The Australian Assistant Defence Minister and Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Alex Hawke has reaffirmed Australia’s commitment on Climate Change.
Minister Hawke said in his view, coming from a field of politics, the language of Climate Change is often not useful in discussions on this issue.
The Australian minister made this remark when he was asked to comment on whether climate change is seen as an emergency as it has been portrayed in Pacific Island nations.
“Whatever language you use, the Pacific feels the impact of climate change more than any other countries,” Minister Hawke told the Vanuatu Nightly News (VNN) team in an exclusive interview yesterday.
“The issue is what we are doing. Whether we are responsive and listening. You will find Australia responsive and listening.”
He reaffirmed Australia’s commitment on Climate Change in the Pacific, saying Australia takes the impacts of climate change in the Pacific very seriously.
“Australia very much wants to partner and work on these issues.”
He further added, “Pacific Island countries feel impact of climate change more than other countries do. The issues are real. The mitigations are real. The adaptations are real. The Boe declaration is a reality.
“Australia always meets its international targets.
“We are a good international player. We take the environment seriously.
“We do believe we have to listen very carefully on climate change the Pacific needs. The Boe Declaration is a reality.
“Australia signed to the Boe Declaration and invested in regional security and that involves climate change, water security and food security.”
The VNN team noted that recent events have caused some concern about whether Vanuatu is doing enough to hold the line in terms of maintaining international rules and norms that it would expect and that Australia has been a strong promoter of for a very long time.
The team asked the minister to talk about what additional steps are available or are options for Australia in supporting this regard.
In response Minister Hawke acknowledged that Australia regard Vanuatu as a strong and sovereign country, free to determine its own destiny.
“We respect Vanuatu in every way in doing that. That’s the most important thing from Australia’s perspective.
“We treat the Pacific as strong sovereign states who are part of our family. We certainly have strong cultural and family affinities but we never say to our Pacific countries, we know better or we would suggest you do it this way because sovereignty means determining your own destiny and we support that.”