I will depart Australia later today for New Zealand to participate in the annual Australia-New Zealand Defence Ministers’ Talks with New Zealand Defence Minister Dr Wayne Mapp on Thursday in Wellington.
The Australia-New Zealand Defence Ministers’ Talks are the principal forum for Australian and New Zealand Defence Ministers to discuss strategic, defence and security interests of common concern.
Australia and New Zealand’s contemporary security cooperation, including important contributions to missions in East Timor, the Solomon Islands and Afghanistan, underlines the enduring importance of our bilateral defence relationship.
This will be my first visit to New Zealand as Minister for Defence, and my second meeting with Dr Mapp following our meeting at the ASEAN-Plus Defence Ministers’ Meeting in Hanoi in October last year.
In August 2009, Australia and New Zealand jointly announced a range of practical measures to enhance Australia – New Zealand defence cooperation, including the establishment of a joint Rapid Reaction Force for regional contingencies and the strengthening of an ANZAC airlift capability.
Dr Mapp and I will discuss progress in these initiatives, as well other existing and prospective areas of defence cooperation between Australia and New Zealand. I will raise formally with Dr Mapp at our meeting the prospect of greater cooperation between Australia and New Zealand in the use of amphibious lift vessels for regional disaster relief and humanitarian assistance.
The Defence Ministers’ Talks will be preceded by the Australia – New Zealand Consultative Committee (ANZCC) meeting between the Chiefs of Defence Force and Defence Secretaries from both countries.
The last Australia-New Zealand Defence Ministers’ Talks were hosted by then Defence Minister Senator John Faulkner in Sydney in September 2009.
Australia and New Zealand share a legacy of defence cooperation dating back to the ANZAC landings at Gallipoli in 1915.
Mr Smith’s Office: Mary Bagnall (02) 6277 7800 or 0434 665 067
Department: (02) 6127 1999