Samoa and Australia strengthens links
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi and Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Julie Bishop, yesterday unveiled a time capsule, which they plan to bury at the new Parliament House (Maota Fono) being constructed at Mulinu’u.
The event was one of several local engagements for Ms. Bishop who is in Samoa for two days.
She is accompanied by Australia’s Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, who will lead Australia's delegation to the Pacific Island Forum’s Foreign Ministers Meeting at Taumeasina Island Resort today.
Among the Ministers attending the meeting is New Zealand’s deputy Prime Minister, Vaovasamanaia Winston Peters, who is scheduled to arrive today.
Yesterday, Ms. Bishop had a busy schedule.
And under the heat of the afternoon at Mulinu’u, she spoke about the importance of the Parliament building to Samoa.
She said the new building represents the defense, promotion and respect of democracy and the rule of law.
“The rule of law, an underpinning of a democratic society, must be upheld,” she said.
“This building is a symbol of members of Parliament putting the interests of the people above their own interests, and that’s why we support the funding of this house.”
Minister Bishop said that while the original Maoto Fono, built in 1972, served Samoa well, it was time for a new building.
“Our support has enabled you to construct a building that has not only been an architectural wonder but has also driven resilience.”
She added that the employment of a local building company, Craig’s Construction, helps strengthen communities through positive job opportunities.
The round, fale style architecture style incorporates traditional Samoan architecture.
During a tour after the official ceremony, Minister Bishop and her colleague Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells walked around in amazement.
They interacted with the local officials and asked several questions to the building and architecture team.
Minister Bishop also announced that Australia will fund the building of a new Legislative Assembly Office and will shortly begin a study into the construction of the office, which was met with applause. She said she would like work to begin as soon as possible so that Parliament may function fully.
Away from visiting Australia-funded projects, Ms. Bishop is also scheduled to Prime Minister Tuilaepa to discuss ways to strengthen security, development and economic cooperation.
“Australia is the largest destination for Samoan goods exports. We will meet with Samoan business representatives to explore further links and opportunities for private sector-led growth,” a statement from her office says.
“We will launch a number of Australian-funded initiatives, including phase three of the Australia-Pacific Technical College and the Pacific Aid Map developed by the Lowy Institute and open the Samoa Family Health Association Clinic.
“Australia and Samoa have an enduring relationship that extends across political, security, economic and people-to-people links. We are committed to working with Samoa and other Pacific partners to develop innovative solutions to development challenges.”
The Australia Foreign Minister will also meet Vaovasamanaia in Samoa.