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Mike's Minute: We need to closely watch the Tuvalu deal

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Tue, 14 Nov 2023, 1:04pm

Mike's Minute: We need to closely watch the Tuvalu deal

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Tue, 14 Nov 2023, 1:04pm

Is Anthony Albanese a genius, or has he landed us with a headache we don’t know how to get out of?  

In signing up Tuvalu the way he has and offering an easy entry into Australia, who is next? Are we expected to do the same, or similar? 

If we are, what is the criteria? We save a place from climate change? How does that work? 

What is the trigger point? When they are knee deep instead of ankle deep?  

If we are offering them free entry to the country, is that everyone and all their families, whether that family lives on an island or not?  

If we are offering free entry to New Zealand or Australia does that mean we stop the climate related aid in the meantime, given we have already admitted the end point is a relocation of country? 

Do we offer welfare if they can't get work when they arrive? Is it open to a change of Government?

There are a million questions and not quite that many answers. 

And the bigger, more overarching question - is it really about climate change or is it really about China, in the sense Tuvalu can't do anything strategically without the say so of Australia? 

If Australia is now the one-stop shop for geo-political decision making in the Pacific, where is it we fit into that model? What happens if we don’t agree? 

Can the Solomon Islands sign the same deal despite the fact they already have a deal with China? Does it apply to all the Pacific or just the most vulnerable islands? 

Does it impact arrangements we already have, like the various worker programmes? Do we just have an open door, no barrier, back and forward sort of arrangement from here on in?  

What about China? In them seeing this do they up the ante and increase the aid and loans and assistance? If they do, do we counter their counter?  

You might remember one of the first things the Government here of 2017 did, at the behest of Winston Peters, was to hand a billion dollars to the Pacific to help stabilise the relationship and offset the influence of countries like China. 

Where has that got us? 

It seems, whether because of the weather or foreign interest, the Pacific has become a marketplace and the bidding is hot.  

The implications for us are enormous and I'm not even sure we are paying attention.  

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