Australian Minister for Defence Stephen Smith and New Zealand Minister of Defence Dr Jonathan Coleman met today in Perth for the Annual Australia-New Zealand Defence Ministers’ meeting.
The Ministers shared perspectives on regional and global security issues, identified areas of further practical Defence cooperation and acknowledged the ultimate sacrifice made by Australian and New Zealand defence personnel in Afghanistan.
Strengthening the Australia-New Zealand Defence Relationship
The Ministers considered the progress of implementation of the 2011 Review of the Australia New Zealand Defence Relationship which they endorsed in January 2012.
Ministers agreed to deepen practical cooperation by:
- Increasing collaboration between the two Navies regarding sealift and afloat support. We have agreed to a mutual sealift cooperation program. This will allow for cross crewing of Royal Australian Navy and Royal New Zealand Navy vessels and afloat support to each other’s fleets.
- New Zealand participating with embedded observers in the 2013 iteration of the biennial Australia-United States exercise, TALISMAN SABRE 2013 with the aim of full participation from 2015 onwards;
- Australia hosting a 1.5 Track dialogue in Canberra in December on common security challenges;
- Agreeing to complementary personnel exchanges, such as New Zealand’s secondment to the Australian Civil Military Centre;
- Collaborating on Pacific maritime security, in dialogue with partners in the region.
Enhanced maritime cooperation
Consistent with ongoing bilateral maritime and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief cooperation the Ministers today announced the next phase in maritime capability sharing.
Following on from successful secondments of New Zealand crew on Australian warships , Australia will provide seconded crew to Royal New Zealand Navy over the course of 2013.
“This is a practical program that enhances maritime interoperability,” Minister Smith said.
Australia and New Zealand’s shared interests in the region
The successful conclusion of the East Timor national elections in July this year marked a turning point for our operations in that country. After six years in East Timor, we are now planning the drawdown of the International Stabilisation Force in parallel with the planned drawdown of the United Nations mission.
In light of continued stability in the Solomon Islands, Ministers looked forward to the withdrawal of Defence contributions to the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands, expected in the second half of 2013.
Ministers acknowledged the close cooperation between Australia and New Zealand in support of the recent Papua New Guinea National Elections. New Zealand provided important rotary wing support to the Australian-led operation, which contributed significantly to the conduct of their election. The success of this combined operation highlighted the strength of the relationship and provides a model for future regional defence cooperation.
Dr Coleman said “the close Australia-New Zealand defence relationship has increased our capabilities to meet common security challenges, and we are committed to working to build on past success.”
Ministers reiterated their commitment to long-term security cooperation with regional neighbours and welcomed Tonga’s offer to hold a Pacific Defence Ministers’ meeting early in 2013.
Mr Smith said “the forthcoming South Pacific Defence Minister’s meeting reflects both Australia and New Zealand’s commitment to work closely with our Pacific Island partners to further strengthen regional security.”
Ministers discussed Australia’s plans for a Pacific Maritime Security Program to replace the Pacific Patrol Boat Program. Ministers agreed Australia and New Zealand would continue to collaborate on Pacific maritime security, working all the time in close partnership with Pacific Island countries.
Australia and New Zealand’s Interests in the wider world
Mr Smith updated Dr Coleman on the progress in developing the 2013 Defence White Paper announced in May this year. Ministers also discussed strategic developments in the Asia-Pacific and affirmed Australia and New Zealand’s commitment to work closely with regional partners, including through the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus process.
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