“It’s a pleasure to be here on my first official visit to the Cook Islands,” McDonald said. “While I am only visiting Rarotonga on this occasion, I look forward to the opportunity to visit the Pa Enua in future.”
“Australia is a proud partner of the Cook Islands and we highly value our relationship. It is a broad, mature partnership, and the diversity of my programme this week reflects that.”
“I’m looking forward to discussing with the Cook Islands government a range of issues of mutual interest. We co-operate in many priority areas, including fisheries, climate change, development, health, regional economic integration, and regional security.”
“My visit is also a chance to meet a wide range of contacts in the Cook Islands government, public service, private sector, and community sector, as well as the Australian community in Rarotonga.”
“Across the Pacific, Australia is committed to strengthening economic resilience, enhancing security co-operation and deepening people-to-people links.
“Through our stepped-up Pacific engagement, our development assistance budget of $1.3 billion in 2018-19 is our largest ever commitment to the region.”
“A more prosperous and secure Pacific increases our mutual opportunities for trade and investment.”
McDonald is joined on the visit by First Secretary Kirsty Michel, who has responsibility for managing the Australian High Commission’s engagement with the Cook Islands.
This evening McDonald will host a reception at the Beachcomber Pearl Market in Avarua to celebrate Australia’s relationship with the Cook Islands.
The guest list features representatives from the Cook Islands government, public service, Australian alumni, business and NGO representatives and members of the Australian community resident in Rarotonga.
Tomorrow, High Commissioner McDonald will visit Apii Rutaki, presenting the school with a grant to extend its veranda area.
Later, at a seminar at the University of the South Pacific, McDonald will speak about Australia-Cook Islands’ relations, as well as Australia’s broader Pacific engagement.