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Australia to maintain assistance after RAMSI withdraws

HIS Excellency Roderick Brazier has assured Solomon Islands that Australia will maintain its level of assistance to Solomon Islands after the withdrawal of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI).

His Excellency Brazier made the assurance on the RAMSI Farewell weekly programme on the national radio- Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation (SIBC).

“Even after RAMSI leaves, Australia’s aid programme to Solomon Islands will remain at nearly one billion SBD every year.

“It will continue to strengthen government, particularly the law and justice sector, to provide economic opportunities and to invest in very important infrastructures.

“Australia will never shirk from its responsibilities in our region. We will always help to avoid seeing a situation unfold as what existed in Solomon Islands between 1998 and 2003.

“We don’t want to see that happen ever again. We will always work with countries to help them achieve their potential, to help them achieve prosperity.”

The Australian High Commissioner said Solomon Islands is the fourth closest neighbour of Australia with long historical ties dating back way beyond the ethnic tension.

He said Solomon Islands is also Australia’s third biggest aid recipient in the world and moreover both countries enjoy strong economic ties.

His Excellency Brazier added that, “After RAMSI finishes, we will have Australian Federal Police in the RSIPF still, supporting and advising the RSIPF. We will still have more than 40 Australian police personnel”.

He said in the early stages of the RAMSI deployment, there were nearly 2000 police personnel from the RAMSI contributing countries serving with the RSIPF but now there are only 60 or 70 because Solomon Islands has been able to step up and take care of its own challenges.

When asked about the post-RAMSI Security Treaty between Solomon Islands and Australia, the Australian High Commissioner said it is still in the draft form but nears finalisation.

He said as the treaty is still being considered by both governments, he would not into the details but only to add that such arrangement is necessary to allow Australia to assist Solomon Islands quickly and efficiently should any further security issue arise in the future.

When asked if the timing of the RAMSI departure is right, High Commissioner Brazier said Canberra and the governments of the other RAMSI contributing countries would not be moving on from RAMSI if they judge that it is not yet the right time.

He said the RAMSI Special Coordinator Quinton Devlin has recently said Solomon Islands is ready for RAMSI’s departure and to assume full responsibility for its own national security.

The Australian High Commissioner said the RSIPF, after years of being supported by its Pacific regional neighbours, has shown the ability to respond to security challenges and Australia believes it is now one of the best police forces in the pacific.

“It’s now in fact providing training to some of its neighbours so we are very proud of the achievements of the RSIPF. We’ve seen in some recent cases that the RSIPF has been doing really excellent work to solve crimes and to subdue cases of insecurity.”

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