Closer ties for PM Morrison's Pacific trip

Scott Morrison will become the first serving Australian leader since the 1990s to visit Vanuatu.
Scott Morrison will become the first serving Australian leader since the 1990s to visit Vanuatu.

Building infrastructure in Pacific nations, importing labour into Australia and strengthening security ties will be Scott Morrison's focus when he visits the Pacific this week.

The prime minister will land in Vanuatu on Wednesday as the first serving Australian leader since the early 1990s to visit the country.

He will discuss issues around visiting labour hire schemes, as Vanuatu is the largest participant in the recently expanded seasonal worker program.

"Along with the Pacific Labour Scheme, it's a genuine win-win partnership that helps strengthen both our economies," Mr Morrison said ahead of the visit.

Mr Morrison will discuss closer economic, sporting, cultural and church ties with Vanuatu, as part of his push to centre Australia's foreign policy around the Pacific nations.

He will also mark the official completion of the Port Vila urban development project, a $39 million Australian investment in drainage, public toilets and walking paths.

In meetings with Vanuatu's Prime Minister Charlot Salwai, Mr Morrison will also address common security challenges and infrastructure development.

On Thursday Mr Morrison will visit Fiji where he will have to smooth over a diplomatic row over an attempt to strip terrorist Neil Prakash of his Australian citizenship.

Prakash, who is in jail Turkey awaiting trial on terror charges, was born in Melbourne to a Fijian father and Cambodian mother.

Last month, the federal government revoked his rights as an Australian citizen because of his affiliation with the Islamic State terrorist group.

However, Fijian officials have rejected claims the Australian-born terrorist is a citizen of their country and accused Canberra of failing to consult them properly.

"We've been dealing with (the Prakash) issue between the governments over the last few weeks, including directly from leader to leader," Mr Morrison told the ABC on Monday.

Labor's shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus said Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton's decision had caused "immense embarrassment" ahead of Mr Morrison's trip.

"It's regrettable that we have an incompetent minister in Mr Dutton who seems more concerned about reviving his shrivelled political career than actually dealing with terrorism threats that Australia is facing," he told reporters on Tuesday.

Mr Morrison will also discuss Australian funding to transform the Black Rock Camp in Nadi into a regional training hub for South Pacific militaries, and announce details of a skills training partnership.

Australian Associated Press