Solomon Islands rift with Australia continues, while PM admits he hasn’t spoken with Sogavare

By Tom Ravlic

Thursday May 5, 2022

Manasseh Sogavare
Solomon Islands prime minister Mannasseh Sogavare. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, File)

Australia’s relationship with the Solomon Islands continues to dog the election campaign, with Australia the target of choice words from Solomon Islands prime minister Mannasseh Sogavare overnight.

Sogavare attacked the attitudes of Australia and other countries towards the Solomon Islands following his country’s signing of an agreement with the Chinese government, and suggested the reaction from Australia and other countries amounted to undermining the leadership of the Solomon Islands.

He also objected to the use of colloquial language such as ‘backyard’ when used to describe where the Solomon Islands was situated in relation to Australia.

Sogavare also appeared to suggest Australia was wanting to invade the Solomon Islands, which was a claim prime minister Scott Morrison dismissed.

Morrison said Australia had responded to requests from the Solomon Islands for defence and law enforcement assistance such as when Australia sent police officers to help with civil unrest last year.

He said Australia has never threatened to invade the Solomon Islands and that the country would continue to be a part of Australia’s regional family.

Morrison added that Sugavare, as the leader of a country, was free to say whatever he wants. But Morrison also admitted he has not called his Solomons counterpart since the deal was signed.

“He’s made comments about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as well, which we obviously don’t share his opinion on,” Morrison said.

Shadow foreign minister senator Penny Wong said she was surprised that the prime minister has not spoken with Sogavare since the signing of the Solomon Islands-China agreement.

She said she would seek to discuss the views Sogavare has expressed in recent times directly with him should Labor win government on May 21.

“Quite a lot of the way in which prime minister Morrison has dealt with this issue has surprised me. I think Australians have been surprised,” Wong said.


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