Saturday, July 20, 2024

Leaders agree to formation of trans-Tasman borders expert group

Prime Minister, Chris Hipkins and Australian Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, met in Wellington today for their first annual Australia-New Zealand Leaders Meeting.

The meeting took place as the countries celebrate the 40th anniversary of Closer Economic Relations (CER), the 50th anniversary of the Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement, and the 80th anniversary of diplomatic representation.

“It was great to meet again with Prime Minister Albanese to celebrate our closest international relationship, mark this special year of anniversaries and work towards an even better future,” Mr Hipkins said.

“It’s the fifth time we’ve met in seven months, highlighting the special bond between our countries. While I believe our relationship is as strong as it’s ever been, I know we can keep building on those ties by modernising our agreements and continuing to cooperate in our mutual best interest.   

“The Australia New Zealand Leader’s Meeting is our annual opportunity to assess and set priorities for the relationship for the following year.

“Today, we agreed to put together a joint Australia-New Zealand expert group, with a clear deadline of 12 months, to scope initiatives to move closer towards seamless travel across the Tasman.

“We agreed it’s worthwhile to re-engage on a process to find workable measures that would help trans-Tasman businesses and tourism with a simplified border.

“But it’s not straightforward. Our border is a big part of what keeps us safe. It’s where we manage major biosecurity, people, health and security risks.

“This process will bring the experts together to talk about whether there are ways in which we reduce barriers at the border, while not compromising our security.”

The group will report back by the end of June 2024, Mr Hipkins said.

He said the leaders also discussed:

  • A bilateral roadmap, which sets out our shared ambition for cooperation over the next decade and outlines how we will work together over the coming decade across five pillars that offer the greatest potential for achieving our shared vision: sustainable, inclusive and prosperous economies; security and resilience; active partners in the Pacific; upholding shared principles and values; and our peoples,
  • Our deep cooperation in the Pacific and our commitment to partnering with Pacific Island countries to advance the region’s priorities,
  • A commitment to refresh the Australia-Aotearoa-New Zealand Indigenous Collaboration Arrangement (ICA),
  • The update of Closer Defence Relations (CDR) to ensure it is fit for purpose, drives interoperability and enables us to respond as allies in a deteriorating strategic environment, and
  • A range of economic integration initiatives under the Single Economic Market, including:
  • the negotiation of the Australia-New Zealand Sustainable and Inclusive Trade Declaration, ensuring that CER reflects modern aspirations on climate, inclusivity and resilience,
  • the delivery of SouthPAN early Open Services to improve and accuracy and reliability of satellite based-navigation systems;
  • agreement to work towards updating our Double Taxation Agreement, and
  • the upgrade of the Agreement Establishing the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area (AANZFTA)

“Other areas of discussion included the threat of climate change to the livelihoods, security and wellbeing of the people of the Pacific; and the importance of working deliberately with our Pacific partners to support prosperity, peace and resilience in our region.”

“Further afield, we reiterated our commitment to multilateralism and the international rules-based system and reaffirmed our condemnation of Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine,” Mr Hipkins said.

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