Press Conference - Sydney

10 Jun 2022
Prime Minister, Prime Minister of New Zealand

ANTHONY ALBANESE, PRIME MINISTER OF AUSTRALIA: Thank you very much for joining us. And I'm delighted to welcome Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, to be meeting with her here in Sydney today. And we had a wonderful dinner together last night and got to see Vivid across our beautiful harbour. And I can't think of anything better than the first foreign leader to welcome to Australian shores being our friend from New Zealand, and my personal friend from New Zealand as well. I thank the Prime Minister once again for calling me even before I'd been declared on the Saturday night on the way to the Canterbury-Hurlstone Park RSL. It says something about the relationship, the fact that Jacinda could ring my mobile on the way to that event. It is, of course, a relationship between our two countries as family and fittingly next year we will commemorate 80 years of diplomatic relations and 40 years of our ground-breaking Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement, one of the first, and indeed still the best, Open Trade Agreements in the world that we have seen. The Prime Minister and I are determined to take Trans-Tasman relations to a new level. A new level of cooperation in the mutual interests of both of our nations. What that means is new jobs, new growth, new opportunities to cooperate. Both in terms of our economy, and we had substantial discussions last night, but also this morning about that, but also in the way that we act on the international stage, because essentially we agree on our world view and we can take that position forward. Together, we face global challenges of a changing climate, economic headwinds, a more insecure regional circumstance that we have to deal with strategic competition in the region. And we're determined to work together on global security, but also on the economic security that people need. And also recognising that the challenge of climate change is, of course, also a national security challenge, as well as being a challenge for our natural environment, but also an opportunity for us to grow jobs and increase economic activity. Australia and New Zealand are also very proud Pacific nations. And we value the relations that we have with our Pacific partners very deeply. Our approach is based upon respect, transparency and, and engagement with Pacific institutions. And we will gather, of course, at the Pacific Island Forum in Fiji in July, together. Prime Minister Ardern and I discussed climate change and the ambitious action that my Government will take. We will submit, I can confirm today, that we'll submit an updated nationally determined contribution to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change soon. I'm very happy to welcome the Prime Minister here today.

JACINDA ARDERN, PRIME MINISTER OF NEW ZEALAND: Kia ora koutou katoa, ngā mihi nui kia koutoum (Hello to everyone. Thank you for the warm welcome). And thank you Prime Minister, for your comments and thank you again for your warm hospitality that you showed myself and our team and also myself yesterday evening as well. I want to again, in this environment, to have the opportunity to congratulate you on your election success, which, of course, was really only very recent. But much, of course, has happened even in that short intervening period. It is both humbling, but also very fitting to be the first foreign head of government to be here in Australia meeting with you in your new role. And I think it is indicative of the relationship that New Zealand and Australia share. There are no two countries that I can think of that have a closer relationship than ours. And when I say that we are family, I mean it very sincerely. We've had very free flowing and productive talks today. We've covered, as the Prime Minister has said, a wide range of topics, and in my mind the discussions really represented the opportunity for a reset. And I felt that in the dialogue that we had today. We agreed that both our countries are stronger when we work together, and the number of areas in which we have the opportunity to do that are significant. As the Prime Minister has already said, climate change is a global issue, one that is writ large in our region. And we are very eager to work alongside our Pacific partners on this significant threat, the number one threat in the eyes of our Pacific neighbours in our region. Within our region also, there was a lot of discussion about our desire to work on the priorities of the Pacific together, which is a very specific approach that we've articulated, that it is very much about the partnership approach within the region. We talked about our response to Russia's unprovoked attack on Ukraine and the importance of us upholding an international rules-based order and the current environment. We talked about the Christchurch Call, particularly it was an opportunity for me to reflect a little bit on recent progress and the progress we hope to take in the future. We're very appreciative of the fact that Australia, of course, is a member of the Christchurch Call to Action. And we actually had the opportunity to briefly discuss Indigenous policy, particularly given the emphasis that the recently elected Government here has placed on those issues. And we're keen to continue to talk together about our shared experience in that regard. New Zealand has a lot of progress and work we have to do. I find in those journeys it's always a welcome opportunity to share notes. I was also heartened by the acknowledgement of New Zealand's significant interests in respect of the treatment of New Zealanders here in Australia. And of course, what I heard was a real awareness of some of the issues that we've long raised, a longstanding expectation that Australia not deport individuals who have lived in Australia for a long time and are essentially Australians, but also ensuring there is a realistic and secure pathway to permanent residence and citizenship for those who need it in Australia as well. These are not new issues in the relationship. But this is a new Government. And so, of course, we want to allow the time to work through those issues. And I have no doubt we'll have the opportunity to discuss them again in the near future. Till then, we've really appreciated this opportunity, the chance to catch up in a time where I've never seen a time where it is more important to have friends than it is now. So, thank you again, Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER OF AUSTRALIA: Thank you. Happy to take questions.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, Jessica Mutch McKay from Television New Zealand. On the issue of 501s, when will we see change? And will we see a system that's fair and reasonable for New Zealanders?

PRIME MINISTER OF AUSTRALIA: Well, we'll be maintaining Section 501. But we've heard the very clear message from the Prime Minister today, as I've heard before. And there could be no argument that the Prime Minister has been very forceful in her views, and we have listened to those views. We will work through some of those issues between now and we'll have a Ministerial meeting, a Leader's meeting, coming next month. And we'll work through with our department, work through the implementation of the way that Section 501 has been dealt with. But we've listened to the concerns and there's more work to do.

PRIME MINISTER OF NEW ZEALAND: Sorry, who is next in the pecking order?

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister Albanese, a follow up on that please. Can you confirm that you're considering putting in a ministerial direction to ensure that the time the person's been in Australia is taken into account and New Zealand special immigration matters? And can you rule out reintroducing the strengthening the character test program?

PRIME MINISTER OF AUSTRALIA: I can do no such thing. Because what we won't do is deal with policy without going through proper processes. I intend to run an orderly Government. And I've made that point very clear. Prime Minister Ardern has put forward, in a strong way, as she has before. We have discussed these issues previously when I had a different title. Prime Minister Ardern’s concerns are very clear. We'll work them through in an orderly way. I've said that Section 501 would be maintained, but if you look at the comments that I made as Opposition Leader, I stand by them that Section 501 should be maintained. But there is also concerns have been raised that need to be taken into consideration. As friends, we deal with each other in a mature and way. Which deals as well with common sense. And what's clear is that if people look at some of the cases that have been held, it's not surprising that the Prime Minister would make the strong representations that she had, because I would be if I was in the same position.

JOURNALIST: With climate change, do you welcome the new position from the view by the Government of 43 per cent target to cut emissions? Should that be higher, in your view? Mr. Albanese on this Snowy Hydro project, a blow out in the timeframe to that, are you realistically not going to be able to make 43 per cent?

PRIME MINISTER OF NEW ZEALAND: Look, from our perspective we've always been very careful of the fact that we have to make sure that we have our own house in order. So, when it comes to the domestic policies of another nation, as in regards to climate change, whilst it is a matter for them, of course New Zealand is heartened and welcomes the ambition that has been expressed by the new Government here in Australia. Because it is good for our region and good for the world when we work collaboratively on this extraordinary challenge. The Pacific region has listed climate change as its number one threat. And that is not out of symbolism. It is out of the reality that right now we already see the considerable effects of coastal erosion, of severe weather events and of displacement in our backyard. So, it's incumbent on us to do our bit. I know, with regards to New Zealand, we have a lot more to do, but we welcome being joined on that journey by Australia.

PRIME MINISTER OF AUSTRALIA: And I say this, when I have met with international leaders, including Prime Minister Ardern, it's like Australia has gone out of the naughty corner. We've been in the naughty corner for nine years. And the consequences of that, we are feeling right now with the energy crisis that is here in this country, with the failure to invest in renewables, with the failure to actually deliver on the change that is required, and the result of that is pressure on cost of living, less jobs, less economic activity as a result of the failure to invest, which is a direct result of the fact there's been no policy certainty when it comes to climate change and what is necessary. So, we have again been confronted by a position on Snowy Hydro where the previous Government had said that Snowy Hydro should be up and running effectively around about this time. We now know that there'll be a blow-out. This isn't surprising given the Government on a range of areas, the former Government, whether it be fiscal positions, whether it be delivery of projects, it was always about the announcement, never about the delivery, and we see that with Snowy Hydro, and indeed Snowy Hydro wasn't due to be plugged into the grid when it was ready to be opened, according to the previous Government's timetable. We need to fix transmission in this country to bring it up to the 21st century. We have a plan to do that. We intend delivering on that plan, including delivering on 43 per cent reductions by 2030.

PRIME MINISTER OF NEW ZEALAND: Emma Cropper from Newshub New Zealand. What do you think of New Zealand's response to the rise of China in the Pacific? And would you like to see New Zealand do more?

PRIME MINISTER OF AUSTRALIA: We're in lockstep on the Pacific. And I look forward to working with Prime Minister Ardern, working with our democratic neighbours. We're all a part of the Pacific. They're our partners. And at the Pacific Island Forum, I very much look forward to working not just with New Zealand but our other Pacific partners on making sure that we defend national sovereignty, that we look at ways in which we can increase development. We had a very comprehensive plan we took to the election. It includes over half a billion dollars of foreign aid. It includes planning to train for defence. It includes our climate and infrastructure partnership, including funding, broadcasting and having a presence in the Pacific as well. A voice of Australia through changing the cuts that were made to the ABC's presence in the region, increased parliamentary engagement, but importantly as well, the position on climate change means that when I've spoken with the leaders in the Pacific, which I have. And in coming days, I'll be meeting with the leadership of the Cook Islands as well. We are taken seriously now. You can't have a circumstance whereby you have the former Defence Minister and now Leader of the Opposition standing around and people making jokes about people drowning. Our Pacific neighbours and partners don't think that's funny. What they do is see that Australia wasn't stepping up in a way that's appropriate and treating them with respect that they deserve.

JOURNALIST: You previously said New Zealand wouldn't allow any Australian nuclear powered submarines in your waters under your current policy. Is that something that you've discussed today? Is that flexibility or is this an iron clad policy?

PRIME MINISTER OF NEW ZEALAND: None of our policies with regard to nuclear issues are changing, but nor was there any sense that it's something that Australia expects us to. We have, of course, had a longstanding relationship, friendship, partnership and we're allies. And so, I think those principles are well understood and they are not a point of tension at all.


JOURNALIST: In regards to this business as a reset of Australia's relationship with New Zealand, do you think a reset was necessary?

PRIME MINISTER OF NEW ZEALAND: I do see this as an opportunity for a reset because, you know, there were obviously some points of friction. There’s obviously still issues to be worked through. But the ability that we have to have those conversations in an open manner to be able to talk frankly about, of course, the mindfulness that we need to play to domestic issues as well. But just demonstrating that understanding of where that tension has come from and the fact that there are areas where we can find some resolution. Obviously, there's some work to do. But in my mind, yes, this does represent a reset. One thing I would like to just add on a prior question that came around the issue of deportations. New Zealand is not asking for Australia to remove their deportation policy. We never have. I frequently see New Zealand’s ask mischaracterised. Often, I imagine, for the recent political reasons. What we've simply asked is that there's greater reciprocity. New Zealand, of course, deports individuals have been in New Zealand for a short time and who acted outside our expectations for anyone who chooses or wishes to stay as a resident. But there are some who are being deported from Australia who, for all intents and purposes, are Australian. Often zero connection to New Zealand, sometimes not even stepped foot there. That's the place that we're asking for that consideration to be given. So, anyone who claims that it is somehow going to make Australia less safe, that is not true and it is not fair.

JOURNALIST: Katie Scotcher from Radio New Zealand. A question for both of you, if possible. Considering the security challenges in the Pacific region, is New Zealand positioned where it needs to be when it comes to strategic security arrangements or is there greater urgency for New Zealand to join arrangements like the QUAD or AUKUS? And Prime Minister Albanese, is it something that your Government would support?

PRIME MINISTER OF NEW ZEALAND: There's no question that our region is increasingly contested. And we have seen in recent times, obviously new arrangements that have emerged, whether or not it actually is more of a procurement arrangement as AUKUS is or the QUAD or the existing arrangements we have, such as the Five Eyes. New Zealand's perspective is simple. As long as these arrangements follow the values which we hold dear, are transparent, and have at their core peace and stability, then we see those as welcome. From New Zealand's perspective, we have strong bilateral relationships in the region. We have obviously our strongest relationship being with that of Australia, but we want to see an increasing elevation of the Pacific Island voice within our region. That's why the pith in that forum becomes so important. And our approach and raising that voice will be collaborative and one of partnership. We've heard a lot of dialogue about the Pacific, not much of a chance for the Pacific to speak for themselves on these issues. But you can see in recent efforts to try and create greater security arrangements directly with China, many of those nations choosing for themselves that they would stick more to an economic frame. But again, let's hear from the Pacific on these issues.

PRIME MINISTER OF AUSTRALIA: Thanks, Prime Minister. You can have separate agreements, which we do over the QUAD Leaders' meeting, for example, when we met in Tokyo, what seems like a long time ago but was only a couple of weeks ago. There's no proposals to expand beyond the QUAD. But that doesn't mean that our friends and allies can't have input through that process. And the relationship between New Zealand and Australia is so strong. And one of the things that struck me about last evening's discussion and this morning's as well as across a range of issues, but what we were talking about was how do we very quickly get to solutions? How do we have open dialogue about what the challenges are? How do we talk about a common interest? So, whether that was the issues that have been raised in this press conference, or issues like a pathway to citizenship that's a bit easier, frankly, than it is at the moment for people who've come here from New Zealand. Whether it be we talked about labour mobility and perhaps skills and how we can maximise that input as well. We talked about defence. We talked about our relationship with our Pacific partners. And together, I think Australia and New Zealand acting as one produces an outcome that's greater than the sum of the two. And it's that perspective that I certainly take forward. And I really appreciate the Prime Minister's openness and preparedness to have this dialogue. We look forward to our Leader's discussion, which is more formal. And we've discussed the Ministers who'll be present from both sides. My Ministers, I can now inform the Ministers for Climate Change and Energy, the Treasurer, the Minister for Foreign Affairs you'd expect to be there, but also, Home Affairs and Immigration. We will have them present from both sides so that they can work these issues through and come up with concrete solutions that make a difference. Thanks very much.