Joint Statement by Prime Minister Abbott & Prime Minister Key
Prime Minister the Hon Tony Abbott MP and Prime Minister the Rt Hon John Key met in Sydney on 7 February 2014 for the annual Australia-New Zealand Leaders’ Meeting, followed by the third joint meeting of Australian and New Zealand Cabinet Ministers.
The Prime Ministers reaffirmed the unique nature of the trans-Tasman relationship. We are committed to working together as closely as possible to strengthen our relationship for the benefit of Australians and New Zealanders. Geography, our shared history, and our cooperation in peace and in war have made our two countries very close. No other bilateral relationship has the same immediacy and commonality as the links between Australia and New Zealand. We share common values, including a strong commitment to democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. Together we have achieved deep economic and social integration.
Prime Minister Abbott warmly welcomed the substantial New Zealand business delegation which accompanied Prime Minister Key, noting its involvement would further deepen economic and business links. The broad composition of the delegation reflects the depth and breadth of the economic relationship.
Prime Minister Key thanked Prime Minister Abbott for the invitation for New Zealand to join the G20 table in Brisbane in November 2014. Australia’s G20 Presidency will focus on strengthening private sector-led economic growth and employment, and on making the global economy safer. We will be working together to deliver actions that boost trade, investment, infrastructure and jobs. We will take measures to ensure that multinational companies pay their fair share of tax and to strengthen the global financial system. Prime Minister Abbott welcomed the expertise New Zealand will bring. The Brisbane G20 Leaders Summit is both a responsibility and an opportunity for our two nations to shape the global economic agenda for the benefit of all countries.
The Prime Ministers looked forward to Australian and New Zealand businesses working together, particularly to advance trade and economic reform through the G20. Prime Minister Abbott invited New Zealand to participate in the B20, including as part of the B20 organising committee. The Prime Ministers agreed an Australasia Business Week, showcasing the Australasian economy to the world, would be held immediately prior to the B20 summit in Sydney in July, which will involve over 400 leading CEOs from G20 economies.
Fittingly for a relationship forged on the battlefield and the sporting field, Australia and New Zealand will commemorate the Centenary of ANZAC and co-host the Cricket World Cup in 2015. The ANZAC tradition has been a hallmark of our relationship and continues today in the form of close defence and security cooperation. A New Zealand vessel will participate in the first major commemorative event in Albany, Western Australia, on 31 October-2 November, marking the 100th anniversary of the departure of the first convoy of ships which carried the Australian and New Zealand troops to the First World War. The Prime Ministers announced that the Australian Memorial in the National War Memorial Park in Wellington would open on 20 April 2015. They asked their Ministers to continue to work together towards a legacy which will carry ANZAC cooperation into the future.
Australians and New Zealanders have always been ready to help each other in an hour of need. Prime Minister Abbott said Australians were deeply appreciative that over 40 New Zealander fire-fighters are helping to contain bush fires which are still burning in remote national parks in Victoria. Prime Minister Key acknowledged the role Australian companies are playing in the Christchurch rebuild following the 2011 earthquake.
Continuing Trans-Tasman Cooperation
Australia and New Zealand share one of the closest economic partnerships in the world. The Closer Economic Relations agreement, which marked its 30th anniversary last year, is the foundation of this partnership. It has allowed our businesses to deliver enormous benefits for both countries. We took a number of positive steps towards further economic integration in 2013, including setting higher thresholds for trans-Tasman investment not requiring regulator approval, introducing measures to enable people moving across the Tasman to take their superannuation with them, a single patent attorney regime to drive innovation, and arrangements to make resolving civil disputes between people in both countries simpler, cheaper and more efficient.
Underlining their commitment to making sure the economic relationship fulfils its potential, the two governments have agreed on a way to take forward the joint Productivity Commissions’ report on strengthening trans-Tasman economic relations. The Prime Ministers said this work would boost productivity, increase competitiveness and deepen economic integration between the two countries. Breaking down barriers to trans-Tasman commerce and travel has the potential to free businesses and citizens to pursue opportunities in both markets and the broader Indo-Pacific region. The Prime Ministers committed to review progress on implementing the report’s recommendations at the next Leaders’ meeting in 2015.The Prime Ministers noted that mutual recognition of imputation credits would be referred to Australia’s Tax Reform White Paper.
Strong knowledge links bind the two countries together. The Prime Ministers agreed that it was critical that Australia and New Zealand work together as partners in research, innovation and creativity to meet the challenges of the future, create jobs and generate prosperity. They welcomed work to align the Australian and New Zealand qualifications frameworks, advancing a Single Economic Market and boosting the mobility of students and skilled labour between the two countries.
The Prime Ministers welcomed progress on work to set up a mechanism to share data to assist New Zealand to recoup unpaid student loans in Australia, with the option of New Zealand providing reciprocal assistance should Australia adopt an overseas-based borrower regime in the future. Prime Minister Key welcomed Prime Minister Abbott's confirmation that Australia would extend access to student loans under the Higher Education Loan Program to long-term New Zealand residents in Australia under terms announced last year.
Reflecting the many close economic, social and community bonds which bring the two countries together, over two million Australians and New Zealanders travel between the two countries every year. The Prime Ministers underlined the importance of ensuring that travel across the Tasman is as seamless and trouble-free as possible. Noting that eligible New Zealand and Australian citizens can use SmartGates in New Zealand for both arrivals and departures, Prime Minister Key welcomed Prime Minister Abbott’s commitment to the expansion of Australia’s SmartGate network for arrivals and a trial of automated departure gates at Brisbane Airport, which will commence in July 2014 focussing on trans-Tasman flights.
The Prime Ministers agreed to allow international visitors attending the Cricket World Cup in 2015 to apply for a visa only once in order to be granted entry to both Australia and New Zealand. For the duration of the Cup, visitors would apply for a trans-Tasman visa based on existing Australian rules. The Prime Ministers asked officials to prepare a detailed plan for putting this arrangement in place as soon as possible.
The Prime Ministers agreed to continue to work together, and with other regional partners, to counter people-smuggling networks. Maintaining public confidence in our respective immigration programmes requires ensuring the integrity of our borders.
Efficient and affordable communications are essential in driving economic and social links to another level. Trans-Tasman mobile roaming charges have declined substantially since the release of the final report of a trans-Tasman joint investigation in February 2013. Noting that these charges remain high compared to equivalent domestic services, the Prime Ministers agreed they would continue work to provide respective regulators additional tools to use in this area, if required.
With significant broadband investments in Australia and New Zealand, the Prime Ministers agreed to increase the dialogue between the two countries on enhanced digital commerce, e-government services, and leveraging the opportunities presented by high-speed broadband. They noted that many New Zealanders and Australians today validate their identities securely, using a range of online identity services, for sensitive transactions such as accessing social services and bank and health records . They agreed to investigate the option of a mutual recognition agreement to enable trusted online identities to be accepted in both countries.
The Prime Ministers asked officials to review developments in the therapeutics sector with a renewed focus on harmonisation, deregulation, streamlined market approvals and reducing costs to business.
The Prime Ministers welcomed the close collaboration between New Zealand’s Health Research Council and the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia to advance the joint rheumatic fever vaccine project.
The two Prime Ministers welcomed work to increase reciprocal criminal history data sharing for border control and criminal investigation purposes.
Australia and New Zealand coordinate closely to support the return of democracy in Fiji. The Prime Ministers welcomed the appointment of Fiji’s Electoral Commissioners on 9 January and reiterated their commitment to continue to work with Fiji as it moves forward to elections in 2014.
Australia and New Zealand are key partners in supporting the Bougainville Peace Agreement, including assisting Papua New Guinea and the Autonomous Bougainville Government to ensure the referendum on independence takes place peacefully. This year we will cooperate on an operation to reduce the threat of unexploded ordnance in Bougainville.
The Prime Ministers discussed issues likely to be considered at the Pacific Islands Forum in Palau later this year. Australia and New Zealand broadly support the ambitious vision put forward in the recent review of the Pacific Plan, including a sharper focus on key regional issues requiring direction from Leaders.
The Prime Ministers welcomed the substantial progress towards the timely conclusion of the PACER Plus negotiations, as well as other initiatives that will enhance regional integration and lead to greater economic prosperity in the Pacific.
Although the Pacific is the region in which Australia and New Zealand work most closely together, Australia and New Zealand have a wider stake in regional and global issues. Australia and New Zealand remain committed to building peace and security in Afghanistan through training the Afghan National Security Forces. Both countries are contributing to international humanitarian efforts to help the millions of people affected by the conflict in Syria, and to work to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons.
The Prime Ministers expressed their shared commitment to concluding the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations as soon as possible to deliver on the promise of greater trade and economic integration around the Asia-Pacific. They underlined their expectation for a TPP Agreement that aligns with the objectives agreed by Leaders and Ministers in Honolulu in 2011, including high-quality market access commitments by all participants that eliminate tariffs and other barriers on TPP goods and services trade and investment. They reaffirmed that such an agreement would deliver substantial benefits, including for agriculture, manufactured goods and the services sector, and support growth and employment in these sectors.
The Prime Ministers welcomed the historic WTO agreement on Trade Facilitation reached in December 2013 which will make it easier and cheaper for goods to flow through the ports and customs processes of 160 countries. They expressed their hope that this outcome will re-energise the global trade negotiations to tackle important outstanding issues such as trade in agricultural products and the liberalisation of important services sectors vital to global economic growth.
Prime Minister Abbott reaffirmed Australia’s strong support for New Zealand’s United Nations Security Council bid which comes to a vote in October 2014, noting New Zealand would make a strong contribution to the work of the Council if elected.
Prime Minister Abbott warmly welcomed New Zealand’s support for Australia’s nomination of Dr Francis Gurry for a further term as Director-General of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). The Prime Ministers noted the close cooperation between the two countries on intellectual property issues, both in the context of the Single Economic Market and in international fora.
7 February 2014