I welcome the commitment today by the United States and New Zealand to enhance their defence cooperation.
United States Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and New Zealand Minister of Defence Dr Jonathan Coleman today signed the “Washington Declaration” at the Pentagon.
The Declaration formalises growing security cooperation between the United States and New Zealand in recent years. It reaffirms the United States-New Zealand strategic partnership, establishes a framework for bilateral strategic dialogue and strengthens practical defence cooperation in areas such as maritime security, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and peacekeeping.
Australia has long been a close security ally of both the United States and New Zealand.
Australia, New Zealand and the Unites States have a shared commitment to a stable and peaceful Asia-Pacific region and will continue to work together closely on regional and global issues.
In January this year, Minister Coleman and I announced a new Australia-New Zealand Defence Relationship Framework, which builds on the ANZAC tradition of longstanding and comprehensive defence engagement between Australia and New Zealand.
The Framework introduces regular strategic discussions between senior civilian and military personnel, closer cooperation on capability development and procurement, and more cost-efficient cooperation, including through the development of complementary military capabilities and sharing experiences of defence reform.
The Australia-United States Alliance is the indispensable, enduring feature of Australia’s strategic and security arrangements.
The Force Posture initiatives announced by Prime Minister Gillard and President Obama in November 2011 have enhanced practical defence cooperation between Australia and the US, and represent an important step in renewed and enhanced United States engagement in our region.
Australia expects that this deepening practical cooperation with the United States will also reinforce existing relationships and provide opportunities to enhance cooperation with our security partners in the region.
21 June 2012