Minister of Defence Ron Mark will meet with Australia’s Minister for International Development and the Pacific, and Assistant Minister of Defence, Alex Hawke in Auckland tomorrow.
The focus of the meeting will be to discuss our respective engagement in the Pacific with a focus on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief capabilities, as well as the broader Pacific security issues that were set out in the Strategic Defence Policy Statement 2018.
“Australia is a key security partner, and we work very closely together in the region,” says Ron Mark.
“The Government’s Strategic Defence Policy Statement raised the priority we placed on the Defence Forces’ ability to operate in the South Pacific. It is now rightly at the same level as New Zealand’s territory, the Southern Ocean and Antarctica.
“Regular discussion between our two nations is critical, and enables our defence forces to continue effectively responding to any number of potential security, humanitarian and disaster recovery efforts throughout the Asia-Pacific,” says Ron Mark.
The visit builds on impetus gained through the 2019 Australia-New Zealand Joint Statement on Defence Cooperation in the Pacific Region, which reinforced the importance of interoperability, and working effectively together to improve security outcomes, resilience, and self-reliance in the Pacific. Minister Hawke is in New Zealand for the Australia-New Zealand Leadership Forum.
The meeting will be held on the recently purchased dive and hydrographic vessel HMNZS Manawanui. The world class ship will enter service in 2020, supporting underwater search and recovery, hydrographic survey, explosive ordnance disposal, mine counter-measures capability, training and maritime presence, rapid environmental assessment and route survey.