Stephen Smith MP
Minister for Defence
Intervention by Minister for Defence Stephen Smith
at the Inaugural ASEAN-Plus Defence Ministers’ Meeting
Hanoi, 12 October 2010
Discussion on Potential, Prospect and Direction of Practical Cooperation
within the framework of the ADMM-Plus
Australia welcomes the discussion paper produced by Vietnam and Singapore on practical cooperation.
We support the focus on the five initial areas of cooperation: Maritime Security, Counter-Terrorism, Military Medicine, Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief, and Peacekeeping Operations.
The establishment of expert working groups will be important for building momentum and ensuring progress between Ministerial meetings.
The membership and security focus of this new framework presents a real opportunity to achieve practical outcomes on issues which matter to our nations, governments and our people.
Australia encourages early establishment of the expert working groups to commence this vital work.
Maritime Security Working Group
Australia is particularly committed to the establishment of the Maritime Security Working Group.
Maritime security presents strategic challenges for our region, due to a combination of factors including:
- Dependence on Sea Lines of Communication: shipping through South East Asia’s archipelago is vital to the economies of our region.
- Threats to good order at sea: these include piracy and armed robbery against ships, maritime terrorism, illicit trafficking in drugs and arms, people smuggling, pollution, illegal fishing, marine natural hazards and border disputes.
- Constraints on cooperation: despite many shared interests in maritime security, cooperation between states can be inhibited by factors such as disparate maritime capabilities and different understandings of maritime law.
Australia is happy to facilitate maritime security cooperation, as a Co-chair of the Maritime Security Working Group in 2011, along with an ASEAN Member Co-chair.
Malaysia has kindly offered to join Australia in taking the important work of the Maritime Security Working Group forward.
As Co-chair, Australia would focus on harmonising regional understanding of international maritime law, promoting mutual understanding of maritime capability development, and measures to reduce the risk of misunderstanding.
Australia would circulate a draft concept paper for comment by working group members to guide this initial focus, in which Australia would welcome participation by all members of this forum.
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