Defence ministers from across the Pacific have come together virtually for a special South Pacific Defence Ministers’ Meeting (SPDMM).
FILE PHOTO (2 July 2020): Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds addresses the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) in Canberra. Photo by Kym Smith.
The video teleconference was held to discuss COVID-19, regional security impacts, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief in the Pacific region.
Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said she was pleased to connect with her regional counterparts at this critical time.
“The virtual meeting provided an opportunity to discuss regional responses to COVID-19 and to reflect on the impacts the pandemic is having on security in the region,” Minister Reynolds said.
“We have been closely engaged with Pacific partners throughout the COVID-19 response and remain committed to continuing this engagement during the recovery.
“Maintaining interoperability and cooperation between regional defence forces supports stability in the region and helps to build strong and enduring partnerships.
“Together we are stronger at defending and addressing our mutual security challenges, and will always support each other in times of crisis.
“This was clearly demonstrated when our neighbours came to our assistance during the Australian bushfires earlier this year, and we were proud to assist the region following the devastation of Tropical Cyclones Harold and Tino.”
Assistant Defence Minister Alex Hawke said it was important that regional defence ministers were able to share lessons learnt during the pandemic and work in cooperation as we continue to respond to its impact across our region.
“Throughout the Pacific our respective defence forces have learnt many lessons during the pandemic and it’s critical that we are able to share those lessons with one another,” Minister Hawke said.
“It’s just as important that our defence forces continue to collaborate as we work to protect our communities from COVID-19.”
The virtual meeting was attended by ministers from Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, New Zealand, and Chile with the French defence minister providing a video message of support.
SPDMM is a key forum for Pacific defence ministers to discuss shared security challenges and enhance coordination on regional defence issues.