Australia: Diplomatic Relations

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Office – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 4th September 2018.

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Photo of Maggie Throup Maggie Throup Conservative, Erewash 12:00 am, 4th September 2018

What steps the Government are taking to strengthen diplomatic relations with Australia.

Photo of Harriett Baldwin Harriett Baldwin Minister of State (Department for International Development) (Jointly with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office), Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Joint with the Department for International Development)

Australia is one of our closest bilateral partners, and diplomatic relations are excellent. In July, we held our 10th annual ministerial talks, where we agreed to strengthen foreign, security and trade relations. The Prime Minister spoke to Australia’s new Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, on 27 August.

Photo of Maggie Throup Maggie Throup Conservative, Erewash

I welcome the fact that the first major summit attended by the Foreign Secretary on his appointment was his and the Defence Secretary’s meeting with their Australian counterparts. Will he update the House on the progress made in preparing a free trade deal between our two countries?

Photo of Harriett Baldwin Harriett Baldwin Minister of State (Department for International Development) (Jointly with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office), Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Joint with the Department for International Development)

I am sure the whole House will want to welcome Australia’s purchase of nine Type 26 frigates from the UK, which is a significant defence export and means that we have the “Five Eyes” frigate with our friends in Australia.

The UK-Australia trade working group is meeting regularly to lay the foundations for future free trade negotiations. Indeed, there is a public consultation so that the public can express their opinions.

Photo of Mike Gapes Mike Gapes Labour/Co-operative, Ilford South

Does the recent removal of the Prime Minister of Australia have any lessons for this country?

Photo of Harriett Baldwin Harriett Baldwin Minister of State (Department for International Development) (Jointly with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office), Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Joint with the Department for International Development)

I am sure that diplomatic relations between the UK and Australia, despite the changes the Australians have had at their end, will endure with the stability of this Government.