In his first trip to Australia as Secretary of State for Defence, Mr Williamson met his counterpart, Minister for Defence, Marise Payne, in Sydney. They examined how both allies can continue to adapt in the face of cyber-attacks and nuclear threats from North Korea and how best to counter global terrorism.
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said:
Britain and Australia both face intensifying, complex and evolving threats to our way of life. That is why it is so important our two countries stand side-by-side to stay ahead of those who want to harm us.
Two Royal Navy warships, HMS Sutherland and HMS Argyll, are heading to the region to continue the pressure campaign on North Korea, demonstrating Britain’s role on the international stage.
We have a long and historic relationship with Australia but today we are modern, equal, and global powers with shared values and a commitment to make the world a safer place.
As part of this modern partnership the UK and Australia:
Have more than one hundred people from all three services on exchange programmes between our nations, working together and learning from each other;
Are part of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing organisation and work together on tackling shared threats;
Hold annual meetings of foreign and defence ministers (AUKMIN) to coordinate responses to shared threats, such as Daesh;
Work together on the mission to establish stability in Syria and Afghanistan, to which Australia is the largest non-NATO contributor;
Combine on humanitarian missions, such as: the two Malaysian airline incidents, Ebola in Sierra Leone and disaster relief in Vanuatu;
Police the seas as part of the Combined Maritime Forces, to provide security and stability on the seas, including tackling drug and weapon smugglers;
Work together on science and technology, and defence equipment;
Additionally, Royal Navy ship HMS Sutherland will visit Australia in February and March, allowing further opportunities for the two naval forces to collaborate.
The UK Defence Secretary also met Minister for Defence Industry, Christopher Pyne, in Canberra today (Monday 12 Feb) to discuss exciting new defence export opportunities as Britain prepares to leave the European Union.
The Type 26 Global Combat Ship is a key example of this and has been shortlisted for Australia’s Future Frigate Programme. The cutting-edge warship would not only boost the partnership between the two countries, but would bolster Australia ballistic missile defences and give them an unrivalled anti-submarine warfare capability to face growing underwater threats.
Mr Williamson went on to meet Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel, Michael McCormack, to talk about issues impacting and sharing research on Veterans and the successes of the British Armed Forces Covenant.
Australian forces recently solved a 103-year-old mystery when they discovered His Majesty’s Australian Submarine AE1, the first Allied submarine lost in World War One, off the coast of Papua New Guinea.