TRANSCRIPT: RESPONSE TO QUESTION WITHOUT NOTICE IN THE HOUSE OF RERESENTATIVES
TRANSCRIPTION: PROOF COPY E & OE
DATE: 19 SEPTEMBER 2011
TOPICS: AUSMIN; US Global Force Posture Review.
STEPHEN SMITH: I thank the Member for Holt for his question. I also acknowledge his longstanding interest in the Australia-United States bilateral relationship and his interest in our Alliance with the United States.
The Australia-United States Ministerial consultation, or AUSMIN as they are generally known, took place in San Francisco on Wednesday and Thursday of last week. The Minister for Foreign Affairs and I represented Australia; the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, and the Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, represented the United States. The Australian delegation included the Chief of the Defence Force, the Secretary of the Department of Defence and the Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The Ministerial consultations took place at the Presidio in San Francisco, the scene of the signing of the ANZUS Treaty on 1 September 1951. So the context of the meeting was the 60th Anniversary of an Alliance which has served both the United States and Australia well. It also coincided with the 10th anniversary of the first invoking of the ANZUS treaty in the aftermath of September 11, and underscored the point that this is an Alliance which has served us well for 60 years and that continues to adapt to modern challenges.
The drafters of the Treaty would not have envisaged that the first invocation of the Treaty would have been to 'against a non-state actor', against a non-nation state, in the face of international terrorism. Indeed, the AUSMIN meeting declared that the Treaty itself could be invoked in the modern day in the face of a cyber attack, again something that the drafters and signatories of the treaty would not have envisaged. We have acknowledged that in the modern day a substantial cyber attack degrading, denuding or destroying the communications system of a country—the degrading, denuding or destroying of communications and military communications systems of Australia or the United States—could in theory invoke the Treaty. As Leon Panetta and I had said, this needs to be understood as a battleground for the future, not just for nation states but for industry and commerce as well.
As the communiqué outlines, we dealt not just with that modern challenge but also with a series of modern challenges, including space and space awareness, ballistic missile defence and the emergence in this century of the Asia-Pacific century—the growth of China, the rise of India, the rise and growth of the ASEAN economies combined, the ongoing importance of Japan and the republic of Korea—underlining the importance of the United States’ engagement in the Asia-Pacific, which has been a source of stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific since the end of World War II.
In that context, as we did in Melbourne at the 2010 AUSMIN meeting in Melbourne, we discussed the United States Global Force Posture Review. A lot of work has been done in the intervening 12 months to better understand the potential for Australia and the United States to become even more deeply engaged so far as operational matters are concerned—training, exercises, access to ports and facilities, prepositioning of stores and the like. There is more work to be done on this front, but this is a very important development so far as our operational cooperation with the United States is concerned.
We also spoke about our immediate challenge in Afghanistan—shared assessment that we continue to be on track for transition by 2014 and commenced the discussion of the post-transition presence by the United States, Australia and the international community.
I also had the opportunity to speak to the Secretary of Defense about some capability issues, including the Joint Strike Fighter, C17s and Submarines. This was a most successful and productive meeting amongst friends; this is an Alliance which has served us well for 60 years and will continue to serve us well into the future.