Senate debates

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Questions without Notice

Solomon Islands

2:08 pm

Photo of Bob CarrBob Carr (NSW, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Foreign Affairs) Share this | Hansard source

I wish to acknowledge the distinguished presence in the chamber of the Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands, the Hon. Gordon Darcy Lilo, and his delegation. We are honoured to have the Prime Minister visit Australia as a guest of government. Prime Minister Lilo is no stranger to this country. He studied under an AusAID scholarship at the Australian National University. The Prime Minister's visit comes directly after my visit to the Solomon Islands last weekend.

I was pleased to see the progress that Solomon Islands has made. With the help of RAMSI—the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands—since 2003 we have seen domestic revenue collected by the Solomon Islands government grow at an annual approximate average of 20 per cent between 2006 and 2011, allowing essential services to continue. There has been improved debt sustainability, measured by debt to GDP ratio, from 23 per cent to 18 per cent, seeing it well below the accepted benchmark of 30 per cent. Over 2,500 public servants have trained in the last three years in better administration and financial management. The country is stable, the economy is growing, people's lives are getting better—this could be a description of Australia under the present government. I know that is the view the opposition is forming as I rehearse these encouraging figures—and many challenges remain, but the Solomon Islands and its people have more opportunities and brighter prospects for its future.


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