TRANSCRIPT: OPENING REMARKS – AUSTRALIA-UNITED KINGDOM MINISTERIAL CONSULTATIONS (AUKMIN), PERTH
TRANSCRIPTION: PROOF COPY E & OE
DATE: 18 JANUARY 2013
STEPHEN SMITH: William and Philip, if I can join with Bob and welcome you to our AUKMIN meeting, and particularly welcome you to Perth. For William, as you say, this is your third visit to Australia as Foreign Secretary, but importantly, it's your second visit to Perth in two years. You, of course, being here for the CHOGM meeting, the retreat which was held in this very same location. But we're very pleased to see you back.
Philip, this is your first visit to Australia and Western Australia as Defence Secretary – a formal welcome to you. We had a very productive and enjoyable day yesterday where we started at HMAS Stirling, our Indian Ocean port, and in very many respects that reflects the reason, the rationale, for meeting in Perth.
This part of the world is on the rise. India is on the rise, and the importance of the Indian Ocean will grow strategically and the presence of our HMAS Stirling, or Fleet Base West as we refer to it, will grow in importance into the future. The defence-to-defence and the military-to-military relationship between Australia and the United Kingdom, the defence and the strategic relationship, has always been first class, but arising out of AUKMIN in Sydney two years ago, which William, you and I attended, was the view that all of the practical cooperation measures, arrangements, protocols, and memorandums of understanding that we have should be put under a broad strategic framework.
And so for the last couple of years, we've been working very hard to put all of that under the umbrella or a framework document, and to not only reflect the importance of the historical relationship between Australia and the United Kingdom, but also to underpin the ongoing strategic and practical cooperation. Today, we'll mark that with the signing of a Defence and Security Cooperation Treaty between Australia and the United Kingdom.
And this, I think, is deeply significant. It reflects not just out history, but also our closeness and our desire to work even more closely in a practical cooperation sense, whether that's on strategic matters or procurement and acquisition matters into the future.
Of course, if the treaty becomes known as the Perth Treaty, well then that's something that I won't object to, but we welcome both of you. Philip and I had a very good day yesterday. We have a range of issues of mutual concern to discuss, including and in particular Afghanistan, where we are both committed to the orderly transition strategy agreed by the international community.
So, welcome to Perth. We regret, William, that you'll have to leave slightly earlier to attend to sad matters, but we understand that entirely.