In a joint media release, Defence Minister Marise Payne, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham and Minister for Jobs and Innovation Michaelia Cash have announced a commitment to strengthening the key economic and strategic components of the AUS-US alliance.
"The relationship between Australia and the United States is of utmost importance to our future. Our alliance with the United States is central to Australia’s security and our collaboration has helped to promote peace and stability in our region and beyond. The United States is also our most significant economic relationship," the statement said.
"In the Indo-Pacific, US engagement has underpinned security and prosperity. As strategic dynamics in the region change, our relationship with the United States takes on even greater salience. With that, Australia’s need for quality public outreach, informed scholarship and incisive commentary about the United States, grows. So too does the importance of links through education.
"Among students, policy makers and the general public, the United States Studies Centre (USSC) and Perth USAsia Centre (USAC) play a valuable role in deepening our understanding of the United States."
The government also announced $12 million over four years in new funding for the USSC and USAC.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Department of Defence, the Department of Education and Training, and the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science have contributed to the new funding equally. The grant will be administered by the American Australian Association (AAA).
This announcement came ahead of the 2018 AUSMIN forum held over the past two days. AUSMIN 2018 will be the second such meeting between the Trump and Turnbull administrations and the first meeting of Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The 2018 meeting will commemorate ‘100 Years of Mateship’ between the two nations following the 100th anniversary of the World War I Battle of Hamel.
The talks will focus on deepening the strategic alliance and further developing a shared vision of peace, stability, and prosperity in a 'free and open' Indo-Pacific. Bolstering efforts to counter China’s strategic assertiveness and economic diplomacy in the region will feature as a priority issue.
This may include discussions on Australian contributions to maritime patrols in the South China Sea, and improving joint economic and infrastructure initiatives with India and Japan tentatively flagged in February 2018.