Singapore PM to address Parliament ahead of defence, trade deals
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will welcome his Singaporean counterpart Lee Hsien Loong to Parliament House today as part of a three-day visit to Canberra.
The pair will formally sign off on a major expansion of the number of Singaporean soldiers based in Australia, as well as an updated free trade agreement.
Lee Hsien Loong will also address Federal Parliament this morning.
In an opinion piece published in the Australian Financial Review, Mr Turnbull said the visit marked the transformation of a relationship into “a partnership fit for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century”.
“Because Australians and Singaporeans work together so well, and because our economies are so complementary, we can achieve much together in our vibrant region,” Mr Turnbull said.
“In these times, a partnership between ‘the little red dot’ and ‘the wide brown land’ makes more sense than ever.”
Mr Turnbull and Mr Lee will hold a bilateral meeting before the address to Parliament.
Mr Turnbull said the updated free trade agreement would help drive “unprecedented” economic ties with the Asian nation.
“The agreement will improve mobility for business people, give better access to government procurement, open opportunities for the mutual recognition of qualifications, and make it easier for Singapore to invest in Australia,” Mr Turnbull said.
Defence deal made amid ‘great strategic shifts’: Turnbull
A $2.25 billion deal to provide greater access for Singapore’s armed forces to Australian training grounds will also be a key focus of the visit.
The number of Singaporean troops on rotation in Australia will increase from 6,000 to 14,000, with upgrades planned for Townsville and the Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area on the central Queensland coast.
The agreement comes as “great strategic shifts” emerge within the Asia Pacific region, Mr Turnbull said.
“Our decision to grant Singapore this special access signifies the respect that exists between our respective armed forces, and the bonds forged between them as they served together in East Timor, Afghanistan and in the skies over the Middle East.” Mr Turnbull said.
“It also reflects our commitment to do more as partners, as the Asian security scene brings new challenges to us both.”
Australian warships and planes have begun joint military exercises in the South China Sea with Singapore, Malaysia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.