Australian Defence Minister Stephen Smith today met with New Zealand’s newly appointed Minister of Defence Dr Jonathan Coleman for the Ministers’ first formal bilateral meeting.
The meeting was held in Melbourne in conjunction with the annual Australia-New Zealand Leaders’ Meeting between Prime Ministers and senior Cabinet Ministers today.
The Ministers announced a new Australia-New Zealand Defence Relationship Framework, which builds on the ANZAC tradition and the longstanding comprehensive defence relationship between Australia and New Zealand.
The Framework follows a Review designed to shape future strategic cooperation and set priorities for ANZAC engagement.
The Defence Relationship Framework includes closer cooperation on capability development and procurement and more efficient burden sharing in our region.
The Framework introduces regular strategic discussions between senior civilian and military personnel, so that policy settings, military capabilities, and defence activities between our two countries will be considered in a more orderly, rigorous and comprehensive way.
The new Framework will facilitate innovative and more cost-efficient cooperation, including through the development of complementary military capabilities and sharing experiences of defence reform.
Minister Smith said “The improved senior dialogue framework and the new 1.5 track Security Dialogue will enhance understanding of the mutual security challenges facing Australia and New Zealand, particularly in our immediate region.”
Minister Coleman added that “In a more complex and expensive strategic operating environment, New Zealand and Australia have to find ways of working more closely together, so that we complement each other’s effectiveness.”
Ministers Smith and Coleman also signed a new Memorandum of Arrangement on cooperation in the fields of defence research and development. This will advance the relationship between Australia’s Defence Science and Technology Organisation and New Zealand’s Defence Technology Agency.
The research and development Arrangement will assist the development of new technologies to better deliver defence services, support our activities in the field, and protect our defence personnel. It includes collaborative research in future naval helicopters and counter improvised explosive device measures.
Ministers Smith and Coleman also discussed the range of strategic issues of mutual interest, including combined stabilisation operations currently serving in the Solomon Islands and East Timor, as well as respective commitments to the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.
Minister Smith said “Australia and New Zealand continue our close cooperation in the Pacific, including recent joint efforts to remove World War II remnants of war from communities in Rabaul, Papua New Guinea. This demonstrates our ongoing commitment to jointly address concerns in our immediate neighbourhood,” said Minister Smith.
The Ministers also discussed strategic developments in the Asia-Pacific and reaffirmed their commitment to the ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting Plus. Ministers agreed it was important for Australia and New Zealand to cooperate closely as regional architecture continues to evolve.
The Ministers agreed to work closely together to advance common security objectives, provide guidance to officials on the implementation of the Defence Relationship Framework and to pursue opportunities for new defence cooperation initiatives.
Mr Smith’s Office: Andrew Porter (02) 6277 7800 or 0419 474 392
Department of Defence: (02) 6127 1999