ANZLF Closing Plenary: Collaboration For Economic Resilience
Wednesday, 19 July
Kia ora and hello.
Australia and New Zealand enjoy a straight-talking – sometimes playful – but always respectful relationship.
Its benefits reach beyond our borders to support stability, prosperity and security across our region.
In recent years, I have appreciated the chance to visit New Zealand as a guest of Presbyterian Support Northern, and to discuss shared economic and social challenges with Finance Minister Grant Robertson and New Zealand High Commissioner Annette King.
The Australia New Zealand Leadership Forum is an important part of our ongoing dialogue, and I thank you for the invitation to speak today.
The global economic and geopolitical outlook is uncertain.
Just last week we had a snapshot of many of those global challenges.
- NATO met at a critical time and resolved to stand firm in its support for Ukraine.
- Much of Europe sweltered through record high temperatures, again highlighting the need for urgent action on climate change.
- New Zealand finalised your free-trade agreement with the European Union, and we in Australia continue to push hard to conclude the best deal we can.
More trade, not less, remains key to building our best economic futures.
When global trade flows freely, New Zealand and Australia, and our regional partners, are more prosperous.
And we stand together for a rules-based trading system.
Against that global backdrop, Australia and New Zealand have shared economic challenges:
- tight labour market conditions
- low productivity growth
- inflation expected to stay higher than we like for some time
- and rising costs-of-living pressures.
We’re dealing with the fastest tightening cycle in both our countries since the inflation targeting era began.
But we can also capitalise on our shared strengths.
We can work together
For 40 years, the Closer Economic Relations agreement has been one of the most comprehensive and effective free trade agreements in the world.
It tightens the bonds between Australia and New Zealand – representing collaboration, cooperation, and our commitment to the power of free and open trade.
It has resulted in 8 per cent year-on-year growth in two-way merchandise trade since its inception.
And facilitated $224 billion (AUD) of two-way investment.
But it is essential the CER remains fit for purpose and continues to strengthen our economic ties – which makes panel discussions such as this one even more important.
Our bonds were further strengthened in June at the inaugural Australia-New Zealand 2+2 Climate and Finance Dialogue.
These ministerial-level discussions reflected the priority of an accelerated transition to net zero emissions, and of enhanced cooperation in the design of climate policies.
Both our communities demonstrated real resilience during the global pandemic and emerged with stronger economies than many anticipated.
Unemployment in both our countries, while ticking up, still has a three in front of it.
Our participation rates are close to historical highs, and we see welcoming beginnings of wages growth.
We also adopted similar approaches in our last budgets.
In Australia we’re expecting our first surplus in 15 years, then smaller deficits and less debt than forecast.
We are investing in the energy transformation, skills, housing, and opportunities presented by the digital economy.
We both provide support where and when we can for the most vulnerable in our communities.
Influenced by the work done in New Zealand on wellbeing budget measures – Australia will release our own Measuring What Matters statement on Friday.
And what greater expression of our relationship could there possibly be than Australia and New Zealand co-hosting the world’s biggest women’s sporting event.
The FIFA Women’s World Cup kicking off on Thursday. I’m barracking for an Aussie–Kiwi final.
Just as I am barracking for:
- the next 40 years of the Closer Economic Relations agreement
- the next 50 years of the trans-Tasman travel arrangement, and
- the next 80 years of diplomatic representation.
I wish you well with the panel discussion.