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Monday, 20 March 2017
Page: 1377


Senator BACK (Western Australia) (14:59): My question is to the Minister for Defence, Senator Payne. Can the minister update the Senate on the current state of bilateral relations with Indonesia?

Senator PAYNE (New South WalesMinister for Defence) (14:59): I thank Senator Back for his question. Indeed a strong and productive relationship with Indonesia is critical to Australia's national security. We are neighbours in what is a very dynamic region and we are also friends. It was my pleasure to host my counterpart, Indonesian Defence Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu, in Sydney last Thursday for the annual Indonesia-Australia defence ministers meeting. These sorts of dialogues enable the sharing of perspectives on important strategic issues and a focus on the more practical details of defence-to-defence matters and the coordination of our practical cooperation.

Minister Ryamizard and I discussed our many shared security and strategic interests, including a commitment to combating terrorism, to maritime security and to promoting peace and stability in our region. We discussed regional security dynamics and the importance of ASEAN security frameworks to build regional trust, transparency and cooperation. We also reinforced our support for and endorsed the recently signed Joint Declaration on Maritime Cooperation, and it was indeed a very productive discussion.

As with all friendships, from time to time, they do face challenges, as our two nations faced earlier this year with the temporary suspension of defence cooperation. However, it was with a spirit of cooperation that Indonesia and Australia were able to work together to resolve the temporary suspension, with the Prime Minister and President Widodo confirming the full restoration of defence cooperation, training exchanges and activities on 26 February at what was a very productive meeting at Admiralty House. This particularly demonstrates the strength and resilience of our relationship and the friendship of our leaders.

With Minister Ryamizard, I am absolutely committed to building the Australia-Indonesia defence relationship and I know that through the course of 2017, whether it is the Shangri-La Dialogue or the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting-Plus, we will be able to pursue our shared interests even further.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Back, a supplementary question.

Senator BACK (Western Australia) (15:01): I thank the minister for her response and ask if she can advise the Senate how Indonesia and Australia are working together to strengthen regional security.

Senator PAYNE (New South WalesMinister for Defence) (15:01): Australia, in terms of regional security and particularly in terms of the key pieces of architecture that are in place in that regard, is very committed to engaging with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations' security frameworks, which promote stability in the region by building trust and transparency and encouraging cooperation. One of those frameworks, of course, is the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting-Plus, which extends beyond ASEAN itself. Our cooperation with Indonesia in this forum is highly productive. Indeed in the current term, we are co-chairing the ADMM-Plus Experts' Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations between 2017 and 2020. Indonesia has a proud history of peacekeeping operations, as does Australia. and officials from both countries are working on what would be a very practical program of activities that progress our shared peacekeeping priorities, including programs that promote the UN's focus on women, peace and security. We will continue to work together through those regional frameworks including the ADMM-Plus. (Time expired)

The PRESIDENT: Senator Back, a final supplementary question.

Senator BACK (Western Australia) (15:02): Can the minister advise how Australia is looking to deepen cooperation in bilateral defence relationships with Indonesia?

Senator PAYNE (New South WalesMinister for Defence) (15:03): This is a key aspect of the Defence white paper, particularly in terms of extending Defence's international engagement. We seek to deepen bilateral defence cooperation with Indonesia in five particular areas: counterterrorism, maritime security, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, peacekeeping as I have mentioned, and also intelligence. Minister Ryamizard and I also agreed last week that Australia and Indonesia would reinvigorate our cooperation and engagement in the field of defence science and technology. I think there is enormous potential to build the depth and resilience of our bilateral relationship in that particular area. In fact Australia's Chief Defence Scientist, Dr Alex Zelinsky, met with the head of the Indonesian Defence Ministry Research and Development Agency, Dr Anne Kusmayati, last November. During that meeting, Dr Kusmayati and Dr Zelinsky identified several areas for potential cooperation, and we look forward to welcoming her to Australia in 2017.

Senator Brandis: I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.