Australia High Commissioner in Honiara says his country does not want a Military Base in the Solomon Islands as his government is working with SIG to build a Patrol-Boat Outpost in the Shortland Islands, Western Province.
Against that background, the High Commission, Lachlan Strahan, was asked if Australia was considering building a military base in the Solomon Islands.
Strahan was very clear.
“Australia does not want a military base in the Solomon Islands. It’s never been our objective. What we want is for Solomon Islands to have its own robust security.”
He adds: “In this case is all about supporting RSIPF to be able to do what it can do to protect national and border security. It is not in the interest of Solomon Island and Australia for us to come out here and try and have those kind of (military base). Absolutely no.”
The government is currently consulting with landowners in the Shortland regarding the land space for the base. Australia says it is ready to kick start the project once all formalities are completed.
It will be the first Patrol Base besides Aola Base in Honiara.
Speaking to journalists after the handing over of speed boats to the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSPF) on Friday, Strahan also urged other players outside of the Pacific to respect “our region.”
He said: “I would hope any other country would be as respectful and mindful as we are of the sovereignty of Solomon Islands, its autonomy and its right to protect its own national security.”
According got Strahan, Australia is doing work here with New Zealand who also deploy police officers working with the RISPF.
“That’s a good three-way partnership based on absolute trust and everything we do here only happens after a very intense consultation with the Solomon Islands Government and the RSIPF. It is listening to the requirements and the needs of the government here.
“If a fourth party were to do something in the region we would probably have questions. We would not want anyone to do anything which unsettles what the prime minister and I have discussed several times and that is a peaceful, stable part of the world. We want to remain that way and part of peace and stability being maintained here is being respectful of the rights of the people who are here permanently.”
Meanwhile the high commissioner said for Solomon Islands and Australia the Coral sea is “our shared sea and our relationship with Solomon Islands is back over many decades and we have to learn things here.” He continues: “We have to learn to listen and to be respectful to build up relationship of trust and because its our own shared region we have always have a different interest here. It’s permanent – so what I say is any country that comes here to the region just have to be mindful of that some of us live here permanently so we naturally have different interests here which are eternal and they are shared,” said high commissioner Strahan.