Thursday, July 27, 2023

Point of Order: Buzz from the Beehive - 27/7/23

Seamless trans-Tasman travel was on the agenda for talks between Hipkens and Albanese

The PM and his Minister of Foreign Affairs – reporting on their meetings with big-wigs from abroad – have posted the only two items of fresh news to be found on the government’s official website at time of writing today.

Nanaia Mahuta has given an account of her meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (carefully written in diplomatese and short on te reo – our country is referred to as “New Zealand”, not “Aotearoa”).

Chris Hipkins has done the same, almost, after his meeting with his Australian counterpart, Anthony Albenese.

He mentioned a commitment to refresh the Australia-Aotearoa-New Zealand Indigenous Collaboration Arrangement (ICA).

Of much more concern to many more people, his statement contained news of how things are going with plans to simplify border procedures to enable seamless travel across the Tasman.

Besides talks about NZ’s international relationships, Point of Order has been alerted to a Restraint Of Trade Bill passing its first reading in Parliament.

The Employment Relations (Restraint of Trade) Amendment Bill – if enacted – will prohibit the use of restraints of trade in employment agreements for lower and middle income employees.

But this news was brought to us by Labour MP Helen White, not by a Minister of the Crown, and thus has not been posted alongside these posts ….

Latest from the Beehive

Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta met with United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Wellington this morning.

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese met in Wellington today for their first annual Australia-New Zealand Leaders Meeting.

Much less contentiously than when she was handling the Three Waters legislation, Nanaia Mahuta declared:

“The United States is one of New Zealand’s closest friends and a hugely important partner,” Nanaia Mahuta said.

“Our countries are bound closely by our shared values and interests, including our commitment to democracy, addressing climate change, the international rules-based system, human rights, and a free and open Indo-Pacific.

“The meeting with Secretary Blinken was a chance to reaffirm our close partnership, discuss many of our common interests and identify areas we can further strengthen our cooperation.”

Hmm. Did she get the chance to establish that her ideas of democracy and Blinken’s might not necessarily gel, and did she explain to him why she reckons some of our people are entitled to citizenship rights superior to those granted the great majority?

Mahuta went on to note the USA and NZ already have extensive business collaboration across many areas, including new emerging sectors.

She and Blinken also discussed US economic engagement in the region, our work together on Antarctica and she reaffirmed New Zealand’s commitment to Indo-Pacific Economic Framework.

“We’re continuing to cooperate and support the Pacific in addressing the regional challenges they’ve identified – with many regional leaders being clear the damaging effects of climate change are the most pressing issue they face,” Nanaia Mahuta said.

Also high on the agenda was the respective countries’ interest in security in the Indo-Pacific and work to support a peaceful, safe, prosperous, and resilient Pacific region. Ongoing support for Ukraine as it continues to fight against Russia’s illegal invasion was also discussed.

Oh – and she took the opportunity to thank Secretary Blinken for his personal support of the Women’s FIFA World Cup.

“It’s heartening to see the world get behind our incredible female athletes, and an event that is providing a boost to our economic recovery,” Nanaia Mahuta said.

Chris Hipkins noted that he and Anthony Albanese met as the countries celebrate the 40th anniversary of Closer Economic Relations (CER), the 50th anniversary of the Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement, and the 80th anniversary of diplomatic representation.

“It was great to meet again with Prime Minister Albanese to celebrate our closest international relationship, mark this special year of anniversaries and work towards an even better future,” Chris Hipkins said.

“It’s the fifth time we’ve met in seven months, highlighting the special bond between our countries. While I believe our relationship is as strong as it’s ever been, I know we can keep building on those ties by modernising our agreements and continuing to cooperate in our mutual best interest.”

The Australia New Zealand Leader’s Meeting was an annual opportunity to assess and set priorities for the relationship for the following year, Hipkins said.

Then – and here we come to the nitty-gritty of the prospect of easier travel between the Anzac countries – he said:

“Today, we agreed to put together a joint Australia-New Zealand expert group, with a clear deadline of 12 months, to scope initiatives to move closer towards seamless travel across the Tasman.

“We agreed it’s worthwhile to re-engage on a process to find workable measures that would help trans-Tasman businesses and tourism with a simplified border.

“But it’s not straightforward. Our border is a big part of what keeps us safe. It’s where we manage major biosecurity, people, health and security risks.

“This process will bring the experts together to talk about whether there are ways in which we reduce barriers at the border, while not compromising our security.

“The group will report back by the end of June 2024.

Hipkins and Albanese also discussed:
  • A bilateral roadmap, which sets out our shared ambition for cooperation over the next decade and outlines how we will work together over the coming decade across five pillars that offer the greatest potential for achieving our shared vision: sustainable, inclusive and prosperous economies; security and resilience; active partners in the Pacific; upholding shared principles and values; and our peoples,
  • Our deep cooperation in the Pacific and our commitment to partnering with Pacific Island countries to advance the region’s priorities,
  • A commitment to refresh the Australia-Aotearoa-New Zealand Indigenous Collaboration Arrangement (ICA),
  • The update of Closer Defence Relations (CDR) to ensure it is fit for purpose, drives interoperability and enables us to respond as allies in a deteriorating strategic environment, and
  • A range of economic integration initiatives under the Single Economic Market, including:
  • the negotiation of the Australia-New Zealand Sustainable and Inclusive Trade Declaration, ensuring that CER reflects modern aspirations on climate, inclusivity and resilience,
  • the delivery of SouthPAN early Open Services to improve and accuracy and reliability of satellite based-navigation systems;
  • agreement to work towards updating our Double Taxation Agreement, and
  • the upgrade of the Agreement Establishing the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area (AANZFTA)
“Other areas of discussion included the threat of climate change to the livelihoods, security and wellbeing of the people of the Pacific; and the importance of working deliberately with our Pacific partners to support prosperity, peace and resilience in our region.

“Further afield, we reiterated our commitment to multilateralism and the international rules-based system and reaffirmed our condemnation of Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine,” Chris Hipkins said.

As you can see, there was much to talk about.

It looks Ukraine only just slipped into considerations.

Point of Order is a blog focused on politics and the economy run by veteran newspaper reporters Bob Edlin and Ian Templeton

1 comment:

Ray S said...

It is somewhat refreshing to hear Mahuta refer to "our athletes".
Usually she talks about "our People"