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For king and country: Australia signs updated defence agreement with United Kingdom

An Australian Army soldier provides instruction to Armed Forces of Ukraine recruits during trench offense training, as part of Operation Kudu in the United Kingdom. Image has been digitally altered for security purposes. Photo: LACW Emma Schwenke

The Australian federal government has signed a new defence and security cooperation agreement with the United Kingdom in an update of the international partnership.

The Australian federal government has signed a new defence and security cooperation agreement with the United Kingdom in an update of the international partnership.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Richard Marles signed the agreement with United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for Defence, Grant Shapps, at Parliament House in Canberra, according to a public statement released on 21 March.

The new agreement was signed following annual ministerial defence talks as part of the Australia-UK Ministerial consultations.

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The agreement includes a status of forces agreement, making it easier for the respective forces of each country to operate together in each other’s countries. This capability has been brought sharply into focus during the joint training of Ukrainian troops in the UK and the upcoming arrival of UK submariners for the Submarine Rotational Force-West in Australia.

The agreement also formalises the established practice of consulting on issues that affect the sovereignty and regional security of both countries.

A range of initiatives coming into immediate effect after the signing of the new agreement include commitment to develop a joint climate action plan by AUKMIN 2025, continued cooperation on capability development, and the establishment of elevated joint staff talks to ensure operational cooperation on modern challenges.

In addition, there will also be closer collaboration on undersea warfare, autonomous sea mine clearance, science, technology and workforces, as well as UK’s contribution to the Combined Intelligence Centre – Australia, within the Defence Intelligence Organisation.

The UK will contribute to exercises Talisman Sabre, Pitch Black, and Predators Run while Australia will lend support for UK’s Littoral Response Group-South and a carrier strike group visit to the Indo-Pacific in 2025.

Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles said the signing of the agreement delivers on a commitment made at AUKMIN 2023 to refresh the bilateral defence treaty.

“Australia’s relationship with the UK is dynamic and enduring. From the UK’s leadership of support for Ukraine and efforts to address the Houthi threat, to increasing contributions in the Pacific and the Indo-Pacific, we continue to work closely together to support a global rules-based order,” he said.

“As the world becomes more complex and uncertain, we must modernise our most important partnerships.

“The agreements we reached today will secure this outcome into the future.”

Early this week, the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence announced a new partnership with British motor racing team McLaren Racing to explore new solutions across a variety of defence projects.

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) and McLaren will reportedly work closely on projects such as the electrification of new military vehicles and future power options for the armed forces to increase operational effectiveness, according to an MOD statement published on 16 March this year.

Robert Dougherty

Robert Dougherty

Robert is a senior journalist who has previously worked for Seven West Media in Western Australia, as well as Fairfax Media and Australian Community Media in New South Wales. He has produced national headlines, photography and videography of emergency services, business, community, defence and government news across Australia. Robert graduated with a Bachelor of Arts, Majoring in Public Relations and Journalism at Curtin University, attended student exchange program with Fudan University and holds Tier 1 General Advice certification for Kaplan Professional. Reach out via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or via LinkedIn.
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