Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence, Richard Marles has hosted New Zealand Minister of Defence, Peeni Henare, in Geelong today for the annual Australia–New Zealand Defence Ministers’ Meeting.
The Ministers reaffirmed the strength of the Australia–New Zealand defence alliance in an “increasingly complex security environment”.
The Ministers exchanged perspectives on regional security issues and reiterated their shared ambition for a safe, stable, and prosperous Pacific. They discussed growing strategic competition in the Pacific, and noted the region’s long tradition of working together in a transparent and consultative way to advance regional priorities.
In particular, the Ministers acknowledged the Pacific Islands Forum countries’ strong commitment to meet the security needs of the region, as articulated in the Biketawa Declaration and Boe Declaration on Regional Security.
The Ministers noted Australia’s Defence Strategic Review and New Zealand’s Defence Policy Review, both currently underway, and agreed, in recognition of our shared views of the strategic environment, that officials will remain closely engaged in our respective policy and capability planning. The Ministers also committed to supporting each other’s defence forces in regenerating collective training and force readiness post domestic COVID-19 related commitments.
They also agreed to a refreshed bilateral Australia–New Zealand Defence Dialogue Architecture. The Architecture guides official-level cooperation between both nation’s respective Defence organisations to ensure it is coordinated and supports the priorities for the relationship set by Defence Ministers.
It’s envisaged the refresh will deliver a future-focussed and agile dialogue structure that is better able to respond to the increasingly complex challenges of our strategic environment.
The Architecture includes reinvigoration of key lines of effort at the officials level, including a working group on defence industry access to deepen Australian and New Zealand defence industrial base collaboration.
The Ministers also agreed to explore a range of initiatives, including:
- closer coordination of our respective defence reviews;
- increasing personnel exchanges, postings and secondments at junior and senior levels;
- strengthening the joint operational capabilities of our forces; and
- developing complementary and inclusive efforts and protocols with the region to enhance coordination on humanitarian assistance and disaster response.
Both Ministers said they look forward to discussions on regional security at the upcoming South Pacific Defence Ministers’ Meeting.