Australia in Tonga
Australia has an extensive Defence Cooperation Program with the island nations of the Pacific, and since the late 1990s has extended its deployment of police, military and intelligence personnel in the region.
Australia only has a small number of personnel regularly deployed in the Kingdom of Tonga, including a Maritime Surveillance Adviser under the Pacific Patrol Boat Program, and Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers in training operations with the Tonga Police Force. As with other island nations, Australia funds a range of military exercises, officer training programs and infrastructure projects to support the Tonga Defence Services (TDS).
The most recent deployment of Australian police and military forces to Tonga came in November 2006, following rioting in the capital Nuku’alofa, which led to the looting and arson of key parts of the central business district. Australian troops (Operation Quickstep) and police (Operation Tokoni) were deployed to Tonga in November-December 2006 as part of a Joint Task Force with New Zealand, under NZ leadership, to assist with the aftermath of the rioting.
Given ongoing debates over democratic reform in the Kingdom, the Australian deployment has set a significant precedent for operations by the ADF and AFP in support of the government and monarchy in Tonga.
Australian Forces Abroad: Australia in Tonga
Nautilus Institute gratefully acknowledges the financial support for this project by the International Centre for Research Excellence in the Asia-Pacific (ICEAPS).