Today I conducted my second official visit to Singapore, where I met with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, and my counterpart, Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen.
My visit coincides with the 30th anniversary of the Singapore Armed Forces training in Australia, a significant milestone in our long history of bilateral cooperation. I am pleased Australia has been able to find innovative ways to continue to support Singaporean force generation activities in Australia. This includes hosting a Republic of Singapore Air Force fighter detachment to conduct training in the Northern Territory.
Singapore’s military training in Australia provides mutual benefits for our respective armed forces and has provided significant economic opportunities for Australia.
In my discussions with Prime Minister Lee and Deputy Prime Minister Heng, I communicated Australia’s support for ASEAN’s central role in facilitating regional dialogue, cooperation and stability.
I was also pleased to be able to meet face-to-face with my good friend Defence Minister Ng, where we reflected on the successful engagements between our two countries throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. We agreed that the success of our respective defence organisation in further deepening cooperation throughout COVID-19 was a testament to our strong ties.
We outlined our commitment to further strengthening the defence and security partnership as a key component of our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.
I also briefed Dr Ng on Australia’s 2020 Defence Strategic Update and Force Structure Plan, which will see Australia become an even more capable partner for the region.
Throughout my visit I reiterated my sincere gratitude on behalf of the Australian Government for Singapore’s support during the devastating Black Summer bushfires earlier this year.
Singapore provided vital assistance in the form of CH-47 Chinook helicopters, which were used to evacuate fire ravaged communities. The efforts of the Singapore Armed Forces, particularly in East Gippsland, helped to protect lives and restore essential resources and services to fire-affected communities.
All aspects of this visit are being conducted with strict adherence to safety and health measures to mitigate COVID-19 risks.
Upon return to Australia, I will follow all health requirements, including 14 days quarantine.