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New Closer Defence Relations statement released


New Closer Defence Relations statement released

A new statement on Closer Defence Relations between Australia and New Zealand was released today following the annual meeting between Defence Ministers in Canberra.

NZ Defence Minister Mark Burton at the signing today.

Australian Senator Robert Hill at the signing today.

Today’s meeting follows on from the very successful meeting the Australian Defence Minister Robert Hill and New Zealand Defence Minister Mark Burton had in Wellington in September last year. That meeting opened a new chapter in defence ties between the two countries and foreshadowed a revision of the 1998 joint statement on Closer Defence Relations to ensure it provides a contemporary focus for our alliance and security partnership.

The Ministers agreed on the text of the new statement after receiving a report from the Defence Chiefs and Secretaries from both countries, who had their annual consultative committee meeting yesterday. The revised statement recalls the historic, longstanding and close links between our people and Defence Forces, and points to the future by:

Acknowledging that we are sovereign countries working together for our mutual security Emphasising the need for our Defence Forces to be interoperable so that they can work together effectively, particularly in pursuit of shared strategic interests within our immediate region Acknowledging our responsibility to support the principles of the United Nations Charter Setting out the principles which guide the defence relationship; and Defining the practical outcomes we seek.

The Ministers noted good progress in the eight areas that they identified last year for closer collaboration. These are:

Increasing training opportunities and exchanges The enhancement of command and control of joint and combined operations between the Australian and New Zealand Defence Forces How Australia’s new patrol vessels and New Zealand’s off shore and in shore vessels might complement each other in achieving the most effective outcomes Enhancing land intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance within the Pacific region Complementarity of Army equipment

New Zealand has the opportunity to learn from Australia’s P-3 systems upgrade and similarly Australia can consider New Zealand’s experience of structural life extension upgrade as these aircraft are considered critical to regional security The usefulness of New Zealand’s C-130 life of type study for Australia’s decisions on replacing or upgrading some its C-130 fleet. Subject to the outcome of the study there is potential for Australia and New Zealand to work together to provide future air lift capabilities Given the similar requirements for the Australian and New Zealand Defence Forces to support their highly mobile land forces, there is potential for useful sharing of information about rotary wing requirements.

There are now established liaison mechanisms to ensure that collaborative opportunities are taken into consideration by relevant staffs at various stages of capability development. The new Closer Defence Relations statement will also provide a clearer focus for reporting on these areas as well as broader reporting on collaborative issues. The Ministers discussed the areas where Australia and New Zealand had worked together and had common interests, including Bougainville, East Timor, the war against terrorism, the impact of the Bali bombing and stabilisation and rehabilitation operations in Iraq. They also discussed the current situation in the Solomon Islands and the need for appropriate regional responses, noting that further discussion will take place in Sydney next week between regional States as part of the Pacific Island Forum. The Ministers noted that there will be closer consultation between officials to provide a coordinated and complementary response in assisting regional countries under Australia’s Defence Cooperation Program and New Zealand’s Mutual Assistance Program.

The next annual meeting will be in mid-2004 in New Zealand.


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