PM Turnbull shakes hands with PM Ardern

Press Conference with Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern MP, Prime Minister of New Zealand

02 Mar 2018
Kirribilli House, Sydney
Prime Minister
International and Trade


Well good morning. Welcome Prime Minister, it was great to welcome you and Clarke last night at our home for dinner last night and we had some good discussions here today.

The meeting demonstrates the strong and enduring partnership between Australia and New Zealand.

As I said in November, the enduring bond of friendships, partnership, of history between our two nations is like no other.

As we mark 100 years since the end of the Great War, we reflect on the long history of Australia and New Zealand fighting side-by-side in freedom's cause. We take this bond, forged in history, forward into the future.

In our discussions today we reconfirmed our commitment to doing all we can to ensure the North Korean regime is brought to its senses and stops its reckless and illegal threats of nuclear war.

We discussed the contribution Australia and New Zealand have made to the campaign against the Daesh and what future role we will play to support Iraq. We talked about the great work our soldiers are doing in Taji, training the Iraq defence forces and their police that are so important for keeping the peace in those cities and territories liberated from ISIL or Daesh. They’ve trained, our men and women there in Taji have trained over 30,000 Iraqi soldiers and armed police in that effort. It has really been very important and very much appreciated by the Iraqi government and Prime Minister Abadi in particular.

We've discussed and agreed on the need to respond to other emerging security threats, particularly in cyberspace. We're announcing the establishment of a new trans-Tasman announcement on cybersecurity, which will bring together the brightest minds from both sides of the Tasman to conduct transformative and leading research into cybersecurity.

We continue to work together very closely with our Pacific Island neighbours. For Australia's part, we've been stepping up our engagement. Did you know over 25 per cent of all our overseas development aid, is spent in the Pacific, that’s over $1 billion a year? Our $2 billion Pacific maritime security program, which is extensive, includes of course 22 new Pacific Patrol Boats, Guardian Class Patrol Boats being provided to 12 Pacific Islands. Of course, we will work hand-in-glove with the New Zealand,Prime Minister, on the implementation of other new initiatives under that agenda, including the establishment of the Australian Pacific Security College. That will deliver security and law enforcement training to Pacific island countries.

Of course, the threat of terrorism, international criminal syndicates, is forever present. We continue to enhance our information sharing across the region to improve our responses to threats of terrorism, transnational and organised crime.

But the Prime Minister has come with an enormous business delegation. Is it the largest ever?


It could well be. I’ll check, I’ll check the history books.


We’ll do a count later, but it's a big business delegation and it underlines our closer and closer economic integration.  That’s the bedrock of our two nations economic success; the success that’s involved reaching an agreement on the Trans Pacific Partnership, the TPP 11, being able to secure that commitment, notwithstanding the departure of the United States from the TPP, it's been a very, very good outcome. Very important for the future, as I was saying in Washington a little while ago.

In the Australia-New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement we have one of the most comprehensive economic integration mechanisms in the world. We are as close as can be, but we're getting closer. There's been significant progress in the single economic market agenda over the past year. We've ratified the Science and Innovation Treaty signed last year in Queenstown. For our part we have abolished outgoing passenger cards to ease Trans-Tasman travel and the Australia and New Zealand Infrastructure Pipeline continues to attract interest from outside the region to invest in infrastructure projects, on both sides of the Tasman. The Prime Minister and I are determined to drive that agenda forward.

We're also committed - each of us - to supporting Australian and New Zealand businesses large and small. The first leap into exporting, for the majority of small businesses in both our countries, is across the Tasman. So we’re committed to creating a Trans-Tasman environment that allows small businesses to thrive.

We want to ensure the Australia-New Zealand single economic market is and will remain fit for purpose in the digital age, so we have an e-commerce green lane strategy, to make it easier for small businesses in particular, to use the facility of the Internet and e-commerce to do business across the Tasman.

We have a lot to learn here in Australia, from New Zealand on promoting Indigenous businesses, Indigenous economic advancement. As I was saying to the Prime Minister a little while ago, we've made very considerable progress very recently, with our Indigenous Procurement Program at the federal level. I was saying, PM, we've gone from having $6 million a year being spent on procurement from Indigenous businesses, to over $600 million. That leadership has been followed by other governments, levels of government and of course by business. But we understand the Maori economy is booming in New Zealand, at around $50 to $100 billion New Zealand a year, a huge success. Of course, we're standing here on the shores of Sydney Harbour where when the British settlement in Sydney was really struggling in the very early years, it was enterprising Maori exporters who were shipping over the vital supplies that kept the colony going.

But I'm really pleased the Australia-New Zealand Leadership Forum is forming a sector group on Indigenous business, co-chaired by Traci Houpapa from New Zealand and Warren Mundine from Australia. That will provide a platform for pursuing initiatives of business-to-business and business-to-government levels to promote greater trade and investment.

Both last night and today we talked about ensuring that our cities are sustainable and liveable and about the role of technology in ensuring that. So recognizing we each have plenty to learn from each other, we’re going to hold a symposium on sustainable cities, sharing our respective experiences.

Finally, this is a very historic day in terms of renewable energy and hydropower, Prime Minister. You've come to Sydney today, we've announced today that the Australian Government is purchasing the shares of Victoria and New South Wales in Snowy Hydro.

The Snowy Mountains Scheme will be wholly-owned by the Commonwealth of Australia. It will be owned by the nation that built it. It's an extraordinary piece of engineering, one of the wonders of the world. It will deliver billions of dollars to Victoria and New South Wales for productive infrastructure, and as we build Snowy Hydro 2.0, which will be the largest pumped hydro scheme in the Southern hemisphere and one of the largest in the world, we will build that big hydro battery that will make renewables reliable. It’s a very, very exciting project.

We were discussing earlier, you have massive hydropower in New Zealand but you have a lot more rain and water too, so you're fortunate in that regard.


And wind.


And wind, that's right. So, It's a great pleasure to host you here today. The bond between our two countries is a strong and enduring one. I look forward to further strengthening that relationship, that partnership, that alliance, over the years to come. Prime Minister?


Thank you. Kia ora koutou katoa.

Thank you, Prime Minister, for that warm, warm welcome. I too will share a few introductory remarks, I'm going to expand on a few of them later at our exchange. We will both be delivering speeches - that’s me trying to create a drawcard for you to continue to listen to our dialogue and the outcomes of our meeting here today. Also, the exchange among the leadership forum.

I want to start by thanking you, Prime Minister, for hosting, or yourself and Lucy hosting Clarke and I last night for a very enjoyable evening. It's a delight to be back in Sydney again and we really appreciated the chance to have a more informal conversation and of course looking forward to hosting you in New Zealand. Although looking at this backdrop behind me, the Beehive Theatrette at Parliament doesn't quite create the same atmosphere but we will do our best to host you as warmly as you have hosted us.

I'm reminded as I look over the cityscape, we had a conversation last night around Smart Cities. There is so much for us to learn from one another. We ourselves are embarking on a huge building program and in some parts an urban regeneration program, where we no longer retrofit what a liveable city looks like but we masterplan it from the beginning. So those learnings around that we can create together, will be invaluable for us and I thank you for the opportunity to exchange information, ideas and dialogue on Smart Cities generally.

I do want to reinforce what the Prime Minister has said; there's no greater ally to New Zealand than Australia.

Both that can be seen through our economic links, our economies are the most integrated in the world, with strong trade and investment flows. We are equally, I believe, we are equally stronger together on the international stage. But as the Prime Minister said, there's always more that we can do and we'll be looking to build on that relationship and we'll speak more on that today as well.

But our relationship, as has been said, transcends normal dealings of governments. Unlike most of our international relationships, Australia is family in the truest sense of the word. It's something we often highlight, but that's because it forms the foundation of our relationship and our friendship; that bond that continues to benefit both countries our societies.

I would want to highlight as well, that that bond of course can turn into economic benefit as well. Australia's successful economy - there is no doubt - that there is room for our exporters to benefit further from that. As the Prime Minister has said, both countries have a large cohort of small and medium-sized enterprises who their first entry into the export market, will be in each other's country. Seventy-five per cent of our businesses that export, will generate income in Australia. There's much to be learned from that experience and equally much we can improve on with that experience too.

So we're looking forward to launching that work program between one another going forward for the next year and seeing what benefits we can reap from that work when we come together next.

So we look forward to capitalising on your strong economy Prime Minister, as equally I'm sure, your small businesses will anticipate doing with ours as well.

Equally, we benefit as business with those one-to-one exchanges, but our people do as well. Here in Australia, the New Zealand population on average works more and earns more than the national average. By virtue of that, are good, solid taxpayers too. I acknowledge equally the contribution Australian citizens make in New Zealand and it’s not something we take for granted, that contribution that Australian citizens make.

This morning though, to speak more specifically, as the Prime Minister has said, we discussed both of the final stages of the comprehensive and progressive Trans Pacific Partnership but equally trade agendas that involve both our nations going forward. The opportunities from the Trans-Tasman economic integration agenda - as I’ve mentioned and the Prime Minister has - our shared interest within our home region and of course our shared neighbourhood in the Pacific. Our backyard where equally, those strong friendships are incredibly important to both New Zealand and Australia.

Of course, we continue to discuss those issues were, from time to time, we may take different views and different perspectives, but the strength of our relationship is the fact that we can have those dialogues and it doesn't hinder the good work, we’re able to continue on with one another as well.

So without further ado, I’d imagine there will be questions amongst all of you and as again, I’ll expand on some of the points I’ve made a little later on this afternoon.


Very good. I think a question from the New Zealand team, is that right?


Sam, would you like to start?


Just a question about the Pacific in two parts, if I may. Firstly –


Directed at both?


To both Prime Ministers, how concerned are you about China’s growing influence or even interference in the Pacific and in our two countries? What work are you planning to do together to counter that?

Secondly, just to Prime Minister Turnbull, what are your thoughts of New Zealand’s plan for a Pacific reset and what role do you see Australia playing, either in terms of increased aid from your end or other support?


I’d speak – if I may Prime Minister - first more broadly; to the challenges within our Pacific region generally and those are broad and many. It would be remiss of us not to reflect the fact that within the Pacific, those challenges are as much environmental, climate, sea level rise, resource use, the threat to fisheries, transnational crime, globalization, distance, as much as anything else. It would be remiss if we narrowed our scope on the threats that sit within the Pacific, down to singular points. The point for us - both countries I would argue – we acknowledge is that addressing those challenges collectively brings collective strength. So we have discussed this morning the role we feel that we can play in creating a stronger Pacific, where we continue to advocate and amplify the voices of our Pacific neighbours and do so in partnership with them.


Good, thank you very much. In terms of Australia's engagement with the Pacific, Australia is by far the largest donor in the Pacific. By far. As I said, well over $1 billion a year, our engagement is more intense than it has ever been and we look forward to New Zealand stepping up as well. There is no question about our commitment and the dollars are there to demonstrate it.

In terms of investment in the Pacific, the issue is not the origin of the investment, but the nature and quality of it. So what we welcome is investment from any source, any nation, any Development Bank, on the basis that it is going to provide real value, supports good governance, has got a robust business plan and so forth. It's pretty straightforward.

We are providing a lot of infrastructure support in the Pacific, particularly in respect of adaptation to climate change and rising sea levels, increased storms and so forth, the impact on freshwater supplies, particularly in nations that are on coral atolls. But also as you know, we are engaged in the construction, we will be supporting the construction, of a sub-sea telecommunications cable between Australia, the Solomon Islands and PNG. That’s an example of transformative infrastructure in the Pacific, that Australia is supporting. The Maritime Security program is enormous, $2 billion including 22 Guardian class Pacific Patrol Boats which are being constructed in Australia.

In terms of foreign interference – and I think the Prime Minister and I are absolutely, and indeed the people of Australia and New Zealand -  are absolutely at one with this; it is critically important that the political destiny, political issues in our respective countries, are determined by our citizens. By Australians in Australia and New Zealanders in New Zealand.

What we are doing is ensuring, with changes to laws relating to foreign interference, making sure that foreign influence - those who seek to represent an advance the positions of foreign interests - do so transparently and straightforwardly, to ensure that we prohibit foreign donations to political parties and entities engaging in political campaigning in Australia.

All of that is designed to do no more than ensure our political processes and decisions, are taken by Australians for Australians.


To both Prime Ministers. You’re obviously very close allies and you’re also both close allies of the United States, but you take a very different approach to its nuclear weapons and those of your other allies. Prime Minister Ardern on Tuesday, you reaffirmed your country’s commitment to the Nuclear Prohibition Treaty which Prime Minister Turnbull, your Government is completely opposed to. Can you, Prime Minister Arden persuade Malcolm Turnbull and his Government to take that treaty more seriously, did you talk about it or would it be a distraction from the more pressing issue of North Korea?

To Prime Minister Turnbull, can you ever see a time where you could support a nuclear prohibition treaty?


I don't see our position or our advocacy of it as a distraction to issues on the Korean Peninsula. In fact, I think it probably enhances our position in terms of why we advocate in the direction that we do. It will be of no surprise to any Australian, that New Zealand has long taken a very firm stance on both nuclear proliferation and the existence of nuclear weapons generally. It's become a part of our identity as a nation, our strong stance on nuclear weapons. Almost to the point of it probably doesn't require restatement when we are on Australian shores, I think they understand our long-standing position in that regard. As I say, I think it probably positions us well in an international environment, both to be advocates, but it also gives us some credibility in talking about our rationale and our perspective on nuclear issues.

We will continue to be advocates around nuclear prohibitions. We are seeking to expedite the ratification of that agreement, but that's obviously a domestic matter for us and one that we advocate internationally, not in any one particular territory or with any one particular leader.


Did you talk about it during your talks today?


I think the Prime Minister already probably knows New Zealand's decades-long stance on the issue.


I think the difference, it’s a difference in perspective as much as anything else. Let me be very clear about this; Australia is and indeed New Zealand is, as allies of the United States, the beneficiary of the extended nuclear deterrence of the United States. As part of ANZUS, we benefit from that.

These are dangerous times. Our focus right now - and I think we are totally as one on this - is in doing everything we can, to prevent and arrest nuclear proliferation. The most stark example is in North Korea, where we are working together with our allies - and indeed with partners, international partners, including China, all the members of the United Nations - in seeking to enforce strict economic sanctions on North Korea, to bring that regime to its senses.

The denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula is a vitally important goal we are all working towards.

So in terms of the treaty that you referred to, the prohibition treaty, the weakness of it from our perspective, is that the nuclear powers are not a party to it. We work internationally to prevent proliferation. We clearly - all of us, everyone - would like to aspire to a world which is free of nuclear weapons. But we have to focus in the here and now, that’s our perspective, in a very clear-eyed and pragmatic way, on preventing proliferation whether it's in the Korean Peninsula or elsewhere. In doing so, we obviously have to work very closely with the existing nuclear powers, including our great ally the United States.


Of course nothing about our position precludes us from equally pursuing the sanctions that the Prime Minister spoke of, which have been a critical part of the response to North Korea, which New Zealand has done with vigor.


To Prime Minister Turnbull in particular? I’d like a comment from both.


I understand you get me later Barry, so go ahead.


Fire away.


Prime Minister Turnbull, in your view, I know it’s legal, but is it wrong to deport citizens, New Zealand citizens, from Australia to New Zealand when a number of them have never set foot in our country and their so-called citizenship is about as sound as Barnaby Joyce’s was.


Well, the answer to your question is yes. There is a right of appeal which a number of the deportees take up. I was just advised earlier today, we were both advised that just a little bit under 40 per cent of those appeals are successful. So we have a process. This is in accordance with Australian law and the process is a fair and just one.


Is it moral?


Yes, I said yes.


What about Prime Minister Ardern, how do you feel?


As we’ve spoken about many times before Barry, I absolutely accept that the Australian Government is well within their rights to exercise their deportation policy as they have. We have raised - and have again today -


You’ve got some fans out there, Prime Minister. You should wave to them.


I think that might be a boatload of Kiwis, perhaps. They’re having lots of fun.


Spending good money here in Sydney as well.

Look, I've raised again, as we have on previous occasions, elements of the deportation policy that have in particular been bought to our attention. Where for instance, someone who has never stepped foot in New Zealand it’s something we have been keen to make sure the Australian Government is aware of our perspective on that and our strength of feeling around it. But ultimately it is in the Australian Government’s hands to determine how they manage that element of policy.


If I could just add Barry, it doesn't just apply to New Zealanders by the way. It applies to people who are not Australian citizens, who have committed offences of a serious kind. They are subject to deportation.

We entirely understand how keen an issue it is in New Zealand. But it is our sovereign right, as it is yours, to determine whether and in what circumstances non-citizens can remain within our borders, or yours in New Zealand.


But is that how you would treat family, Prime Minister? When you say we’re so close and yet these people coming back to New Zealand are committing crimes in our country. They are seen as a risk here they are no less a risk in New Zealand. So is this how you treat family? 


Well Barry, I think you should start conducting some of the appeals. You’re very persuasive, obviously. But look, it is our fundamental right - as Prime Minister Ardern has just acknowledged - and we enforce our laws to assert our sovereignty and ensure that people who are not Australian citizens who commit serious offences, are deported. It does not just apply to New Zealanders, it applies to all non-citizens full stop.


A question for both Prime Ministers, Prime Minister Ardren, the last time you were here at Kirribilli House, you both indicated that the New Zealand offer to take refugees or asylum seekers from Manus and Nauru would be considered once the US deal had been dealt with. People are being resettled in the US now, so did it feature in your discussions today? Where are those discussions it? And specifically Ms Ardern, are you concerned that harm is being done to people in the meantime?


Well, the position is that we have a resettlement program underway with the US. Close to 200 have been resettled in United States and it’s ongoing. So we are looking to complete that.

We thank the New Zealand Prime Minister for restating the offer that was made many years ago by John Key to Julia Gillard, but we are focused on completing the much larger arrangements with the US. So we will do that, we’ll take that process through to its completion and then we can consider other options.


And from New Zealand’s perspective, the status quo remains, the offer remains.


It’s going to be a long time, are you not concerned that harm is being done to the people while you wait?


That’s an assumption around the timeline. That’s something that Australian officials will be more privy to than I. But as I say, the offer remains and it’s essentially the status quo in that regard.


Thank you, let me make this final point about border protection. We had a shocking experience under the previous government where there were 50,000 unlawful arrivals. People smugglers were in large part in charge of Australia's migration policy. There were 1,200 people who died at sea, at least.

It was a shocking state of affairs.

The people that are on Manus and Nauru were located there by the previous government. We came back into government in 2013, reinstated the tough measures of John Howard's era and under Prime Minister Abbott and Immigration Minister Scott Morrison, now succeeded by Peter Dutton. Those measures have been successful and it enables us to say that we are in control, our nation is in control, of our nation’s borders.

We are resettling people from Manus and Nauru. There are no longer any kids in detention in Australia. Thousands were put in detention when the borders were insecure, right.

So all of those have been changed and we are now able to take 18,000 refugees a year, in addition to which we’ve also taken 12,000 refugees from the Syrian conflict zone.

We’re able to do that because we are in charge of our borders and not the people smugglers.

We are not going to hand Australia's borders, Australia's migration, back to the people smugglers.

That’s our commitment and I have to tell you, there is nothing humane about people drowning at sea.

Thank you all much.