'Sincerity' needed to patch Solomon's bond

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·2-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Australia needs to show sincerity to rebuild its relationship with the Solomon Islands after the Pacific nation signed a security pact with China, the deputy Labor leader says.

Richard Marles attacked the Morrison government for overseeing the deterioration of the bilateral relationship, which has led to the Solomon Islands prime minister criticising Australian rhetoric towards his people.

Manasseh Sogavare told his parliament this week the country was being treated like kindergarten students "walking around with Colt 45s in our hands" who needed to be supervised.

Mr Marles said the most immediate step an incoming Labor government would do to address the prospect of Chinese presence in the Indo-Pacific was to rebuild the bilateral relationship.

"It's really important obviously, that Australia presents itself as wanting to help the people of the Pacific in the challenges that they face," he told reporters in Sydney on Friday.

"In the here and now, what really matters is that we establish those relationships. Under this government, under Scott Morrison, the relationships don't exist.

"They have failed to do the basic work to establish the relationships ... and that's why we see the situation that has now played out between Solomon Islands and China."

Mr Marles also labelled the Sino-Solomons security pact as a negative game-changer, saying that it was important the Australian government spent time in the Pacific to build trust and maintain relationships.

"It's really important that people spend time out there. That we actually get to know the people of the Pacific and that we present to them with sincerity," he said.

"That's what Australia seeks to do is work with the Pacific to improve the Pacific situation and that's at the heart of the policies that we have put forward in relation to the Pacific."

Prime Minister Scott Morrison denied his rhetoric or statements that a Chinese military presence in the Solomon Islands would be a "red line" has impacted the bilateral relationship.

"We've been very clear, as we always have, about what Australia's national security interests are," he told reporters in Perth on Friday.

"We've also always been very clear about the very high levels of support that we've always provided to the people of Solomon Islands and the Solomon Islands government."

Australian Federal Police remain on the ground after helping restore order during riots at the end of 2021 and will remain in the Solomons until the end of 2023.

"We've given those commitments and we'll continue to provide additional support as they require it," Mr Morrison said.

Defence Minister Peter Dutton also defended the relationship, saying the Solomon Islands didn't have any criticism of the bilateral relationship.

"They didn't go into the arrangement with China because they were unhappy with the arrangement that they have with Australia," he told the Seven Network.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting