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New Defence Minister At NATO

  • June 10th, 2009
  • Posted by EUEditor

nato-flags-ld.jpgThe new Australian Defence Minister, John Faulkner, is this week in Europe (9-14.6.09), to attend to “issues of importance to Australia’s Defence interests” – focused on the NATO-led commitment in Afghanistan.

In the Mediterranean, an Australian warship has come to the aid of a boat, crowded and adrift.


The Minister is attending the Regional Command (South) Ministers’ Meeting at Maastricht in the Netherlands and a North Atlantic alliance Defence Ministers’ meeting in Belgium; on coalition efforts in Southern Afghanistan.

The International Security Assistance Force has five regional commands that coordinate civil-military activities in Afghanistan; the Southern command responsible for military operations in southern Afghanistan and supports operations in Kandahar, Helmand, Oruzgan, Nimruz and Zabul provinces.

“I look forward to meeting my counterpart Defence Ministers for the first time and to have an opportunity for discussions with them regarding our shared commitment to Afghanistan,” Senator Faulkner said.

He is being accompanied by the Chief of the Defence Force, ACM Angus Houston and the Secretary of the Department of Defence, Nick Warner.

(The former Defence Minister, Joel Fitzgerald, resigned earlier this month over a Ministerial expenses issue).


rescue-hmas-sydney.jpgAn Australian warship, meantime, has gone to the aid of a large group of men adrift in the Mediterranean Sea.

rescue-hmas-sydney2.jpgThe frigate HMAS Sydney encountered 24 men in a rigid inflatable boat (3.6.09); provided them with food, water and space blankets, and called in the Spanish coast guard, standing by until they arrived.

The Sydney and another frigate, HMAS Ballarat, have been on a diplomatic tour called Northern Trident 09.

(It was not the first “Sydney” active in Mediterranean waters; the ill-fated cruiser of that name, with accompanying destroyers sank an Italian cruiser off Crete in 1940).

European maritime authorities have again been intercepting boats carrying would-be immigrants, making the crossing from North Africa, as the Northern Summer comes on.


Defence Minister, Canberra, “Minister for Defence to attend Regional Command …”, 9.6.09, MINI 09, 001/2009.

Department of Defence, Canberra, “Northern Trident frigate renders assistance”, 4.6.09, MSPA 186/09.

Pictures: NATO headquarters Brussels; Sydney incident 3.6.09, Defence Australia.