The BGA Australia Team, led by Managing Director Michael McNeill, wrote an update to clients on Australia’s deepening engagement with Pacific Island nations.


  • Australia has been deepening its engagement with Pacific Island nations in response to both a real and perceived assertiveness from China in the region. In recent months, Canberra has deployed all its tools of statecraft to maximize its influence and prevent China from gaining a stronger foothold in the region. To build its soft power, Australia is growing people-to-people links by opening new flight corridors in the region and creating a Pacific diaspora in Australia via the new Pacific Engagement Visa. Canberra is also consolidating its hard power by cementing new security partnerships and increasing funding to states across the region. In a contest for influence with China, the Australian government is clearly positioning itself as the region’s partner of choice.
  • At the same time, significant recent developments in the Pacific are shaping regional geopolitics. The Solomon Islands election result surprised the international community, with pro-China Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare unexpectedly stepping out of the race after his party suffered a significant swing. Taking his place will be former Foreign Minister Jeremiah Manele, who Australian officials hope will take a more nuanced approach to relations with China. Although Pacific Island countries are against being drawn into regional geopolitical tensions in a way that will harm their hard-won sovereignty, they have been leveraging increased interest in the region to secure their own development and security goals.


  • The Australian government will provide AUD 5 billion (US$3.3 billion) in official development assistance, with almost half for the Pacific. This has the specific goal of maintaining Australia’s position as the region’s largest and most comprehensive development partner. AUD 1.3 billion ($869.8 million) of the assistance will go to Southeast Asia, which demonstrates the government’s desire to increase engagement with the broader Indo-Pacific.
  • Australia formed new security partnerships through the “Squad” meeting, a key development in the trend for minilateralism in the Indo-Pacific. The defense heads from Australia, the United States, Japan and the Philippines gathered for a landmark meeting in May to underscore their commitment to a free, open, secure and prosperous Indo-Pacific.


  • Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong and her opposition counterpart Sen. Simon Birmingham visited Tuvalu in early May to advance a groundbreaking security and migration pact. Wong also announced AUD 110 million ($73.6 million) in development funding for the tiny island nation, including AUD 50 million ($33.4 million) for Tuvalu’s first undersea telecommunications cable, an additional AUD 19 million ($12.7 million) for coastal adaptation and AUD 10 million ($6.7 million) in budget support.
  • Jeremiah Manele has promised to continue Sogavare’s foreign policy strategy in terms of relations with China, particularly given the Solomon Islands’ reliance on trade with Beijing. Australia’s recent budget has committed financing through the Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific to support the development of telecommunications infrastructure in the Solomon Islands and AUD 5.5 million ($3.7 million) to keep Australian Federal Police deployed to the Solomons International Assistance Force.

We will continue to keep you updated on developments in Australia as they occur. If you have any comments or questions, please contact BGA Australia Managing Director Michael McNeill at

Best regards,

BGA Australia Team