DEEPENING RELATIONS WITH BRUNEI DARUSSALAM
Today (21 October) I conducted my first visit to Brunei Darussalam where I held talks on key bilateral and regional issues. During my visit I had the pleasure of meeting with His Majesty the Sultan of Brunei Darussalam. I also had the opportunity to meet again with my friend Second Minister of Defence, Pehin Halbi, to continue our productive discussion on our bilateral defence relationship.
I was pleased to announce, in light of our deepening defence cooperation and shared commitment to regional security, that Australia will establish a resident Defence Adviser position in Brunei from the end of the year. I marked the 75th anniversary of Australian troops landing in Brunei as part of the OBOE VI landings in the final stages of World War II. Together with Second Minister of Defence, Pehin Halbi, I laid a wreath and paid my respects to the Australians who lost their lives in Brunei during World War II. I also attended the 2020 Oboe Endeavour Academic Excellence Awards ceremony where I had the honour to present awards to six high performing graduates of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces 10th Command and Staff Course. Since 2018, the Oboe Awards Program has supported strong people-to-people links between our respective militaries. Despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Australian Defence Force and the Royal Brunei Armed Forces have significantly increased bilateral cooperation in 2020.
In March, the Royal Australian Navy conducted the first official port visit by a submarine to Brunei Darussalam. In July, Australia and Brunei expanded our biennial maritime Exercise Penguin. Further building on this cooperation, in August, the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Brunei Navy conducted a combined passage exercise en route to Exercise Rim of the Pacific in Hawaii.
Brunei and Australia enjoy a strong and longstanding relationship, and share common interests in a secure, stable and open Indo-Pacific. Australia welcomes further engagement with Brunei in support of these shared interests during Brunei’s year as ASEAN Chair in 2021. We look forward to co-chairing the ASEAN Regional Forum Defence Officials Dialogue in 2021 as well as the ASEAN Defence Minister’s Meeting-Plus Experts’ Working Group on Military Medicine with Brunei over 2021-2023.
All aspects of this visit are being conducted with strict adherence to safety and health measures to mitigate COVID-19 risks. Upon return to Australia, I will follow all health requirements, including 14 days quarantine.