AUSMIN Defence Minister's Meeting opening remarks

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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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28 July 2023

SUBJECTS: Australia-US Alliance.

RICHARD MARLES, DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: So welcome everyone here this morning and can I welcome my good friend, Lloyd Austin, the Secretary of Defense of the United States of America. It is an enormous privilege to have you here. Since coming to office over the last 14 months, Lloyd and I were reflecting last night that we've met on numerous occasions in different parts of the world. And during that period of time we've become really good friends. I think that is emblematic of the state of the relationship between our two nations. But it is an honour for me to be able to host Lloyd here today, because it's the first time that we will have met in Australia. So it is fantastic to have you here.

In meeting today, as part of the Defence Ministers’ Meeting as part of then AUSMIN tomorrow, I would reflect that we last met in Washington in December. And at that meeting, we agreed on a number of Force Posture Initiatives, a number of increased engagements of the United States in Australia. And since then they have had the additions to what we see with the Marine rotation in Darwin, the fantastic presence of the United States at Exercise Talisman Sabre, which is happening as we speak and which Lloyd and I will be able to watch on Sunday. That speaks to the fact that our relationship is going from strength to strength. But it also speaks to the fact that what we agree that we will do, we end up doing. And again, that says a lot about the state of our friendship.

This meeting today happens as the first AUSMIN after the Government released the Defence Strategic Review and the Government's response to it. And we look forward to discussing ways in which Australia and America can work together, which will enhance and take forward the priorities of the Australian Government in respect of the Defence Strategic Review. It's also the first time that we will be meeting since announcing the optimal pathway by which Australia will acquire a nuclear submarine capability under the banner of AUKUS, and no doubt we will talk about the progress of that program, which is clearly critically important to Australia's future defence capability.

As we meet today, we do so in a world which is complex, which in many respects is volatile, and which in many respects is threatening. We see the global rules-based order under threat in Eastern Europe, and we see it under pressure in the Indo-Pacific. The way forward in respect of all of that is not obvious, but one thing is really clear: now is the time to be working closely with friends. Australia has no better friend than the United States of America. The Alliance between our two countries is at the heart of Australia's national security and our world view. And we look really forward to progressing that relationship over the course of the next two days.

LLOYD J AUSTIN III, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Well Deputy Prime Minister Marles, thanks for hosting me here in Brisbane. It is indeed great to be here. Thanks for sharing your troops with me this morning, they look great, the band sounds great, and a special thanks for this unbelievable weather that you have here. I’m impressed with the way that you've been able to arrange the weather.

I look forward to our conversation today, along with our discussions tomorrow at AUSMIN with Secretary Blinken, and Foreign Minister Wong. Together we're making important steps to deepen our unbreakable Alliance. Our two proud democracies share core values, and a long history of working together to defend the rules-based international order. Today our cooperation is key. It's key to our shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific in a world of rules and rights. We seek a region where all countries are secure and prosperous, where states follow international law and international norms, and where disputes are resolved peacefully without coercion. And I know that both of our countries are concerned about attempts by the People's Republic of China to depart from these principles. We’ve seen troubling PRC coercion from the East China Sea, to the South China Sea, to right here in the Southwest Pacific. And we will continue to support our allies and partners as they defend themselves from bullying behaviour.

Now, our two countries have worked tirelessly together with our likeminded allies and partners to help Ukraine fight for its freedom throughout Russia’s reckless war of choice. And we will continue to work together for a world where autocrats can’t invade their peaceful neighbours with impunity. So I look forward to discussing many key issues today, including our respective defence strategies, our ground-breaking Force Posture Initiatives and our efforts to integrate Japan into them, our multilateral cooperation including AUKUS and the Quad, and our support for Australia's Guided Weapons and Explosive Ordnance Enterprise. Delighted to be here to underscore our shared commitment to support each other and to strengthen our regional security.

So, Richard, thanks again for your incredible hospitality, your friendship, and your unflagging support for our common goals. Our Alliance is stronger because of all that you do. And so thanks for your leadership. I look forward to a great conversation.


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