In this year the centenary ANZAC it is a fitting time to reflect on the unique relationship Australia and New Zealand share.
We are siblings if you like – with healthy doses of sibling rivalry thrown in – particularly in the sporting arena.
From my perspective, any year the Wallabies don’t get flogged by the All Blacks is a good year!
Our co-hosting of this year’s Cricket World Cup is a powerful symbol of the strength of our relationship.
We have much in common not only on account of geography.
We are enterprising countries, which value the role of business in driving growth and creating jobs for our people.
The Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce has been supporting these ideals for more than 150 years (established 1859) – for that you are to be commended.
The resilience of this city and region following the devastating earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 is truly something to behold.
Our current, respective national governments also have similar approaches.
There is a common objective to displace government from the centre of economic activity and replace it with robust growth led by the private sector.
Getting settings right for business
Government’s primary role is to get the settings right for business to flourish.
Doing what we can to reduce business costs and to open up new opportunities.
In Australia for example we have: removed damaging taxes; we are pursuing an aggressive deregulation agenda; we are accelerating and streamlining project approval processes; we are working to repair our budget; and we are planning record levels of infrastructure spending.
Prime Minister Key’s Business Growth Agenda highlights infrastructure development as a vital component with plans to spend $92 billion over the next decade – including $50 billion to support the Christchurch rebuild.
We have very strong levels of expertise in infrastructure and identifying new opportunities for collaboration is a key focus of my visit.
The delegation I am leading includes representatives of some of Australia’s major infrastructure companies.
This morning we drove around key sites in Christchurch to identify opportunities in supporting the earthquake reconstruction program.
The work completed or underway is an absolute credit to all involved given the enormity of the task.
We will also look at infrastructure opportunities in Auckland tomorrow.
Our Australian delegates have particular expertise to offer with the financing, construction and operation of major infrastructure.
Like New Zealand, Australia is a trading nation which welcomes new investment. As open economies with thin capital markets we have always relied on foreign investment.
Freer trade is opening up all sorts of doors for our countries and history shows that when you deepen trading relations new investment inevitably follows.
Free trade agreements with China
In the past 12 months Australia has followed the lead of New Zealand and scored something of a ‘try’ in concluding a long-awaited Free Trade Agreement with China.
New Zealand’s win on dairy provided a major first-mover advantage and something of a spur for us to conclude an agreement. Major investment has flowed into your country as a result of the FTA.
We have also managed to secure a very good deal on dairy – yes it will make us highly competitive into the Chinese market, but it also presents new opportunities for collaboration and investment.
We have both also concluded agreements with Korea and Australia completed a major trifecta in also striking a deal with Japan.
Australian businesses are already heavily engaged in New Zealand.
ANZCERTA most comprehensive
The Australia-New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement (ANZCERTA) is one of the most comprehensive bilateral free trade agreements in existence.
It has helped turbo-charge our economic relationship.
Since it began in 1983, two way trade between our two countries has expanded at an amazing average annual growth rate – each and every year – an average 8.9 per cent growth in NZ exports to Australia, and 7.5 per cent growth In Australia’s exports to New Zealand.
Over 16,000 Australian businesses export to New Zealand, compared with just under 9,000 exporting to the United States, and less than 6,000 exporting to China.
Building on our existing business and investment links is the most reliable pathway to further growth and new investment.
Driving investment is a major focus of my work as our country’s first Minister for both Trade and Investment.
Since our election in 2013 I have done 50 investment roundtables in 22 countries.
While a focus is always to press the case for more investment into Australia, we are making a concerted effort to identify new opportunities for Australian capital abroad, including here in New Zealand.
Like any enduring relationship the one our countries share is built on mutual trust and respect – sure we compete, but we also collaborate wonderfully well.
That sibling rivalry will however come to the fore this Saturday (28 February) when we meet in the World Cup at Eden Park.
The short boundaries should make for quite a spectacle.
Thanks for your time today.
- Trade Minister's Office: (02) 6277 7420
- DFAT Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555