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House of Commons Hansard
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Australia: Diplomatic Relations
04 September 2018
Volume 646
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14. What steps the Government are taking to strengthen diplomatic relations with Australia. [906721]

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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.

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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?

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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.

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

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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.