Australian High Commission Honiara (DFAT)

DFAT approach to market Australian High Commission Honiara

The Australian government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) plans to build a new, fit-for-purpose building in Honiara, Solomon Islands to house the Australian High Commission (AHC) and other government agencies.

DFAT has acquired land for the construction of a multi-story building and plan to use a prefabricated modular approach to overcome the risks associated with building in remote locations. They will be using a combination of traditional and prefabricated methodologies to construct the building due to its size and complexity.

Background on the Solomon Islands

The Australian government has been providing development assistance to Solomon Islands since the country gained independence in 1978. The Australian High Commission in Honiara, the capital of Solomon Islands, is the main diplomatic mission of Australia in the country, and it is responsible for managing the bilateral relationship between Australia and Solomon Islands.

The High Commission provides a range of services, including consular assistance, trade and investment promotion, and development cooperation. It also supports the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) regional engagement activities, including the Pacific Patrol Boat Program and the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI). See the DFAT infographic modified for use here.

Australia is Solomon Islands’ largest bilateral donor and is re-shaping its efforts in response to COVID‑19. Since the withdrawal of RAMSI in 2017, Australia has provided over $800 million through its development program, in the areas of justice, health, education, agriculture, governance, gender, and security.

Australia is partnering with Solomon Islands to implement Solomon Islands’ National Development Strategy (2016-2035). Australia is scaling up health systems support, improving access to services through investments in education, telecommunications and infrastructure, helping build capacity in the police force and boosting the skills of Solomon Islands’ workers to contribute to economic recovery.

Australia’s response to China

Canberra is also working to prevent the Solomon Islands from forging closer ties with China. Australia signed a security agreement with Solomon Islands in 2017, However, the relationship became difficult over an accord that the Solomons agreed with China earlier in 2022 There were concerns that the accord might allow Beijing to set up a military base in the Pacific and could destabilize the region’s geopolitical balance. China said the pact would help it respond to natural disasters and maintain “social order’.

The Solomon Islands are of strategic importance in the Pacific. The Japanese Imperial Army tried to build an airfield on Guadalcanal, the main island in the Solomons, during World War II. In 1942, that erupted into a major offensive by Allied forces against Japan which the Americans won.

The US has also agreed to reopen its embassy in the Solomon Islands’ capital, Honiara, and provide hundreds of millions of dollars in aid.

The proposed tender approach

To deliver the project, DFAT plans to engage a design and construct head works contractor via a two-stage process, including an expression of interest (EOI) and a request for tender (RFT). Tenderers will be asked to demonstrate their ability to deliver large-scale prefabricated construction projects in remote locations as part of the planned two-stage process.

The release of this approach to market is subject to approvals from the department, government, and parliament. Further details on the project and procurement will be provided in an EOI that is expected to be released to the open market in early 2023.

Madrigal has experience of writing proposals to DFAT for its grant program in the Pacific and the Philippines.