Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nanaia Mahuta and her Australian counterpart, Senator Penny Wong, met in Wellington today for the biannual Australia – Aotearoa New Zealand Foreign Minister Consultations.
Minister Mahuta welcomed Senator Wong for her first official visit to Aotearoa New Zealand as Australian Foreign Minister, following the federal election last month.
The Ministers said they welcomed the opportunity to meet in person for the first time to discuss the trans-Tasman relationship as well as a wide range of global issues.
Both noted that the close friendship between the two nations was more essential than ever for the security and well-being of Australian and New Zealand citizens.
The Ministers acknowledged the close cooperation between both nations to support a stable, prosperous and resilient Indo-Pacific region amid sharper global challenges.
They discussed their concerns at the growing strategic competition in the Pacific region and noted the long traditions within the region of working collectively to meet security needs, including under the Biketawa Declaration and the Boe Declaration. They underlined the importance of consultation on security measures within the region, and looked ahead to discussions on regional security among Pacific Islands Forum members.
“The Ministers reiterated the unique role of the Pacific Islands Forum and its architecture, and were optimistic that a pathway to maintain the unity of the Forum is in sight. They warmly welcomed the sustained efforts of Pacific leaders in support of the Forum, and recognised recent progress as a demonstration of the ‘Pacific Way’ of respectful dialogue and consensus,” the Ministers said in a joint statement today.
They agreed on the need to place the perspectives and priorities of Pacific island nations at the forefront of both countries’ engagement in the Pacific, and called on other development partners to adopt the same approach.
“The Ministers noted the clear and consistent message from Pacific Island nations that climate change is the most critical challenge they face. They noted the responsibility on governments to act with ambition and urgency for the benefit of people in the Pacific and around the world. Ministers recognised the transition that Aotearoa New Zealand and Australia needed to undertake in their economies. They also recognised the need to work together to accelerate climate action and support the ambitions of Pacific island countries to lower greenhouse gas emissions and increase climate resilience.”
“The Ministers also discussed their shared commitment to working with Pacific Island nations to address the complex issues facing the region. Ministers agreed on the need for increased cooperation to support the Pacific’s economic recovery from COVID-19 as borders reopen, strengthen gender equality and women’s empowerment in the region and deliver effective climate finance.
“The Ministers noted current threats to the rules-based order, and the risks to stability and prosperity for our Pacific family and globally. Ministers acknowledged the importance of working together against these risks, and reiterated their shared commitment to international cooperation, including through effective, transparent and balanced multilateral institutions,” the statement read.
They also agreed to maintain momentum and focus on our world-leading economic integration as both countries looked ahead to the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Closer Economic Relations (CER) trade agreement in 2023.