23 Nov 2017

Australia welcomes Solomons' commitment to new cable project

2:09 pm on 23 November 2017

Australia has welcomed the announcement by Solomon Islands' new prime minister that he is committed to a proposal for a new submarine internet cable.

Submarine cable coming ashore in Samoa

Submarine cable coming ashore in Samoa Photo: RNZI/Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia

Rick Hou made the commitment shortly after his election as prime minister last week.

The new cable project, which could also connect Papua New Guinea, replaces an earlier plan for a Huawei constructed cable between Sydney and Honiara.

That plan was strongly opposed by Canberra, which cited national security concerns over the Chinese company's involvement.

Australia's minister for international development and the Pacific, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, said scoping work would be undertaken over the next few months.

"We see that there are significant efficiencies from implementing both cables at the same time. So we see this project as representing the best opportunity to not only deliver an international telecommunications standard to both the countries but also provide both economic and development benefits to both countries as well."

Mr Hou's support for the project is significant given that prior to the downfall of the previous government, the Australia proposal reportedly did not go down well with some former cabinet members.