Minister of Foreign Affairs & External Trade Jeremiah Manele cut the ribbon to officially open the office, said a statement from the Government Communications Unit (GCU) yesterday.
Present at the occasion was Governor General Sir David Vunagi, Dr Anthony Lynham, Australia’s Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy and members of the Solomon Islands community in Brisbane.
The establishment of the Solomon Islands Consulate General in the Queensland city of Brisbane represents the growing trade and economic cooperation between Solomon Islands and Australia.
Brisbane is Solomon Islands largest gateway into Australia and Asia where every week hundreds of nationals pass in and out either transiting through to third countries or returning home and at the same time many Solomon Islanders consider Brisbane city, a “home away from home”.
The opening of the Brisbane office is important to facilitate trade and socio-economic activities between the two countries especially in providing consular services that will be required by potential investors as a well as potential seasonal workers, students and the wider Solomon Islands community in Australia.
Minister Manele highlighted that the opening of the office is timely to prepare Solomon Islands for participating in Australia’s growing seasonal labour market, tourism and other small business enterprises that Solomon Islanders are keen to venture into.
“To put it simply we are here to do business and strengthen Solomon Islands – Australia relations,” Mr Manele said.
Solomon Islands has made the decision to invest in expanding its presence in Australia to tap into the seasonal labour market as a short term solution to address its more than 18,000 youth job seekers.
Establishing trade links with Australia’s agricultural sector will connect Solomon Islands provinces with Australian markets.
Manele said one of the priorities of the government partner with Australia to reduce the costs of doing business in Solomon Islands.
One of the major Australian-funded project is the Coral Sea Cable System connecting Sydney directly with Honiara and three other Provinces, Auki, Noro and Choisuel which is expected to come on line in two months’ time.
The other project with major Australian input is the fifteen mega Watts Tina Hydro project which will reduce the costs of energy and should be operational by 2024.
“I am excited about the growing Solomon Islands Australian relationship and look forward to the Consulate General office exploring new opportunities with the local Brisbane Communities, Queensland and the wider Australian population,” Manele said.
The Brisbane office compliments the work of the Solomon Islands Canberra High Commission work and will be headed by the Consul General Kereta Sanga.
The office will soon be filled up with more staff from home including Immigration and Trade and Investment and Labour Mobility.