New Defence Minister Senator Marise Payne made her first official visit to a Defence unit on 25 September, embarking in HMAS Canberra in Far North Queensland.
Along with Chief of Defence, Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin, Defence Secretary Dennis Richardson and Service Chiefs, Senator Payne visited the Amphibious Ready Element and met with some of the sailors, soldiers, airmen and airwomen training as part of the SEA SERIES of exercises.
“It’s been an amazing opportunity to see all three services in action,” Senator Payne said.
“This is an important opportunity in my first week as Defence Minister to see all three services and the work they do, particularly with the development of our amphibious capability.
“It is incredibly important for me to be able to convey a representation of the work being done by Australian Defence Force personnel,” she said.
Air Chief Marshal Binskin said being onboard Canberra during a major exercise was a great experience for a new minister.
“It’s a great chance for the Defence Minister to talk with everyone, experience a flight in an MRH-90 and E7-A Wedgetail and watch some of the landing craft activity,” Air Chief Marshal Binskin said.
“This is the future of the Australian Defence Force, with the men and women onboard Canberra living that future today.”
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade officials, as well as other government agencies, are supporting the Australian Defence Force to develop this amphibious capability in preparation for future humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations, as well as providing security within the region.
Chief of navy Vice Admiral Tim Barrett said the visit was extraordinarily important for the Defence Minister and a great way to spend her fourth day in office.
“Senator Payne has been a strong supporter of Defence for a long time through her involvement in parliamentary committees, and through today’s visit, has now seen a demonstration of our capability in action,” Vice Admiral Barrett said.
“For those men and women supporting the amphibious capability, be proud of what you have achieved.
“What you have delivered on over the course of the SEA SERIES of exercises has been extraordinary; for the capability and for the Australian Defence Force.
“What I find very encouraging is the single focus of what we are trying to achieve, even with the mix of people in the Amphibious Task Group.
“As Chief of Navy, I am delighted to see this and hope it improves even more over time.”
Vice Admiral Barrett also transferred across to HMAS Stuart to visit personnel on board, before inspecting exercise activities on land.