As the many nations of the Pacific deal with the threat of climate change, including rising sea levels and lessening access to fresh water, they are also suffering from some of the slowest rates of development of any region on earth. Now more than ever, the Pacific needs a champion, and that champion needs to be Australia. The Pacific is where our foreign policy starts, yet for too long we have failed to take the lead. Our country has a long and significant history in the Pacific, but our attention has wandered over the last decade, both through lacklustre foreign policy and cuts to foreign aid, and this has left our role in the region poorly defined. We need to have a greater sense of purpose and a greater sense of intent when it comes to supporting our Pacific neighbours. This is the part of the world in which we have the clearest voice, and we simply cannot allow it to languish. In Tides that Bind: Australia in the Pacific, ALP Deputy Leader Richard Marles implores us to step up our support for and commit to building better relationships with our friends in the Pacific, assisting their development and securing peace in the region. He argues we must do so not just for the sake of our global standing, but for the ten million people to whom the Pacific is home.
Richard Marles is the Deputy Leader of the federal Opposition. He was elected as the Member for Corio in November 2007. Richard was raised in Geelong and has a LLB (Hons) and BSc from Melbourne University. He began his career with legal firm Slater and Gordon before going on to become the federal assistant secretary of the Transport Workers’ Union. In 2000 he became assistant secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, where he led a program of cooperation between the Australian and PNG union movements, deepening his passion for advancement of the Pacific. Among his appointments, Richard has served as parliamentary secretary for Pacific island affairs, parliamentary secretary for foreign affairs, and minister for trade. In 2013, he was awarded the Cross of Solomon Islands, the highest civilian Solomons award. Richard lives in Geelong with his wife Rachel and four children—Sam, Isabella, Harvey and Georgia—plus two dogs, Ablett and Alfie. He is a passionate Cats supporter.