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Tongan legislators to visit Australia.

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AA 03 092 17 December 2003

Tongan Legislators to Visit Australia

During my visit to Tonga, a delegation of senior legislators from the Kingdom of Tonga has accepted an invitation to visit Australia to study our parliamentary procedures and processes.

The delegation will be led by the Finance Minister, the Hon. Siosiua 'Utoikamanu, and comes at a time when the Government of Tonga is making significant progress in implementing its program of economic and public sector reforms.

I am looking forward to meeting with Minister 'Utoikamanu in Nuku'alofa today for a briefing on the reforms.

Out of a total Australian aid allocation to Tonga over the current financial year, worth about $11.7 million, about one third is being allocated to improving governance and is going toward supporting the Government of Tonga implement its reform program.

Australian support of measures to promote better governance across the Pacific is aimed at improving living standards by building a more secure and prosperous region.

In Tonga, for example, working with the Ministry of Finance, Australia's assistance will help strengthen financial management and performance budgeting. At the same time, our aid program is targeting capacity building and institutional strengthening within Tonga's health and fisheries sectors.

Australia is the largest aid donor to Tonga, accounting for about 40 per cent of all aid to the Kingdom, representing about eight per cent of Gross Domestic Product.

I look forward to welcoming the delegation, which will also include the Minister for Justice, the Hon Aisea Taumoepeau, and representatives of the people and the noble families. Exact dates for the delegation's visit are still to be finalised, but it will take place early in the New Year.

Media Contacts:

Chris Kenny (Minister's office) (02) 6277 7500 or 0419 206 890 Jo Elsom (AusAID) 02 6206 4960 or 0412 804 489