9 December 2016
From the High Commissioner's Desk: Lukim yufala
After three very happy years, my tenure as Australia’s High Commissioner to Solomon Islands has come to an end. And what an ending it was. In my final week as High Commissioner I was privileged to host a visit to Honiara by Australia’s Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop; our Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells; and their respective Opposition counterparts, Senator Penny Wong and Senator Claire Moore.
I can’t imagine a better way to end my posting than showing some of Australia’s most senior political leaders the great work that Australia is doing in Solomon Islands. The work we’ve done through RAMSI to support the rebuilding of the RSIPF over the past 13 years, and the work we’ll continue to do through a new bilateral policing program after RAMSI departs.
The work we’re doing to promote economic growth in Solomon Islands, which will now accelerate under our new A$50 million Solomon Islands Growth Program, officially launched by Minister Bishop this week.
The work we’re doing to help empower women, including through the launch of the new Professional Women’s Network that we’re supporting in partnership with the IFC. And the work we’re doing to support victims of domestic violence, which sadly continues to afflict both our countries.
And this is just a small sample of the work that Australia and Australians are doing to make Solomon Islands a better place. Over the course of three years I’ve been privileged to see all kinds of great things being done by Australians in Solomon Islands.
It was only this year, for example, that I visited the wonderful hospital in Atoifi, which so many Australians have done so much to support over the past 50 years. But there are countless such examples throughout the Hapi Isles. The relationship between our two countries isn’t just about governments, but also about people.
And it’s the people of Solomon Islands that my family and I will remember, long after we’ve gone. The rural people who have so little, but who are so generous towards visitors. The people who’ve taken us on adventures throughout the country, from diving and catching fish to walking through jungles. And of course, my own magnificent team in the Australian High Commission, most of whom are actually Solomon Islanders.
There are many things we’ll miss about life in Solomon Islands once we’re living back in Canberra. The fresh fish and coconuts, neither of which will be easy to get. Walking through the hills around Tasahe, taking in the stunning views as every single person we pass waves and says hello. Enjoying some of the best diving, snorkelling and fishing that exists anywhere in the world. But most of all we’ll miss the people of this country that we’ve come to know and love.
So to all those people we’ve met over the past three years, thank you for opening your homes and your hearts to us; thank you for sharing your culture with us; thank you for showing us your beautiful country. We’ll remember you and miss you.
But as one door closes, another opens. My successor, Rod Brazier, is as excited about coming to Solomon Islands as I was three years ago. I’m honoured that I’ll be succeeded by such a capable and professional colleague as Rod. And I know that Solomon Islanders will open their homes and their hearts to Rod and his family, as they have to me and mine.
Tagio tumas olketa, and lukim yu moa.