Minister for Defence Senator David Johnston will meet with his New Zealand, Japanese and French counterparts and colleagues over the period 31 October to 2 November in Perth.
These counterparts are in Australia to attend the Albany Convoy Commemorative Event and symbolic convoy departure on 1 November and are also taking the opportunity to meet with Senator Johnston to discuss bilateral defence relationship issues.
The Albany Convoy Commemorative Event commemorates the 100th anniversary of the departure of the first convoy of Australian and New Zealand troops to the First World War. More than 800 ADF personnel are expected to participate in several events, as well as four Australian warships and one submarine, marking the departure over 31 October to 2 November.
Significantly, New Zealand and Japanese ships will also participate in a sail past and symbolic convoy departure and with French troops, all three nations will take part in the commemorative activities.
Senator Johnston will today meet his New Zealand counterpart, the Hon Gerry Brownlee, for the annual Australia-New Zealand Defence Ministers’ Meeting.
“I am pleased to have the opportunity to meet Minister Brownlee so soon after his appointment as New Zealand’s Minister of Defence,” Senator Johnston said.
“This year’s meeting will be particularly significant as we look to commence four years of Centenary of ANZAC commemorations.”
The Australia-New Zealand defence relationship remains strong 100 years after World War One, based on a solid foundation of shared values, history, and friendship.
Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin, and Secretary of Defence, Mr Dennis Richardson, will also attend the meeting.
“Minister Brownlee and I will take this opportunity to re-affirm our commitment to the defence relationship and discuss a range of international security challenges, including recent developments in Iraq.
“We will also take this opportunity to share perspectives on security issues closer to home, in the South Pacific, and look to identify further avenues for practical cooperation,” Senator Johnston said.
Today, the Minister will also meet with Mr Kazuyuki Nakane, Japan’s Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Mr Hideshi Tokuchi, Vice-Minister of Defense for International Affairs.
This meeting will be an opportunity to discuss progress on efforts to deepen the bilateral defence relationship, and Australia and Japan’s shared strategic interests in the Asia Pacific region. These discussions will build on the meetings held by Senator Johnston during his recent visit to Japan (15-17 October).
Mr Nakane and Mr Tokuchi will travel to Albany on 1 November for the Albany Convoy Commemorative Event.
“Japan’s involvement in the Albany Convoy is one of the lesser known stories of Australia’s defence cooperation with Japan, and it is wonderful that Japan’s participation in the event tomorrow can highlight this aspect of our history,” Senator Johnston noted.
A French delegation headed by the French Minister for Defence, Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian, will also attend the Albany Convoy Commemorative Event on 1 November and members of the French Armed Forces in New Caledonia will participate.
Senator Johnston will then host his French counterpart for a bilateral meeting in Perth on 2 November. The meeting is expected to focus on Australia’s close cooperation with France in the South Pacific and shared interests in promoting international security, most recently in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“I am delighted to host Minister Le Drian’s visit to Australia. The visit underlines Australia’s longstanding and close defence relationship with France,” Senator Johnston said.
Rebecca Horton (Minister Johnston’s Office) 0477 389 554
Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999