The Times


Joint statement: Prime Ministers Jacinda Ardern and Scott Morrison

  • Written by Jacinda Ardern and Scott Morrison

Prime Minister Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern and Prime Minister the Hon Scott Morrison MP met in Queenstown on 31 May 2021 for the annual Australia-New Zealand Leaders’ Meeting. The Australia-New Zealand relationship is unique in its closeness; we are partners and allies, and we share a relationship of family, of whānau. Through our single economic market, our people-to-people ties and our shared interests in the region and the world, Australia and New Zealand stand together.


  1. The Prime Ministers began by acknowledging the unique role of Australia’s and New Zealand’s Indigenous peoples in the identity of both countries, including their rich cultures and languages, and their ancestral, spiritual and continuing connections to land, water and community.


COVID-19 response and recovery


  1. The Prime Ministers were pleased to have their first in-person meeting since February last year, made possible by two-way quarantine-free travel across the Tasman.


  1. They welcomed close trans-Tasman cooperation in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and noted that quarantine-free travel was a reflection of how hard both countries have worked to manage COVID-19. They acknowledged the toll on those in both countries who had lost loved ones, and all those who had suffered economically. They expressed condolences to countries which had experienced a far greater impact, including those battling second, third or fourth waves.


  1. The Prime Ministers acknowledged trans-Tasman collaboration to support early COVID-19 vaccine development and purchase, including the ACT Accelerator and the COVAX Facility. They acknowledged the valuable contribution of COVAX in ensuring equitable access to vaccines, globally. They agreed to continue cooperation on vaccines, including research and development. The Prime Ministers undertook to support efforts to ensure the free international movement of medical goods, including vaccines and vaccine components.


  1. The Prime Ministers reaffirmed that together Australia and New Zealand will provide safe and effective vaccines to ensure comprehensive vaccine coverage for our Pacific family and Timor-Leste at the earliest opportunity. This complements COVAX vaccines, and doses delivered by the US and France.


  1. The Prime Ministers also confirmed New Zealand and Australia will continue to use a variety of mechanisms to securing and delivering vaccines, including through direct support and bilateral donations to COVAX, bilateral donations to individual countries, and working through multilateral agencies such as UNICEF. Australia and New Zealand are not just providing doses, but also wrap-around support including medical supplies, consumables and support for planning, training, communications and cold storage. Australia and New Zealand will constantly work with partners in the region to reassess needs as circumstances change.


  1. The Prime Ministers discussed plans for reconnecting our region with the rest of the world, and welcomed continued close coordination given the linked trans-Tasman border. They noted opportunities to collaborate on initiatives to extend travel options for Pacific neighbours when safe to do so, including through the trans-Tasman quarantine-free travel zone. This reflects our close ties to the Pacific and our commitment to supporting their recovery. Leaders also tasked officials to explore technological solutions to verify vaccination status to enable Australians and New Zealanders to reconnect with the wider world, alongside other technological solutions that support a safe reopening, while maintaining the trans-Tasman travel arrangements. Leaders expressed their desire to, as much as possible, write the reopening rulebook together.




  1. The Prime Ministers acknowledged the severe economic hardship the COVID-19 pandemic has caused for many countries in the Pacific, with tourism sectors particularly affected. They committed to continuing work already underway with Pacific governments, the International Financial Institutions (IFIs) and other partners to support Pacific economies, helping affected communities and businesses. They agreed to continue advocacy with other partners for increased assistance to the region.


  1. The Prime Ministers recognised a unified Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) provides the best mechanism for our Pacific family to have a strong international voice, and achieve outcomes on priority regional challenges. They expressed hope that the Pacific Islands Forum Troika Plus political dialogue would identify solutions for the benefit of all PIF Members.


  1. The Prime Ministers welcomed the deep and continuing partnership between Australia, New Zealand and Pacific island partners to address regional security issues including climate change, transnational organised crime, Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing, cyber-security and cyber-crime, and corruption.


  1. The Prime Ministers welcomed the entry into force of the PACER Plus Trade and Development Agreement, under which Pacific island countries will benefit from increased economic activity encouraged by customs modernisation, harmonisation and a Development and Economic Cooperation work programme supported by a dedicated implementation unit. The Prime Ministers look forward to all Signatories to the Agreement ratifying and more Pacific island countries joining the agreement in order to realise its benefits of enhanced economic integration and inclusive growth.


Trans-Tasman cooperation


  1. The Prime Ministers reaffirmed the importance of ongoing work under the Single Economic Market agenda to promote policy and regulatory coherence, and to support economic recovery. They acknowledged that the established trans-Tasman architecture had facilitated cooperation in response to COVID-19, including on two-way quarantine-free travel.


  1. Recognising the role of the digital economy as an enabler for all areas of the SEM agenda, the Prime Ministers welcomed agreement on a roadmap for mutual recognition of digital identity. They instructed officials to continue work towards interoperability on improving government services, payment practices policies, and the Consumer Data Right.


  1. The Prime Ministers welcomed continuing bilateral collaboration towards a responsible approach to artificial intelligence (AI) and other emerging technologies. They welcomed the ongoing joint implementation of the Trans-Tasman Cyber Security Research Programme and its projects.  They also supported bilateral and multilateral engagement on standards setting for critical and emerging technologies.


  1. The Prime Ministers agreed on the value of policy alignment on a circular economy and directed officials to work together on issues such as data collection on waste and material flows; sharing lessons on respective waste strategies; cooperation on marine plastics; and increasing capacity of onshore processing, which will have added benefits for Pacific Island countries given our shared role as recycling and waste management hubs for the region.


  1. The Prime Ministers instructed officials to establish a Supply Chain Dialogue, building on our respective existing and planned freight and supply chain strategies, to share experiences and seek opportunities for collaboration. They asked officials to share best practices for identifying and managing supply chain disruption risks and use this to drive information sharing and tangible joint action. They agreed addressing non‑tariff barriers will support supply chain resilience and committed to improving trans-Tasman regulatory coherence and resilience in the freight, transport and health sectors. They asked officials to explore opportunities to harness innovations from the pandemic response, and advance digital trade.


  1. Prime Ministers welcomed work between border agencies to deliver a more seamless border for traders that manages risk while also facilitating imports and exports across our economies. They directed officials to continue work on a secure trade lane between Australia and New Zealand for low risk cargo, and on improving processes for border clearances, including through enhanced use of data and technology.


  1. The Prime Ministers encouraged officials to ensure our countries maintain strong biosecurity by harnessing technological developments, building on close bilateral cooperation on world-leading biosecurity risk auto-detection algorithms and 3D x-ray technology. They agreed to trial use of this technology through our respective biosecurity screening approaches, commencing with pre-screening of baggage and air cargo on commercial passenger services.


  1. The Prime Ministers recognised the importance of the Joint Food Standards System, underpinned by the Joint Food Standards System Agreement and supported by Food Standards Australia New Zealand. Prime Ministers directed officials to continue work on how the System can be maintained and improved.


  1. The Prime Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to mental health initiatives that provide best practice in mental health support in emergency response and recovery. They welcomed Australia’s announcement of a $2.3 billion investment in mental health support and treatment and New Zealand’s $1.9 billion investment in a programme of cross-government initiatives, and new services, to transform its mental health and addiction system.


  1. The Prime Ministers welcomed the passage of legislative amendments in Australia and New Zealand to enable New Zealanders to transfer unclaimed retirement savings in Australia into their KiwiSaver accounts. They instructed officials to update the Trans-Tasman Retirement Savings Portability Arrangement to facilitate these transfers.


  1. The Prime Ministers reaffirmed Australia and New Zealand’s growing focus on economic development opportunities, jobs and growth in the Indigenous business sector. They reflected on the success of the Virtual Indigenous Trade and Connections Event, and encouraged officials to continue to share policy experiences and data to support indigenous development, such as New Zealand’s recently announced policies and targets for government procurement with Māori businesses in Aotearoa and Australia’s Indigenous Procurement Policy. The Prime Ministers look forward to future trans-Tasman trade and policy missions between our Indigenous Peoples (as border restrictions allow), as well as ongoing partnership on the New Zealand-led Te Aratini Global Indigenous Symposium at Expo 2020 Dubai.


  1. The Prime Ministers acknowledged continued science, research and innovation cooperation under the Australia-New Zealand Science, Research and Innovation Cooperation Agreement. They welcomed progress on the Southern Positioning Augmentation Network (SouthPAN) joint program, scheduled to be fully certified and operational by 2025. They also welcomed continuation of the Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Dialogue, establishment of an Indigenous STEM Dialogue, and further work towards the development of a Trans-Tasman Innovation Ecosystem.


People-to-people ties


  1. The Prime Ministers welcomed the return of whānau/family members, business travellers and tourists moving in both directions across the Tasman. Quarantine-free travel has reunited friends and family and provided a boost to the economic recovery in both countries, as well as enabling a resumption of face-to-face meetings between the Prime Ministers, Ministers and officials.


  1. The Prime Ministers re-affirmed the value of the Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement, which provides for an exceptionally high degree of freedom of movement between the two countries. They acknowledged the support each country had provided to the other’s citizens during COVID-19, including allowing those ordinarily resident in the other country to return home, and their inclusion of each other’s citizens in respective COVID-19 wage subsidy programs.


  1. The Prime Ministers were pleased to confirm a change to the unique pathway to citizenship for New Zealanders living and working in Australia. From 1 July 2021, Australia will reduce the number of years in which applicants for the New Zealand stream of the Skilled Independent (subclass 189) permanent residence visa must reach the minimum income threshold (from four years to three). Prime Ministers also welcomed Australia’s flexibility for applicants whose income or time offshore was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and looked forward to a further review of the pathway visa in 2022.


  1. The Prime Ministers celebrated the successful bid for New Zealand and Australia to co‑host the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, one of the largest sporting events on the planet. The Prime Ministers acknowledged the opportunity to use the event to achieve lasting social impact through sport for women and girls across our Indo-Pacific region.


Climate change and the environment


  1. The Prime Ministers agreed on the importance of ambitious and practical action in pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels. They agreed to sustain close and valuable cooperation on climate change, including in the Pacific and on agricultural emissions. The Prime Ministers recognised the important contribution that innovation and accelerating the deployment of technology will play in reducing emissions. The Prime Ministers acknowledged the strong link between climate change, oceans, and biodiversity.


  1. The Prime Ministers recognised the importance of protecting the ocean, including coral reef ecosystems, to build resilience and address biodiversity loss, along with tackling the growing problem of marine plastic pollution.


  1. The Prime Ministers recognised that climate change remains one of the most significant long-term security and development issues facing the Pacific region. New Zealand and Australia will ensure their support for the Pacific’s COVID-19 response and recovery aligns with the goals of the Paris Agreement and helps build climate and disaster resilience.


  1. The Prime Ministers agreed to continue working closely with the Pacific to establish maritime zones and promote the preservation of these zones in the face of climate change-related sea-level rise. The Prime Ministers recognised fisheries will be a critical plank of the Pacific region’s economic recovery from COVID-19, and reaffirmed their commitment to the sustainability of the region’s fisheries and continuing to combat Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing.


  1. The Prime Ministers emphasised the need for pragmatic solutions to address marine litter and other waste issues, and directed officials to incorporate these into their collaboration towards a circular economy. The Prime Ministers looked forward to the adoption of an ambitious post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework at the 15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Kunming in October 2021.


Global trade


  1. The Prime Ministers reiterated their support for the multilateral trading system, and the importance of a well-functioning World Trade Organization (WTO) in promoting sustainable global economic growth and prosperity, including as part of the COVID-19 recovery.


  1. The Prime Ministers welcomed the election of WTO Director-General Okonjo-Iweala. They recommitted to working closely together, and with APEC partners, to deliver ambitious multilateral disciplines on fisheries subsidies by July, and a successful WTO 12th Ministerial Conference that delivers concrete outcomes and a pathway for meaningful reform. They emphasised the need for the WTO to be responsive to the pandemic through outcomes on trade and health, and welcomed joint efforts to strengthen disciplines to reduce trade- and production-distorting agriculture subsidies. The Prime Ministers also reiterated the importance of a functioning Appellate Body and welcomed plurilateral progress in services domestic regulation, and e-commerce negotiations.  


  1. The two Prime Ministers agreed on APEC’s important role in driving the Asia-Pacific region’s return to economic prosperity. They agreed to work together, in support of New Zealand’s hosting of APEC in 2021 and beyond, for a sustainable and inclusive recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes the immediate need to remove barriers to trade in vaccines and medical supplies in the region.


  1. The Prime Ministers affirmed their strong support for open rules-based trade that is based on market principles. They expressed concern over harmful economic coercion and agreed to work with partners to tackle security and economic challenges.


Indo-Pacific and Global security


  1. New Zealand and Australia stand together in facing a challenging global environment. The Prime Ministers discussed responses to increasing pressure on the international rules-based system and rising protectionism, and agreed on the need for coordinated regional and global action on issues such as human rights and climate change.


  1. The Prime Ministers reiterated their shared commitment to support an Indo-Pacific region of sovereign, resilient and prosperous states, with robust regional institutions and strong respect for international rules and norms, and where sovereign states can pursue their interests free from coercion. To this end, they committed to continue their close coordination and cooperation, as allies and partners, on current and emerging economic, security and environmental challenges in the Indo-Pacific region.


  1. The Prime Ministers reaffirmed the benefits of open markets and inclusive regional economic integration in the Indo-Pacific. They expressed their commitment to promoting ratification and implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), as well as to negotiating the upgrade and modernisation of the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA).


  1. The Prime Ministers agreed to continue working collaboratively, bilaterally, and with our partners in the Indo-Pacific region, to uphold sovereignty in an era of increasing strategic competition. The Prime Ministers reaffirmed their resolve and shared respective approaches to countering foreign interference and agreed the importance of building resilience across all sectors of society, including in education, infrastructure, research, electoral processes, media and communities.


  1. The Prime Ministers expressed serious concern over developments in the South China Sea, including the continued militarisation of disputed features and an intensification of destabilising activities at sea. The Prime Ministers further underscored the importance of freedom of navigation and overflight. They emphasised that maritime zones must accord with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and called on all parties to respect and implement decisions rendered through UNCLOS dispute settlement mechanisms. The Prime Ministers reiterated the importance of the South China Sea Code of Conduct being consistent with international law, particularly UNCLOS; not prejudicing the rights and interests of third parties; and supporting existing, inclusive regional architecture.


  1. The Prime Ministers expressed deep concern over developments that limit the rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong and undermine the high degree of autonomy China guaranteed Hong Kong until 2047 under the Sino-British Joint Declaration. The Prime Ministers also expressed grave concerns about the human rights situation in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and called upon China to respect the human rights of the Uyghur people and other Muslim minorities and to grant the United Nations and other independent observers meaningful and unfettered access to the region.


  1. The Prime Ministers also expressed grave concerns about the ongoing crisis in Myanmar, and its implications for regional stability. They condemned the violence being perpetrated against the people of Myanmar and called on the military regime to exercise restraint, refrain from further violence, release all those arbitrarily detained, and engage in dialogue. The Prime Ministers underscored their strong support for ASEAN-led efforts to chart a course out of the current crisis and urged implementation of the five points of consensus on the situation in Myanmar, agreed at the ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting on 24 April, as soon as possible.


  1. The Prime Ministers agreed North Korea’s continued development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions posed a serious threat to international peace and stability.  They reiterated their commitment to working together and with partners to strictly enforce sanctions against North Korea until it took concrete steps towards complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation. They urged North Korea to prioritise improving the lives of its citizens over its weapons programs and to return to the path of dialogue, diplomacy and negotiation.


  1. The Prime Ministers welcomed the ceasefire in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank and called on all parties to ensure it holds. They also expressed deep concern at the recent violence including the significant civilian death toll, particularly children. The Prime Ministers reiterated the importance of a return to direct and genuine negotiations as soon as possible, with a view to defining a durable and permanent peace agreement that results in a two state solution. The Prime Ministers said it is imperative that the cycle of violence and bloodshed ceases and does not resume.


  1. The Prime Ministers reiterated their unwavering commitment to achieving a world without weapons of mass destruction (WMD), recognising the challenges posed to international peace and security by the slow pace of nuclear disarmament and by the proliferation of WMD.  They also expressed concern at Iran’s uranium enrichment activities but welcomed the progress of talks on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which they hoped would lead to a resumption of its full implementation by all parties.


  1. The Prime Ministers acknowledged the 60th anniversary of the Antarctic Treaty entering into force, and emphasised the Antarctic Treaty System provides an effective and enduring international governance framework for Antarctica. The Prime Ministers welcomed the continued cooperation between New Zealand and Australia in support of peace, science, and environmental protection in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean,


  1. The Prime Ministers acknowledged the enduring strength and breadth of the defence partnership. They reaffirmed the enduring importance of working together as allies and partners to support the international rules-based order and a sovereign, secure, and resilient Pacific. They reaffirmed their mutual commitment to the 2018 Joint Statement on Closer Defence Relations, and acknowledged the mutual support provided during times of crisis. They reiterated their shared commitment to advance interoperability, including through continued collaboration on Defence capability and force design, for combined operations across the full spectrum of our shared security challenges.


  1. The Prime Ministers acknowledged the conclusion of Australia and New Zealand’s twenty-year deployments to Afghanistan in 2021. Both nations can be proud of our contribution to the fight against terrorism and support for the development of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces. Australia and New Zealand remain steadfast in supporting Afghanistan as the country enters a new phase.


  1. The Prime Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to the Christchurch Call to Action and its goal to eliminate terrorist and violent extremism content online. The Prime Ministers acknowledged the recent Christchurch Call Second Anniversary Leaders’ Virtual Summit, and reiterated their resolve to ensure a free, open and secure internet, while upholding human rights and protecting fundamental freedoms online.

THE RT HON. JACINDA ARDERN, PRIME MINISTER OF NEW ZEALAND: Kia ora koutou katoa. Nga mihi nui kia koutou and welcome Prime Minister Morrison and welcome to all of you, including our guests from the Australian gallery. You’ve just seen that we’ve exchanged jerseys as we look to celebrate New Zealand and Australia's successful bid to host, co-host the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup, which is one of the largest sporting events on the planet and I know PM Morrison and I were both very actively engaged in that bid and it’s a delight to have that prospect of hosting together on the horizon.


I also want to just acknowledge the significance, as we’ve done throughout this visit, of our ability to speak face to face, to be here in person, and neither of us take that for granted. And as I mentioned last night, that’s not to say we haven't been in close contact. In fact, over the last, you know, 15 months or so, our contact has only increased and that has been, I believe, certainly to New Zealand’s benefit and I’d like to think to Australia's also, as we’ve shared our learnings, information and work collaboratively as we navigate COVID-19.


The COVID challenge that we all face is writ large at the moment and I did want to acknowledge the people of Victoria and just say everyone in New Zealand is thinking of you at this time. We’ve had our fair share of challenges and we understand what it’s like when you, when you reach another hurdle, but we have absolute faith it’s a hurdle that you will come out the other side of and we look forward to welcoming you back on our shores again soon.


The trans-Tasman relationship, as we’ve said many times, is New Zealand’s most important. We are family and the pandemic has underscored that in, in many ways. You’ve seen the scenes of people being reunited but there’s also been the cooperation during COVID. The fact that we have worked as collaboratively as we could around the disrupted supply chains that we have experienced, we’ve seen the value of a highly integrated economies between us, and we continue, we will endeavour to continue to work together on the challenges that we face.


We’ve had a wide-ranging discussion today across a varied agenda, which is somewhat captured by I think a 10-page leaders statement, so you will have seen the diversity of the agenda. We discussed everything from climate change, to trade and security issues, to our commitment to see the rollout of the vaccine in the Pacific and really checking in that we between ourselves felt like we had the breadth of coverage to ensure that we were supporting our Pacific neighbours in that rollout. We talked about managing our borders and the work that we can do collaboratively together as we write the rulebook for that next phase and look, when it’s safe to do so, to reconnect with the world. We talked about our single economic market agenda, including our work on digital trade in the circular economy, and also the opportunities that exist to see intangible outcomes for APEC. Whilst that won't be a face to face meeting, I have invited PM Morrison to join me face to face in New Zealand for those virtual meetings if he so chooses.


We also discussed Australia's deportation policy and opportunities for people who move across the Tasman to access a pathway to citizenship - a concern and an opportunity that we have highlighted consistently for a number of years. As with any family, we will have our disagreements from time to time, but those disagreements are still undertaken in the spirit of openness and ultimately friendship. We are much bigger than our differences and the last year has taught us that. I note Scott that following your visit we have Dame Patsy Reddy our Governor-General visiting, and then myself in July, very much looking forward to visiting to be able to pick up again a number of exchanges across tourism and trade and to demonstrating our ongoing commitment to our relationship. Hand over to you now.


PRIME MINISTER: Well, thank you Prime Minister, and kia ora. It is a great privilege to be able to come here together, as leaders of two countries that share an incredible history. And to come from lands which have an ancient Indigenous history as well, and we can learn so much of that as we chart our way through what are largely uncharted waters, I think, for both Australia and New Zealand. And as the Prime Minister has said, we think particularly of those going through great stress and trial, even now, whether it is back home in Australia in Victoria as we face our most recent challenge with the outbreak there, or indeed, not far, not too far from here in Christchurch and the the floods that are present. Australia is no stranger to floods or fires or cyclones, or indeed even mouse plagues. We have, as both countries, endured a large amount of challenge over the course, particularly of these last few years, and the relationship the Prime Minister and I, Jacinda and I, have had over that period of time has been incredibly helpful for us to work through these many issues.


And we have been on a journey as two countries, not just from the beaches of Gallipoli but the way through COVID as well, and it has been that constant dialogue, that very honest and open dialogue that we have been able to share. I remember one occasion, I remember you called, we were working through the TGA approval of the vaccine at the time. And I was out outback near Quilpie, and so wherever I happen to be in Australia or Jacinda happens to be in New Zealand we are always within close reach to be able to address the many issues we’re facing together. Because we have pursued a very uniquely Anzac path, I think, through COVID-19, and we will continue to do that. And we had much sharing of those issues. But we also must continue to pursue a very Anzac path through the many other challenges we face, whether it's to regional security, the many other, the many other pressures that are placed on both of our countries to secure our way, to secure our prosperity and the jobs and the safety that we want for all of our peoples.


Today we, as the Prime Minister has said, we've committed further to the work we're doing in the Pacific, to provide not only the vaccines in our own countries, but, of course, to support the vaccination programme, whether it's in Fiji or whether it's in Tonga or many other places. We are covering the challenge that exists there. And as well for Australia, up in Timor Leste as well.


The supply chain dialogue I think is very important and goes to the closer economic relationship on our economies. As we're coming through COVID, the Australia and New Zealand economy is fused together more today than I suspect it has been over my lifetime. With our borders affected and largely closed, effectively closed, it is of the Australian and New Zealand economy which is sustaining each other. And so the opening up of the travel arrangements between Australia and New Zealand is good for both countries, as we always knew it would be. But in our discussions today, and with other business leaders, they are pursuing even more opportunities, I think, to see greater and more effective outcomes, while the rest of the world is closed off to us at this time. I think we will increase our appreciation of the economic ties that we have between Australia and New Zealand.


It is true that we are making changes to the pathway to permanent residency, reducing the five-year arrangement to prove on the income test down to three years, and also providing the leniency around the proof of that test around the impact of COVID, and that is welcome. And we will support New Zealand in their stewardship of APEC, which will come at a very important time when it comes to pursuing a free and open Indo-Pacific, one that is sovereign and one that is resilient. And trade is a key part of that agenda. As the world opens up again, and it’s still too soon to say when that might occur, as we discussed that at length today, what will be important is the multilateral arrangements we provide to trading economies, trading countries like Australia and New Zealand to be successful when that occurs, and for us to continue to pursue that success, even now while our borders are closed.


THE RT HON. JACINDA ARDERN, PRIME MINISTER OF NEW ZEALAND: Thank you, Prime Minister Morrison. We’re now going to open the floor for questions. I believe that those have already been registered. I've been given the list, so you'll forgive me, we're narrowing down the [inaudible] job to myself today. So, starting off we have Newshub.

JOURNALIST: Hi, Prime Minister Morrison, [inaudible] from Newshub. You’ve said Australia's sovereignty is not for sale when it comes to China. Do you believe New Zealand sold its sovereignty to China, and is that jeopardising our relationship with Australia and our other Five Eyes partners?


PRIME MINISTER: No, is my short answer. Australia and New Zealand are trading nations. But we, neither of us would ever trade our sovereignty or trade our values. We have stood side by side to defend and protect and promote these values. So not just on the beaches of Gallipoli, but in Afghanistan and in so many other places around the world. This is a commitment that we share and that we honour, and that will always be our approach.




JOURNALIST: Thank you, Prime Minister. Pablo Vinales, SBS News. Prime Minister Morrison yesterday flagged the possibility of the Pacific bubble expanding into countries like Fiji, Vanuatu, Tonga and the Solomon Islands. What would be the requirement for this to happen in terms of vaccination rates, and  those countries their capacity to deal with the potential for outbreaks, and do either of you have a timeframe?


THE RT HON. JACINDA ARDERN, PRIME MINISTER OF NEW ZEALAND: Both Australia and New Zealand share an enthusiasm for, where it is safe to do so, exploring additional options for expanding the trans-Tasman bubble. However, we both acknowledge that we want to maintain the freedoms we have. That means maintaining the very high bar, that between ourselves we have said we don't want to jeopardise the freedom that we have within our own countries to move about freely and to protect the health of our citizens. So in this early phase while we still do not have widespread vaccination in either the Pacific, our own countries, or indeed even broadly across the international community, we would need to satisfy ourselves that there wasn't the risk of COVID entering into our community. So there is a high bar. There are Pacific countries where that would potentially be an option. Some of them are not exploring it at present, but we keep that option open and available and it's most likely to be with our Pacific neighbours that we’ll next look to.


PRIME MINISTER: I agree with that. Pacific nations play important roles within both of our economies, particularly when it comes to seasonal labour and things of that nature. And so where we have opportunities to pursue at least that, at least that in a safe way and with appropriate quarantine arrangements, I think they’re the early steps that can be made in that area, and Vanuatu is such a country that has been raising that with Australia. But you've got to do it safely, and not just safely for Australia. We are very mindful that across the Pacific, where COVID has had and will continue to have the potential to cause terrible devastation in those communities, and by and large, they have done incredibly well. But we are very aware of the health risks for our Pacific family, as much as we are in Australia and New Zealand.




JOURNALIST: Prime Minister Morrison, [inaudible] from TVNZ. What's the latest on Suhayra Aden and is it appropriate for you to export your problem to New Zealand when we’re supposed to be mates?


PRIME MINISTER: Well, Suhayra’s not an Australian citizen. But we have spoken today about her children and the pathway that they have eligibility for in Australia and to stand ready to address those issues. On the broader issue, which is one often raised when I come to New Zealand or indeed when we meet in Australia. Australia's rules, laws regarding criminal acts by those who commit them in Australia, in violation of our laws when they’re not citizens, are deported on the conclusion of their sentence. Now, that's not a law that applies specifically to New Zealand or any other country. It is a universal position of Australian law. Australia is, together with New Zealand, some of the most, I would argue, the most successful immigration countries anywhere in the world. And one of the reasons you are able to achieve that is that you're very clear that when people come to your country that they have to abide by our laws. 


JOURNALIST: Was it appropriate though to revoke her citizenship?


PRIME MINISTER: It is our law, and we believe it was.


THE RT HON. JACINDA ARDERN, PRIME MINISTER OF NEW ZEALAND: We, of course, reiterate our ongoing view on the issue of the cancellation of citizenship, on issues of deportation. Prime Minister Morrison and I have had these exchanges before. He's very clear on New Zealand’s view.


I’ve come to The Daily Telegraph.


JOURNALIST: Clare Armstrong from The Daily Telegraph. Prime Minister Ardern, your recent positioning on China has alarmed Australia and western allies. Are you worried your country's Five Eyes membership could be downgraded? And Mr Morrison, China says New Zealand is more wise and sober in its dealings with Beijing than Australia, but doesn't Australia and Five Eyes need friends who will stick with us?


THE RT HON. JACINDA ARDERN, PRIME MINISTER OF NEW ZEALAND: So, the short answer to your question would be no. And in fact, you know, at no point in our discussions today was, did I detect any difference in our relative positions on the importance of maintaining a very strong and principled perspective on issues around trade, on issues around human rights. And you’ll see that Australia and New Zealand have broadly been positioned in exactly the same place on these issues consistently. So I really push back on any suggestion that we are not taking a strong stance on these incredibly important issues. When it comes to the matter of Five Eyes, we remain a committed member, that is not in question, not in doubt.


PRIME MINISTER: I concur with the Prime Minister. I think as great partners, friends, allies and indeed family, there will be those far from here who would seek to divide us. And they will not succeed, because as we've stood resolutely together for the values and principles that Australians and New Zealanders have stood for, and indeed fought for, that will continue to be the case. So partnering successfully as we've always done, whether it's in the Five Eyes in particular or more broadly in our great cooperation. Most significantly, whether it's in the OECD or the multilateral fora, the World Trade Organisation or indeed the work that we've done through the World Health Organisation, where we share very strong views. And so we will continue to work together in that way. And I have no doubt there will be those who would seek to undermine Australia and New Zealand's security by seeking to create points of difference which are not there. 




JOURNALIST: Kia ora, Jane [inaudible], Radio New Zealand. Prime Minister Morrison, what's your assessment of the possibility of armed conflict between Australia and China, particularly in flashpoints like Taiwan or the South China Sea? And if that did eventuate, would you expect New Zealand to back Australia as a traditional Five Eyes ally? And who are you talking about when you are saying there are those who seek to divide New Zealand and Australia? 


PRIME MINISTER: Let me make a couple of points. The first one is the world is being characterised by increased strategic competition between the United States and China. That is a self-evident fact. But I would say that our shared view would be that such strategic competition doesn't need to lead to increased likelihood of conflict or other pressures, whether they be coercion of any nature or interference. That is not necessary. What we both pursue through the many ways we work together is a free and open Indo-Pacific. Where countries can trade, sovereign, resilient, and to go about what they wish to pursue in their national interests for the benefit of their people. A peaceful Indo-Pacific. So that's what our objective is. That's what our goal is. And whether it's cooperating ourselves, and particularly through the ANZUS Alliance, which is obviously guiding all ultimate decisions that are made in the context of that alliance. What we're also pursuing through the many other fora that we're working in – the United Nations and elsewhere – it's all about achieving that goal. Of course, the world is uncertain. Of course, the world has risks of conflict and tension. Our efforts are designed to mitigate that, to calibrate against that and to ensure that we're working together for a more peaceful Indo-Pacific where we acknowledge the realities of strategic competition, but do not accept as any foregone conclusion where that competition may lead to. 


JOURNALIST: [Inaudible] and my other question, who are you talking about when you say others are seeking to divide us? 


PRIME MINISTER: Oh, well there are many others, people are always trying to divide Australia and New Zealand all over the place, but they will not succeed. And as I said, the ANZUS Alliance arrangements are fairly clear. 




JOURNALIST: Prime Minister Ardern, Fiona Willan from Nine News. 




JOURNALIST: Are you concerned that New Zealand relies too heavily on Australia and others for defence and intelligence sharing. And is that why you appear to be cosying up to China? And Prime Minister Morrison would you say that's a fair description of the situation? 


THE RT HON. JACINDA ARDERN, PRIME MINISTER OF NEW ZEALAND: If I had the ability, I would ask for some examples or evidence of the claim that you've made, but you've already heard me speak directly and strongly to refute the assertion that we are doing anything other than maintaining a very principled position on human rights issues, on trade issues as they relate to China. And in fact, I think you'll find very little difference in many of the messages that we've been sending relative to Australia. So that would be my first point. 


On the question of whether or not we rely on others. You know, in our view and my very strong view, we carry responsibility for ourselves to ensure adequate investment in our defence forces and equally, that we carry our weight as a member of the intelligence and security community. Having said that, we have always operated at a regional level where we support one another. There will be parts of the Pacific for whom we will be, for instance, better placed to engage in search and rescue, to engage in fisheries monitoring, to engage in monitoring trade sanctions than Australia, and vice versa. We work together, but I reject the suggestion that we don't carry and deliver on our behalf and towards the international community. 


PRIME MINISTER: I share the Prime Minister's views. Australia and New Zealand obviously have different capabilities in these areas and we have different programs, but we have interoperability, which is, I think, incredibly important. Because that interoperability has been on display in so many theatres of conflict and peacekeeping and emergency response all around the world, and particularly in our own region. You'd be aware that Australia is continuing to increase our investments in these areas with our capability, we see these very much in our national interests. And we believe that Australia, acting in this way, also provides great stability and support for the region as well. And I know that's welcomed. And so interoperability, we each have different jobs to do, we each have different capabilities that we bring. It's our job as prime ministers to ensure that that comes together in the best way possible for the security of our own nations and our national interests, but also in the broader family role that we have across the Pacific. 




JOURNALIST: [Inaudible] for Newstalk ZB. I'm just wondering, the United States is bringing pressure on not just the Australians, but on others to join in an inquiry to find out the source of COVID, whether it came from a laboratory in Wuhan or an animal base. Will you go along with that enquiry? This is for both of you. And just a follow up to you Prime Minister Morrison, your recent trip to Melbourne

. [inaudible] exposed, but did you, how seriously did you think before coming to New Zealand about being in Melbourne so recently. 


THE RT HON. JACINDA ARDERN, PRIME MINISTER OF NEW ZEALAND: Might start on the WHO and the enquiries that are being undertaken there. I think it was very clear from the outset, from the perspective of the international community that was really tranche one. That was the beginning of some of that investigatory work in which we all will benefit from understanding the origin of this current pandemic. We have, of course, long supported and continue to do so, the work that the WHO is doing to investigate the origin of the pandemic. And it was also a given that there would be a second tranche. We'd be concerned at any suggestion that we weren't able to complete that work, because as an international community, how are we going to protect ourselves from a further outbreak in the future if we don't understand what happened in the first place? So, yes, absolutely. We'll continue to work with others in encouraging and supporting the WHO to complete the mission that we are all very reliant on. 


PRIME MINISTER: Can I start by acknowledging the work of former Prime Minister Helen Clark. As one of the countries that were there at the outset with the investigation that was led by the former Prime Minister, we were very pleased when she was appointed to that role. That gave us a lot of confidence that this was an exercise to the best of her ability and in the circumstances that she was dealing with, that she would not hold back in seeking to get the truth of what has occurred here. Now, there's clearly a lot more work to do. And I would share the view put forward by the United States. It's important that we understand this for public health. This has nothing to do with global politics. This has nothing to do with anything other than ensuring that the global pandemic, which has caused such havoc around the world, stealing lives and livelihoods, that we understand how this occurred so we can do everything we possibly can to ensure that that does not happen again. So many of the conversations we as leaders have, both with each other, but with many leaders around the world is, yes, we need to deal with what's happening in this pandemic, but what are the lessons from this pandemic for what is likely to be another and in what form it might come? And so that's why this process is so important and why it should not be impeded and why it should be so transparent. To ensure, we owe it to people all over the world to ensure that this is understood in the best way. So I do want to pass on our thanks to Helen for the work she has done and the other members of the panel there were Australians also involved at the officials level in that process. And I think this is a question that the world needs answered for their own safety and their own protection in the future. 


On the other matter, of course, I complied with all the requirements of the New Zealand government regarding my travel to New Zealand as all Australian should and as all New Zealanders should when they come to Australia. It is a big challenge for the Victorian people at the moment, but they're coming through it strongly as I had no doubt they would. And we are working to ensure we open Victoria as soon as possible, so Victorians, Australians in Victoria can go about their lives again as the rest of the country has, and indeed as New Zealanders are here. 




JOURNALIST: Chloe Bouras from Network 10. 




JOURNALIST: Australia deports Kiwi criminals. Should we accept back an Australian criminal, the Christchurch terrorist? Mr Morrison, you've previously said that you're open to discussion, Ms Ardern, have you put in that request and do you think that fair given Australia's policy? 


THE RT HON. JACINDA ARDERN, PRIME MINISTER OF NEW ZEALAND: Well of course, one thing I'd say is that our view sometimes Australia deports Australian criminals. The issue though of the Christchurch terrorist. What we've always said is that so much about the future there and those future decisions really needs to come from the guidance of the community. And whilst we haven't undergone any formal consultation on the future imprisonment or where the terrorist will see out the end of his days in prison, certainly some of the informal feedback has been a desire for the terrorist to remain in New Zealand. And I understand that, there's something about the proximity and ensuring that the sentence that was handed down is served. But I do want to acknowledge just the open dialogue that I've had with Prime Minister Morrison on this question. There's never been any issue with me being able to raise the issue generally. But at this stage, I'm certainly not detecting at this stage any desire or strong desire from the community for there to be a change 


PRIME MINISTER: That would be our view also. We are deeply sensitive to the New Zealand people, particularly the community and the families that are affected that I have met with and, of course, the Prime Minister has. And we want to respect their wishes and their interests, and we're always open to those dialogues should they wish to come forward. But at this point, that is not the plan.


JOURNALIST: Do you accept our Prime Minister's premise that you deport Australian criminals? 


THE RT HON. JACINDA ARDERN, PRIME MINISTER OF NEW ZEALAND: Look, we won't get into ad libbing there Barry, just because it's not fair on everyone else. But just to conclude, Prime Minister Morrison is under no doubt on my views on these matters. 


PRIME MINISTER: And likewise. 


THE RT HON. JACINDA ARDERN, PRIME MINISTER OF NEW ZEALAND: All right everyone, thank you so much for joining us today. Safe travels to those of you who have travelled today. Unfortunately I'll be bidding Prime Minister Morrison farewell here so I can make my way to some of the floods affecting New Zealand. But thank you again, PM Morrison. 


PRIME MINISTER: Thank you very much, great to be here. Thank you everyone.
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