February 02, 2012

New Zealand -- Anzac joint crisis unit abandoned

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd (middle) ...
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TRACY WATKINS Last updated 05:00 30/01/2012
New Zealand and Australia have stepped up co-operation on cyber security and counter-terrorism.
But both countries appear to have abandoned a proposal to create a joint ready-response force, with Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman yesterday signalling an Anzac unit was unlikely.
"We've got an arrangement now where we can co-ordinate a response in a quick and efficient manner, so if there is a crisis in the region which needs defence input we've got a mechanism for making that happen in the quickest and best possible way," Dr Coleman said.
The joint Anzac unit was proposed by former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd to cement ties between the two defence forces.
But an early approach by Australia to put the proposal to the test in Afghanistan was rebuffed here.
Prime Minister John Key revealed last year he had turned down a request for 20 to 50 New Zealand troops to join Australian soldiers in Uruzgan province.
A joint Cabinet meeting in Melbourne over the weekend allowed both governments to finalise plans for a step up in the relationship across a range of areas.
They included elevating New Zealand to member status on Australia's National Counter Terrorism Committee, on which it is now an observer, and also of its National Emergency Management Committee.
The moves underscore the extent to which both countries are increasingly working together across economic, trade and security issues, and come as they prepare to celebrate 100 years of the Anzac relationship in 2015.
Next year is also the 30th anniversary of the Closer Economic Relationship which aims to make transTasman business seamless.
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