To counter China, Australia plans US$1.5 billion Pacific infrastructure fund

French President Emmanuel Macron former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on the deck of HMAS Waller

French President Emmanuel Macron former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on the deck of HMAS Waller

Australia will also establish a Defence Force mobile training team for deployment to the Pacific to upskill local forces.

In a major speech at the Townsville army barracks, the Prime Minister is expected to commit to putting the Pacific back at the centre of our foreign policy, saying he wants to see a "southwest Pacific that is secure strategically, stable economically, and sovereign politically".

The Coalition has previously been accused of failing to take the region seriously after Mr Morrison downgraded the Pacific portfolio in his ministry and skipped the Pacific Islands Forum in Nauru.

The centrepiece of Mr Morrison's announcement is expected to be the establishment of a $2 billion infrastructure bank for the Pacific.

"This $2 billion infrastructure initiative will significantly boost Australia's support for infrastructure development in Pacific countries and Timor Leste", he says.

A further $1 billion will go to Efic, Australia's export financing agency, to support Australian businesses active in the Pacific.

Australia's diplomatic network is already larger than any other country in the Pacific but it will be expanded with posts in Palau, the Marshall Islands, French Polynesia, Niue and the Cook Islands.

To counter, Morrison plans to announce that Australia will renew its focus on the Pacific, primarily through a new infrastructure fund.

The Federal Government will also offer billions of dollars in infrastructure grants and long-term loans as it moves to combat China's growing influence in the region.

Ahead of next week's Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation and East Asia summits, the Government has approached TV broadcasters about getting more lifestyle, news, current affair, drama and children's programs to the Pacific community.

In May, Australia said it would spend about A$200 million to develop an undersea internet cables to Papua New Guinea (PNG) and the Solomon Islands amid national security concerns about China's Huawei Technologies Co Ltd.

Ties between the two countries have been strained since Australia accused China of meddling in its domestic affairs late a year ago.

Australia's Foreign Minister Marise Payne will on Thursday meet her Chinese counterpart in Beijing, the first visit by a senior Canberra in two years after bilateral relations soured.

He announced the creation of an Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific to develop energy, communications and transport projects.