Prime Minister the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP and Prime Minister the Rt Hon John Key met in Sydney on 19 February 2016 for the annual Australia-New Zealand Leaders’ Meeting. Prime Minister Turnbull and Mrs Turnbull warmly welcomed Prime Minister Key and Mrs Key to Australia. Prime Ministers Turnbull and Key also welcomed the opportunity to engage with senior representatives of the Australian and New Zealand business communities.
The Prime Ministers emphasised that the enduring strength of the Australia-New Zealand relationship lay in the close bonds between our people, the extraordinary depth of our economic linkages, our shared values and outlook and strong sense of community. The two leaders held substantive and wide-ranging discussions on strategic and bilateral issues of importance to both countries, and the visit yielded agreement to further deepen cooperation and collaboration between the two countries to enhance the prosperity and security of Australians and New Zealanders.
Prime Minister Key welcomed Prime Minister Turnbull’s announcement that Australia would offer a unique pathway to citizenship for New Zealanders who are long-term residents in Australia. The two agreed that the pathway acknowledges the significant contributions many New Zealanders have made to Australia and their enduring community ties. They committed to work closely to implement the new pathway in keeping with the strong sense of community between our two nations.
Prime Minister Turnbull reiterated Australia’s commitment to ensuring the process of visa cancellation, appeals and removals of New Zealand citizens who have been convicted of serious crimes in Australia is conducted as efficiently as possible. The Prime Ministers welcomed the good progress made to expedite cases, improve communications between authorities and take into account community ties in considering these cases.
Security and Defence Cooperation
Australia and New Zealand have a shared interest in promoting a stable, rules-based global order, and in working together to respond to regional and international security challenges.
The Prime Ministers affirmed their commitment to close defence and security cooperation. They agreed on the benefits of enhancing interoperability between the countries’ defence forces, recognising this would maximise the impact and effectiveness of our contributions to international peace and security and in response to regional emergencies.
To further enhance strategic cooperation and strengthen responses to domestic security challenges, the Prime Ministers agreed their departmental secretaries would lead an annual dialogue on national security between the heads of Australian and New Zealand policy, intelligence and security agencies.
The Prime Ministers expressed their deep concern at the situation in Syria and Iraq. They reiterated their support and encouragement for efforts to ease humanitarian suffering in Iraq and Syria, to reach a negotiated political solution to the Syrian crisis, and to progress inclusive governance in Iraq.
Australia and New Zealand have a long and proud history of working together to advance international peace and security, and are doing so once again as members of the Counter‑ISIL coalition supporting Iraq’s government in its efforts to defeat ISIL. The two Prime Ministers recognised the valuable work of the joint Australia-New Zealand Building Partner Capacity (BPC) mission in Iraq, which is training units of the Iraqi Army to build their skills and enable them to convert short-term battlefield gains into long-term success in defeating ISIL. The Iraqi Army’s 76th Brigade, trained at Taji by Australian and New Zealand Defence personnel, played a key support role in the liberation of Ramadi in December.
Critical cooperation between Australia and New Zealand to combat domestic terrorism continues to grow. Both countries have taken a range of measures to address the evolving terrorist threat, including legislation to ensure our agencies have the powers and resources they need to protect the public. The two leaders agreed to build on the substantial collaboration between our law enforcement agencies, including through the Australia‑New Zealand Counter-Terrorism Committee. They agreed that community engagement was vital to tackle radicalisation and violent extremism. They noted that it would be vital also to continue to work in cooperation with partner governments in the region to support initiatives to counter violent extremism.
On the issue of tackling people smuggling, the leaders welcomed cooperation between the two governments, and with countries of the region through the Bali Process. The Prime Ministers underlined the importance of efforts to counter the illegal people smuggling trade, which puts vulnerable peoples' lives at risk and enriches criminal networks. They emphasised their continuing commitment to detect and deter people smuggling ventures targeting our borders, and to continue work on a joint information campaign.
Australia and New Zealand continue to strengthen ties on cyber security. Both governments share a commitment to improving our cyber defences and championing an open, free and secure internet to enable our citizens to be secure, resilient and prosperous online.
Exercising our response to cyber-attacks gives us insight into where we need to improve. Australia and New Zealand will undertake joint cyber exercises to ensure we can respond to a significant cyber incident affecting both nations, with the first joint exercise to be conducted by the end of 2016.
Creating cyber smart nations, with more people who have the right skills and know-how is high on our agenda. The Prime Ministers agreed to cooperate to boost trans-Tasman cyber security skills by enhancing our respective skills competitions for students.
Increasing the understanding of cyber security risks and benefits is one of our strongest defences. The Prime Ministers committed to work together to improve trans-Tasman cyber security awareness through aligned public-private awareness initiatives and education campaigns. Together, in partnership with businesses and the community, the governments will strengthen cooperation on practical initiatives to improve cyber security and enhance collaboration across our nations.
Trade and Economic Cooperation
The Prime Ministers recognised the strength and importance of the trade and economic relationship, underpinned by the Australia‑New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement (CER), which has delivered enormous benefits to both countries, and being taken forward by the Single Economic Market (SEM) agenda.
Leaders noted the strong progress that had been made in creating a seamless business environment between the two countries. This has helped businesses and consumers on both sides of the Tasman and provided scale and a platform for expansion into third markets. Leaders directed officials to develop ideas for further progressing the SEM agenda, with a view to proposed initiatives being discussed at the CER Ministerial meeting to be held later in 2016.
Leaders welcomed work to date on a concept for a Joint Infrastructure Pipeline to increase the scale and attractiveness to foreign investors and major infrastructure companies of the combined Australian New Zealand infrastructure market. They supported further work to bring the concept to the next stage.
Leaders noted the progress being made on negotiations for a Mutual Recognition Arrangement between the Australian Trusted Trader program and the New Zealand Secure Exports Scheme, which will provide reciprocal trade facilitation benefits to member businesses. Both countries are working towards signing the arrangement by July this year.
Leaders acknowledged the completion of a project to reference the New Zealand Qualifications Framework and Australian Qualifications Framework. The referencing helps employers and education providers make informed decisions on the comparability of New Zealand and Australian qualifications, making it easier for students and workers to use their qualifications in both countries.
Innovation and Science
The leaders agreed on the importance of fostering innovation and entrepreneurship to create the modern, dynamic economies needed to thrive in the 21st century. Australia and New Zealand are home to high-quality businesses, universities and research organisations that make strong contributions to their respective economies. There is great scope to build stronger cross-Tasman collaboration between them and to learn lessons on best practice.
The two leaders agreed to develop a science and innovation agreement that will better integrate Australia and New Zealand’s innovation agendas to help share cutting-edge ideas and build economies based on innovative human capital.
Australia and New Zealand play a central role in the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), an ambitious and important project to build the world’s largest radio telescope to undertake transformational science. The Prime Ministers welcomed the signing of an Arrangement on Australia-New Zealand collaboration on the SKA, which will provide for collaborative engagement to explore opportunities to develop Australasian capability in SKA-related radio astronomy, information and communication technology, engineering and other technologies.
The leaders also welcomed continued collaboration between the two countries on the Australian Synchrotron.
Regional and International Trade
The Prime Ministers emphasised the significant opportunities of greater trade and economic integration in the Asia-Pacific region to both countries and their continued commitment to work together in building regional trade.
They welcomed the signing of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) in Auckland on 4 February. The TPP is the most significant trade and investment agreement finalised in over two decades and stands to provide benefits across the traditional areas of trade and investment and in so-called 21stcentury areas like e-commerce and global value chains. The TPP will see the elimination of 98 per cent of tariffs among its 12 member countries, which together account for some 40 per cent of global GDP. Both countries have commenced ratification processes, with the agreement expected to enter into force within two years.
Australia and New Zealand remain strongly committed to progressing the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations alongside ASEAN, China, India, Japan and Korea. The Prime Ministers agreed they would continue to push for a modern, comprehensive, high-quality agreement that significantly builds on the Agreement Establishing the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area (AANZFTA).
The Prime Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to concluding PACER Plus negotiations among Pacific Islands Forum members by June 2016, in line with the Leaders’ directive reached in Port Moresby in September 2015. They agreed prosperity and stability in the Pacific would be well served by a high-quality trade and investment agreement, and called on negotiators from all Pacific countries to redouble their efforts to reach a deal.
The Prime Ministers welcomed the agreement of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Nairobi package reached at the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference in December last year. In particular, as fellow members of the Cairns Group of agricultural exporting countries, the elimination of export subsidies is a significant benefit for Australian and New Zealand agriculture exporters.
Cooperation in the Pacific
Close cooperation and engagement in the Pacific is a high priority for Australia and New Zealand. Both countries value their partnerships with the governments and people of the Pacific, and are committed to helping create a more prosperous and secure region. The Prime Ministers committed to continued advocacy for Pacific Island countries in the United Nations and other international bodies.
The Leaders reaffirmed their support for the Pacific Islands Forum as the preeminent forum to address issues of regional concern, and welcomed the cooperation Australia and New Zealand are undertaking to promote sustainable economic development in the Pacific.
They committed to continuing to work together to implement the historic commitments made at the Paris Climate Conference (COP21), where pledges covering 188 countries had been tabled, recognising the particular significance of responding to climate change for countries of the Pacific and other small island developing states. Australia and New Zealand also work closely with our neighbours in the Pacific in supporting clean energy and building strong disaster resilience and response capacities for the region.
Prime Ministers Turnbull and Key agreed that coordinated assistance by Australia and New Zealand would be crucial to help contain threats posed by infectious diseases including the current concerns regarding the Zika virus in the Pacific. Australia had pledged AUD$500,000 and New Zealand NZD$250,000 to the World Health Organization’s Pacific Zika Virus Action Plan to help limit the impact and spread of the virus in the region. New Zealand has also pledged an additional NZD$250,000 for direct in-country support to enable high-risk countries in the region to respond rapidly if required.
Australia and New Zealand are working together effectively to deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in the Southern and Pacific Oceans. Joint surveillance activities, information sharing and coordinated diplomatic outreach aimed at combating illegal fishing have been highly successful and will continue in 2016 and beyond. The two leaders also expressed their commitment to supporting the Pacific fisheries sector to achieve sustainable economic returns.
Both Australia and New Zealand remain committed to supporting Pacific Island Countries and partners to protect and utilise regional marine resources through, such measures as the Australian Pacific Patrol Boat Program, the Australian Pacific Maritime Security Program and the implementation of a catch-based management system for fisheries.
Antarctica and Southern Ocean
Building on the well-established relationship between Australia and New Zealand regarding Antarctica, the leaders agreed to explore options for deepening scientific cooperation, including in relation to the effects of climate change, and to continue advocacy for the establishment of Marine Protected Areas in the Southern Ocean. Australia and New Zealand reiterated their commitment to a strong and effective Antarctic Treaty System.
The Prime Ministers expressed concern about Japan’s resumption of whaling in the Southern Ocean. Australia and New Zealand call on Japan to respect the 2014 judgement of the International Court of Justice on ensuring that lethal whale research is consistent with the obligations under the International Whaling Convention. Australia and New Zealand remain firmly opposed to commercial whaling, in particular in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary established by the International Whaling Commission.
Recognising the central importance of a stable, secure Asia-Pacific region to the world economy, the Prime Ministers emphasised the need for restraint and respect for international norms and rules of behaviour in resolving territorial disputes. They encouraged a peaceful resolution to all disputes in accordance with international law, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). With regard to the South China Sea, they stressed the importance of unimpeded trade, freedom of navigation and overflight. The Prime Ministers called on all claimant states in the South China Sea to halt land reclamation, construction, and militarisation, and to take steps to ease tensions.
The Prime Ministers also noted the important role in developing common understandings and resolving sensitive issues played by regional institutions such as the East Asia Summit.
The leaders were in strong agreement that the recent launch of a ballistic rocket by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) constituted a serious threat to international peace and security. They condemned the country’s dangerous actions and called on the DPRK regime to cease its provocations and engage constructively with the international community.