Australia expected to announce billion dollar loan fund for Pacific


In a major speech at the Townsville army barracks, the Prime Minister is expected to commit to putting the Pacific back at the centre of our foreign policy, saying he wants to see a "southwest Pacific that is secure strategically, stable economically, and sovereign politically".

Defence links will also be beefed up, with more training of Pacific militaries and regular navy deployments.

Scott Morrison will re-focus Australia's foreign and defence policy to counter China's expansion in the Pacific.

China has spent over a billion dollars on concessional loans and gifts since 2011 to become the Pacific's second-largest donor after Australia, stoking concern in the West that nations could end up overburdened and in debt to Beijing.

Australia will create a A$2 billion (RM6.04 billion) fund to provide loans to Pacific nations to build infrastructure, Prime Minister Scott Morrison is expected to announce on Thursday, as Canberra seeks to counter China's influence in the region.

"This $2 billion infrastructure initiative will significantly boost Australia's support for infrastructure development in Pacific countries and Timor Leste", he said.

He's announcing the creation of an Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific to develop energy, communications and transport projects.

To complement the new fund, the Government plans to give Australia's export financing agency access to an extra $1 billion to invest in projects "which has a broad national benefit for Australia".

La aterradora "araña" con cabeza de perro fotografiada en la selva ecuatoriana
Hasta ahora no se sabe científicamente si esa apariencia la usa para auyentar a sus depredadores o es de uso para apareamiento. El nombre científico del insecto es Metagryne bicolumnata y es conocido entre los expertos como 'opilión conejo'.

Australian navy boats will be deployed to the Pacific for training and exercises using the new Guardian patrol boats Australia is giving to island nations.

Mr Morrison will also speak to commercial TV networks about getting more Australian TV programming and sport available in Pacific countries.

"Our Pacific family switching on to the same stories, news dramas and sports we are watching at home", he says.

"This will mean Australia is represented in every member country of the Pacific Islands Forum", Mr Morrison says.

Mr Morrison will host a barbecue for Pacific leaders at the APEC conference in Port Moresby next weekend.

Mr Morrison will announce new diplomatic missions in Palau, the Marshall Islands, French Polynesia, Niue and the Cook Islands.

The new commitments come despite Mr Morrison ruling out increasing the overall foreign aid budget, with the Government to redirect funds to the Pacific to make the region a priority.