PM brushes off Solomon Islands criticism

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Australia's Pacific step-up has not failed and the relationship with the Solomon Islands will be repaired, the prime minister insists.

But Labor continues to criticise Scott Morrison for "dropping the ball" on relations with the nation's Pacific Island neighbours.

Mr Morrison has faced criticism from his Solomon Islands counterpart Manasseh Sogavare, who told his parliament the country was being treated like kindergarten students "walking around with Colt 45s in our hands" who needed to be supervised.

Mr Sogavare's latest comments mark the second time this week he has taken aim at Australia, having earlier labelled as "offensive" a reference to the Solomons being in Australia's backyard.

Mr Morrison says Mr Sogavare is free to express his opinion but it would not stop the Australian government having a relationship with the Solomon Islands.

"We have always been there for the people of the Solomon Islands and we always will be. That doesn't mean the prime ministers will always agree," he told reporters in Parramatta on Thursday.

"I have had contact with (Sogavare) in the last few months. Australia is the preferred security partner, he's communicated that to me consistently."

Yet Labor foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong remains surprised Mr Morrison has not spoken to Mr Sogavare more recently.

"Quite a lot of the way in which Prime Minister Morrison has dealt with this issue has surprised me. Australians have been surprised," she told the ABC.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese said a government he led would have a constructive relationship with Pacific nations, citing his party's policy of people-to-people relationships.

"This is a complex relationship, but the fact that the prime minister hasn't picked up the phone to Prime Minister Sogavare says an enormous amount about what is needed in terms of that relationship," Mr Albanese told reporters in Sydney.

"The government has dropped the ball on the Pacific right now and during this period we haven't even had serious visits from the foreign minister or the defence minister."

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