infrastructure projects in the Indo-Pacific region.
 

THE HON MARK DREYFUS QC MP
SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL
SHADOW MINISTER FOR NATIONAL SECURITY
ACTING SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
MEMBER FOR ISAACS 
 
 INDO-PACIFIC REGIONAL INFRASTRUCTURE PARTNERSHIP
 

Labor welcomes today’s announcement by Australia, the United States and Japan of a trilateral partnership to invest in infrastructure projects in the Indo-Pacific region.
 
Labor strongly supports moves to engage more closely with our neighbours in the region.
 
Earlier this month Labor’s Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong called on the Government to work with our friends and allies to do more to invest in infrastructure in the region.
 
One obvious need in the region is greater infrastructure investment. The deficit is particularly acute in the Pacific Islands. It was encouraging to see the announcement last November of a memorandum of understanding between the US Government’s Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation to increase investment in infrastructure throughout the region. Last month we saw the announcement of a new Strategic International Development Fund by New Zealand Foreign Minister, Winston Peters, aimed at increasing the flexibility and responsiveness of New Zealand’s infrastructure funding in the Pacific. I welcome these announcements as important steps to addressing the deficit in infrastructure investment in the region. The Australian Government would do well to seriously consider similar initiatives.
Senator Penny Wong, US Studies Centre, Sydney, 18 July 2018
 
In the broader Indo-Pacific region, but particularly in the Pacific, infrastructure development is a pressing need and Australia should be a natural partner of choice to assist our close neighbours in their development needs.
 
Unfortunately under Abbott and Turnbull we haven't been – our leadership role has been eroded.
 
Labor has been warning for some time that under the Abbott and Turnbull Governments Australia dropped the ball in the Pacific, savagely cutting our overseas aid by almost $12 billion to its lowest levels in history – just 22 cents in every $100 of our national income.
 
Pacific island states have felt the impact of these cuts, leading them to seek others to fill the gap.
 
As Labor has repeatedly stated, infrastructure investment projects should be transparent, conform to environmental and social safeguards, and not place unsustainable debt burdens on regional countries. Australia has an interest and responsibility to assist our smaller regional neighbours with projects that best meet their development needs and provide them with maximum benefit. This is not about any other country – it is about the role Australia wants to have in our region.
 
Infrastructure cooperation is a good start, but the Government needs to do much more. We need to be pro-active in the region and demonstrate our commitment to our Pacific neighbours.
 
Labor has committed in government to rebuilding Australia's international development assistance beyond the Government's current levels.
 
Australia has a deep interest in contributing to global poverty alleviation, and our international development program supports security and stability in our region.
 
TUESDAY 31 JULY 2018