Vanuatu PM's visit a 'test case' for Australia's relationship with Pacific

Vanuatu's Prime Minister Charlot Salwai visit to Australia this week, makes him the second Pacific leader to make the trip in just a matter of weeks, after Solomon Islands' Prime Minister Rick Hou visited earlier in June.

The high-level visits come amidst a climate of debate about China's growing influence in the Pacific region, which some close observers and Australia's opposition say is a result of Australia "dropping the ball" on the Pacific.

So the way in which the Australian Government engages with the Vanuatu leader over the next week will come under heavy scrutiny.

One of those closely watching will be lawyer and academic, Dr Siobahn McDonnell, from the Australian National University's College of Asia and the Pacific.

She's described Vanuatu as the "test case" for Australia, in the way it builds a new style of relationship with Pacific nations.

McDonnell said the visit is incredibly significant as it’s the first official visit by the Vanuatu Prime Minister in a number of years.

“I think it’s a real opportunity for Australia to show a different diplomatic model during this visit.”

“So what we have seen today it really is a lot of pronouncements coming from Australia but almost in a style of what I think is called megaphone diplomacies, McDonnell said on Pacific Beat.    


Photo Twitter PM&C. Caption: Vanuatu PM Charlot Salwai, Mrs Marie-Justine Salwai and Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells  on arrival in Canberra Sunday.