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Minister for Defence meets Singapore Defence Minister and visits Exercise Wallaby in Shaolwater Bay.



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THE HON. JOEL FITZGIBBON MP Minister for Defence

www.defence.gov.au

Saturday, 25 October 2008 138/2008

MINISTER FOR DEFENCE MEETS SINGAPORE DEFENCE MINISTER AND VISITS EXERCISE WALLABY IN SHOALWATER BAY

The Minister for Defence, the Hon. Joel Fitzgibbon MP, met with his Singaporean counterpart today, Defence Minister Teo Chee Hean, while visiting Shoalwater Bay Training Area near Rockhampton.

Mr Fitzgibbon was in Shoalwater Bay joining Mr Teo to view elements of Exercise Wallaby, Singapore’s largest unilateral military exercise which is held at the Shoalwater Bay Training Area each year.

“Australia’s relationship with Singapore is very strong, and is based on a common strategic outlook,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.

“It has been a great pleasure to see Minister Teo again and to view some of the impressive capabilities on show in Exercise Wallaby.”

During the visit, Mr Fitzgibbon had the opportunity to get a first hand look at the inside of a Leopard main battle tank. He also flew into and out of the exercise area in a Singaporean Super Puma helicopter.

“It’s not something you do every day and it was great to see how well the Singapore Armed Forces personnel went about their duties.”

The agreement governing Singapore’s use of Shoalwater Bay Training Area expires in December 2009 and is currently being considered for renewal. The agreement provides environmental assurances that Shoalwater Bay Training Area is protected.

“The Australian Government is very serious about the environmental protection of Shoalwater Bay and its surrounding areas, including Rockhampton,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.

“Community groups and stakeholders will be consulted as part of the renewal of the agreement.”

There are stringent environmental standards that have to met by Australian forces, and by visiting forces, when Shoalwater Bay Training Area is used. This includes both during and after exercises and training are conducted.

“Australia is committed to minimizing the impact of exercises and training activities in areas such as Shoalwater Bay. We will make sure that these areas remain pristine for many years to come,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.

Exercise Wallaby 08, which began on 3 October and will run to 16 November, involves approximately 3500 Singapore Armed Forces personnel and has a combination of land and air elements, including the Leopard Main Battle Tank and Republic of Singapore Air Force F-16 Strike Fighter jets.

Media contacts: Joshua Hutton (South ASEAN and Maritime Security Section): 02 6266 7791 or 0414 316 256 Christian Taubenschlag (Joel Fitzgibbon): 02 6277 7800 or 0438 595 567 Defence Media Liaison: 02 6265 3343 or 0408 498 664