Opening Remarks – Five Country Homeland Security Ministerial Meeting, California USA





22 JULY 2013

Honorable Janet Napolitano, Homeland Security Secretary, United States of America.

The Right Honourable Theresa May MP, Home Secretary, United Kingdom.

The Honourable Judith Collins MP, Minister of Justice, New Zealand.

The Honourable Steven Blaney MP, Minister Public Safety, Canada.

Twelve months ago I met with Secretary Napolitano in Washington DC and suggested we establish this group. This meeting is the result of that first discussion.

This is a very important forum that we are establishing today. We represent five countries that share the same values and interests, and very similar challenges.

Our Defence Secretaries and Ministers meet on a regular basis. So do our Attorneys-General. But until now, the Homeland Security Secretaries and Ministers of the ‘Five Eyes’ countries have not met as a group. It is very important that we do.

We’ve got very similar challenges. There is a lot we can learn from each other. And there is a lot we can do better by working more closely with each other.

Today’s agenda sets out some of these challenges – terrorism, violent extremism, organised crime and cyber security.

The events in Boston in April and Woolwich in May could have happened in any of our countries. This meeting is a good opportunity to examine those events and the lessons that have been learned.

The serious organised criminals that we are all hunting are also the same. Last year our law enforcement agencies met in Ottawa and compared the lists of their top 20 criminal targets. There were largely the same. The serious criminals that are targeting Australia are also targeting the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand.

That’s why the establishment of this group is so important. There is a lot we can learn from each other.

The reforms I am driving in Australia are based on best practice in our five countries. This includes the Blueprint for reform of the Customs and Border Protection Service, the establishment of the National Anti Gang Taskforce and the National Border Targeting Centre.

Some of the things we are currently doing on a bilateral basis can also be expanded across the Five Eyes countries. The work Australia is doing with New Zealand to exchange criminal history information for employment vetting purposes is just one example of that. Another is the expansion of our Smartgate border processing system to allow access to citizens of all our countries.

I’m looking forward to the discussion and the action arising from today.

And I hope this becomes an important part of our national security infrastructure.