$3.2m warehouse

THE Australian Government will contribute $3.2 million ($A2m) to the construction of a humanitarian assistance disaster relief warehouse at the Black Rock military camp in Nadi.

Australian Defence Minister Senator Marise Payne confirmed the assistance during her visit to the military training camp yesterday with Minister for Defence and National Security Ratu Inoke Kubuabola and RFMF Commander Rear-Admiral Viliame Naupoto.

She said the contribution was part of Australia’s engagement in defence co-operation with Fiji.

“Australia will contribute towards the construction of a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief warehouse here at Black Rock, which is part of the peace- keeping plans and we are very pleased to add this project to the RFMF and to the Fijian Government as part of our engagement in defence co-operation,” she said.

“We will be responsible for the plan of the warehouse in the coming year and starting construction in 2019, but that is entirely in the hands of the RFMF and the Fijian Government.”

Ms Payne said the warehouse would be an important resource for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

“We know how well we worked together in ‘Operation Fiji Assist’ after Tropical Cyclone Winston.

“The bond was forged then. Our young soldiers who were part of it came over to Fiji on HMAS Canberra and are still talking about their experience.

“They are still talking about the Fijian RFMF members with whom they worked. I think these are enduring bonds.

“Humanitarian assistance and disaster relief work often display the co-operation that exists between the two countries,” she said.

Ratu Inoke said Ms Payne’s visit to Fiji was significant in forging stronger relationships with Australia.

“The last visit of an Australian Defence Minister was in 1992,” he said.

“We are very grateful to Senator Payne for making this visit.

“I know she’s very busy back in Canberra but for her to come and pay us this visit was very good.”

Ms Payne returned to Australia yesterday.

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