ANZAC Defence Ministers build on close links to enhance effectiveness in Asia-Pacific Region

New Zealand Defence Min­is­ter Wayne Mapp met his Aus­tralian coun­ter­part Stephen Smith in Welling­ton today to dis­cuss a range of defence and secu­ri­ty issues.
Min­is­ters acknowl­edged the impor­tance of our close and endur­ing defence rela­tion­ship, based on a com­mon his­to­ry, a shared strate­gic out­look, and stick­ing togeth­er in trou­bled times.

This was espe­cial­ly evi­dent in the offers of assis­tance fol­low­ing the mul­ti­ple dis­as­ters that have recent­ly affect­ed our coun­tries: Trop­i­cal Cyclone Yasi, the Queens­land Floods, the Pike Riv­er Coal Mine Dis­as­ter, and the Can­ter­bury Earth­quake.

“Today’s meet­ing pro­vid­ed both coun­tries with the oppor­tu­ni­ty to dis­cuss strate­gic defence and secu­ri­ty pri­or­i­ties in the region, to high­light progress in com­bined oper­a­tions and activ­i­ties, and to give our respec­tive defence organ­i­sa­tions the strate­gic guid­ance they need for our essen­tial and grow­ing bilat­er­al coop­er­a­tion in 2011,” Min­is­ter Smith said. Min­is­ters dis­cussed a range of joint ini­tia­tives to take for­ward over the com­ing year, with a focus on pro­mot­ing secu­ri­ty and sta­bil­i­ty in the Asia-Pacif­ic region.

Fol­low­ing com­ple­tion of our respec­tive White Papers, Min­is­ters have com­mis­sioned a review to deter­mine how to strength­en strate­gic coop­er­a­tion and pri­or­i­ty set­ting for ANZAC engage­ment. Min­is­ters asked Sec­re­taries in their respec­tive Depart­ments to pro­duce a joint report by 31 July 2011 detail­ing pre­lim­i­nary pro­pos­als to improve bilat­er­al engage­ment struc­tures and strength­en strate­gic bilat­er­al exchanges. The review would also detail pro­pos­als to ensure cost-effi­cient coop­er­a­tion, includ­ing in rela­tion to com­ple­men­tary mil­i­tary capa­bil­i­ties that will improve pri­ori­ti­sa­tion, and the effi­cient imple­men­ta­tion of ANZAC poli­cies. This review will ensure the bilat­er­al rela­tion­ship is best able to deal with the defence and strate­gic chal­lenges con­fronting both coun­tries.

Min­is­ters were pleased to note the Pacif­ic-focused Ready Response Force (RRF), ini­ti­at­ed in Sep­tem­ber 2009, will be finalised in March, with New Zealand Defence Force per­son­nel to be placed at the Deploy­able Joint Forces Head­quar­ters in Bris­bane.

“We have agreed that, to main­tain a robust capa­bil­i­ty to respond to region­al con­tin­gen­cies, the Aus­tralian and New Zealand defence forces will joint­ly devel­op and exer­cise plans under the RRF for a com­mon response to con­tin­gen­cies, includ­ing human­i­tar­i­an assis­tance and dis­as­ter relief. This will build on our long his­to­ry of close oper­a­tional coop­er­a­tion and give tan­gi­ble expres­sion to clos­er ANZAC ties in the mod­ern age,” said Min­is­ter Mapp.

Min­is­ters also announced the shar­ing of key capa­bil­i­ties, includ­ing HMNZS Can­ter­bury, as part of the RRF ban­ner, with a view to ear­ly oppor­tu­ni­ties to exer­cise plan­ning func­tions and amphibi­ous inter­op­er­abil­i­ty.

HMNZS Canterbury’s amphibi­ous-lift capa­bil­i­ty will be par­tic­u­lar­ly impor­tant in our region over the next few years in light of the Roy­al Aus­tralian Navy’s (RAN) tran­si­tion to a new amphibi­ous capa­bil­i­ty. Dur­ing the tran­si­tion peri­od, the RAN faces chal­lenges in amphibi­ous capa­bil­i­ty. The inte­gra­tion of HMNZS Can­ter­bury in this way is a prac­ti­cal exam­ple of ANZAC coop­er­a­tion which can ben­e­fit our region, par­tic­u­lar­ly in human­i­tar­i­an assis­tance and dis­as­ter relief,” said Min­is­ter Smith.

Min­is­ters fur­ther high­light­ed the suc­cess­ful rein­vig­o­ra­tion of the Aus­tralia-New Zealand Air­lift Agree­ment – an ini­tia­tive devel­oped at the pre­vi­ous Defence Min­is­ters’ Meet­ing in Syd­ney in 2009. By stream­lin­ing air­lift pro­ce­dures and improv­ing trans-Tas­man com­mu­ni­ca­tion, our air forces have pro­duced a more effi­cient and effec­tive ANZAC air­lift capa­bil­i­ty, which will com­ple­ment the RRF.

Min­is­ters dis­cussed Aus­tralia and New Zealand’s sup­port for Pacif­ic island coun­tries, includ­ing through the Pacif­ic patrol boat pro­gramme, which pro­motes indige­nous mar­itime secu­ri­ty capac­i­ty. Dr Mapp announced that New Zealand will pro­vide a mar­itime sur­veil­lance advis­er to the Cook Islands in sup­port of the patrol boat gift­ed to that coun­try by Aus­tralia. Min­is­ter Smith also wel­comed the deci­sion by New Zealand to join the ADF’s endur­ing efforts to pro­vide fur­ther sup­port for Pacif­ic island part­ners through the removal of unex­plod­ed ord­nance in Oper­a­tion RENDER SAFE.

In addi­tion, the Aus­tralian and New Zealand defence organ­i­sa­tions have decid­ed to expand their coop­er­a­tion in Eng­lish lan­guage train­ing for region­al mil­i­taries, start­ing with Viet­nam, to increase the num­bers of per­son­nel eli­gi­ble for train­ing cours­es in New Zealand and Aus­tralia.

Min­is­ter Mapp passed on the con­do­lences of the peo­ple of New Zealand at the recent death of Cor­po­ral Atkin­son of the ADF in Afghanistan. Min­is­ters expressed the view that 2011 would be a crit­i­cal year for the inter­na­tion­al coali­tion in Afghanistan, as the process of tran­si­tion is like­ly to begin with the Gov­ern­ment of Afghanistan assum­ing secu­ri­ty respon­si­bil­i­ty for parts of the coun­try.

New Zealand and Aus­tralia have a strong secu­ri­ty rela­tion­ship based on a long his­to­ry of coop­er­a­tion, going back to the ANZACs in the First World War. “This coop­er­a­tion con­tin­ues to this day with com­bined oper­a­tions in the Solomon Islands and Tim­or-Leste. Through the ini­tia­tives agreed at today’s meet­ing, our coun­tries will con­tin­ue to expand our already very exten­sive defence ties and demon­strate our con­tin­ued com­mit­ment to secu­ri­ty in the region,” the Min­is­ters said.

Media Con­tacts:
Mr Mapp’s Office: Geoff Davies 04 817 9566 or 021 243 9566
Mr Smith’s Office: Mary Bag­nall + 61 434 665 067 or + 61 2 6277 7800

Press release
Min­is­te­r­i­al Sup­port and Pub­lic Affairs,
Depart­ment of Defence,
Can­ber­ra, Aus­tralia

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