Doorstop Interview, Canberra

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The Hon Richard Marles MP

Deputy Prime Minister

Minister for Defence

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02 6277 7800

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27 July 2023

SUBJECTS: Australia’s next generation infantry fighting vehicles; AUSMIN.

RICHARD MARLES, ACTING PRIME MINISTER: Well, can I firstly thank the Minister for Defence Industry, Pat Conroy, who has had carriage of the tender in relation to LAND 400. He has done a magnificent job. Today is really a great day for the Australian Defence Force in terms of its capability. The infantry fighting vehicles that we are announcing the tender on today will have a really significant role in improving the capability of our Army. It is a very significant day for Australian defence industry, these are vehicles which will be made in Australia. And can I say it is a very significant day for Geelong industry. And as the member of the federal parliament responsible for Geelong, I can tell you these will be quality vehicles. Geelong has a long history in manufacturing cars with Ford, and now we're taking the next step in terms of manufacturing infantry fighting vehicles, and this is going to be hugely transformative for the Geelong region and for Australian defence industry. And there is a huge degree of excitement about what this is going to mean for our local industrial base.

Can I thank Rheinmetall for its participation in the tender process. Can I congratulate Hanwha on its successful bid. Both Rheinmetall and Hanwha are great companies who do work for our Defence Force, and we value the relationship that we have with both. For Hanwha, this is the most significant contract that they have won within the Australian Defence Force. So it really represents a significant moment in our relationship with that company, and we're very excited about that. And in turn, there will be a really positive dividend, I believe, in the relationship between Australia and Korea.

This is a very significant moment. Again, I'd like to thank Pat Conroy for the power of work that he has done in delivering this moment. Can I say that the people of Geelong are very excited and privileged about the opportunity of delivering this capability for the Australian Defence Force.

JOURNALIST: Thank you. The meeting of AUSMIN over the next two days, apart from the talks of the US strengthening military ties with Asia Pacific regarding China, isn't it just as important that the US tries to strengthen ties with China to hopefully avoid escalation in the region and beyond?

MARLES: Well, we are really looking forward to AUSMIN over the coming days. I will be looking forward to catching up with my counterpart, Secretary Lloyd Austin later today. And we've got a really busy few days ahead. It's the most important meeting that we do between our two countries in terms of managing the most important bilateral relationship that Australia has.

I would say that America and Australia have shown a great unity in terms of the way in which we see the world and a sense of shared mission, about how we should approach the world. I think that goes to the question of our relationship with China, we seek as a government to stabilise our relationship with China. We've made that clear, and there's been a whole lot of steps which have been taken to bring that about in terms of instituting a range of ministerial level meetings, a leader’s level meeting, putting in place a Defence dialogue – or putting that in place – getting trade going again. But I think you see versions of that between America and China. America and China are seeking as well through the leader meeting that they had at the end of last year to move to a similar place of stabilising relations. And we applaud that. We really look forward to the next couple of days to share insights about where the world is at and we expect it to be a very productive AUSMIN.


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