TOM CONNELL: Trade Minister, thanks for your time today on Sky News. I know you’ve been to Christchurch. They’re talking about a $50 billion infrastructure project there – it is really just starting to ramp up. How big a slice of the pie might Australian companies get?
ANDREW ROBB: Well already a number of Australian companies have played a big part in the progress to date, but they’ve had to do a lot of replacing of all that liquefaction and all the services, and four years of insurance battles and all the rest.
TOM CONNELL: So it really hasn’t started in earnest yet?
ANDREW ROBB: Well, the preparation’s done, but it still looks like a bomb site. But it’s just about to all come out of the ground. So it was very timely to take a very senior delegation of people in the construction and infrastructure industry, from architects all the way through to engineers, etcetera to have a look at what the opportunities are. And I think Australia can play a big part in partnering with New Zealand firms to really create a new city.
TOM CONNELL: And, of course, you’ve ticked off plenty of trade deals around the world. You’ve
been singled out for a bit of praise in the Abbott Government. Is there anything in particular you’re after in New Zealand in terms of anything concrete in a deal sense.
ANDREW ROBB: Well, no. I had my ministerial meetings yesterday with my counterpart to continue to review the Closer Economic Relationship that we’ve got between the two countries. It’s, I think, the best free trade agreement in the world, on my estimation. It’s been going for 32 years and on average, eight per cent growth in our two-way trade each and every year for 32 years.
So it just shows you what you can get from these free trade agreements. We keep improving it though, so that it gets better and better, more seamless trade. And that’s what we did yesterday with my counterpart Tim Groser.
But primarily I’m here to try and assist Australian business to find not just work in Christchurch, which is very significant and very ready, as you mentioned, but also there’s a $92 billion programme of infrastructure here over the next 10 years. Now, put that together with Australia’s $125 billion over the next six years – Australasia is alive with infrastructure projects – and we want to play a part in New Zealand in all of that process.
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