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Building economic growth, a cornerstone of Australia's support for Tonga

Nuku'alofa, Tonga

HM King Tupou VI receives HE Brek Batley, 19th Australian High Commissioner to the Kingdom of Tonga and Ms Palmer. Royal Palace, Nuku’alofa. May 2024. Photo: AHC.

Statement from HE Brek Batley, the new Australian High Commissioner to Tonga:

Mālō e lelei, my name is Brek Batley and it’s my great honour to serve as Australia's 19th High Commissioner to the Kingdom of Tonga. 

I thank His Majesty King Tupou VI for his kind acceptance of my credentials – in undoubtedly one of the most striking ceremonies in the Pacific with the stunning ocean vista, the beaming band, and the elegance of the Royal Palace – and for the warm welcome by the Prime Minister, Ministers and community members over the past two weeks.   

Australia’s relationship with Tonga is built on mutual respect, shared values, and enduring people-to-people links – and a history of cooperation over 150 years. It has gone from strength to strength. So let me recognise the considerable work of my predecessor, HE Ms Rachael Moore, and all my High Commission colleagues, for their dedication to the partnership.

I look forward to continuing to build the bonds that keep our countries so close, listening to your priorities, and seeing where Australia can most usefully partner with you. 

Having previously worked on Papua New Guinea, Marshall Islands, and Solomon Islands, I have a love of the Pacific. Yet I have so much to learn about Tongan culture and traditions. Together with my partner Prue, we look forward to visiting all parts of your beautiful country while also  sharing stories of Australia’s own indigenous culture. 

The next few years are important for Tonga, and Australia. Your chairmanship of the Pacific Islands Forum over the coming 12 months reflects the high esteem in which Tonga is held in the region. I’m certain the PIF leaders meeting will be a world-class event evoking national pride. As a fellow PIF member, Australia will be by Tonga’s side – helping to deliver a successful event and advance important regional priorities. We are forever connected by the blue Pacific; it’s our collective responsibility to foster unity and make the region better for the next generation.  

Economic recovery is so important to both of our countries – I know many people are doing it tough and still recovering from recent disasters. Building economic growth and improving opportunities is the cornerstone of Australia's support for Tonga.

Australia will continue to provide budget support to help Tonga maintain fiscal balance, while also improving infrastructure to help with jobs and development. Australian-funded infrastructure projects like the new Parliament House, port upgrade, renewable energy, and telecommunications improvements are building resilience and unlocking new opportunities for businesses and households. Our labour mobility program is a joint endeavor – we always shape it with you, in partnership, so that it has sustainable and wide-spread benefit.   

We will continue to work with you to improve healthcare, support inclusion and enhance social protection. Let us empower all of Tonga's people to lead healthier, more prosperous lives.

Nowhere is the climate threat more profound than in the Pacific, reinforced for me having lived on a vulnerable coral atoll. Australia is committed to building Tonga’s resilience and supporting mitigation, as well as mechanisms such as the Pacific Resilience Facility. And we are taking a wide range of actions back home to transform Australia to a green economy – Prime Minister Albanese legislated our net zero emissions targets and is working to deliver them quickly. 

Importantly, I acknowledge the long-standing partnerships between our militaries and police forces, and the deepening relationship between our border forces. Our uniformed women and men have forged strong bonds built on mateship and respect, but also on a shared sense that working together makes us stronger especially in a more complex world.

Transnational organised crime, including drug trafficking and illegal fishing, is a key concern for both our countries. Joint exercises, training, new equipment, and mentoring are building long-term capacity, helping to safeguard your borders, communities and precious resources.  

It doesn’t all fall to government. Churches, civil society, and an independent media play a vital role in promoting development, inclusion, and good governance. Australia is committed to empowering these organisations to drive positive change. Likewise, our shared love of sport will keep bringing us together – until the mighty Queensland Reds arrive in July and some loyalties may be tested! 

Again, it’s a great privilege to be in your beautiful country, and I look forward to deepening our friendship and delivering outcomes for all Tongans.

‘Ofa Atu and have a blessed Emancipation Day,

Brek Batley
Australian High Commissioner to the Kingdom of Tonga


Matangi Tonga Online ref. #7985 Sponsored Media Release, posted by the Australian High Commission, Nuku'alofa. 01 - 07 June 2024