Australian Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs, the Hon Richard Marles MP, concluded his first visit to Solomon Islands today.

Mr Marles was appointed to the Pacific Island Affairs portfolio after the Australian
elections in August this year and said his first visit was "a great opportunity to get to know one of Australia's closest neighbors and to reinforce the close and constructive partnership existing between Australia and Solomon Islands."

He said he valued the opportunity to discuss issues of shared interest with Solomon
Islands leaders, including Acting Prime Minister, Hon Manasseh Maelanga MP, Speaker of Parliament, Sir Allan Kemakeza, and Opposition Leader, Hon Steve Abana MP.

Mr Marles said "Australia is committed to supporting efforts to build a more
prosperous Solomon Islands through our bilateral Partnership for Development and
through RAMSI."

During his visit, Mr Marles and the Minister for Health and Medical Services, Hon
Charles Sigoto MP, jointly opened the new Tamboko Health Clinic, giving the people
of Tamboko and the surrounding area of North West Guadalcanal access to a much-
needed primary health-care facility.

Mr Marles began his visit to the Pacific region in Papua New Guinea on 5 October.
He will also visit Vanuatu, Samoa, New Caledonia and New Zealand before returning
to Australia on 12 October.

Mr Marles said the visit "is an excellent opportunity to establish early contact with
Pacific Island leaders, and will help advance Australia's objectives of building peace, security and prosperity in the region."