Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Marise Payne, reaffirmed Australia’s commitment to regional defence partnerships in the Pacific while in New Caledonia today, where she also visited Exercise Croix Du Sud 18.
During the visit Minister Payne met with the French High Commissioner for New Caledonia, Mr Thierry Lataste, and Commander of the French Armed Forces in New Caledonia (FANC), Major General Thierry Marchand.
“As the 2016 Defence White Paper affirms, the Australian Government is committed to increasing engagement across the Pacific region. Defence is also committed to further strengthening our ability to work together in response to shared security concerns,” Minister Payne said.
“We particularly welcome France’s continued commitment to the Pacific through its military presence in New Caledonia and French Polynesia.”
The visit builds on Australia’s increasing cooperation with France following the endorsement of the 2 May 2018 Vision Statement on the Australia-France Relationship by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and His Excellency Emmanuel Macron, President of the French Republic.
Minister Payne also visited Exercise Croix du Sud 18, a multinational Humanitarian and Disaster Relief (HADR) exercise held every two years as part of France’s engagement in the region.
Over 370 members of the Australian Defence Force and 44 United States Marines from Marine Rotational Force-Darwin are participating in this year’s iteration of Croix du Sud, joining nine other nations in the largest HADR exercise in the South Pacific.
“Croix du Sud is a capstone exercise, endorsed by the South Pacific Defence Ministers. It provides a valuable opportunity for multinational HADR training and disaster response,” Minister Payne said.
“I am particularly pleased to see Australian gifted Pacific Patrol Boats from Fiji, Tonga and Vanuatu participating in the exercise.”