Australian Minister announces AU$650,000 grant to help Tonga's health and private sector

PHOTO: Hon. Julie Bishop meets Primary School students in Tonga during her two-day official visit. Photo/Supplied.

The Australian Foreign Minister, The Hon. Julie Bishop during her visit in Tonga today has announced her government has given the kingdom AU$650,000 (TP$ 979014.94) in grant.

The Hon. Bishop is in Tonga on a two-day official visit to the Pacific and she has announced AU $400,000 out of the grant funding would be donated to two innovative private sector initiatives to support smallholder vanilla farmers to improve agriculture practices and boost economic development.

Australia has assisted Tonga’s ministry of health for years and the Hon. Bishop has announced a AU $200,000 to support a new partnership with the ministry.

“This funding will support the development of a new national strategy to control and prevent non-communicable diseases, a major cause of death in the Tongan community,” she said.

On her first visit to Tonga as Foreign Minister, Hon. Bishop met with Tonga’s Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva and his Cabinet to discuss Tonga’s important economic and political reform agenda.

“Australia is a vital partner to Tonga in its defence and security and I will visit Mansfield naval base to inspect the three Australian-supported patrol boats. The Patrol Boats Program assists Tonga to protect fisheries, combat transnational crime and strengthen maritime security”, Hon. Bishop said in a statement.

She said she would take part in a roundtable discussion with government, business and industry stakeholders on how to encourage private sector development in Tonga.

‘I will also visit an Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research project which is helping revitalise Tonga’s pearl industry”.

“I will also launch the New Colombo Plan in Tonga, with 16 young Australians to study and work in Tonga this year. Ten nursing students from the University of Canberra will complete four week clinical placements in a health facility and six students from the University of the Sunshine Coast will complete psychology and tourism placements”.

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