Seoul, Republic of Korea

Department of Defence

Ladies and gentlemen, firstly, I want to say thank you sincerely to both Minister Chung and also to Minister Suh for co-hosting what’s been a very successful and a productive Australia/Korea 2+2 meeting.

I think the meeting today really reflects on the strength of our bilateral arrangement, to our relationship, our close co-operation, particularly on defence and security issues. Our relationship with Korea of course goes back to the Korean War, where 340 Australians made the ultimate sacrifice and to this day, 43 Australian service personnel remain unaccounted for, and the Australian Government remains committed to finding them. We thank sincerely the Republic of Korea for your commitment to help us recover and identify the remains of those Australians. To that end, the Australian Government has recently shared with the ROK, DNA profiles from consenting families of Korean War missing casualties to assist our joint efforts and Australia and the Republic of Korea are of course natural defence partners. We both have robust democracies and top tier militaries, and we’re both key US allies.

For several years we’ve held the biennial Exercise Haedoli Wallaby, an anti-submarine warfare exercise between the Australian and Korean Navies. I look forward to this taking place again later this year and despite the recent challenges of COVID, we have been able to maintain regular bilateral defence exchanges.

I also want to extend my thanks to the Republic of Korea, who hosted the HMAS Ballarat in May of this year, which again was a very successful visit, even though in the current circumstances it was contactless.

Minister Suh, I really want to thank you for the engagement and we agreed on several key outcomes; I think which will enhance our forces interoperability and strengthen our defence relationship. We agreed to build on the ROK’s inaugural participation in Exercise Talisman Sabre 2021, and we look forward to your participation into the future.

Additionally, we’re in the final steps of developing an annual bilateral infantry exercise that will commence in 2023, and our cooperation on defence industry continues to grow. We’re building closer ties by sharing resources, by reducing risks and building resilient global supply chains.

We also made good progress in relation to the bilateral MoU on Defence Industry and Material Cooperation, which will facilitate greater capability, collaboration between our countries. We’re enhancing defence science and technology collaboration, key areas that will define our future, the interoperability and the capabilities, both bilaterally and trilaterally with the United States.

We will boost reciprocal attendance at defence education and training courses and will cooperate on peacekeeping efforts. The initiatives we’ve agreed to today will further our joint efforts to maintain peace and stability in our region and whilst we face an increasingly uncertain and contested strategic environment, we face it together.

So I look forward very much to close engagement with Minister Suh and to thank him again for his warm collegiality and his friendship. Thank you very much.

QUESTION:

[inaudible] your characterisation and what is it that you are trying to achieve by continuing to use this type of language when describing China’s behaviour?

PETER DUTTON:

Thank you for the question and obviously as Australia’s Defence Minister, my job is to put our case strongly. Australia wants nothing more in our region than prevailing peace and we want to have a continuation of the environment as we know it. As Minister Payne pointed out, we are a like-minded democracy with the ROK. We have a similar outlook for that security, that openness and that prosperity in the Indo-Pacific. China obviously is a long standing partner of both the ROK and Australia, and we have obviously our own policies when it comes to China. I think that’s a very important point to make. And as part of these discussions, we put our perspectives and from Australia’s perspective, we have an experience and that’s a direct experience in terms of some of the behaviours that I’ve spoken about before. But as I say, our overarching priority and principle, which I think we share deeply with the ROK, is to make sure that we have that continued security in the Indo-Pacific.

We have a respect for sovereignty and our two countries share values and perspective that lend weight to that and the depth of our relationship, I think has only been enhanced through these discussions, and I look forward to what comes out of the discussions today because there’s a heavy work agenda and there’s a great opportunity for us to strengthen the relationship even further.

QUESTION:

Thank you very much. The Koreans are expecting good news about Redback. I surely anticipate a good result at Land 400 phase 3 program. What are your evaluation and expectation under Korea-Australia cooperation in defence industry? Thank you.

PETER DUTTON:

In relation to Land 8116 Phase 1, the Protected Mobile Fires contract. Well firstly we say thank you very much to the ROK for assisting Hanwha Defence. Australia and Hanwha Defence Corporation in its bid on that project; the project would see the successful bidder, build and maintain 30 self-propelled howitzer artillery vehicles and 15 armoured ammunition resupply vehicles.

On the 30th of September last year, the Australian Government released a request for tender for that project to the preferred supplier; Hanwha Defence Australia, a subsidiary of ROK company, Hanwha Defence and Hanwha Defence Australia submitted its tender response on the 1st February this year.

The project will maximise Australian industry participation with opportunities to include warehousing, transport, supply, supply chain participation, maintenance and facility construction. In relation to Land 400 Phase 3, which is the Land Combat Vehicle System Infantry Fighting vehicle. Again, congratulate Hanwha Defence Australia on being one of two shortlisted tenderers on that project. The second stage of the tender evaluation, the two year risk mitigation activity commenced in October 19 and is scheduled to conclude obviously later this year. Following the conclusion of this activity, the recommendation of the preferred tenderer will be presented to Government we expect early next year.

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