The Australian Assistant Defence Minister – The Honourable Alex Hawke
Acting Commander for the Republic of Fiji Military Forces;
Acting Commander for Fiji Navy
Senior Officers of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces and Fiji Navy
Distinguished Guests
Ladies& Gentlemen
Ni sa Bula Vinaka and a very Good morning to you all.
It is my great honour to attend and officiate this ground-breaking ceremony of this timely project. On behalf of the Fijian Government, please allow me to acknowledge with gratitude the support of the Australian Government, our ‘Vuvale Partner’. I share the same sentiment as our Honorable Prime Minister on the choice of the word ‘Vuvale’ which implies family, with our geographical proximity and close relationship this has made us more like family than casual friends.
This intimate and positive relationship has enabled us today to witness this occasion.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Fiji’s porous borders and strategic maritime zone have indicated the need for our Fiji Navy to be equipped with the best platform, technologies, infrastructures and personnel in order to protect our sovereign national territorial integrity and security to enhance practical maritime domain awareness within our Exclusive Economic Zone. This effort can only be optimized through collaboration between our border security agencies and with the support offered by Australia, our security partner of choice in the region. 
Ladies and Gentlemen,
A good and well-constructed infrastructure is the backbone of a healthy economy. As a matter of fact having one of the best docking infrastructure in place enables trade, creates opportunities for a nation such as Fiji and securitize the nation from maritime threats.
The upgrading of this wharf is not only critical towards building our capabilities in securing our borders but also support the Pacific Maritime Security Program under the ‘Vuvale partnership’.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Pacific Maritime Security Program is a testament to Australia’s commitment in assisting our 12 Pacific Island nations with 19 steel-hulled patrol boats valued at $AUD280 million and a sustainment support facility for an initial 07 years period, valued at AUD$24 million. This benefits will assist in contributing to the maintenance of our collective regional security, achieve defence self-reliance and in contextualising it to our situation, it to assist Fiji in maritime security, fisheries surveillance and more.
Under this program, a few projects are in the pipeline for a comprehensive border security assistance to help strengthen the integrity of Fiji’s borders. Some of these projects include: two replacement Guardian-class patrol boats, integrated aerial surveillance, and upgrade of infrastructure.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is to my understanding that the last upgrade of this wharf was about twenty years ago,  I would like to reiterate that this initiative is a timely one as the new and improved wharf will support the replacement Guardian-class patrol boat that will berth our shore early next year.
 I also note that along with the project there will be construction of a new Gymnasium.
Ladies & Gentlemen,
This soil turning marks a shared goal with our traditional partner and for that we thank the Australia Government in their efforts to make the Pacific a region that is secure strategically, stable economically and sovereign politically.

Vinaka Vakalevu. Thank you very much.