I visited the United Kingdom on Monday 23 January and Tuesday 24 January.
On 23 January Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd and I led the Australian Delegation for the annual 2012 Australia-United Kingdom Ministerial (AUKMIN) Consultations which were held at Lancaster House in London.
The UK Delegation was led by the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, William Hague, and the Secretary of State for Defence, Philip Hammond.
The AUKMIN discussions focused on the ongoing rise of the Asia Pacific, emerging powers including India, the developing security architecture in the Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean and developments in the Arab world.
We discussed Afghanistan and the efforts of both Australia and the UK to prepare the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) to take lead responsibility for providing security for the Afghan people.
The four Ministers met and discussed AUKMIN with UK Prime Minister David Cameron.
At the conclusion of AUKMIN, I was pleased to announce that Perth will be hosting AUKMIN in 2013, following on from CHOGM in 2011.
Perth’s status as Australia’s Indian Ocean capital made it a natural choice to host next year’s meeting, underlining the importance of the region to both countries and, increasingly, the world.
Separately, Defence Secretary Hammond and I reviewed progress on defence cooperation since the last AUKMIN consultations held at HMAS Watson in Sydney in January 2011.
Secretary Hammond and I are pleased with the strong cooperation that has been established over the past year, particularly in the area of cyber security. The coming year will see us continuing to strengthen our policy and strategy exchanges.
On 24 January Defence Secretary Hammond and I visited Portsmouth.
In Portsmouth, we inspected the Queen Elizabeth Aircraft Carrier currently under construction and visited UK shore based naval test facilities.
We discussed our respective approaches to and lessons learnt on maritime capability issues and support arrangements for surface and submarine fleets.
These discussions follow the Government’s purchase of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Largs Bay and its commissioning as the HMAS Choules on 13 December last year.
I also met with the Coles Review team examining the maintenance and sustainment of the Australian Collins Class submarines.
In December last year, I released the report of Phase 1 of the Review.
I received an update from the Coles Review team about progress being made on Phase 2 of the Review which will provide a plan to improve the repair and management of our submarine fleet.
Just as the Rizzo Report provides a plan to improve the repair and management of the Navy’s amphibious fleet, Mr Coles is developing a plan to improve the repair and management of our submarine fleet.
I also met with representatives of BAE Systems to discuss the Air Warfare Destroyer and Landing Helicopter Dock projects.
In recognition of the importance of cyberspace to economic well-being and national security, I met with senior UK officials to discuss the challenges of cyberspace and our continuing cooperation on cyber security.
I was accompanied in the United Kingdom by the Secretary of Defence, Mr Duncan Lewis, and the Chief of the Defence Force, General David Hurley.
Mr Smith’s Office: Andrew Porter (02) 6277 7800 or 0419 474 392
Department of Defence: (02) 6127 1999