Good afternoon, everyone.
It’s great to welcome you to Kirribilli.
This is a fitting location for today’s reception — overlooking Sydney Harbour, as it flows into the Pacific Ocean.
Because it’s there that Australian, Indian, Japanese and United States forces are participating in Exercise Malabar.
As I said in Mumbai in March, standing aboard INS Vikrant, it’s a privilege for Australia to host Exercise Malabar for the first time.
And, of course, I’m grateful to Prime Minister Modi for passing the baton to Australia.
It’s an important demonstration of the strength of the defence relationship between our countries.
It is a relationship that requires the will of nations, and also the courage of individuals – those who put on the uniform and serve in our name.
They know that the life they choose is not one without risk, but they serve their nations with honour and devotion, even in the face of danger.
We pause to remember the four Australian soldiers who lost their lives last month while taking part in Exercise Talisman Sabre.
Captain Danniel Lyon.
Lieutenant Maxwell Nugent.
Warrant Officer Class Two Joseph ‘Phillip’ Laycock.
Corporal Alexander Naggs.
Our thoughts are with their loved ones — and their friends and colleagues in uniform.
It was a tragic reminder that there are no easy days for those who serve.
We will remember them.
And I would like to thank those who assisted in the search effort.
Some of you are with us this afternoon.
I want you to be in no doubt of our gratitude — not only for your contribution to the search, but for all you do in the service of Australia.
And to our friends from India, Japan and the United States, we thank you for your service to your countries as well.
Because peace is not a gift.
It’s never a given.
It has to be built, defended and upheld.
The entry into force today of the Australia–Japan Reciprocal Access Agreement augments collective efforts to ensure regional stability and security.
Signalling and enabling closer defence cooperation between Japan and Australia, it is a timely measure to meet the challenges of our regional environment.
As champions for peace and prosperity in our region and the world, we must remain engaged.
That’s why Exercise Malabar is so important as an opportunity for our Defence Force to partner and train with others.
It brings the practical benefits of testing and improving the interoperability of our defence forces.
It’s a statement of collaborative action and collective responsibility.
US Secretary of Defence Lloyd. J. Austin has said that Exercise Malabar is a type of rare and precious cooperation.
I couldn’t agree more.
It’s an honour to be part of a venture so rare and so precious in our joint effort to preserve an open, stable and prosperous Indo–Pacific.