Australian foreign policy shift aligns with central banks capacity building program in the South Pacific

Prime Minister Scott Morrison in Queensland earlier this week. (Photo: AAP)

On 8 November 2018 Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that his “Government was returning the Pacific to where it should be–front and centre of Australia’s strategic outlook, our foreign policy, our personal connections, including at the highest levels of government”.

This will happen at multiple levels, including defence, police, infrastructure loans and grants via the usual Official Development Assistance program as well as a proposed infrastructure development bank, increased labour mobility, high-speed undersea internet cables, export financing support for investments, ratification of the PACER-Plus program, new diplomatic posts and an Australian television presence to name a few.

This major foreign policy pivot to the Pacific provides an opportunity for the SPCCB’s capacity building program–developing capacity for research and policy formulation at the South Pacific central banks–to have even more impact and relevance. The program builds on years of investment by Griffith University in pursuit of a strong and deep partnership and engagement with the region’s central banks with key partners in Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

External stakeholders already participating in the program include the Reserve Bank of Australia, Reserve Bank of New Zealand, Asian Development Bank, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, , and commercial banks–ANZ, Westpac and Bank of South Pacific. Outcomes so far have included research projects, joint working papers, joint journal publications, media articles, research training and mentoring, seminars, symposiums and the upcoming inaugural research conference to be held in Suva.

The program has the potential to extend collaborations and engagement to the governments and other institutions and organisations in the region. The Suva conference provides a key avenue for developing these networks. The conference will include opening remarks by Australia’s High Commissioner to Fiji and addresses by the Governors of our partner central banks. For more information on the program and the upcoming Suva conference please contact the program lead, Dr Parmendra Sharma.