Australian Senator Brett Mason pledges $20 million boost for Samoa's infrastructure projectsSaturday May 10, 2014 - 08:34 EST
Australia has pledged a $20 million boost for Samoa's infrastructure projects.
Australian Senator Brett Mason has made the announcement from Apia, the capital of Samoa, where he is on the last leg of of his current tour of Cook Islands, New Zealand and Samoa.
The parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop, says the initial project will include repairing and improving economically important roads and bridges.
This will include those damaged by Cyclone Evan in December 2012.
"We will also be investing in a new international submarine cable to boost Samoa's internet connectivity," Senator Mason told Radio Australia's .
"We all know that a well-maintained economic infrastructure is fundamental to the economic prosperity of all nations."
Senator Mason says the private sector particularly needs better infrastructure to grow and Australia is pleased to support the Pacific nation.
However, he says the Samoan government understands why Australia has made cuts to its aid programs.
"Australia's aid program to Samoa was reduced fractionally for the financial year," Senator Mason said.
"But the (Australian) High Commission here has worked closely with the Samoan Government to minimise the impact of these budget reductions on existing programs."
Special Leaders retreat, Cook Island
Senator Mason was Australia's representative at the Special Leaders retreat in Cook Islands earlier this week, where they discussed the Pacific Plan.
He says there is a recognition among the leaders that something has to change to restart the process of regional cooperation in the Pacific.
"If nations are to pool their resources then they need to act far more comprehensively," Senator Mason said.
"The Leaders retreat was one, the commitment to do that and secondly, how are we going to do that."
Senator Mason says the top priorities for the leaders include security, transport and buying goods in bulk and better connectivity between the island states.
"When you better integrate economies, ultimately that can lead to nation-states having to sacrifice part of their sovereignty," he said.
"They are difficult issues for nations...but they are the sorts of issues that if the Pacific is to move ahead, we are going to have to grapple with over the short to medium term."
© ABC 2014
More breaking news
Winter 2015 varied significantly across Australia, with southeastern parts of Australia shivering through their coldest winter in years, whilst western and northern parts basked in much warmer than average conditions.
Flooded dairy farmers at Berry on the New South Wales south coast are struggling to keep their cows dry and fed in the downpour.
Victoria's Gippsland has experienced its coldest winter in 26 years, playing havoc with horticultural crops.