Aus/NZ Defence ministers teleconference

Australia and New Zealand have agreed to further strengthen defence cooperation in the fight against COVID-19 on both sides of the Tasman and in our Pacific neighbourhood.

FILE PHOTO (22 April 2020): A Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130H Hercules delivering supplies including tarpaulins, tools, generators and personal hygiene kits to Fiji after Tropical Cyclone Harold. NZDF photo.

On 7 May 2020, Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds and Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price held a joint teleconference with New Zealand’s Minister of Defence Ron Mark to discuss responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“New Zealand is one of Australia’s closest friends and defence partners. Working closely together to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic is creating further avenues to strengthen our bilateral defence relationship,” Minister Reynolds said.

“New Zealand has no better friend than Australia. Our co-operation on supporting our defence industries and our shared experience in emergency response are important components to our strong relationship,” Minister Mark said.

Ministers discussed how Australia and New Zealand are providing support to their respective defence industries, to overcome the challenges caused by COVID-19 so that they can continue to deliver capability to both countries’ defence forces.

“Industry partners are of enduring importance to both the New Zealand and Australian Defence Forces. They provide integral support to ensure our forces are well equipped, capabilities are maintained to a high level and our sites function smoothly,” said Minister Mark.

Ministers shared insights from virtual engagements they had conducted with industry partners over the past several weeks.

“As both countries continue to focus on responding to COVID-19, continued engagement with industry and the sharing of lessons learned will remain a priority for us, especially in the area of defence science and technology,” said Minister Price.

Ministers emphasised the importance of the Closer Economic Relations Agreement and the Australia and New Zealand Government Procurement Agreement, which creates and maintains a single ANZ government procurement market.

There are opportunities for competitive ANZ suppliers to demonstrate their ability to offer value for money and provide quality goods and services in support of industry capability development in both countries. It also reduces the cost of doing business for both government and industry.

Ministers noted that New Zealand companies qualify as local industry under specific industry programs.

Ministers agreed that building Australia and New Zealand’s defence industries would remain a priority throughout the recovery from COVID-19, with opportunities for Australian and New Zealand businesses to work together.

“Close industrial engagement is in our mutual interest noting the importance of resilient global supply chains for all,” Minister Price said.

“We discussed how companies like Hawker Pacific and Airbus Australia Pacific play a crucial role in supporting both Australia and New Zealand’s defence forces during this time.”

Ministers acknowledged the important role both defence forces were playing in Australia and New Zealand’s respective all-of-government responses to COVID-19, including concurrently supporting partners in the Pacific impacted by Tropical Cyclone Harold.

“Our collective response to these crises provides a strong demonstration of the value of interoperability between our defence forces,” said Minister Mark.

Minister Reynolds and Minister Mark reaffirmed their commitment to ongoing closely coordinated efforts to support our Pacific family during the COVID-19 crisis.

“The Pacific is our home, and we are committed to working together to support the sovereign capabilities of Pacific countries in our collective response to the COVID-19 crisis,” Minister Reynolds said.

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Brian Hartigan

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