I leave Australia today to visit the United States for AUSMIN on Wednesday 14 September and Thursday 15 September.
Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd and I will lead the Australian delegation for the annual Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations. I will be accompanied by the new Secretary of Defence, Mr Duncan Lewis, and the Chief of the Defence Force, General David Hurley.
The US delegation will be led by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
I will discuss with Secretary Panetta common security challenges and further opportunities for cooperation. We will review progress on the US Force Posture Review.
I will also have the opportunity to discuss with him key defence capability acquisitions, the Joint Strike Fighter and Australia’s Future Submarine Program.
While in the United States, I will take delivery of the Royal Australian Air Force’s fifth C-17A Globemaster III aircraft at Boeing’s Long Beach C-17 production facility, near Los Angeles.
Natural disasters in Queensland, Christchurch and Japan have underlined the C-17 as an essential part of Australia’s capacity to respond to natural disasters both within Australia and within our region.
While disaster relief has been a recent public focus for C-17 operations, they continue to support Australian and International Security Assistance Forces in Afghanistan and the Middle East, meeting their primary purpose in providing military long-range heavy airlift.
The C-17A aircraft can lift very large and heavy cargoes over long distances providing a significant contribution to Australia’s ability to reach and respond to events. One C-17A can carry up to four C 130 Hercules loads in a single lift and cover twice the distance in three-quarters of the time of a C 130 Hercules.
In San Francisco, I will lay a wreath at the USS San Francisco memorial in honour of the United States role in the Battle for Australia. This follows the commemoration on 7 September in Australia of the Battle for Australia Day.