Today I met with Canadian Minister for National Defence, the Hon Peter MacKay.
Minister MacKay’s visit to Australia is an opportunity to build on the longstanding defence links between Australia and Canada.
The defence relationship between Australia and Canada was forged through shared experiences serving side-by-side in both World Wars, in the Korean War, and in operations in East Timor.
More recently, Canada and Australia — as members of the 49-nation International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) — are working to support stability and security operations in Afghanistan. Australia and Canada remain committed to building the capacity of the Afghan security forces, to enable the transfer of security responsibility to Afghan authorities by the end of 2014.
This morning Minister MacKay and I laid a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Australian War Memorial to mark the 10 year anniversary of the 11 September 2001 attacks in the United States.
Our two countries share common values and face similar challenges. The comparability of our defence forces also provides us with valuable opportunities for collaboration and dialogue. We are also long time partners in the Five Eyes intelligence sharing community (United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and New Zealand).
Our discussions today also focused on our respective Defence reform programs. Balancing complex strategic challenges with growing budgetary pressures is something many countries are grappling with, Canada and Australia included.
We agreed to establish a Strategic Dialogue on Defence reform, capability, procurement and budget management to share experiences and discuss common challenges.
We also agreed to establish an annual Defence Minister Meeting, annual meetings between our Defence Force Chiefs, along with annual officials level Defence policy talks.
While in Australia Minister MacKay will also meet with the Minister for Foreign Affairs Kevin Rudd, the Minister for Defence Materiel Jason Clare and Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O’Connor.
Minister MacKay will also hold discussions with senior Defence officials, and visit Australian Defence facilities.
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