DELFIN LORENZANA: Marise Payne of Australia. She is the Minister of Defence and has been to talk to us, talk to me, to find out how Australia can help with some of the problems in the Philippines like what is happening in Marawi. As background, a couple of months back she and I talked on the phone and she asked me what we need and first thing I asked is holdings of terrorists names, groups already in this area.
[indistinct] offered the use of the P3 Orions, planes, they take pictures of the ground; intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance planes. They have been here more than two months already and so [indistinct]. Welcome, Minister, to the Philippines and thank you for your busy time. [indistinct]
MARISE PAYNE: I very much appreciate that Mr Secretary and it’s a great pleasure to be here to meet with you in person and to have the opportunity to discuss some of the key issues that concern Australia and the Philippines, particularly in the region. I've come here today from Seoul and certainly there are many challenges which face us across the broad Indo-Pacific, from the actions of the DPRK, to the actions of extremists and terrorists closer to home for you, Mr Secretary.
And I am very pleased that you and I have been able to discuss today the sort of support and engagement that Australia can offer to the Armed Forces of the Philippines as you’re fighting ISIL-inspired terrorists in Marawi and dealing with the challenge that poses.
I am very pleased that the work of the Australian P-3s that have been flying in surveillance support has been so positively received. When the opportunity arose, after my initial discussions with Secretary Lorenzana when these events occurred, we were very pleased to be able to come back with that suggestion. As you all know, we have a very long history of military cooperation and training and exercising with the Philippines. So what we’ve discussed today is potential for the support of some small ADF teams that might be able to provide some specialised training to the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
We would be, for example, able to provide that support at Philippines military bases. So, not deploying Australian troops, but working in a training capacity at Philippines military bases. In terms of the further detail, both Secretary Lorenzana and I will be speaking with our respective leaders and with our respective leadership of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Australian Defence Force to ensure that we put together an arrangement that works best for both of us. We are very committed to supporting the Philippines in its efforts against these terrorist threats, not only because we support our friends, but because it is important for Australia as well. This is a threat to the region that we all need to work together to defeat. It is a threat not just here in the Philippines, but elsewhere, and we know as a defence force that has been engaged in the Middle East for some long time now, and particularly watching the potential for returning foreign fighters to the region, we can’t afford to take our eye off the ball, as Australians are want to use sporting analogies, Mr Secretary.
So, I am very pleased to brief my counterpart, Secretary Lorenzana here today so that we can increase our engagement – surge if you like, in the context of current events– and we will ask our officials, as I have indicated, after we have spoken with our leaders, to finalise and implement this process.
Thank you, Mr Secretary.
QUESTION: Thank you for the honour. Why not a bigger surge? Why confine the Australian help to the bases? This has been going very badly for four months now; isn’t it time to have some kind of greater foreign involvement?
DELFIN LORENZANA: Adam, it would not look good for [indistinct] be needing troops to fight who are here. We are happy with the assistance that we are getting from Australia, the P3s, and a small detachment of Australian troops to stay at the bases to train our people and maybe information gathering, information analysis and all those things, then that would be enough, actually. We have sufficient troops to fight for the fighting in Marawi.
MARISE PAYNE: Adam, I think it’s important to recognise that this is in fact an engagement in long term cooperation, medium to long term cooperation, which is about recognising that the challenge we face from terrorists in this region is going to be exacerbated by the potential of returning foreign fighters; people who have been in the Middle East in the midst of the most extremist terrorist behaviour that the world has seen in a very long time. They are battle hardened, they are well trained, they are very determined and we need to ensure that, as participants in the Indo-Pacific, but particularly this part of the world, that our respective forces are as well trained, as well engaged together as they can be to address that challenge together.
So, I’m here today to have this conversation with Secretary Lorenzana, but he and I discussed during our meeting that we’ve also had these discussions with Minister Hishammuddin Hussein in Malaysia, with Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu in Indonesia, with Dr Ng Eng Hen in Singapore, because all of us are looking at the challenge in the region that we are facing and all of us are determined that we will work as closely together as we can to ensure that we invest in our cooperation, that we invest in our mutual engagement to present the most effective face against the extremist terrorist threat.
And we don’t just do it at the defence level, obviously. Our attorneys-general, our ministers for justice, ministers for immigration are all part of the fabric that underpins these activities.
QUESTION: Is this the start of a bigger involvement by Australia?
MARISE PAYNE: Well, certainly in the Philippines this is across the top, or over the top, if you like, of our existing effective defence cooperation program. We have a range of exercises we already pursue, particularly the Caracha series which is a well-founded exercise engagement between both of our countries. And as I said, it’s more of a surge in terms of where we see the current threat and we’ll work closely with our counterparts here particularly, and Secretary Lorenzana and I have already made some agenda item notes for the ADMM-Plus meeting in October when I come back. We’ll work closely with our counterparts to review that whenever we need to.
DELFIN LORENZANA: Bigger engagement that doesn’t mean they need to send bigger number of troops here. I think the help that we are getting from Australia with the use of the P3 Orions is huge in terms of the help they are providing our troops on the ground. So I think it doesn’t matter [indistinct] the effect it gives, the support, the kind of help it gives us is enormous. I think that’s what we talk about; bigger involvement or support from Australia.
QUESTION: Any security measures being [indistinct] in Australia in light of the North Korea’s recent actions like the hydrogen bomb testing? [Indistinct]
MARISE PAYNE: Well, I think we are both acutely aware of the challenges that North Korea presents, and their actions present, which are illegal, which are unlawful, which are dangerous and provocative. We’re both acutely aware of the challenges that they present, both regionally and more broadly. My discussions in Seoul this week have been about ensuring that as many countries as have a responsibility to do so, implement the UN sanctions that the UN Security Council has resolved on unanimously most recently; that we discuss very seriously extending those sanctions, which has been part of the discussions since the sixth nuclear test was identified in recent days; where possible, for example like Australia, that we implement autonomous sanctions, and we have done that in relation to a number of people and a number of organisations in North Korea. The focus for us is dissuading the regime from its provocative and unlawful behaviour.
DELFIN LORENZANA: Yeah. I want to relay what our Filipino President said when he was asked what actions are we doing to protect our people from any accidental fire from North Korea, just continue with your normal lives, because we don’t have anything to prevent the bombs from falling here if they in fact fall into Manila or even in another part of the country. But the challenge actually here is that we have about 23,000 Filipinos living in South Korea, and we are actually thinking of ways and how to evacuate them if there was a shooting war between the South Koreans and North Koreans. So, the Philippines also support the United Nations and the sanctions on the actions of North Korea.
QUESTION: [Inaudible] joint military training with the Philippines and Australia, how soon can [indistinct]?
DELFIN LORENZANA: They have been going on for quite some time. The Caracha series, the LUMBAS, they have been training with them for so many years already, but the surge that the minister mentioned a while ago is actually to support our effort against the terrorists. So, that’s what we are going to hammer out the details, our people, and hopefully by next month, during the ADMM-Plus we will be able to see if this thing will be implemented on the ground.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: We will have the last two questions from [indistinct].
QUESTION: [Indistinct] I was just wondering, could you give us specifics on, say, how many additional troops would be sent here [indistinct]?
MARISE PAYNE: So, I think, as the Secretary said, we’ll have our officials tasked to do the planning that is required for that, and that sort of information will be finalised in that process and we’ll be advising that in due course, but not today.
DELFIN LORENZANA: Same answer.
MARISE PAYNE: [Laughs] Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen, and thank you Secretary.
DELFIN LORENZANA: Thank you. Thank you very much.
MARISE PAYNE: Thank you.