Thursday, 1 August 2019
Questions without Notice
Australian Defence Force
My question is to the Minister for Defence. Minister, this weekend you are going to be attending the Australia-United States ministerial on defence and foreign Affairs. Could you update the Senate on the importance of our defence relationship with the United States?
Thank you, Senator Fawcett, and thank you for your support for such an important alliance that we have. The Australia-United States alliance is the cornerstone policy of Australia's national security. The alliance is all about assuring our defence and our security interests and shaping a peaceful and prosperous region in our area. Our alliance continues to be a contributor to peace and stability in our region and also globally.
This Sunday I will attend the annual Australia-United States ministerial meeting, AUSMIN, the 34th such meeting. Foreign minister Payne and I will host both the US Secretary of State and also the Secretary of Defense. This AUSMIN provides a timely opportunity to discuss critically important issues, including our defence capability relationships.
Through our alliance Australia is afforded unparalleled access to the most advanced technology, equipment and also intelligence—all central to maintaining the effectiveness of our Australian Defence Force. For example, the Air Force is the only air force outside the United States committed to operate the EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft.
The alliance also facilitates closer industry cooperation. This in turn strengthens Australia's sovereign defence industrial base, which is a key objective of this government. For example, Australia is also a key partner in the FR-35 Joint Strike Fighter cooperative program. Participation in this program not only enables us to acquire this leading-edge capability, but it also provides the opportunities for Australian companies and Australian workers—like Quickstep, which is developing critical components for the Joint Strike Fighter—to enter lucrative US markets and supply chains. This all means more Australian jobs. These are just some of the great examples of the benefit of our alliance with the United States.
Defence personnel from both Australia and the United States continue to work together side-by-side around the world, as we have now for over 100 years, to pursue our shared values and also our shared interests.
In the Middle East, the ADF are working alongside their US counterparts to provide security and stability for the people of Iraq and also Afghanistan. Having recently visited the region, I can confirm that our people are doing work with our partners in the US to make a real difference to the lives of many hundreds of thousands of people in the Middle East.
Today, Australia farewells our next deployment of 270 ADF personnel to the Middle East, to Afghanistan. This deployment represents Australia's commitment to stability in the Middle East and our commitment to working with the United States for global peace and security.
For over 50 years Australia has worked with the United States to support national security and also global strategic stability through integrated intelligence collaboration at joint facilities right across Australia. Facilities such as Pine Gap in the Northern Territory and facilities like the Australian Defence Satellite Communications Station in my own home state of Western Australia, which hosts a US military communications system manned by both ADF and US forces. This station, located in Geraldton, is receiving US project funding in recognition of the important role intelligence plays in ensuring the safety of both US and Australian personnel deployed overseas. Australia's defence intelligence relationship is one of most tangible manifestations of the depth of our alliance with the United States.