In a sign of the growing importance of global supply chains, Defence Minister Marise Payne has used the recent AUKMIN forum to discuss improved economic and industrial links between the UK and Australia, beginning with BAE Systems’ win of the SEA 5000 competition.
As part of the meetings hosted in the UK, Defence Minister Marise Payne and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop have sought to expand the relationship between the UK and Australia to include:
- Protecting the rules-based international system;
- Promoting human rights, including tackling modern slavery;
- Co-operating to advance global prosperity and sustainability; and
- Working together on shared security challenges.
Additionally, Minister Payne and her British counterpart, Secretary of State for Defence Gavin Williamson, took the opportunity to promote the burgeoning industrial relationship developing between the defence industries of the two nations, particularly as both countries begin the process of construction of the Type 26/Hunter Class Guided Missile Frigates.
"As demonstrated by the selection of a British design for Australia’s Hunter Class frigates, the interoperability of our military forces continues to expand. We will continue to deepen our Anti-Submarine Warfare Strategic Partnership. Our defence science and technology areas plan to work together with industry and academia on advanced materials," the ministers said in a joint statement.
This was further expanded upon by both governments seeking to pursue a renewed bilateral Free Trade Agreement between Australia and the UK following the UK's withdrawal from the EU in March 2019, opening up avenues for improved economic integration and collaboration for a variety of Australian industries, including the nation's infant space industry.
"We have reaffirmed our commitment to pursuing an ambitious bilateral FTA once the UK leaves the EU in March 2019. We noted the UK’s aspiration to potentially seek accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership," the statement said.
"We have also agreed on a number of initiatives to enhance our economic partnership, following discussion this week at the UK-Australia Leadership Forum. In particular, we will pursue more strategic collaboration between our universities via the Leadership Forum and Australia-UK Education Dialogue.
"The UK welcomes Australia’s new national space agency and looks forward to collaborating on projects to address global environmental challenges. Recognising that cultural understanding is the bedrock of strong relationships, we undertake to nurture the extensive partnerships between our people and institutions and to promote cultural collaboration and understanding with partners in our regions."
Both Australia and the UK announced further commitments in the 'Joint Action Plan' .
Enhancing the strategic defence partnership:
1. Deepen the Anti-Submarine Warfare Strategic Partnership, following the decision by Australia to select a British design for its Hunter Class Future Frigates.
2. Identify opportunities to work together in the Indo-Pacific region and to improve our capability and interoperability. Conduct exercises alongside the other members of the Five Powers Defence Arrangement (FPDA), and regional partners. Step up co-operation, together and with like-minded partners, on maritime security.
3. Explore opportunities for our defence science and technology leads to work with industry and academia on advanced materials.
Enhance the strategic economic partnership:
1. Pursue initiatives to enhance economic partnership, building on the success of the UK-Australia Leadership Forum. In particular, expand collaboration on health, space and education – especially between universities – nurture cultural partnerships and collaborate in the development of Australia’s new national space agency.
During the visit, Minister Payne also toured the BAE Systems shipyard at Glasgow with Secretary Williamson to inspect the first of the UK's Type 26 Guided Missile Frigates and the rapidly growing supply chain needed to support the ships, with Secretary Williamson stating that the two countries working together provided opportunities to create jobs and prosperity in both the UK and Australia.