For a while now defence officials and analysts on both sides of the Tasman have been looking for ways to re-energise the Australia-New Zealand relationship (56). It’s almost as if the two neighbours were becoming too comfortable with where things between them were at. Finding concrete measures hasn’t proven easy so far but some cause for optimism might be on the horizon; cooperation on amphibious operations could breathe new life into ANZAC links. But to do so, some obstacles will need to be cleared out of the way. The development of an amphibious capability is one of key themes of Australia’s new Defence White Paper (DWP). With the arrival of the LHDs, the ambition is to maintain ‘an enduring joint amphibious presence in the South Pacific’. For its part, New Zealand is prioritising the development of a Joint Amphibious Task Force by 2015. Wellington’s 2011 Defence Capability Plan (2) tells us that the Task Force will be designed primarily for ‘responding to security tasks and defence tasks in New Zealand and its environs, security challenges to New Zealand’s interests in the South Pacific, and challenges to New Zealand and Australia’s common security concerns’.
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Robert Ayson is director of the Centre for Strategic Studies at Victoria University of Wellington. Benjamin Schreer is a senior analyst at ASPI. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial.