I visited Singapore and Malaysia on Tuesday 1 and Wednesday 2 November to attend the 40th Anniversary of the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) Defence Ministers Meeting.
I was accompanied by the Chief of the Defence Force, General David Hurley and Secretary of the Department of Defence, Duncan Lewis.
Ministers endorsed the recommendations of the 40th Anniversary Stocktake Paper, which will lead to improved joint capabilities, interoperability and enhanced people to people interaction through multilateral exercises. Ministers agreed the FPDA would further develop capacity to respond to modern security challenges such as counter terrorism, anti-piracy and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
FPDA Defence forces are currently participating in Exercise BERSAMA LIMA in the Malaysian Peninsula area. The Exercise involves around 4,000 personnel, 19 warships, 68 military aircraft, as well as support elements from the FPDA countries. Australia’s contribution includes eight F/A-18 Hornets and a Wedgetail airborne early warning and control aircraft.
While in Singapore I laid wreaths at the Commonwealth War Cemetery at Kranji and at the Changi Chapel, site of the infamous World War II Prisoner of War camp which held over 35,000 Allied soldiers, including 15,000 Australians.
I visited the Royal Malaysian Air Force base Butterworth, where I met with some of the over 700 Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel participating in Exercise BERSAMA LIMA. Butterworth is host to the FPDA Headquarters Integrated Area Defence System (HQIADS) and Australian personnel based there for HQIADS.
I joined my FPDA counterparts for a call on Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Yang Amat Berhormat Tan Sri Dato Hj Muhyiddin Yassin.
I also held separate meetings with each of the FPDA Defence Ministers.
I met for the first time newly appointed UK Secretary for Defence Philip Hammond. We discussed Australia’s and the UK’s ongoing commitment to the FPDA, along with other strategic, foreign, security and defence matters of common interest.