20 June, 2011
Address to Australian Parliament
Mr Harry Jenkins, Speaker of the House of Representatives and Senator the Honourable John Hogg, President of the Senate.
The Honourable Julia Gillard, Prime Minister of Australia.
The Honourable Tony Abbott, Leader of the Opposition.
Honourable Members of the Australian Parliament.
It is a great privilege to address you in this esteemed chamber.
I address you as Prime Minister of New Zealand, as a proud member of the trans-Tasman family, and as a former resident of this great country.
I bring with me the good wishes of 4.4 million Kiwis.
They value the deep bonds we share and they would want Australia to hear this message:
New Zealand is committed to your country above all others, and for all time.
In recent times you have shown New Zealand a degree of loyalty and support that only family can.
For that we are truly grateful.
When an explosion ripped through the Pike River Mine in November last year you sent your specialist experts, your machinery and your hope.
You did all you could to help us bring those 29 men home.
When they died you grieved with us, not only for the two Australians, but for all of them.
When the devastating Christchurch earthquake struck us in February,
you came to our aid immediately, unreservedly and with open hearts.
From the financial and practical support of the Federal and State Governments through to the donations of corporate Australia and the heroic acts of individual Australians:
Your deeds struck a deep chord with the people of Christchurch.
When 300 members of the Australian Police arrived at Christchurch airport they were met by a spontaneous standing ovation.
New Zealanders clapped for the Australian presence because it was such a moving and visual demonstration that we weren’t on our own.
You had our back.
Let me tell you, that sense of unity and support mattered more than you might imagine.
We felt also the incredible support of this Parliament, whose expressions of condolence and commitment meant so much.
The depth and breadth of Australia’s support for Christchurch will never be forgotten.
In a time of tragedy, your extraordinary assistance strengthened our resolve, and has aided Christchurch’s recovery immeasurably.
While the aftershocks in Christchurch have continued, our recovery is ongoing and assured.
Today on behalf of all Kiwis, I thank you.
Your acts were living testament to the perpetual Anzac spirit.
Members and Senators of this Parliament should know that New Zealand will never hesitate to reciprocate this support.
When we saw the devastation caused by the Victorian bush fires, when we saw the carnage wreaked by the Queensland floods and Cyclone Yasi, our people felt your grief as only family can.
We came to you then, and we will come to you whenever we may be needed again.
Mr Speaker, the relationship shared by our two nations is like no other.
The men and women in this chamber represent a country whose fortunes, values and people are deeply entwined with New Zealand’s.
We share with you not only a corner of the world, but a similar path in history.
It is a history not only of shared sporting passions and rivalries - though they mustn’t be overlooked.
But, more than that, it is a shared history of indigenous peoples, British colonisation, increasing independence and successive waves of immigration.
A history of flourishing democracy, of free markets and prosperous economies.
A history of innovation, enterprise and ambition.
Today our two countries walk a very similar path, in pursuit of shared aspirations:
We pursue increased security, prosperity and opportunity for our citizens.
We share a confidence about our place in the world and the stake our people should have in it.
There is also strength in our differences.
It is well understood that the Australian constitution graciously provides for New Zealand to join the Federation.
Suffice to say, that is an invitation for which an RSVP has never been sought nor offered.
It is a mark of our joint progress that we have found other, more effective, means of combining our strengths.
We both recognise the benefits to be gained from being two countries under two flags with our own approaches.
Beneath our distinct identities lie indelible common values.
An easy understanding that Jack is as good as his neighbour.
That democracy, freedom and the rule of law should be cherished and fostered.
That every citizen should have the opportunity to shape their own future.
These are values we are proud to voice on the world stage, consistently and without compromise.
These are values we have fought for together.
As joint forces in Gallipoli and as fellow soldiers in other theatres of war, from the First and Second World Wars through to Korea and Vietnam.
The experiences we shared in these battles shaped our national characters.
They joined us ever unto each other.
I had the privilege of visiting Gallipoli for the Anzac Day commemorations last year.
It was a hugely moving experience.
Gathered together were Australians and New Zealanders from all over the world.
They came together as proud brothers and sisters of the Anzac tradition.
It felt as natural for me to share in the memorial of Australians who gathered together at Lone Pine, as it did to gather with the New Zealanders at Chunuk Bair.
Together we paid our respects to all those who fought, fell injured and in so many cases died for us, so very far from home.
It is right that throughout the world, from London to Gallipoli, from Canberra to Christchurch, to our local RSAs and RSLs we continue to remember our Anzacs together.
It is right, too, that the brave men and women of our armed services continue to work together today.
The Anzac centenary in 2015 will be a deeply significant occasion for New Zealand and Australia.
We look forward to close co-operation in the lead-up to these commemorations.
Today, we face new challenges in peace making and peace keeping, new conflicts and a rapidly changing strategic environment with threats - from terrorism to people smuggling - that know no borders.
Amid this change the Australian-New Zealand alliance endures.
Mr Speaker, Members and Senators of this Parliament should know:
While our numbers and resources are smaller than yours, New Zealand’s commitment to our defence and security relationship with Australia is absolute.
We place priority on fulfilling our alliance obligations to you above all other defence priorities - save for defending ourselves.
We have no better friend and no closer ally than Australia.
Our two countries have distinct contributions to make in meeting the security challenges of our modern world.
Each of us will rightly seek to serve our distinct national interests and to maximise our distinct capabilities.
But we are stronger each for the other.
In particular, New Zealand appreciates Australia’s enormous contribution to creating stability in Afghanistan and your hard-fought achievements in Uruzgan province.
New Zealand, too, is committed to stabilising Afghanistan, through the contribution of our Special Air Services in Kabul and our Provincial Reconstruction Team, which will work through to 2014 to provide an effective transition in Bamyan.
Nine of our soldiers have also served with yours in Uruzgan.
I wish to acknowledge today the 27 Australian soldiers who have lost their lives in Afghanistan.
New Zealand joins with you to honour them, as we honour our own two soldiers who have died there.
As we honour all of our servicemen and women who make the ultimate sacrifice for our countries.
Mr Speaker, our two countries have a particular responsibility to work together to ensure the stability of our immediate region.
New Zealand values Australia’s deep engagement in the Pacific, and the co-operation we have with you.
We see that with our joint police and defence operations on the ground in Timor Leste and the Solomon Islands.
In future, our combined Ready Response Force will see our servicemen and women being jointly deployed, whether it be for disaster relief, humanitarian assistance or other challenges that may emerge in the Pacific region.
We are also making great strides in harmonising our aid and development efforts.
New Zealand has, in recent times, sought to elevate our role in the Pacific.
It is right that we do so.
Almost one in 10 New Zealanders come from a Pasifika background and our complex web of family connections uniquely positions us as a regional facilitator.
In September this year New Zealand will host the Pacific Islands Forum.
We look forward to the presence of your Prime Minister at this event.
Mr Speaker, New Zealand and Australia’s military, diplomatic and political ties are deep and strong.
New Zealand values the formal and informal political structures that underpin this.
From the personal contact I share with your Prime Minister, to the regular contacts between our Ministers and Members of Parliament through to important annual events like the Australia/New Zealand Leadership Forum.
These contacts have enriched our relationship, and have endured no matter the political stripes on either side of the Tasman.
But ultimately the story of New Zealand and Australia is not one that has been written by politicians calling shots from on high.
Instead, our deeds have reflected the ever-closer ties between the voters that elect us.
Our nations each have a vested interest in the other’s success.
That vested interest is the people we share.
New Zealanders and Australians conduct their family and business affairs with very little regard for the sea that divides us.
Trans-Tasman families abound.
More than 560,000 Kiwis call Australia home.
Many thousands of Australians live in New Zealand.
Millions fly back and forth across the Tasman each year.
Large numbers of us have worked, studied or holidayed in the other’s country.
My own experience bears testament to that.
In 2001 after a period of time living in London and Singapore, I came to work and live in Sydney, with my wife Bronagh and our two children.
We remember our time and the friends we made in Sydney fondly and have returned not only on official engagements but also for family holidays.
My story is not unlike that of hundreds of thousands of Aussies who’ve lived in New Zealand and hundreds of thousands of Kiwis who’ve lived in Australia.
We are enriched by the valuable contribution our people make to each other’s societies and economies.
It is only right that politicians on both sides of the Tasman have sought to reflect that reality as we’ve developed our trading, economic and legal frameworks.
In 2013, we will look back on 30 years since the birth of Closer Economic Relations (CER) between Australia and New Zealand.
As we approach that milestone, it’s appropriate that we reflect on where we’ve been and where we might go next.
Much has been achieved.
CER represents a global gold standard in trade agreements.
Australia and New Zealand boast free trade in goods and nearly all services and, thanks to recent progress, investment is now part of CER.
We have mutual recognition arrangements for goods and occupations.
And we continue to pursue a Single Economic Market agenda to harmonise our business laws.
Despite the challenges of integration, and, it must be said, despite New Zealand’s initial anxiety, CER has served both our countries very well.
It has benefited our economies, our businesses and the families and communities we serve.
Australia is New Zealand’s largest export market.
More than half of foreign direct investment in New Zealand, at around $50 billion, comes from Australia.
Last year, total Australia exports to New Zealand were a little over $8 billion Australian dollars – not far behind the $9 billion you exported to the United States.
Interestingly, more Australian businesses export to New Zealand than to any other country.
Your small and medium enterprises, your innovative companies, your value-added producers, often cut their teeth in exporting first to New Zealand before expanding to larger markets.
The same applies for New Zealanders exporting to Australia.
Our businesses also work together to pool resources, share ideas, seek expertise, and expand offshore.
These facts underscore what we already know.
New Zealand’s economic fortunes matter to Australia, and vice-versa.
We share in each other’s economic success, and will continue to do so.
Mr Speaker, as political leaders we have a responsibility to keep up the momentum that has made CER such a success.
Our history has proven that open trade and economic integration can be forces for growth and prosperity.
The question now is, can we take our relationship to the next level?
We have more to gain from closer integration with each other.
Prime Minister Gillard and I are both personally committed to progressing the Single Economic Market agenda.
New Zealand appreciates the focus Australian Ministers have brought to the detail of these issues.
My view is that, increasingly, we can also play our integration out on a bigger scale.
Because as important as it is to both our economies, the thriving bilateral business relationship is not an end in itself.
We are both operating in the global economy.
From the outset our economic integration process has been designed to help us compete more effectively in the international marketplace.
Australia has long recognised the economic potential of our region, as demonstrated by your foresight in laying the foundations for APEC.
It is now the region to which all the world’s eyes are turning.
The extraordinary economic growth of Asia will compel the next steps in the relationship between Australia and New Zealand
I believe our trans-Tasman partnership can set the standard for an ever-more closely integrated regional economic community.
CER has already provided a launching pad for regional integration.
We saw that with the 2009 signing of the ASEAN Australia and New Zealand Free Trade Agreement.
That was a ground-breaking and ambitious regional trade agreement that opened up significant opportunities for our economies.
It was the first agreement which Australia and New Zealand negotiated jointly.
It will certainly not be the last.
We must now raise our sights to the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Together, we can drive to make this trade agreement as high-quality and comprehensive as possible.
Australia and New Zealand know well the mechanics of how effective trading relationships are forged.
As negotiating partners, we strengthen each other’s case and set a high standard.
Together we can ensure that the TPP is the basis of a powerful integrated regional trading bloc linking Asia, Australasia and the Americas.
The obvious next step is a deal extending across the full APEC membership.
As we join forces at the trade negotiating table, so too can we join forces to leverage these trade agreements for maximum benefit.
Together we can work to penetrate untapped parts of the Asian market, introduce new industries to those markets and help our exporters scale-up their operations.
New Zealand is interested in how our joint objectives with Australia in these areas can find practical expression in future.
Progress in meeting these goals will bring success for each of our economies.
More jobs for our people, better incomes, a more diverse and secure base for ongoing growth.
Mr Speaker, as we take on the world, Australia and New Zealand must work to identify other areas where the sum of our distinct expertise and resources is greater than the parts.
Our science and innovation partnership is one such area.
Our joint work to host the Square Kilometre Array radio telescope is a great first step.
Ultimately we should aim to showcase Australasia as an agile, nimble and creative hub of science and innovation.
Climate change is another global challenge our two countries are facing.
It is, of course, up to each country to adopt its own policies to address this challenge.
After all, we each have different emission profiles and different economies.
In New Zealand, climate change policy has been the subject of vigorous debate and, at times, political division.
So I come to this Parliament with at least a little understanding of the debate in your country.
While our domestic policies are matters for each country’s Government and Parliament to debate, we can, and should, work together on the international aspects of climate change.
We can work together on research and innovation to reduce emissions.
In fact, we already are, with New Zealand contributing to the Australian-led Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute and with Australia contributing to the New Zealand-led Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases.
We can also share our growing knowledge about what works and what doesn’t as we seek to reduce emissions across our economies.
I am pleased that Prime Minister Gillard and I have today agreed to further the work of our senior officials as they join up our respective efforts to combat climate change.
Mr Speaker, New Zealand feels lucky to have Australia as our neighbour.
We enjoy our competitive rivalry but, when faced with challenge or opportunity, we could wish for no better partner.
You are a dynamic, democratic and multicultural society.
You are a vibrant, open and prosperous market economy.
You are a force for good in the Asia-Pacific region and an important global player.
These attributes bring strength to New Zealand as we seek to further our interests on the world stage.
New Zealand, too, brings increased strength to Australia economically and strategically.
When facing the world our two countries’ voices are closely aligned and all the more influential for it.
Australia and New Zealand have a proud and unbroken history of partnership.
We have stood shoulder to shoulder in the face of challenges on the battlefield, at the negotiating table, and amid the debris of natural disaster.
In all that we face, and in all that we gain, our two countries can never lose sight of each other.
The reason is simple, and it is summed up by a Maori proverb.
He aha te mea nui?
What is the most important thing?
It is people, it is people, it is people.
Mr Speaker, the people of Australia and New Zealand are forever joined.
The future holds much for our two great countries.
Increased prosperity, opportunity and security are ours to grasp.
In all that we strive for:
We are stronger together.