Transcript of joint Aust/NZ PMs’ press conference

Press Release – Australian Government

Subject(s): Australia-New Zealand relationship; World economic outlook; Centenary of ANZAC; Closer Economic Relations; Cyber security; Tony Hodges; Australia DayTranscript of joint press conference, Melbourne
[http://www.pm.gov.au/press-office/transcript-joint-press-conference-melbourne-3]

SUN 29 JANUARY 2012

Prime Minister

Subject(s): Australia-New Zealand relationship; World economic outlook; Centenary of ANZAC; Closer Economic Relations; Cyber security; Tony Hodges; Australia Day

PM: It’s a delight to be able to welcome Prime Minister John Key again today. We have been having a set of discussions, not only between Prime Ministers but also between a number of members of our ministerial team and I’d like to welcome them to Australia as well.

As I said when the Prime Minister first arrived yesterday, our relationship is one of being family. We saw that on display last year when we were both in times of need and having seen that on display last year this is a great time to bring us together, to bring our ministers together, to have a meeting in a joint cabinet format to talk about our relationship for the future and that’s what we’ve been able to do today.

We do have an amazing history and we will be commemorating 100 years of that history in 2015, our ANZAC legend that binds us together, but we’re also nations very focussed on the future and it’s the future of the relationship that we’ve been focussed on today.

Both of us had key economic ministers here, including Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer Wayne Swan and his counterpart Minister Bill English and so we have had a comprehensive discussion about the global economic climate and the challenges that that poses for our respective economies.

We’ve talked about the strength of our region and the fact that we are both situated in the region of the world that continues to experience economic growth and will during the course of this century and that that gives us particular opportunities for the future.

I was pleased in that context to brief Prime Minister Key at his ministers on our Australia in the Asian Century whitepaper, that we are working through as a nation looking at how we can win in this Asian century of economic growth and so we can be prepared for that economic growth in the future.

On our bilateral relationship we were very much focussed on what will be a significant anniversary of our closer economic cooperation, that is next year in 2013 we celebrate 30 years of Closer Economic Relations.

Now this is one of the true partnerships around the world for economic integration, one of the standout partnerships that our two countries have been working on over 30 years. So we are world leaders in this, but we want to keep building for the future, so we’ve asked our two Productivity Commissions to work together on a joint study as to how we can build on our close economic ties now for the future.

We also have had a proud history of working together in defence cooperation. We have endorsed the recommendations of a 2011 review of our defence relationship, so that we can continue that relationship as strong as ever and so it can be fit for purpose in the modern age.

We’re also pleased to announce the establishment of an Australia-New Zealand cyber dialogue. One of the key security challenges of our age is cyber security, so a relationship as old and as deep as this one needs to be taken into the future and deal with contemporary challenges, like cyber security.

We’ve agreed to develop a six month trial between New Zealand, Australia and the Queensland Government to see how we can enhance the reciprocal sharing of criminal history information for potential employees. We do have very much a shared employment market, New Zealanders come here, Australians go to New Zealand, so it makes sense to have this six month study to see how we can have a more automatic approach to sharing the kind of information that people want when they are vetting a new employee.

So our forward agenda is going to be as busy as ever, we’ve got work to do in our region, work to do in Afghanistan, work to do in formats like the East Asia Summit and APEC and work to do directly together.

We are, of course, together pricing carbon to tackle climate change. Together we’re pursuing our joint bid for the Square Kilometre Array, a fantastic science project for the future. And perhaps most importantly to many of our people we’re going to host the world cricket cup together.

So Prime Minister Key it’s great to have you here, it’s great to work with you and over to you.

PRIME MINISTER KEY: Thank you very much. Prime Minister, firstly thank you very much and on behalf of my ministers can I thank you for hosting us here in Melbourne, for your hospitality and for the great dialogue and engagement that we’ve had over the last 24 hours.

I have a number of new ministers in new portfolios with me, so it’s been very useful for them to have an opportunity to exchange with their Australian counterpart.

Certainly from New Zealand’s point of view we don’t have another relationship which is more important than this, you’re our largest source of tourists coming to New Zealand, largest source of foreign investment, you’re our largest export market. Pretty much on every fact Australia is a dominant and significant part of the New Zealand economy and when Australia does well New Zealand does well.

And I think, in a way, it’s such a tremendous relationship it would be easy to take it for granted. Such a comfortable relationship, we know that we can always pick up the phone and have an open, frank discussion that it would be easy just to say maybe these meetings aren’t necessary, but we always get something out of them.

And I want to thank you for your personal commitment New Zealand, your willingness to give us every resource required when we had both the Pike River mine disaster and the Canterbury earthquakes has been incredible and I think it’s one that New Zealanders personally (inaudible), your address to the New Zealand Parliament is still something that is remarked upon in New Zealand, so you’re a great friend of New Zealand and your Government has worked very closely with ours and we’re very grateful for that.

I suppose I’d just make a couple of other comments, I think in relation to 2015, 100 years of the ANZAC commemorations, is a really important time for us, not only just in hosting the Cricket World Cup, but I think it will be an opportunity for us to do other things which bind that ANZAC spirit together and have public displays of a very deep and historical relationship.

Again in 2013, you’re quite right, CER reaches that 30 year milestone and again an opportunity for us to do some more work there.

The Prime Minister has laid out, I think, quite clearly the discussions we’ve had and will have more of those over lunch.

I suppose I’d only really raise two other issues – one would be we’ve had some discussions about the situation of New Zealanders who have come to Australia since 2001. They’re New Zealanders that don’t currently have citizenship here, but can work in Australia because of trans-Tasman travel and employment protocols.

That’s a matter I know that the Australian Government is looking at, Australia has historically been generous to those New Zealanders when they’ve found themselves in a difficult position because of their current status here, both in relation to the Queensland floods and the Victorian bushfires.

So I know that’s an area that you’re doing some more work, but it’s just a sign of the strength of the relationship and the amount of movement we have that there’s now some people in that category.

Just in terms of what’s happening with Queensland, again you’ll be aware that in part the trial is being led because of a high profile case of a New Zealander that had a criminal record that wasn’t made aware to the Queensland authorities.

Now that may have been possible through a rather clunky system, so in one sense the system arguably works, but only if you go to quite a number of steps. So the purpose of the trial is to see whether we can make the process easier, have better information sharing.

Obviously there are privacy and legal issues that need to be considered on both sides of the Tasman and we’ll work our way through those, but in a sense we now have what I think is an Australasian employment market and we need to reflect that in the way that we share information that we possibly can.

And lastly, I think if you look at what’s happening it’s plain for everyone to see the strength that’s emerging in the Asian region and that’s not just China, that’s a very powerful seismic shift which is not going to be reversed any time soon.

That presents a lot of opportunities, I think, to both Australia and New Zealand and the interesting issue for us is how we can work collaboratively together to maximise the benefit that comes from that and there are some real opportunities, I think, for us to market New Zealand and Australia together or to do some things together and we certainly have great examples of that.

And I think the defence review really talks to that, of how we can continue to be even more streamlined in what we do, have better processes and probably formalise things that historically built up because of the nature of our relationship.

So, thank you for the opportunity to be here.

PM: Thank you and I think we’ve agreed how we’re taking questions, so it would be, I think, courteous to start with a question from the New Zealand media.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister Gillard, Steve Marshall from Television New Zealand.

PM: Yes.

JOURNALIST: Could you please outline the plan the Australian Government might have to put New Zealanders who have moved to Australia on an equal footing with Australian citizens?

PM: Look, this has been an issue of some long standing and was discussed by one of my predecessors Prime Minister Howard with then Prime Minister Helen Clark. It has put some New Zealanders in a situation where, when for example we’re trying to get people disaster relief payments very quickly, that they aren’t automatically in the system.

Prime Minister Key actually raised that with me last year during our summer of natural disasters and we did make sure that we extended assistance to New Zealanders who were caught up in that situation and caught up in those disasters.

So, the Prime Minister has raised this issue with me again. We need to keep working on it, obviously it’s got money implications and that’s something that we’ve always got to be very careful about. So we’ll keep working it through

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister Gillard, I’m sorry to not ask you about trans-Tasman relations-

PM: -Alright, so this is our question from the Australian media. Yes.

JOURNALIST: I think there is limited questions so I’m going to ask you about this week’s protest.

PM: Sure.

JOURNALIST: Can you 100 per cent guarantee that Tony Hodges acted in a completely unilateral fashion when he passed on information that precipitated that protest? In other words was anyone else in your office part of that decision?

PM: I answered this question yesterday and the answer’s no; no one else was part of that decision.

We’ll have a question from the New Zealand media. Yes.

JOURNALIST: Just going back to (inaudible) there’s around 100,000 New Zealanders affected at the moment who moved here in 2001. Any plan that you’re working on, is it looking at trying to deal with the plight of those particular 100,000 people, or the plan will be going forward to deal with (inaudible)

PM: Prime Minister Key might just want to address that first. I think the immediate concern is for the people, the 100,000 caught up.

PRIME MINISTER KEY: So there’s the historic position those that are in that position where they’ve been here round about eight years, they don’t currently qualify for residency and in fact if they applied they probably wouldn’t get that, or citizenship. And so the plan is to see how they can be put on a footing which would allow them to enjoy those rights and that’s something that is solely the domain of the Australian Government, I mean they have sole rights to determine their own policies and as the Prime Minister has pointed out there are financial implications of that.

But I think both governments are conscious of the issue and the significant number of New Zealanders involved and we’re hopeful that some progress can be made there.

PM: OK.

JOURNALIST: Ms Gillard, at what time on what day did Mr Hodges tell your senior staff about the phone call in question and you said yesterday that you were told of Mr Hodges actions late on Friday, roughly what time was that and why was there such a long gap in time for you to get informed of this phone call?

PM: Well I answered all of these questions yesterday too. In relation to your first question, Mr Hodges informed his immediate superiors later during Australia Day, so obviously there was the event at The Lobby Restaurant, there was the need for people to get out safely and return to Parliament House.

So a fairly dramatic event had happened and some immediate things needed to be done because of that dramatic event, including making sure everybody was safe and well.

So later that day Mr Hodges informed his superiors, my senior press secretary and my communications director.

Once again I answered your second question yesterday as well and the answer’s the same: I was in country Victoria on Friday morning awarding National Emergency Medals to people, as I had been the day before at The Lobby Restaurant, the first time we’ve ever given these medals out.

I returned to my Melbourne office, my staff had been working to make sure that they could give me a complete factual brief.

As you would be aware there were a number of allegations circulating around the media at the time, including for example that a female staff member had made a telephone call. So matters needed to be checked, all of those matters were checked.

My staff were then in a position to give me a comprehensive brief and following that I spoke to Mr Hodges.

JOURNALIST: The statement of Kim Sattler in this morning’s newspapers-

PM: -Well I think that’s sneaking in what will be the last Australian question, but on that issue of a statement by Ms Sattler, Ms Sattler put out a statement yesterday which is consistent with the events as I understand them to have occurred.

Ms Sattler has obviously formed the view that she has not been accurately reported in today’s media and as I’m advised she’s put out a second statement today, which once again accords with the views that I hold, having been fully briefed on the events.

Thank you very much.
ENDS

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