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This policy brief focuses on how Australia can further develop and strengthen its relationships with Pacific island countries and with the Pacific islands region more generally. Over and above specific areas of engagement that are the focus of other inquiries underway at this time (e.g. in relation to trade or defence relationships), there is a need to examine some of the fundamental precepts on which relationships with the Pacific are based. Indeed, we would argue that if these fundamental (and to some extent conceptual or philosophical) aspects are not given sufficient attention by policy makers, it will be increasingly difficult to achieve meaningful success in other, more discrete areas.
A number of aspects of Australia’s relationships with the countries of the Pacific islands region—and with the region as a whole—are presented here. The authors believe more and better investment on the part of the Australian policy community is needed in these areas. Whilst there will certainly be a need for financial investment in some areas, we wish to state from the outset that we see intellectual investment (including by way of research where appropriate) to be key to optimising success in this field.