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AUKUS Is A Key Part Of Our Response To The Changing Strategic Environment: Peter Dutton, Australian Defense Minister

Australia is embarking on its most significant change of defence and strategic direction, aiming to make the Navy's next submarine fleet nuclear-powered. It does herald a sweeping change in Australia’s defence and foreign policy. Towards subcontinent, with security partnership unfolding, It is the moment of breakthrough in the indo Australian bilateral relations. In an exclusive interview with BW Businessworld's Manish Kumar Jha, Australia's Defence Minister Peter Dutton speaks on the such definitive turn. He spells out the Australian security framework on AUKUS and QUAD.

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Australian Defence Minister Peter Dutton

You recently held talks with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. Is this the moment of breakthrough in the indo Australian bilateral relations? Now, where do you the security partnership unfolding?

Australia and India share a comprehensive strategic partnership, of which our defence relationship is a key pillar.  The growth in joint exercises and activities between our nations’ militaries, such as the recent AUSINDEX and MALABAR exercises, reflects the strengthening defence relationship and underlines our mutual commitment to an open, secure, and prosperous Indo‑Pacific region.

The 2+2 Foreign and Defence Ministers’ Meeting in New Delhi consolidated the momentum in our defence cooperation.

We greatly appreciated the warm hospitality we were shown by Minister Singh and Minister Jaishankar.

Discussions were productive and resulted in a number of outcomes that will enable deeper and more sophisticated operational cooperation between our militaries, including a commitment to strengthen maritime domain awareness through enhanced information sharing and practical engagement.   

We are confident that the already positive trajectory of our defence relationship will continue to trend upwards as our militaries take further steps to deepen interoperability and build greater levels of understanding and trust. 

Australia is embarking on its most significant change of defence and strategic direction, aiming to make the Navy's next submarine fleet nuclear-powered. Does it herald a sweeping change in Australia’s defnece & foreign policy under your leadership along with PM Scott Morrison?

Australia is committed to developing a more capable military force that will allow us to continue to help shape the future trajectory of the region. 

AUKUS is a framework to enable deeper cooperation between Australia, the United States and United Kingdom on a range of defence and security capabilities that will help ensure Australia remains a responsible and highly capable partner in the Indo-Pacific region for decades to come.

 AUKUS is a key part of our response to the changing strategic environment.

It will complement our collective efforts to meet the challenges posed by our strategic circumstances and ensure the Indo-Pacific remains stable, secure and prosperous, and free from coercion.

AUKUS complements Australia’s network of existing international partnerships, including with ASEAN, our Pacific family, Five Eyes, the Five Power Defence Arrangements, the Quad, and other like-minded partners in the region.

India invited Australian industry to take advantage of India’s liberalised foreign direct investment policies in the defence sector. What are the opportunities of bilateral collaboration for co-development and co­ production that you see in the defence and aerospace?

The trust established between India and Australia through our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, and our rapidly expanding security ties open up potential for increased technology cooperation and collaboration between our two nations. This includes striving for stronger, sustainable economic growth and more secure and diversified supply chains.

Consequently, bilateral industrial base cooperation is an increasingly important opportunity to grow our relationship, in support of our respective economic and national security goals. 

The collaboration between Thales Australia and Bharat Forge, and companies such as Hoffman Engineering and Cablex establishing offices in India, demonstrate the benefit of our industrial bases collaborating to deliver outcomes for both countries.

Multiple views on Quad? What is Australia’s outlook? Are there any significant initiative being taken under this mechanism? Could you also clarity on PM Scott Morrison's recent remarks on Quad expansion and the inclusion of China?

The Quad is a diplomatic network of four partners committed to addressing the defining challenges of our time, including cooperation on COVID-19 vaccines, climate change, critical and emerging technology, cyber and infrastructure. Its positive, practical agenda complements our other bilateral, regional and multilateral engagement, including with ASEAN, to support an open, inclusive and resilient region. 

The Quad is not directed at any one country and does not seek to deny any country the peaceful and constructive pursuit of its legitimate interests in the region.

The Quad is becoming an important part of Australia’s Indo-Pacific agenda. We are four partners with a positive, practical agenda to support an open, inclusive and resilient region.

Among other key priorities for the region, Quad partners are working together to foster an open, accessible, and secure technology ecosystem

Australian & India agreed to work towards Disaster resilience & critical supply chain in the framework of Quad. How are we going about this? Is there any concrete investment in the pipeline?

At the 24 September Summit, Quad leaders launched a statement of principles on technology design, development, governance and use, focused on responsible, open, high-standards innovation.

Quad leaders established Technical Standards Contact Groups on Advanced Communications and Artificial Intelligence.

Quad group launched a semiconductor Supply Chain Initiative to map capacity, identify vulnerabilities, and bolster supply-chain security for semiconductors and their vital components.

On the critical 5G technology, Quad leaders underscored their commitment to advancing the deployment of diverse, resilient, and secure 5G and beyond-5G networks in partnership with industry.

Australian Submarine in Pacific (Reuters)

We all agreed to cooperate on biotechnology scanning to monitor trends in, and identify opportunities for cooperation on, advanced biotechnologies.

The 24 September Quad Leaders’ Summit builds on three meetings of Quad Foreign Ministers and extensive practical cooperation driven by Foreign Ministers on core regional priorities, including humanitarian and disaster relief.