Australia and the United Kingdom commit to modernising our defence relationship

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The Hon Richard Marles MP

Deputy Prime Minister

Minister for Defence

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02 6277 7800

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21 March 2024

Today, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Hon Richard Marles MP, and United Kingdom Secretary of State for Defence, the Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP, signed a new defence and security cooperation agreement at Parliament House, Canberra, updating the partnership to meet contemporary challenges. 

The agreement includes a status of forces agreement, making it easier for the respective forces to operate together in each other’s countries – as seen in the joint training of Ukrainian troops in the UK, and as the UK will do through its contribution to Submarine Rotational Force-West in Australia. 

The agreement also formalises the established practice of consulting on issues that affect our sovereignty and regional security.

The new agreement was signed following annual ministerial defence talks as part of the Australia-UK Ministerial consultations (AUKMIN).

Ministers also agreed a range of initiatives to give immediate effect to this deepening cooperation, including:

  • The UK’s contribution to the Combined Intelligence Centre – Australia, within the Defence Intelligence Organisation
  • Commitment to develop a joint climate action plan by AUKMIN 2025
  • Continued cooperation on capability development, including through AUKUS
  • Establishment of elevated joint staff talks, to ensure our operational cooperation meets contemporary challenges
  • Closer collaboration on undersea warfare, autonomous sea mine clearance, science, technology, and our workforces
  • The UK’s contribution to exercises Talisman Sabre, Pitch Black, and Predators Run
  • Australia’s support for the UK’s Littoral Response Group-South and a carrier strike group visit to the Indo-Pacific in 2025.

The signing of this agreement delivers on a commitment made at AUKMIN 2023 to refresh the bilateral defence treaty.

Quote attributable to Deputy Prime Minister, the Hon Richard Marles MP:

“Australia’s relationship with the UK is dynamic and enduring. From the UK’s leadership of support for Ukraine and efforts to address the Houthi threat, to increasing contributions in the Pacific and the Indo-Pacific, we continue to work closely together to support a global rules-based order.

“As the world becomes more complex and uncertain, we must modernise our most important partnerships.

“The agreements we reached today will secure this outcome into the future.”


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