Navy's proud bond with Tasmania

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The Hon Matt Thistlethwaite MP

Assistant Minister for Defence

Assistant Minister for Veterans’ Affairs

Assistant Minister for the Republic

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BEN LEESON - 0404 648 275

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10 February 2023

The Albanese Labor government is delivering on our commitment to strengthen Australia's defence capabilities.

Tasmania's maritime heritage is a rich and vital part of the state's identity, from the Aboriginal people who first navigated the waters here, to those who stood up the first Royal Hobart Regatta 185 years ago.

The skilled workers in the modern Tasmanian maritime industry have a vital role to play in helping the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to be equipped with critical technology for the future.

I am in Hobart to meet and thank Commander Jason McBain and the crew of HMAS Arunta.

I already know that everyone on Arunta is very proud to be serving as flagship of this year's regatta during their visit to Hobart.

It is a fitting tribute following a return home to Australia just before Christmas last year.

The commander and crew deserve strong praise for the way they represented the navy, the ADF and our country.

The frigate and her crew have already conducted two separate three-month deployments in the past 12 months.

Early last year, Arunta undertook a three-month deployment - which included joining Exercise Milan, a multinational exercise involving 46 navies from around the world - in the Indian Ocean.

And then in September, the ship took part in a number of navy-to-navy engagements, including Indo-Pacific Endeavour in South-East and North-East Asia, including the fleet review in Japan.

The deployment included port visits to Sattahip in Thailand, Busan in South Korea, Sasebo and Yokosuka in Japan, and the US territory of Guam.

Arunta took part in the Japanese Navy's international fleet review, involving 12 navies and 38 fleet units in the sea phase.

She also participated in Exercise Malabar and deployed on Operation Argos, the ADF's contribution to the international effort to enforce UN Security Council sanctions on North Korea.

As well as being highly-trained specialists in their own fields, each and every member of the crew is an Ambassador for Navy, for our ADF and for Australia as they work and visit with our partners in the oceans of our region.

HMAS Arunta's recent deployment shows Australia is standing up for sovereignty and the rules-based order with our partners in the region.

Our navy is integral to Australia's security, and the exercises undertaken by Arunta with the navies of our friends, allies and like-minded partners help to bolster the security of both Australia and the Indo-Pacific region.

The Albanese government is delivering the leading-edge technology that the navy needs to face an increasingly complex and uncertain strategic environment.

Naval strike missiles will be employed on the Hobart-class destroyers and Anzac-class frigates, replacing the ageing harpoon antiship missile capability on those ships from 2024.

This leading-edge technology will provide the Royal Australian Navy with a powerful maritime strike capability and is a major step up in capability for our navy's warships.

This nation's navy is an organisation with its eyes firmly focused on the future.

The commander and crew of HMAS Arunta have shown that, regardless of which port they are in, Australians can be confident they will meet the challenges ahead.

Matt Thistlethwaite is the Assistant Defence Minister.

This opinion piece was published in The Mercury on Friday, 10 February 2023.

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