Monday, 19 June 2017
Questions without Notice
I thank Senator Fawcett for his question. Both the Prime Minister and I participated in the region's pre-eminent defence dialogue recently, the Shangri-La Dialogue, which was held in Singapore slightly earlier this month. It is true to say that as a region we have experienced an unprecedented period of stability and in fact rising prosperity, but neither stability nor prosperity have come about by chance; they are the result of concerted efforts to set and to live by rules that govern our economic integration and also our security cooperation. The region's rules based order has been the cornerstone of equity, stability and transparent decision-making, which protects us from actions that might destabilise that security and prosperity. These were the focuses of much of the discussions, both in the dialogue's plenary sessions, which both the Prime Minister and I addressed, and in bilateral meetings with our counterparts. Our regional security partners, it is fair to say, share many of our security concerns, including—most self-evidently in recent weeks—the growing threat posed by returning foreign fighters seeking to create disturbances within the region; North Korea's unlawful, reckless and dangerous conduct; and, indeed, continued territorial disputes in the South China Sea. Upholding the rule of law is the best way to ensure that stability prevails.
Australia is working closely with our regional partners and our allies to support regional security architecture, particularly the East Asia Summit, APEC, the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting-Plus and also the South Pacific Defence Ministers' Meeting. We will continue to do our part to address security concerns, including through enhancing international defence engagement, as the 2016 Defence white paper sets out. Our Defence Cooperation Program is being enhanced to build the capability and capacity of our regional partners, from Papua New Guinea to Timor Leste, Tonga, Samoa, Indonesia and Malaysia. (Time expired)