Senate debates

Monday, 20 June 2011

Address by the Prime Minister of New Zealand

The Speaker:

On behalf of the House, I welcome as guests the President of the Senate and honourable senators to this sitting of the House of Representatives to hear an address by the Rt Hon. John Key, Prime Minister of New Zealand.

The Rt Hon. John Key having been announced and escorted into the chamber—

The Speaker:

Mr Prime Minister, I welcome you to the House of Representatives chamber. Your address today is a very significant occasion in the history of the House.

2:40 pm

Ms Gillard:

To the Rt Hon. John Key: you are very welcome here. It was in February this year that I became the first Australian Prime Minister to address the members of the New Zealand parliament, a profound and moving honour for me and for this nation. In turn, today John Key stands among us as the first New Zealand Prime Minister to address the Australian parliament—testament to the profound, unique and enduring friendship between our two countries. We share a common history, a common outlook and a common set of values. Our people love peace and love freedom, and they freely paid a dreadful price for both. It is the story, of course, we call Anzac—and I am always conscious of the 'NZ' in that word.

So today I pledge the friendly cooperation of our two nations as we prepare for the centenary of Gallipoli and those other epic anniversaries of 1914 to 1918—great moments in our national history, great moments in our shared history. Of course, as I said in the parliament in New Zealand in February, the Anzac story is a living story. It lives on today in Afghanistan, where Australian and New Zealand forces are making a vital contribution to security. It was poignantly illustrated when Australian rescue workers forged a cross of timber, salvaged from the ruins of Christchurch Cathedral, a cross that became the centre­piece for this year's Anzac Day service in that quake shattered city. And it was evident when Australians and New Zealanders were among the first teams on the ground after the Japanese earthquake and tsunami.

Prime Minister, we would have always felt deeply for the people of Christchurch when that dreadful earthquake struck, but our empathy was only heightened by the rawness of our own wounds from the summer of disaster here. As New Zealand mourned, we mourned with you. As New Zealand held out hope for a miraculous rescue, we kept vigil with you. And as New Zealand recovers, we will stand by you. If I may borrow a saying from your country's rich Maori culture: turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you. Prime Minister, we will be turning our face with you to the sun, and for you we certainly hope that the shadows of recent days now fall behind you, fall behind our New Zealand friends, our New Zealand family. We know that you will recover. We know that you will rebuild. We know this not only because of our shared past but also because of our shared sense of anticipation about the future, a future in which our interests will only become more closely linked.

But, Prime Minister, this is about more than our two nations, though it is so much about our two nations. We cannot just look to ourselves. As vibrant and longstanding democracies, it is our responsibility to nurture younger democracies throughout the Asia-Pacific, to help strengthen their institutions and to promote fairness and opportunity. Above all we must pool our strengths to meet the challenges facing our region at this time, a time of enormous global change as we face the impact of China's rise, climate change, resource security, natural disaster management, people-smuggling—challenges that require innovative and collective responses, challenges that demand the courage to govern for tomorrow as well as for today.

Prime Minister, underlying all of the strands of our relationship is one simple truth. What geography began, history has confirmed: our two nations are family, so here in this chamber and in this country you can never be a stranger. By honouring you in this gathering place of deliberation, we honour the nation you represent and we honour the people you serve. And so I say from my heart: kia ora, welcome; the House is yours today.

Honourable members: Hear, hear!

2:45 pm

Mr Abbott:

I am delighted to support the remarks of the Prime Minister in welcoming the Rt Hon. John Key to this parliament. I say, John, that as a former resident of Sydney you are just about a constituent of mine, and it is good to have you in this parliament. Of course, as a mark of respect to Australia, the New Zealand parliament earlier this year welcomed our Prime Minister. It is fitting that as a mark of respect to New Zealand we likewise welcome you here today. It is a rare honour to address a joint sitting of the Australian parliament, and we are very happy to extend it to you as Prime Minister of our nearest neighbour and closest friend. We are not welcoming a foreign leader; we are welcom­ing a friend. Indeed, we are welcoming the leader of a country that even now, under our Constitution, could yet accede to the Australian Federation, should you wish to do so!

Our countries have been indissolubly linked and bonded ever since the voyages of Captain Cook. Those bonds have been strengthened in war and in peace, in good times and in bad. Late last year, when 29 miners died at Pike River, we did not mourn for the two Australians who were amongst them; we mourned for every single one of them. When Christchurch was hit by a devastating earthquake, we were only too happy to send the best of our emergency services personnel to help. And in the aftermath of the tragedy, when the Governor-General, the Prime Minister and I went to Christchurch, we mourned not as foreigners but as your kith and kin.

Mr Prime Minister, I wish to particularly congratulate you on two initiatives of your government. First, I congratulate you for formally re-establishing military ties with the United States. This has once more made the ANZUS alliance a fully functioning, work­ing alliance. We as Australians very much value New Zealand's military commitments, not only to East Timor and to the Solomon Islands but also, of course, to Afghanistan. We are ANZAC brothers in arms once more.

I also congratulate you, Prime Minister, for dramatically watering down the emissions trading scheme that you inherited. In this country, your sister party will go further and do better. Should we inherit any carbon tax, we will not just reduce it; we will rescind it.

Mr Prime Minister, we welcome very much your presence amongst us and we look forward very much to listening to your words of wisdom.

Honourable members: Hear, hear!

The Speaker:

Prime Minister Key, it gives me great pleasure to invite you to address the House.

Honourable members: Hear, hear!

Rt Hon. JOHN KEY (Prime Minister of New Zealand) (14:48): Mr Harry Jenkins, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Senator the Hon. John Hogg, President of the Senate; the Hon. Julia Gillard, Prime Minister of Australia; the Hon. Tony Abbott, Leader of the Opposition; honourable members of the Australian parliament; and distinguished guests, it gives me a great privilege to address you here in this esteemed chamber. I address you as Prime Minister of New Zealand, as a proud member of the trans-Tasman family and as a former resident of this great country. I bring with me the best wishes of 4.4 million New Zealanders. They value the deep bonds we share, and they would want Australia to hear this message: New Zealand is committed to your country above all others and for all time.

In recent times you have shown New Zealand a degree of loyalty and support that only family can, and for that we are truly grateful. When an explosion ripped through the Pike River mine in November last year, you sent your specialists, your experts, your machinery and your hope. You did all you could to help us bring those 29 brave men home alive. And, when they died, you grieved with us, not only for the two Australians but for all of them.

When the devastating Christchurch earthquake struck us in February, you came to our aid immediately, unreservedly and with open hearts. From the financial and practical support of the federal and state governments through to the donations of corporate Australia and the heroic acts of individual Australians, your deeds struck a deep chord with the people of Christchurch. When 300 members of the Australian police arrived at Christchurch Airport, they were met by a spontaneous standing ovation. New Zealanders clapped for the Australian presence because it was such a moving and visible demonstration that we were not on our own; you had our back. Let me tell you that that sense of unity and support mattered more than you might imagine. We felt also the incredible support of this parliament, whose expression of condolence and commitment meant so much. The depth and breadth of Australia's support for Christ­church will never be forgotten. In a time of tragedy, your extraordinary assistance strengthened our resolve and has aided Christchurch's recovery immeasurably. While the aftershocks in Christchurch have continued, our recovery is ongoing and assured. Today, on behalf of Kiwis, I thank you. Your acts were living testament to the perpetual Anzac spirit.

Members and senators of this parliament should know that New Zealand will never hesitate to reciprocate this support. When we saw the devastation caused by the Victorian bushfires and we saw the carnage wreaked by the Queensland floods and Cyclone Yasi, our people felt your pain as only family can. We came to you then and we will come to you whenever we may be needed again.

The relationship shared by our two nations is like no other. The men and women in this chamber represent a country whose fortunes, values and people are deeply entwined with New Zealand's. We share with you not only a corner of the world but a similar path in history. It is a history not only of shared sporting passions and rivalry, though they must not be overlooked. More than that, it is a shared history of indigenous peoples, British colonisation, increasing indepen­dence and successive waves of immigration; a history of flourishing democracy, of free markets and of prosperous economies; a history of innovation, enterprise and ambition. Today our two countries walk a very similar path in pursuit of shared aspirations. We pursue increased security, prosperity and opportunity for our citizens. We share a confidence about our place in the world and the stake our people should have in it.

There is also strength in our differences. It is well understood that the Australian Constitution graciously provides for New Zealand to join the Federation. Suffice to say that is an invitation for which an RSVP has never been sought nor offered. It is a mark of our joint progress that we have found other, more effective means of combining our strengths. We both recognise the benefits to be gained from being two countries under two flags and with our own approaches. Beneath our distinct identities lie indelible common values: an easy understanding that Jack is as good as his neighbour, that democracy, freedom and the rule of law should be cherished and fostered, that every citizen should have the opportunity to shape their own future. These are values we are proud to voice on the world stage consistently and without compromise. These are the values we have fought for together as joint forces in Gallipoli and as fellow soldiers in other theatres of war. From the First and Second World Wars through to Korea and Vietnam, the experiences we shared in these battles shaped our national characters. They joined us ever unto each other.

I had the privilege of visiting Gallipoli for the Anzac Day commemorations last year. It was, I have to say to you, a hugely moving experience. Gathered together were Aust­ralians and New Zealanders from all over the world. They came together as proud brothers and sisters of the Anzac tradition. It felt as natural for me to share in the memorial of Australians who gathered together at Lone Pine as it did to gather with New Zealanders at Chunuk Bair. Together we paid our respects to all those who fought, fell injured and in so many cases died for us so very far from home. It is right that throughout the world, from London to Gallipoli, from Canberra to Christchurch, to our local RSAs and RSLs, we continue to remember our Anzacs together. It is right too that the brave men and women of our armed services continue to work together today. The Anzac centenary in 2015 will be a deeply significant occasion for New Zealand and Australia. We look forward to close coopera­tion in the lead-up to these commemorations.

Today we face new challenges in peacekeeping and peacemaking, new con­flicts and a rapidly changing strategic environment with threats, from terrorism to people-smuggling, that know no borders. Amid this change Australia's and New Zealand's alliance endures. Members and senators of this parliament should know that, while our numbers and resources are smaller than yours, New Zealand's commitment to our defence and security relationship with Australia is absolute. We place priority on fulfilling our alliance obligations to you above all other defence priorities save for defending ourselves. We have no better friend and no closer ally than Australia.

Our two countries have distinct contributions to make in meeting the security challenges of our modern world. Each of us will rightly seek to serve our distinct national interests and to maximise our distinct capabilities. But we are stronger for each other. In particular, New Zealand appreciates Australia's enormous contribution to creating stability in Afghanistan and your hard-fought achievements in Oruzgan Province. New Zealand too is committed to stabilising Afghanistan through the contribution of our SAS in Kabul and the provincial recon­struction team which will work through to 2014 to provide an effective transition in Bamiyam. Nine of our soldiers have also served with yours in Oruzgan. I wish today to acknowledge the 27 Australian soldiers who have lost their lives in Afghanistan. New Zealand joins with you to honour them as we honour our own two soldiers who have died there, as we honour all of our service men and women who make the ultimate sacrifice for our countries.

Our two countries have a particular responsibility to ensure the stability of our immediate region. New Zealand values Australia's deep engagement in the Pacific and the cooperation we have with you. We see that with our joint police and defence operations on the ground in Timor Leste and the Solomon Islands. In future our combined Ready Response Force will see our service men and women being jointly deployed, whether it be for disaster relief, humanitarian assistance or other challenges that may emerge in the Pacific region. We are also making great strides in harmonising our aid and development efforts. New Zealand has in recent times sought to elevate our role in the Pacific. It is right that we do so. Almost one in 10 New Zealanders come from a Pacific background and our complex web of family connections uniquely positions us as a regional facilitator. In September this year New Zealand will host the Pacific Islands Forum. We look forward to the presence of your Prime Minister at this event.

New Zealand and Australia's military, diplomatic and political ties are deep and strong. New Zealand values the formal and informal political structures that underpin this, from the personal contact I share with your Prime Minister to the regular contacts between our ministers and members of parliament through to important annual event like the Australia New Zealand Leadership Forum. These contacts have enriched our relationship and have endured no matter the political stripes on either side of the Tasman.

But, ultimately, the story of Australia and New Zealand is not one that has been written by politicians calling the shots from on high; instead, our deeds have reflected the ever-closer ties between the voters who elect us. Our nations each have a vested interest in the other's success. That vested interest is the people we share. New Zealanders and Australians conduct their family and business affairs with very little regard for the sea that divides us. Trans-Tasman families abound. More than 560,000 Kiwis call Australia home. Many thousands of Australians live in New Zealand. Millions fly back and forth across the Tasman each year.

Large numbers of us have worked, studied or holidayed in the other's country. My own experience bears testament to this. In 2001, after a period of time living in London and Singapore, I came to work and live in Sydney, with my wife, Bronagh, and our two children. We remember our time and the friends we made in Sydney fondly and have returned not only on official engagements but also for family holidays. My story is not unlike that of hundreds of thousands of Aussies who have lived in New Zealand and hundreds of thousands of Kiwis who have lived in Australia. We are enriched by the valuable contribution our people make to each other's societies and economies.

It is only right that politicians on both sides of the Tasman have sought to reflect this reality as we developed our trading, economic and legal frameworks. In 2013 we will look back on 30 years since the birth of CER between Australia and New Zealand. As we approach that milestone it is appropriate that we reflect on where we have been and where we might go next. Much has already been achieved. CER represents a global gold standard in trade agreements. Australia and New Zealand boast free trade in goods and nearly all services and, thanks to recent progress, investment is now part of CER. We have mutual recognition arrangements for goods and services and we continue to pursue a single economic market agenda to harmonise our business laws. Despite the challenges of integration, and, it must be said, despite New Zealand's initial anxiety, CER has served both our countries very well. It has benefited our economies, our businesses and the families and communities we all serve.

Australia is New Zealand's largest export market. More than half of foreign direct investment in New Zealand, at around $50 billion, comes from Australia. Last year total Australian exports to New Zealand were a little over A$8 billion, not far behind the $9 billion you exported to the United States. Interestingly, more Australian businesses export to New Zealand than to any other country. Your small and medium enterprises, your innovative companies and your value-added producers often cut their teeth in exporting first to New Zealand before expanding to larger markets. The same applies for New Zealanders exporting to Australia. Our businesses also work together to pool resources, share ideas, share expertise and expand offshore. These facts underscore what we already know. New Zealand's economic fortunes matter to Australia and vice versa. We share in each other's economic success and we will continue to do so.

As political leaders, we have a responsibility to keep up the momentum that has made CER such a success. Our history has proven that open trade and economic integration can be forces for growth and prosperity. The question now is: can we take our relationship to the next level? We have more to gain from closer integration with each other. Prime Minister Gillard and I are both personally committed to progressing the single-economic-market agenda. New Zealand appreciates the focus Australian ministers have brought to the detail of these issues. My view is that, increasingly, we can also play our integration out on a bigger scale because, as important as it is to both our economies, the thriving bilateral business relationship is not an end in itself. We are both operating in the global economy. From the outset, our economic integration process has been designed to help us compete more effectively in the international marketplace. Australia has long recognised the economic potential of our region, as demonstrated by your foresight in laying the foundations for APEC. It is now the region to which all the world's eyes are turning.

The extraordinary economic growth of Asia will compel the next steps in the relationship between Australia and New Zealand. I believe our trans-Tasman partnership can set the standard for ever more closely integrated regional economic communities. CER has already provided the launching pad for regional integration. We saw that with the 2009 signing of the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand free trade agreement. That was a groundbreaking and ambitious regional trade agreement that opened up significant opportunities for our economies. It was the first agreement with Australia and New Zealand that we jointly negotiated, and it will certainly not be the last.

We must now raise our sights to the trans-Pacific partnership, the TPP. Together we can drive to make this trade agreement as high quality and comprehensive as possible. Australia and New Zealand know well the mechanics of how effective trading relationships are forged. As negotiating partners, we strengthen each other's case and set a high standard. Together we can ensure that the TPP is the basis of a powerful integrated regional trading bloc linking Asia, Australasia and the Americas. The obvious next step is a deal extending across the full APEC membership. As we join forces at the trade negotiating table so too can we join forces to leverage these trade agreements for maximum benefit. Together we can work to penetrate untapped parts of the Asian market, introduce new industries to those markets and help our exporters scale up their operations. New Zealand is interested in how our joint objectives with Australia in these areas can find practical expression in the future. Progress in meeting these goals will bring success for each of our economies: more jobs for our people, better incomes and a more diverse and secure base for ongoing growth.

As we take on the world, Australia and New Zealand must work to identify other areas where the sum of our distinct expertise and resource is greater than the parts. Our science and innovation partnership is one such area. Our work to host the Square Kilometre Array radio telescope is a great first step. Ultimately, we should aim to showcase Australasia as an agile, nimble and creative hub of science and innovation.

Climate change is another global challenge our two countries are facing. It is of course up to each country to adopt its own policies to address this challenge. After all, we each have different emissions profiles and different economies. In New Zealand, climate change has been the subject of vigorous debate and at times political division. So I come to this parliament with at least a little understanding of the debate you are having in your country. While our domestic policies are matters for each country's government and parliament to debate, we can and should work together on the international aspects of climate change.

We can work together on research and innovation to reduce emissions. In fact, we already are, with New Zealand contributing to the Australian led Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute and with Australia contributing to the New Zealand led Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases. We can also share our growing knowledge about what works and what does not as we seek to reduce emissions across our economies. I am pleased that Prime Minister Gillard and I have today agreed to further the work of our senior officials as they join up our respective efforts to combat global climate change.

New Zealand feels lucky to have Australia as our neighbour. We enjoy our competitive rivalry, but when faced with challenge or opportunity we could wish for no better partner. You are a dynamic, democratic and multicultural society. You are a vibrant, open and prosperous market economy. You are a force for good in the Asia-Pacific region and an important global player. These attributes bring strength to New Zealand as we seek to further our interests on the world stage. New Zealand too brings increased strengths to Australia, economically and strategically. When facing the world, our two countries' voices are closely aligned and all the more influential for it.

Australia and New Zealand have a proud and unbroken history of partnership. We have stood shoulder to shoulder in the face of challenges on the battlefield, at the negotiating table and amid the debris of natural disaster. In all that we face and in all that we gain, our two countries can never lose sight of each other. The reason for that is simple and is summed up by a Maori proverb:

He aha te mea nui o te ao?

He tangata! He tangata! He tangata!

What is the most important thing? It is people, it is people, it is people. The people of Australia and New Zealand are forever joined. The future holds much for our two great countries. Increased prosperity, opportunity and security are ours to grasp. In all that we strive for, we are stronger together.

The Speaker:

Prime Minister Key, on behalf of the House I thank you for your address and your aspirations for a continuing Australia-New Zealand partnership. I wish you a successful and enjoyable stay in Australia. I thank the President of the Senate and senators for their attendance and exemplary behaviour, which has influenced the members to their quietest yet at this time on a day of sitting. I thank you.

Joint sitting suspended at 15:11


Senate resumed at 15:30