Republic of Singapore Air Force to train at Australia's Pearce Airbase for another 25 years under new pact

AP-3C Orions  at the Pearce Airbase in Western Australia.
AP-3C Orions at the Pearce Airbase in Western Australia.PHOTO: DEFENCE.GOV.AU

SINGAPORE - The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) will train at the Pearce Airbase in Western Australia for another 25 years, under a new treaty signed at a high-level bilateral dialogue between Singapore and Australia on Monday (Aug 21).

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade was also inked at the 10th Singapore-Australia Joint Ministerial Committee (SAJMC) meeting, which was held at the Sofitel Sentosa hotel.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the biennial meetings. It is co-chaired by Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and his Australian counterpart Julie Bishop. The ministers for trade and defence of both countries are also attending the meeting.

The new treaty will enhance an existing memorandum of understanding that was signed in 1993 and expires in 2018.

On Monday, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen and Australian Minister for Defence Marise Payne signed the pact that will allow the RSAF to maintain and operate its Flying Training Institute in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base Pearce for another 25 years.

The signing was witnessed by Chief of Defence Force Perry Lim, Chief of Australian Defence Force Mark Binskin, and other senior defence officials from both countries. The treaty will be sent to the Australian Parliament for ratification.

During the meeting, Dr Ng and Ms Payne reaffirmed the close and longstanding bilateral defence ties between both countries.

They also welcomed the progress made by both sides in the five areas of defence cooperation under the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership  CSP), including the implementation of the MOU on Military Training and Training Area Development in Australia.

The RSAF also conducts helicopter training at the RAAF's Oakey Army Aviation Centre, fighter training at Darwin and Amberley in Queensland, and air grading at Tamworth in New South Wales.

The MOU on tourism cooperation was signed by Minister for Trade and Industry (Trade) Lim Hng Kiang and Mr Steven Ciobo, Minister of Trade, Tourism and Investment. It aims to improve cooperation in the following areas: tourism industry supply-side development, research partnerships and data sharing, sharing of tourism information and insights, among others.

Mr John Gregory Conceicao, STB's executive director for international relations and market planning and Oceania, said the MOU will help facilitate opportunities in investments and infrastructure enhancements for both countries. 

He said: "The MOU will bring about mutual benefits, with areas of cooperation including the sharing of insights to support tourism industry supply-side development, such as capability building and talent retention in the tourism industry."

At the joint press conference attended by the six ministers, they reviewed bilateral cooperation efforts, including the implementation of the CSP, which was signed in 2015.

They also exchanged views on international and regional political, economic and security developments.

The CSP was signed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and then Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott in 2015, and signalled an elevation in bilateral ties since the first SAJMC meeting in October 1996. 

The CSP aims to deepen economic integration, expand defence cooperation, jointly promote innovation and entrepreneurship, and strengthen people-to-people ties by facilitating tourism, cultural exchanges and educational opportunities. 

The Australian delegation will also call on Mr Lee and be hosted to lunch by Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean.

Later in the day, there will also be a Singapore-Australian high-level women's dialogue co-chaired by Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Second Minister for Foreign Affairs Josephine Teo.

The roundtable discussion will focus on the topic of women's representation on corporate boards, with about 10 participants from the public and private sectors on each side.