Monday, 20 August 2012 12:21 PM

Australia Reaffirms Continuous Assistance

The Australian Government says it won't allow Solomon Islands to slide back into another ethnic war.

Senator Carr, speaking from the capital Honiara, said Australia remained committed to the people of Solomon Islands and their future.

"We are not going to withdraw. And RAMSI's [Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands] police function is going to continue a long time after the military function is phased out," he said

The Australian-led mission was deployed to Solomon Islands at the request of the Solomons Government in 2003 following five years of ethnic violence and a coup in 2000.

The military component is likely to withdraw in the second half of 2013 as the focus shifts towards bilateral development aid.

The Australian Government has donated 22 boats to 12 Pacific Island nations.

Senator Carr said the patrol boats in Solomon Islands, named Lata and Auki, were based in Honiara and being used to protect the region's greatest resource.

"They [fish] put protein in the diet of poor Pacific Island communities and we don't want to see illegal or unregulated fishing deplete that resource."

Maritime authorities in Solomon Islands say the boats allow them to patrol a much larger area.

"With this capability we can do 200 nautical miles with no problem. And they can do the endurance of 2,500 nautical miles on 12 knot speed," police maritime director Russel Tagini said.

The Australian Government, through the Pacific Maritime Security Program, is investigating ways to begin replacing the current patrol boats from 2017.