PM Jacinda Ardern on trade mission to Australia ahead of bilateral talks

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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was in Sydney a few weeks ago to meet her friend and newly elected Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

The trip will end on Friday when Jacinda Ardern and Anthony Albanese hold their annual meeting.
Photo: Supplied / Prime Minister’s Office

She returns today to lead a week-long trade mission to Melbourne and Sydney that will include speaking at the Australia-New Zealand Leadership Forum (ANZLF) and annual bilateral talks with Albanese.

The trip will also include a major foreign policy speech to an independent think tank, the Lowy Institute, and meetings with Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews and New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet.

The Lowy Institute is where former Foreign Secretary Winston Peters announced his “Pacific Reset” in 2018; pledging more aid and a back-to-basics diplomatic approach in the Pacific.

This week’s Australian trade mission features more than 30 New Zealand companies, ranging from large exporters to innovative small businesses.

Ministers Grant Robertson, Damien O’Connor, Stuart Nash, Willie Jackson, Michael Wood, Ayesha Verrall and James Shaw are also attending the ANZLF and will meet their Australian counterparts for policy discussions.

The trip will end on Friday when Ardern and Albanese hold their annual meeting just days before the two leaders travel to Fiji for the Pacific Islands Forum.

“Significant change” in the number 501 finally bilateral

At a press conference after talks in June, Albanese said he and Ardern were “committed to taking trans-Tasman relations to a new level”.

“A new level of cooperation for the mutual benefit of our two nations. That means new jobs, new growth, new opportunities for cooperation.”

Albanese reported that the scope of future collaborative work includes climate change, economic headwinds, strategic competition in the Pacific, and 501 deportees.

“We will maintain Section 501, but we heard the Prime Minister’s very clear message today, as I have heard before, and there is no doubt that the Prime Minister has been very firm in his views and we have listened to those views,” he said.

“We will work on some of these issues between now and we will have a ministerial meeting, a leaders meeting, next month.”

Ardern, who previously described the 501 policy as “corrosive” to the trans-Tasman relationship, said Albanese’s position marked a “significant shift” in the Australian government’s approach to the concerns of the New Zealand regarding 501 deportees.

‘A significant change in language we’ve had from previous Australian governments, in fact I’ve never seen anyone even willing to peek before,’ she said.

“We’ve been completely consistent, we don’t expect Australia to stop deportations in the same way that New Zealand won’t stop deporting those who don’t follow our laws. What we asking is actually to stop deporting Australians.”

Countries must address ‘common problems’

Labor shortages, supply chain disruptions and climate change are expected to be among the talking points of Ardern’s Australian trade mission.

As the countries enjoyed close ties, Catherine Beard of Business New Zealand said business and trade talks on how to address common issues were worthwhile, such as the coronavirus pandemic, access to vaccines, the inflation and climate change.

She said countries needed to work at a similar pace to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to keep businesses competitive.

“If we’re incurring a lot of costs here trying to tackle our emissions and they’re not, that starts to make Australia a more attractive place to move some of these emissions-intensive businesses,” she said.

Beard said export companies also want unblocked supply chains and changes to the trans-Tasman charging system.

“We would like them to drop this tax,” she said.

“If a big export market for you is in Australia and you try to bring the profits back and distribute them to shareholders, you basically get a double tax on that, but it’s not easy to earn.”

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