Ministerial visit to France

Media Release – Friday 24 April 2015

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Today I met with my French counterpart, Minister for Defence Jean-Yves Le Drian.

Australia and France share a longstanding and close defence relationship with a shared commitment to addressing global security challenges.

In coming days, I will visit Villers‑Brettoneux and Bullecourt where our nations’ soldiers once fought together during the battles of World War One.  In more recent years we have operated alongside each other in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

France and Australia have both experienced the devastating impact of home-grown terror, with the death of civilians from the Lindt Café siege in Sydney and the Charlie Hebdo and subsequent supermarket attacks in Paris. We understand all too well the need to prevent the further spread of violent extremism.

We are both committed to assisting the Iraqi Government to prepare sufficient forces to maintain the momentum of the counter-attack against Daesh, and regain control of its territory.

We are also strong partners in the Pacific, with Australian and French defence forces working alongside to provide life saving humanitarian assistance to Vanuatu in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Pam.

As announced by the Government on 20 February this year, France has been indentified as a potential international partner for Australia’s future submarines programme.  As part of my programme, I will tour the Direction des Constructions Navales Services (DCNS) shipyards.

For Australian industry to have the best opportunity to maximise their involvement in the future submarine programme they need to work with an international partner.

The future submarine programme is the largest Defence procurement programme in Australia’s history and represents a $50 billion investment in Australia’s safety and security. It is vital that we get this program right so our Navy has the right capability to support them.