26 Jul 2023

Watch: PM Chris Hipkins and Australian PM Anthony Albanese praise trans-Tasman bond

4:20 pm on 26 July 2023

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has welcomed Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to Aotearoa, and they are off for a beer together at the Football World Cup.

It is Albanese's first official visit to New Zealand since he became PM and he is here for the annual leaders meeting - the third bilateral meeting the two have had since Hipkins became prime minister at the beginning of the year.

Hipkins said on Wednesday afternoon the pair would meet for a beer at the Football World Cup fanzone on the waterfront.

"It's great to see this tournament so well-received by fans and it's another example of successful Australia- NZ partnership," Hipkins said.

"The fact that we've met so many times in a short space of time shows I think reflects the strength of the trans-Tasman bond."

Down to business

Hipkins said they agreed today on a "bilateral roadmap setting out our shared ambition for cooperation over the next decade".

It would focus on sustainable, inclusive economies, on being active partners in the Pacific, championing international rules and ensuring people to people links would continue to grow, Hipkins said.

There was immense opportunity for NZ and Australia to strengthen cooperation on climate change, he said. Hipkins acknowledged Australia's shift in its climate change policy in the last year and they discussed that today.

Chris Hipkins and Anthony Albanese - joint press conference in Wellington on 26/7/23

Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

"We believe working together to combat climate change globally and especially in our region is critical."

It was the single biggest threat to the livelihoods and wellbeing of Pacific partners, and both Australia and NZ were experiencing the effects of climate change now, he said.

The nations wanted to support the Pacific Islands Forum and its members to address the strategic and security issues that were facing the region, Hipkins said. We needed to work together to ensure that CER remained world-leading as it had been for the last 40 years, he said.

In addition, the two countries would continue to make it easier to engage in trade, development, investment and innovation.

"Prime Minister Albanese and I committed today to revitalise the joint working group on initiatives to move closer towards seamless travel across the Tasman. We've asked that working group to report back by 30 June next year on additional steps we can take to improve that pathway."

They also agreed to the negotiation of a sustainable trade declaration to promote an integrated and climate focused approach to the economies on both sides of the Tasman, Hipkins said. Both countries were focused on responding to the increasingly challenging and less stable regional and global orders and would work together to help one another's efforts, he said.

Albanese praises 'friends and family'

Albanese said it was always great to visit New Zealand and "feel the friendship, warmth and familiarity between our two nations".

"We're neighbours, we're friends, we're family - we can take on challenges and opportunities together, our two nations share common values."

Albanese said the closeness was exemplified by the fact the two countries were sharing hosting duties for the FIFA Women's World Cup.

"During this visit we are marking important milestones - 80 years of diplomatic relations between our two countries, 50 years of allowing our people to live work and travel on both sides of the Tasman and importantly 40 years of what is still I think the world's best gold standard trade agreement."

Albanese said he was pleased that it was easier for New Zealanders to become Australian citizens as of this month and more than 10,000 had already applied to do so.

Chris Hipkins and Anthony Albanese - joint press conference in Wellington on 26/7/23

Anthony Albanese Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Australia and NZ shared a common vision for peace, security and prosperity in our region and stand together to uphold the rules based international system, Albanese said. Both countries had suffered the global economic consequences of Russia's "illegal and immoral invasion of Ukraine", he said.

NZ and Australia had agreed to a new trans-Tasman roadmap until 2035 which recognised the trans-Tasman relationship was a significant asset for both countries, he said. Two way travel links drove economic opportunities which is why leaders wanted to make it a more seamless experience, he said.

"We will pursue a sustainable and exclusive trade declaration."

Australia and NZ would continue to support Pacific priorities, he said. "Today we talked about how together we can achieve much more in terms of delivering that change in the Pacific and that our Pacific neighbours are asking for support on."

It was a chance to shape the nations' future and create economic opportunities and become "renewable energy superpowers", he said.

On China's influence in the Pacific region, Albanese said they had been forging relationships with Pacific countries and ensuring that Australia and NZ were viewed as reliable partners. When Australia provided aid to the Pacific there were no strings attached and "we do it because we are part of the Pacific family", he said.

Hipkins said NZ shared a "family first" approach to working in the Pacific, and the country recognised the sovereignty of Pacific countries and their right to make their own decisions.

But he said they want to make sure NZ had very strong relationships and to ensure that Pacific countries continued to look to NZ and Australia when they wanted support as they had in the past.

Asked how they would work together to counter China's influence in the Pacific, Hipkins said they would continue to work together on those issues. In terms of AUKUS there was no doubt they have a different position around nuclear issues, he said.

"We are open to conversations with the AUKUS partners around what New Zealand's involvement in some of those things might look like, it's early days yet."

Albanese's trip to Wellington will mark a year of anniversaries, including 40 years of the Closer Economic Relations free trade agreement.

Hipkins previously said Albanese's visit was a chance to recognise past trans-Tasman achievements, celebrate the progress made this year and set ambition for where both countries want to go next.

The two prime ministers will also celebrate New Zealand and Australia co-hosting the FIFA Women's World Cup.

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