Solomons mission cost $2.8 billion

Australia has spent an estimated $2.8 billion on leading a 14-year operation to restore law and order in the Solomon Islands.

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade officials defend the cost, arguing the cost of a failed state on Australia’s doorstep would have been far greater.

The 15-country Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands began in 2003, when the country was at the mercy of warlords and the government had no control outside the Honiara capital.

The situation stabilised to the extent that RAMSI’s military operation was wound down in 2013 and moved to a policing focus.

DFAT official Daniel Sloper insisted the country was ready to take charge of policing when RAMSI wraps up at the end of June.

Australian Federal Police and DFAT will provide ongoing training for police and judicial officers.

There would have been increased risks of drugs and arms shipments and organized crime syndicates in the Pacific region had Australia not intervened, Mr Sloper said.