Welcome to Sydney and to the seventh AUKMIN - Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary, Michael Fallon, the Defence Secretary and my friend and colleague, Kevin Andrews, Australia's Defence Minister and the delegations from the United Kingdom and from Australia. We enjoy a strong and dynamic relationship with the United Kingdom. It's underpinned by our heritage, our common values and the cooperation that we have worked together on with so many different issues over so many years.
This morning's attendance at the Cenotaph where we lay wreaths in commemoration of the centenary of the First World War is an indication of how we have worked together to support each other in times of conflict. Today, the challenges we face are as immense as ever - the threat of global terrorism and the challenges of pandemics. We again look to each other for support, for action and for like-mindedness on so many issues.
Today we have a very detailed agenda. We will spend the day canvassing the global and regional issues that are of interest to us both and at the end of it we will have a number of announcements to make including a Memorandum of Understanding on reciprocal use of our diplomatic facilities which demonstrates the extent of our relationship. So welcome again to Sydney and I look forward to a very productive and forthright discussions, as befitting the closest of friends, the dearest of partners and the strongest of allies.
Thank you Julie. And I'm delighted to be here for what is now my fourth AUKMIN, but my first AUKMIN as foreign secretary and I know from my previous experience of AUKMIN what an important forum this is for taking forward our revitalised relationship and setting out parameters for our work together in a whole range of areas to keep our people safer and to ensure their continued prosperity in the future, which is of course our most important of functions.
This morning as you say we've been to the Lindt Café and signed a book of condolences and also laid wreaths at the Cenotaph. I think that's very poignant - it reminds us of our long history together and struggles that we fought together in the past, but it also reminds us that we are facing together a new struggle against Islamist extremism, wherever it rears its head in the world. And we've seen, the French people have seen, the Canadian people have seen and many people sadly in the Middle East have seen, that we can't tackle this scourge alone, we can only tackle it by the nations that believe in the rule of law, the nations that believe in the rules based international community working together to deal with these challenges - resolute, confident, defiant - knowing that we have to show the result and the unity that we have done in order to succeed. And that will be one of the consistent themes that runs through our discussions today.
Looking at challenges in Asia, the challenges in Europe that are posed by Russia's behaviour in Ukraine and the global challenge of Islam. Looking at the unconventional challenges of pandemic disease, we've seen with the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, all of these things are issues that demand our immediate and joined attention. This is an excellent forum in which to give those issues that attention and we very much look forward to constructive discussions during the course of today. So thank you very much again for hosting and once again thanks to the Governor General for allowing us these magnificent surroundings and this fantastic backdrop for discussions.
Can I just add to what Julie said, it's great to have both of you here, particularly what is a wonderful happy day with Michael yesterday going down to the Jervis Bay to visit the HMAS Canberra - our newest, largest ship pales into insignificance of course with your new aircraft carrier, which we're looking forward to its visit to Australia in the future. But the defence relationship is so important, we've been friends and allies for centuries, our interests in various parts of the world remain very strong - the Middle East in particular - picking up the point that Philip was making. I add my welcome to Australia to both of you for these discussions.
Thank you and can I thank Kevin too for making all the arrangements yesterday and reiterate the foreign secretary's sentiments. This is my first AUKMIN - indeed this is my first visit to Australia and I couldn't have been made more welcome. As I saw yesterday we already have substantial ties between our departments, between our armed forces: we share intelligence, we exchange personnel, we collaborate on training for members of the Five Powers defence arrangements.
We have a lot to discuss in terms of the Asia Pacific region but I also want to echo what Philip was saying about the wider reaching implications for international security of the events that you see around the world and indeed here since the last AUKMIN took place in London. It’s all the more important for trusted and valued partners to work together in matters of national security.
I hope today we can take this opportunity to see how we can better coordinate our defence engagement in the region and further afield in the coalition context and look at the strategic implications of the militarised activity we see in this particular region as well as closer to home on our side and I think there are a number of deliverables that we ought to be able to reach agreement on today, but I also look forward to taking our bilateral relationship a new strategic direction.
Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999
Brad Rowswell (Minister Andrews’ Office) 0417 917 796