Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence the Hon Richard Marles MP and Minister for Foreign Affairs Senator the Hon Penny Wong hosted New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Rt Hon Winston Peters MP and Minister of Defence Hon Judith Collins KC MP on 1 February in Melbourne for the inaugural Australia – New Zealand Foreign and Defence Ministerial Consultations (ANZMIN 2+2). Ministers also met separately for their respective Defence Ministers’ Meeting and Foreign Ministers’ Consultations.
Ministers were welcomed onto the lands of the Wurundjeri people by Wurundjeri elder Uncle Andrew Gardiner. All four principals acknowledged the enduring connection to Country of Australia’s First Nations people, and the importance of indigenous perspectives and experiences in addressing shared challenges.
The meetings took place in the context of the most challenging strategic environment in decades. Ministers welcomed the establishment of the 2+2 mechanism as a step to further strengthen the Australia-New Zealand alliance to address challenges in close partnership.
The Australia-New Zealand Alliance
Australia and New Zealand share close bonds of history and geography, liberal democratic values, regional and global interests and strategic outlook. Ministers noted the enduring nature of the ANZUS Treaty, which continues to underpin the strategic relationship between the two countries, 72 years after it was signed, and formalises the commitments we have to each other as allies.
Ministers affirmed their shared commitment to strengthen the Australia-New Zealand alliance to address evolving geostrategic challenges. They recognised a reinforced security alliance is crucial for safeguarding our national interests and contributing to the peace and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific.
Ministers agreed all elements of both countries’ tools of statecraft need to be harnessed in support of our collective interests. Our strategic circumstances require whole-of-government and whole-of-nation coordinated and focused statecraft, of which diplomacy and defence are both core elements.
Building on our Anzac history, Ministers committed to increasing integration between our military forces, including through common capability, exchanges of senior military officers and increased participation in warfighting exercises. Recognising the importance of the Pacific to both countries, Ministers agreed to continue efforts, in conjunction with Pacific countries, to strengthen regional cooperation and interoperability. Ministers also committed to enhancing joint deterrence efforts, including through joint exercises and training.
Ministers discussed the AUKUS trilateral partnership and agreed it made a positive contribution toward maintaining peace, security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific. Ministers acknowledged Australia’s commitment to responsible nuclear stewardship and the highest non-proliferation standard in relation to its acquisition of conventionally-armed, nuclear-powered submarines under AUKUS. The Ministers welcomed the AUKUS partners’ ongoing engagement with the International Atomic Energy Agency as the relevant international authority to ensure robust safeguards and verification measures.
Ministers also welcomed the Quad’s commitment to an open, stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific region and its positive and practical agenda to support Indo-Pacific countries’ priorities and needs. Australia will continue to engage close partners, including New Zealand, to ensure our efforts are mutually reinforcing and complementary.
Beyond the bilateral links, Ministers reaffirmed the value of the Five Eyes partnership as a crucial enabler of intelligence sharing and security co-operation among trusted partners and expressed shared interest for a Five Eyes Defence Ministers’ Meeting later this year.
Ministers acknowledged their shared commitment to realising a world without nuclear weapons, and are seized of the urgent need for progress on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, including as States Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Rarotonga). They recognised the importance of strengthening the international disarmament and arms control regime, and also expressed support for interim disarmament measures such as nuclear risk reduction and enhanced transparency and accountability, in the context of the challenging arms control environment.
Coordination on global strategic issues
Ministers reaffirmed their steadfast commitment to the multilateral system and rules-based trading system, underpinned by a stable framework of rules, norms and standards. Australia and New Zealand will continue to work together to shape a peaceful and secure world, where disputes are settled through institutions, and where the sovereignty of all states – including those in our region – is respected, and human rights are promoted and protected. Ministers opposed economic coercion in all its forms and recognised the importance of multilateral institutions and norms which promote free, fair, and open international trade. Ministers recognised that multilateral institutions need to evolve to better deliver for our region, and reiterated a shared commitment to amplifying Pacific voices in the multilateral system. New Zealand Ministers reaffirmed their support for Australia’s candidacy for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council for the term 2029–2030.
Ministers welcomed the commitment of Parties at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change COP28 to accelerate action in this critical decade and look forward to increased global action in 2024 and beyond. Ministers welcomed the key outcomes of COP28, including the outcome of the first Global Stocktake, fund for loss and damage and funding arrangements, the framework on the Global Goal on Adaptation, and the decision to establish a Youth Climate Champion. Ministers would like to thank the UAE Presidency for their strong leadership in achieving the UAE Consensus.
Ministers reflected on the devastating loss of innocent Israeli and Palestinian life in the Hamas-Israel conflict and expressed their condolences to all families and communities affected by the violence. Ministers unequivocally condemned Hamas’s terror attacks on Israel on October 7, the appalling loss of life and the heinous acts of violence perpetrated in those attacks, including sexual violence. Ministers stressed that Hamas must release all remaining hostages immediately and unconditionally.
Ministers stressed that in defending itself, Israel must respect international law, including international humanitarian law. Civilians and civilian infrastructure, including hospitals, must be protected. They expressed ongoing alarm at the diminishing safe space for civilians in Gaza and reiterated that the price of defeating Hamas cannot be the continuous suffering of all Palestinian civilians.
Ministers expressed their deep concern at the scale of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and ongoing risk to all Palestinian civilians. They reaffirmed their support for the General Assembly’s call in December for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, to enable urgent safe, unimpeded and sustained humanitarian access to Gaza, safe passage for civilians, and the release of hostages. They reaffirmed that any sustainable ceasefire cannot be one-sided, and that Hamas must release all hostages, stop using Palestinian civilians as human shields, and lay down its arms.
Ministers noted that the devastating crisis underscores the need for a political solution to the long-running conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. Ministers reiterated their support for Palestinian aspirations for self-determination and a state of their own. Ministers reaffirmed their firm commitment to a just and enduring two state solution, where both Israelis and Palestinians can live securely within internationally recognised borders. They agreed there must be no forced displacement of Palestinians from Gaza, physical re-occupation of Gaza, any reduction in territory, or any use of siege or blockade. They emphasised that there is no role for Hamas in the future governance of Gaza and that the territory must no longer be used as a platform for terrorism.
Ministers noted the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) ruling on provisional measures in South Africa’s case against Israel. Ministers expressed their respect for the independence of the ICJ and the critical role it plays in upholding international law and the rules-based order, and noted that decisions of the ICJ are binding on the parties to the case. Ministers expect Israel to act in accordance with the ICJ’s ruling, including to enable the provision of basic services and humanitarian assistance.
Ministers expressed concern about the risk of a wider regional escalation, and urged all actors in the region to work towards containing the conflict. They condemned ongoing Houthi attacks in the Red Sea as illegal, unacceptable and profoundly destabilising and called on the Houthi to cease immediately their attacks on international shipping in the Red Sea. Ministers expressed their support for the US and UK-led coalition’s defensive strikes against Houthi targets in Yemen since 12 January 2024 to degrade their capability to attack. They discussed their respective contributions towards maritime security in the Red Sea, including deployments to the US-led Operation Prosperity Guardian and the US-led coalition undertaking military action against Houthi targets in Yemen and the Red Sea, noting both countries’ steadfast commitment to taking action to support international rules and freedom of navigation.
Ministers once again condemned in the strongest terms Russia’s illegal and immoral invasion of Ukraine almost two years since it began. Ministers reiterated their support for a comprehensive, just and durable peace in Ukraine in accordance with the UN Charter. They noted their ongoing commitment to supporting Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Ministers acknowledged the global impacts of the war, including on food and energy security in the Indo-Pacific region. Ministers called on all those with influence on Russia, particularly China, to exert this now to convince Russia to end its illegal war.
The Indo-Pacific region
Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to an open, stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific, where sovereignty is respected, and internationally agreed rules and norms are adhered to.
Ministers agreed to coordinate on economic engagement and trade diversification in Southeast Asia supported by the comprehensive regional trade architecture and the region’s growth trajectory, consistent with Australia’s Southeast Asia Economic Strategy to 2040 and New Zealand’s commitment to step up and deepen engagement with Southeast Asia.
Ministers expressed serious concern over developments in the South China Sea and an intensification of destabilising activities, including the continued militarisation of disputed features; unsafe and unprofessional behaviour at sea and in the air; and other dangerous actions by military, coast guard vessels and maritime militia. Ministers emphasised the obligation of all states to adhere to international law, particularly the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and underscored the importance of maintaining freedom of navigation and overflight. They further emphasised the importance of the peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with international law and reiterated that the 2016 South China Sea Arbitral Award is final and binding on the parties.
Ministers also expressed serious concerns about the situation in the East China Sea – they shared an intention to remain in close communication about the situation there and expressed strong opposition to any destabilising or coercive unilateral actions that increase tensions in the area, undermining peace and stability.
Ministers welcomed dialogue between the United States and China and called for countries to put dialogue at the core of international and regional engagement. The Ministers emphasised the importance of promoting open channels of communication between all the major powers and practical measures to reduce risks of misunderstanding and miscalculation and prevent conflict in the Indo-Pacific.
Ministers reaffirmed the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and their shared opposition to unilateral changes to the status quo. They called for the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues through dialogue without the threat or use of coercion. They also reiterated their will to continue deepening relations with Taiwan in the economic, trade, and cultural fields as well as enhancing development coordination in the Pacific.
Ministers expressed grave concerns about human rights violations in Xinjiang. They also expressed deep concerns about the erosion of religious, cultural, educational and linguistic rights and freedoms in Tibet, and the continuing systemic erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy, freedom, rights and democratic processes, including through the imposition of national security legislation.
Ministers strongly condemned the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK) repeated ballistic missile and satellite launches, as well as its export of ballistic missiles to Russia for use in Ukraine, which undermines Indo-Pacific security and violates multiple UN Security Council resolutions. Ministers called for the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation of the DPRK. They urged the DPRK to comply with its obligations under UNSC resolutions, return to dialogue, and prioritise the wellbeing of its people.
Ministers recognised the threat faced by both nations of foreign interference and information manipulation, including disinformation, and the challenge these pose to the Indo-Pacific region more broadly. Ministers reiterated their shared vision for a peaceful, prosperous and resilient region where sovereignty is respected, and nations are free from deceptive or corruptive foreign influence. In a year when a significant portion of the world’s population will participate in elections, Ministers underlined the need for resilient, robust, and transparent institutions and processes, both domestically and internationally. Ministers committed to Australia and New Zealand deepening their cooperation on security challenges, to sharing information and best practice, and building collective resilience. The establishment of ANZMIN 2+2 exemplifies this cooperation and commitment.
ASEAN plays a central role in shaping a stable, peaceful, prosperous and rules-based region. Ministers reaffirmed their support for ASEAN centrality and the ASEAN-led architecture, and underlined their commitment to the principles outlined in the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific and their practical implementation.
Ministers acknowledged the third anniversary of the military coup in Myanmar and their deep concern for the deteriorating situation. Ministers reaffirmed Australia and New Zealand’s commitment to supporting the desire of Myanmar’s people for inclusive and genuine democracy. Ministers called on the Myanmar military regime to immediately cease violence, release those arbitrarily detained, provide full, safe and unhindered humanitarian access and create space for meaningful and inclusive dialogue. Ministers affirmed their strong support for ASEAN-led efforts and the ASEAN Five-Point Consensus and encouraged the international community to work together in a pragmatic and constructive way to support an end to the violence in Myanmar.
Ministers agreed to coordinate closely on the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) accession process to ensure the high standards of CPTPP are maintained as the Agreement continues to grow. New Zealand and Australia will also work together with other CPTPP Members on the General Review of the CPTPP with a view to making sure it remains relevant to enhancing trade and investment between parties.
Ministers welcomed plans to intensify discussions on significant international issues in our region involving our think tank and academic communities. Ministers noted the importance of expert dialogue beyond government to build capacity to strengthen our response to global challenges.
Partnering in the Pacific
The prosperity and security of Australia and New Zealand are inextricably bound to that of the Pacific. Ministers reaffirmed the commitment of both countries to work alongside Pacific countries as part of the Pacific, in support of our shared interests and aspirations. As such, Ministers tasked officials to reconvene quickly in 2+2 format to coordinate more closely on partnering and delivering for the region.
Ministers reaffirmed their unwavering commitment to the regional architecture with the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) at its apex. They highlighted the importance of ‘PIF Centrality’ and working through the PIF and other Pacific-led regional organisations to deliver on regional priorities as articulated in the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent and its Implementation Plan. They further recognised the importance of amplifying Pacific priorities globally. To this end, Australia and New Zealand are committed to supporting the PIF Chair, bolstering Pacific engagement and advocating for Pacific interests in multilateral fora. Ministers committed to continue working with other partners, including through the Partners in the Blue Pacific, to ensure we are listening and responding to Pacific priorities, and delivering for the region.
PIF Leaders have recognised climate change as the single greatest existential threat to the Blue Pacific, and the single greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and wellbeing of the peoples of the Pacific. Australia and New Zealand are committed to amplifying the collective Pacific voice, and to taking action to address climate change and its impacts, at home, in the Pacific, and globally. Ministers agreed to work in close alignment as we work with the Pacific. They welcomed the outcomes of the inaugural Australia-New Zealand Climate and Finance Ministers’ 2+2 held in Wellington on 8 June 2023 and the scope for cooperation as both countries reduce emissions, build resilience to the impacts of climate change, and continue their energy transitions.
Ministers noted Pacific priorities for more targeted climate financing solutions that respond to specific needs of the region, are committed to contributing capital to the Pacific Resilience Facility as a Pacific-led Facility that will build climate and disaster resilience, and welcomed Australia’s commitment to contribute a foundational AUD $100 million. They agreed on the critical need to collaborate in support of Pacific needs and priorities – including adaptation to the adverse impacts of climate change and addressing loss and damage, stronger energy security, climate-resilient infrastructure, and better access to climate finance. Ministers agreed to work together to support Tuvalu’s Coastal Adaptation Project (TCAP), a key climate change priority under Tuvalu’s long-term adaptation plan. Australia is contributing AUD $16.9 million to the next phase of TCAP, which is critical to protect the lives, livelihoods and culture of Tuvaluans in the face of climate change.
Ministers highlighted the Revitalised Pacific Leaders’ Gender Equality Declaration. Ministers agreed that an appropriately resourced, coordinated and inclusive approach to gender equality and social inclusion and human rights will help achieve the vision for a resilient Pacific Region of peace, harmony, security, social inclusion and prosperity.
Building on the PIF Leaders’ approval of the Pacific Quality Infrastructure Principles, Ministers agreed for Australia and New Zealand to continue to advocate to and engagement with the World Bank and Asian Development Bank to promote transparent, high-quality development. This includes the use of competitive procurement focused on value for money and strong development outcomes, with a focus on generating local employment and benefits, social and environmental outcomes, and strengthened climate resilience.
Ministers agreed to continue working together to ensure the long-term viability of retail banking across the Pacific. Ministers acknowledged close cooperation on the upcoming Pacific Banking Forum would be important for banking services to continue, thereby facilitating regional trade and flows of remittances and investment.
Ministers reflected on the long tradition of collective Pacific responses in meeting regional security needs, including under the Biketawa Declaration and the expanded concept of security under the Boe Declaration on Regional Security. They agreed that transparent, inclusive decision-making with regional partners was critical to addressing regional priorities, with the PIF leading the region. Ministers reaffirmed support for a regional approach to security in the Pacific and committed to deepen cooperation to support regional peace and security.
Ministers noted the strong Pacific-led regional support to Solomon Islands’ successful hosting of the 2023 Pacific Games, and Australia and Fiji’s support to New Zealand in the wake of TC Gabrielle. Ministers discussed how Australia and New Zealand can collaboratively support the new Pacific Policing Initiative on ready response being led by the Pacific Islands Chiefs of Police, and committed to strengthening Pacific policing through enhanced support for equipment, training and infrastructure. Ministers also noted they look forward to working alongside the South Pacific Defence Ministers’ Meeting (SPDMM) members to develop new regional initiatives, including the Defence Pacific Response Group. New Zealand will host SPDMM in Auckland later this year. They also agreed to continue close cooperation to enhance and promote regional cyber resilience with our Pacific partners.
Ministers reaffirmed their longstanding commitment to provide humanitarian assistance to the Pacific if needed following disasters, and to improve regional disaster preparedness and response capabilities in partnership with Pacific countries. Ministers discussed Australia’s contribution of AUD $53 million and New Zealand’s planned support to the Pacific Community to implement the Pacific Humanitarian Warehousing Program, which aims to save lives by enabling Pacific-led responses either immediately before or in the first 48 hours following a disaster.
Ministers looked forward to Samoa hosting the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in October 2024, the first time a Pacific island country has hosted CHOGM. They looked forward to standing with Samoa to welcome Commonwealth leaders to the Pacific, and to hold a successful meeting under the theme ‘One Resilient Common Future: Transforming our Common Wealth’. New Zealand and Australia commit to providing support to Samoa’s hosting of CHOGM, including through security and operational assistance.
New Zealand looks forward to hosting the second ANZMIN 2+2 in 2025.