Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Marise Payne, visited the Kingdom of Tonga on 13 June 2018 to discuss opportunities to further strengthen Australia’s defence partnership with His Majesty’s Armed Forces (HMAF).
Minister Payne met with the Hon Semisi Lafu Kioa Sika, Deputy Prime Minister of Tonga; the Hon Lord Ma’afu, Minister of Defence and Brigadier General Lord Fielakepa; Chief of Defence Staff, HMAF.
Minister Payne said Australia valued the strong and enduring relationship with Tonga and its critical contributions to regional security and stability.
“We look forward to continuing to deepen our engagement with HMAF through our Defence Cooperation Program and working with Tonga through regional architecture, such as the South Pacific Defence Ministers’ Meeting, to address regional security issues,” Minister Payne said.
The visit coincided with the arrival of Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2018 to Nuku’alofa, which promotes security and stability in Australia’s near region through bilateral and multilateral engagement, training, and capacity building.
Minister Payne participated in the handover ceremony of five Australian-gifted Unimog vehicles on board HMAS Adelaide.
Minister Payne said the gifting reflected Australia’s ongoing commitment to support HMAF to further enhance its capability to respond to natural disasters.
While in Tonga, Minister Payne also participated in a Women, Peace and Security (WPS) workshop on board HMAS Adelaide, which focussed on the importance of incorporating WPS in Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief operations, and how the ADF and HMAF can further cooperation in this area.