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Speech at the official opening of Tamboko Health Clinic, Solomon Islands



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The Hon Richard Marles MP Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs

Official opening of Tamboko Health Clinic

Speech

Tamboko, Solomon Islands

Subjects: Australian development assistance, Solomon Islands Government, Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands

7 October 2010

The Honourables Charles Sigoto MP, Minister for Health and Medical Services,

Permanent Secretary for Health, Dr Lester Ross,

The Honourable Stephen Panga, Premier of Guadalcanal Province,

Australian High Commissioner, His Excellency Frank Ingruber,

Can I also make mention of Blair Exell, Deputy Director-General of AusAID, Jennifer Rawson, Head of the Pacific Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Australia, both of whom are travelling with me here today,

Chiefs and community leaders of the Tamboko community,

Officials from the Ministry of Health and Medical Services,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is wonderful to be here.

In this, my first trip to the Pacific region, this is the first occasion I've been able to get outside of one of the capital cities. I've got to say that standing here, and coming from a part of regional Australia myself, I feel like I am right in the heart of the Pacific and it is wonderful to be here today.

I am really pleased to represent the Australian Government to join the Solomon Islands Government in opening this fantastic health clinic.

The floods last year were devastating for this community, and of course destroyed the old clinic.

And as an unhappy event as that was, the Australian Government is really pleased to be able to respond with assistance by building and refurbishing this facility.

I note this new building is on higher ground, so it should be safe from further floods in the future. With the wet season not far away, I am sure that will give comfort to all of you.

It is also really heartening to see the results of the successful consultation between the Ministry of Health and Medical Services, the Guadalcanal Provincial Government, and community elders over the location of this site.

Not having had a local clinic must have been really hard for this community. Travelling to Honiara takes time and money, so I am pleased that you now have this new building to serve the needs of the community.

Health is a priority focus in the Partnership for Development between the Solomon Islands and Australian Governments. Australia is committed to supporting the Solomon Islands Government to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, including in the critical area of public health.

As a friend to Solomon Islands, we are also committed to helping out when there is a crisis and we've really been pleased to be able to do so on this occasion.

Health clinics such as this one at Tamboko are the cornerstone of the Solomon Islands health system.

They are where people go for information, where people go for family support and to meet their immediate medical needs. They are a critically important part of the local community.

I am really pleased to note that the Guadalcanal Provincial Government is building a community high school right alongside here at the Tamboko Clinic.

With the establishment of both the clinic and school, what you are going to have here is a real community hub and that's fantastic.

Can I once again thank the Minister for Health and Medical Services for the opportunity to join him in opening this clinic today. It's a real privilege for me to be able to stand alongside you sir and participate in this event.

And can I also thank the Tamboko community for your very warm welcome here today.

I wish you all the very best of health in the future.

Thank you.

END SPEECH