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Australian & NZ Defence Ministers Meet In Victoria

Friday, 27 May 2005
089/2005

AUSTRALIAN AND NEW ZEALAND DEFENCE MINISTERS MEET IN VICTORIA

The Defence Ministers of Australia and New Zealand met in Victoria today to discuss key areas of ongoing cooperation such as capability development, joint operations and training, personnel development and command, control and communications.

The talks covered strategic regional and global security issues including the importance of each nation's contribution to the rehabilitation and reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This was the fourth annual meeting between Senator Robert Hill and the Hon Mark Burton to build closer Defence cooperation between the two nations. The Ministers acknowledged the challenges confronting the region in relation to the threat of terrorism and increasing emphasis on a secure maritime environment.

The Ministers agreed to continue to work together to maintain a secure and stable Pacific region. Australia will host trilateral discussions between Australia, New Zealand and France later this year to further strengthen maritime surveillance cooperation in the Pacific.

The important ongoing contributions by both countries to restoring law and order to the Solomon Islands, and the significant progress made by RAMSI in rebuilding key public institutions, were discussed.

Discussions were also held on the recent combined deployment of Australia and New Zealand Defence Forces in Banda Aceh and in providing humanitarian aid to Sumatra following the Boxing Day tsunami and subsequent earthquake.

This vital medical, engineering and logistics work highlighted the value of our CDR (Closer Defence Relationship) co-operation, and the benefits of continuing to work together to further improve interoperability.

Despite the continuing heightened operational tempo being experienced by both Defence forces, they have participated in an extensive joint exercise program. In the last year, both Forces have contributed to Exercises Predators Gallop, Tasmanex, Fincastle and Ocean Protector.

Combined exercises remain essential to ensure our Defence Forces continue to have the complementary skills and capabilities necessary to operate together.

Ministers welcomed the finalisation of the Status of Forces Agreement between Australia and New Zealand that will come into force today. The agreement defines the status of a visiting force while in the nation's territory and will assist both countries in planning future bilateral exercises.

Both countries will continue to work together on streamlining communications and on providing New Zealand access to Australia's military satellites.

Australia and New Zealand will continue to look to further develop areas of collaboration and information sharing. This includes logistics and communications, and some areas of capability development, such as transport vehicles for the respective armies, patrol vessels and aircraft protection and technology.

New Zealand's decision to acquire NH90 helicopters has also opened up collaborative opportunities that will continue to be explored.

The Defence Ministers plan to meet again in mid 2006 in New Zealand.

ENDS


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