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Prime Minister of Australia

The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP

Address to the Trans-Tasman Business Circle

19 February 2016


Prime Minister



It's great to be here. John and Bronagh, Lucy and I are so thrilled that you're here in Sydney.

I know there's been a bit of speculation about the pyjama party, but I can assure you we're just going to have a quiet dinner and as John said a few reds – so very, very sedate.

Let me say that the relationship between our countries is as close as any relationship between two countries could be. We often say that New Zealanders and Australians are family and that is true. The linkages, the history is so intense and intertwined. You know, we share a history but we also share a destiny and what Anne Sherry said is absolutely right – we are looking to the same opportunities. We're looking in the same direction.

It is, it is the most exciting time to be an Australian. It is the most exciting time to be a New Zealander. Here we are, in the period of the most rapid change in the global economy. You know, John got in ahead of us with the China Australia Free Trade Agreement, Andrew Robb caught up and now we, the China New Zealand Free Trade Agreement, I should say and we caught up with our Free Trade Agreement but you know we're in a world where 40 years ago, as I was saying earlier today, China was barely part of the global economy. Now it is arguably the world's single largest economy.

We, in Australia, we have seen in a few years, just in a few years, mining investment peak at nearly 8 per cent of GDP. It's now around 3.5 per cent of GDP. Many people said now that would set the Australians back, that would be a major economic setback but look at the way our economy has adjusted.

Last year 301,000 new jobs, 90 per cent in the private sector. What does that tell you? It tells you that our economy is diverse. It tells you that Australians are entrepreneurial. It tells you that they're innovative, it tells you that the opportunities that we have opened up to these rapidly growing markets in Asia is enabling our economy to diversify. It is that diversity and resilience that is enabling us to adjust to this transition from a mining boom to what we call the Ideas Boom.

Because, my friends, we know full well and John Key knows this as well as any of us, we both understand that the most important capital in our countries is not under the ground, it's not growing in the ground; all of those things are important.

The most important capital is you, Australians and New Zealanders, your imagination, your enterprise, your determination to create new opportunities. It's that human capital and that's why the Ideas Boom, based on innovation, based on entrepreneurship, based on open markets, is one that is inexhaustible. It is limited only by our imagination, only by our enterprise.

And I believe that Australians and New Zealanders have this in common, despite some differences, as Ann described, we have this in common, that we are filled with imagination. We are innovators. We are hard workers and we recognise we have these formidable opportunities ahead of us and we're working together just as our forebears have done.

The ANZACs of today are working together as the ANZACs of a century ago did. Only a few months ago I was in the Middle East and I visited the training group in Taji – the Taskforce Taji – just outside of Baghdad and there you have Australians and New Zealanders training the Iraqi Army, training thousands of soldiers who have gone in to take on ISIL and were successful in driving ISIL out of Ramadi. A critically important win and I was proud to see those Kiwis and those Australians, those ANZACs, the ANZACs of today, working together there supporting the government of Iraq, fighting the terrorists who are a threat to us in the Middle East, at home, right around the world.

And when I met with the Prime Minister, he thanked me for the work that the Australians have done, he praised their contribution and he asked me to pass on those thanks for the contribution of the New Zealanders to John Key.

We're seen as being tied together, just as we're seen as an economic unity to so many other parts of the world, to so many investors.

Can I say to you, my friends, that the history, the history is a remarkable one. Ray Davison – Ray spoke to us earlier with a Welcome to Country and he reminded us of the Eora Nation, the original custodian, the custodians of this land. Ray thank you for that, thank you for that warm welcome and we acknowledge your forebears, your ancestors, your elders past and present, as we do.

But you know when we look across the Tasman, at the Maori people, the Indigenous inhabitant s of New Zealand, when, in this very harbour, in Sydney, in 1788 after the founding of the colony, when it was struggling, running out of food, it was Maori merchants, Maori entrepreneurs who were selling food to the struggling colony and I had a very interesting reminder of the intricate links of history that go back so far only the other day.

I met a woman, a young New Zealand woman, Maori woman, who introduced herself and her surname was Coromandel. I said "That's an interesting name. How did you come to be called Coromandel?" and she said "Well, my forebear was a Maori man who worked on a ship that was trading between New Zealand and Sydney in the early part, early years of the 19th century." As the trade went back and forth, providing the food that kept the struggling colony alive and here's the thing, my Turnbull forebears arrived and settled on the Hawkesbury River in 1802 and the ship that they came in was the Coromandel. So there it was 200 years of history, of linked history between the destiny of Australia, settlers in Australia, Maori people in New Zealand, hands across the Tasman, then and now. Yes, a shared history, but a shared destiny.

I'm delighted especially to now introduce John Key to you. John is an example for us all. He governs from the centre. He is, as Ann said, a man of business. He understands the importance of free markets. He understands that government's role is to enable business and citizens to achieve their dreams, enable people to do their best, rather than to tell them what is best and he has slowly or incrementally, as he said earlier today, made one economic reform after another that has built on New Zealand's prosperity to the point where now migration is actually, net migration, is heading back towards New Zealand and that is a very big turnaround in the Trans-Tasman relationship and it shows the strength of the New Zealand economy.

But what John has also done is shown that he is an innovator. He's prepared to move quickly and as is so often the case with New Zealand, has been able to do things simply and in many ways in a much more straightforward way than historically we have here.

I've always been a great admirer of New Zealand. We in Australia do not pay enough attention to New Zealand. Yes, as John would acknowledge, it's a smaller country, doesn't have state governments, it doesn't have an upper house. In many respects, it is not as complicated a system of government as our big, sprawling federation but whether we look at what they did with broadband, how they much better handled that than the way the NBN was set up by our predecessors, if we look at the way they moved quickly on crowdfunding, if they look at the way they moved quickly on free trade agreements, there's a lot to learn from New Zealand.

And above all, I think what John brings to New Zealand leadership is a practical optimism, a recognition that business needs leadership, business needs reform but it needs the confidence of knowing that there is a leader who understands the community, the business community, upon whose enterprise the prosperity of New Zealand depends.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is an honour to be here with John. He's a great role model for me and for any leader. He's a great New Zealander and a great, a great defender and promoter of our Trans-Tasman economic relationship.

Please welcome our friend, John Key, the Prime Minister of New Zealand.