Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 10 November 2016
Page: 2504

United States Election

Senator BACK (Western Australia) (15:20): I too was on the taxpayer funded program in New York with the then Labor senator Mark Bishop. My question is to the Minister for Defence, Senator Payne. Can the minister advise the Senate of the strategic implications of the US election result for Australia's defence and security?

Senator PAYNE (New South WalesMinister for Defence) (15:21): I thank Senator Back for a very sensible question on the US election outcome. Let me restate that, in the first instance, Australia's highest priority in security and strategic terms is and will continue to be our alliance with the United States in terms of protecting our own national security and our own position. Indeed, as the Prime Minister himself discussed with President Trump this morning, this very strong and deep alliance remains at the core of Australia's security and defence planning.

It has been adverted to in question time earlier, and in the debate on the motion by the Greens, that, since the signing of the ANZUS Treaty in 1951, it is our common and enduring interests and shared goals which have underpinned this longstanding relationship and will continue to do so well into the future. Our support to that alliance is unwavering. For the past 70 years, as the defence white paper states and as I alluded to earlier, the strong presence of the United States has underpinned the stability of this region and around the world.

I look forward to continuing the relationships that we have built up over the time of this government through this transition period and then with the new Trump administration after the inauguration. My recent visit to Washington, and that of the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister, reinforced those key personal relationships with interlocutors across the spectrum in Washington and enabled us to inform ourselves of activities around the election campaign itself and the future, as it may arrive, in the post-election environment. Through early engagement with the new administration, I and our colleagues will be resolute in working closely with the new administration in support of our common regional and security interests. This government is committed to deepening our longstanding defence cooperation with the United States in the pursuit of peace, security and stability in our region. (Time expired)

The PRESIDENT: Senator Back, a supplementary question.

Senator BACK (Western Australia) (15:23): Can the minister inform the Senate how Australian and US troops are working together in international operations?

Senator PAYNE (New South WalesMinister for Defence) (15:23): Together with the United States, our ability to work collaboratively is stronger than ever. Senator Back would know—through not only his chairmanship of the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee but also his own family experience—how important that collaborative capacity is for our international engagements in the military context. As I have advised the chamber previously, the Australian Defence Force is currently making some substantial military contributions to the US-led Counter-Daesh Coalition in Iraq and Syria to combat this extraordinary terrorist threat. Not only are we contributing through our Building Partner Capacity mission in Taji, through our Special Operations Task Group in Baghdad and the Air Task Group; we also have key senior ADF personnel embedded in coalition headquarters. Further, of course, the United States and Australia are working together in Afghanistan. We work on UN deployments together. We exchange officers in key positions in both militaries. The depth of the relationship and the purpose of the relationship— (Time expired)

The PRESIDENT: Senator Back, a final supplementary question.

Senator BACK (Western Australia) (15:24): I thank the minister for her responses. Can the minister advise the Senate of US and Australian collaboration in defence and security in pursuit of our common strategic interests?

Senator PAYNE (New South WalesMinister for Defence) (15:24): I did have an opportunity to speak about some of this earlier. The depth of that relationship—and, even more importantly, the breadth of the relationship—is perhaps not always appreciated. When you see our Defence Science and Technology Group and the Chief Defence Scientist working with the United States and other Five Eyes partners—the work they do in the technical cooperation, 'the technical partnership' as they call it—when you see how the US-Australia Defence Trade Cooperation Treaty enables both of our countries to share access to equipment, technology and information and services as we seek to achieve a fully interoperable force, then you see that they are foundational for our collaborative work. Our cooperation on the submarine program is an enduring example of where we work together so very closely. Our jointly developed combat system and the heavyweight torpedo are currently operational both on Australian and on US submarines. We have a joint naval communications station at beautiful Exmouth, in in Senator Back's own state of Western Australia, which I have had the chance to visit— (Time expired)