COLLABORATION

Australian government teams up with ANU on new Pacific security college

SOURCE: howamo/Shutterstock
Australia has been turning its sights to its Pacific Island neighbours in recent months stepping up diplomatic visits and investing in the future of the region.


By U2B Staff 

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In recent years, Australia has been turning its sights to its Pacific Island neighbours, stepping up diplomatic visits and investing in Pacific island security.

In its 2018 budget, the Australian government announced its biggest ever aid commitment to the Pacific and designated AU$8 million to open a new High Commission in Tuvalu. The more than AU$1 billion assigned to the region is to go towards infrastructure and services, including funding to lay an undersea telecommunications cable to Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands.

The efforts are all part of the government’s stated aim of “stepping-up” relations with its Pacific neighbours. The Scott Morrison administration is strengthening relationships with local governments in the face of mounting Chinese influence in the Pacific. A central part of this outreach is bolstering the security of the region and Australia is taking steps to shore up the defence of the Pacific Islands and share expertise on how best to prepare national security teams.

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The Australian government has teamed up with the Australian National University (ANU) on a AU$19 million security college to train officials from across the islands and improve security cooperation in the region.

The Australia Pacific Security College (APSC) will be established to provide leadership training in security and law enforcement. Its official launched is expected in September, according to Foreign Secretary Marise Payne who announced the project on Saturday.

“The College will establish a pool of technical advisors to support security policy development and implementation in the region,” Payne said.

“Its alumni network will help Pacific Island Forum countries share knowledge and build a community of practice on regional security issues. It will support close collaboration on cross-border matters.”

US Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke (R) speaks with Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne (C) during the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) at the Civic Center in Aiwo on the island of Nauru on September 4, 2018. Source: Mike Leyral/AFP

The Pacific Islands face a range of security challenges, paramount of which is the creep of climate change and the adverse effects it will have in this vulnerable region.

But they also need the resources to respond to other security issues that have both regional and national implications such as transnational crime, cybersecurity, and human security issues.

This new centre hopes to help in tackling all of these issues in a collaborative learning environment that can benefit all parties.

“These are no small challenges, and it is imperative we work together to meet them head on. The APSC provides a venue where the countries of the Pacific can collaborate and learn from each other,” said Dean of the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific, Professor Michael Wesley.

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“The College will respect the sovereignty of Pacific Island governments and work closely with them to identify training requirements.

“And it will draw on and share the wealth of understanding and existing expertise from across the region to strengthen our cooperative efforts. ANU will work in collaboration with regional training institutions whenever possible.”

Australia is not the only country that has sharpened its focus on the Pacific. New Zealand has dubbed its policy the Pacific Reset and Britain has the Pacific Uplift. Japan, alongside the US and Australia, is spending more on infrastructure in the region.