Over the period 6-10 September, I will be visiting a number of Defence establishments across the Northern Territory, engaging with local industry and observing the Australian Army’s annual bilateral exercise with the US Marines, Exercise Koolendong.
Recognising the strategic importance of the Northern Territory for Australia’s northern defence, which was confirmed in the 2020 Defence Strategic Update, the Morrison Government is investing $8 billion over the next decade to upgrade and build new facilities.
During this visit, I will be touring facilities, meeting personnel and observing capability at RAAF Base Tindal, RAAF Base Darwin, Headquarters Northern Command, Robertson Barracks, Defence Establishment Berrimah and HMAS Coonawarra.
I will also be meeting ADF personnel who play a critical role supporting Australia’s northern defences including Operation RESOLUTE – the ADF’s contribution to protecting Australia’s borders and offshore maritime interests.
Many of these men and women have also supported Operation Bushfire Assist and Operation COVID-19 Assist, and I look forward to thanking them and their families.
US 2020 Marine Rotational Force – Darwin (MRF-D) is conducting its premier bilateral live-fire high-end warfighting activity, Exercise Koolendong, which I will have the opportunity to observe.
The fact that the MRF-D rotation went ahead this year, despite the challenges associated with COVID-19, is a testament to the commitment of both Australia and the United States to deepening our defence cooperation and our agility to operate together in challenging circumstances.
Throughout this visit, I will be accompanied by the US Ambassador to Australia, Ambassador Arthur B. Culvahouse, and Senator for the Northern Territory, Senator Dr Sam McMahon.
I will also deliver a speech to the Northern Territory Master Builders Association to outline the strategic importance of the Northern Territory to Australia, and the investments Defence is making in infrastructure in the Territory.
All aspects of this visit will be conducted with strict adherence to safety and health measures to mitigate COVID-19 risks.