On Friday 8 October 2021, Defence Ministers from Australia, Chile, Fiji, France, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Tonga came together virtually for the annual South Pacific Defence Ministers’ Meeting (SPDMM).
The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to work together in response to shared security threats.
The Hon Peter Dutton MP, Minister for Defence, said he was pleased to chair the important forum during a time of significant change to the regional security landscape.
“The SPDMM provides a platform to drive more effective regional cooperation with partners that share our interest in a peaceful and secure Pacific,” Minister Dutton said.
“The challenge of COVID-19 has underscored that we are stronger and more resilient when we respond to common challenges together.
“We shared lessons learned from our experience with pandemic management and discussed how to navigate defence cooperation in the new normal.”
A number of substantive outcomes were agreed.
Australia supported the Pacific-led initiative to develop a Regional Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Response Framework to refine the way countries within the South Pacific work together when disaster strikes.
“We are increasingly standing by each other at times of need and a more structured capability will enable this,” Minister Dutton said.
“An information-sharing arrangement was also agreed to, which will make it easier to exchange information of various forms.”
“The POVAI ENDEAVOUR Framework will also be refreshed, which we exercise together and enhance our interoperability.”
A decision was made to grant Japan observer status and to hold the next meeting in Tonga in 2022.
The joint statement can be found here.