Address to the Australian Banking Association and Trans-Tasman Business Circle Annual Economic Forecast
G’day to everyone in Sydney, and Kia Ora to our great friends from New Zealand.
I want to acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora nation where you are gathering today – and their elders, culture and customs.
I appreciate the opportunity you have given me, to send a quick message from Ngunnawal and Ngambri country, in Canberra.
And I wanted to do this for two reasons.
First, because I see this as another chance to strengthen the respectful and productive relationship that I’ve been fortunate to have with the business community as Treasurer – and as Shadow Treasurer before that.
And second, because our government recognises how important an even stronger Trans-Tasman relationship is for both of our countries – for our governments, our business networks, and our communities.
I think that was underscored by Prime Minister Hipkins’ visit to Australia last week – continuing that special friendship that we developed with Prime Minister Ardern and her predecessors as well.
And for many years I’ve been lucky to call Grant Robertson not just my counterpart, but my friend, and I look forward to continuing to work with him in his important portfolio.
2023 is a big year for the Trans-Tasman partnership. We are celebrating 40 years of Closer Economic Relations – acknowledged as one of the most comprehensive and effective trade arrangements in the world.
Our countries are obviously alike in a lot of ways, and it’s the case that we’re grappling with fairly similar economic challenges at the moment – so forums like this make a lot of sense, and I commend you for convening us.
I know you have gathered to consider the outlook for the year ahead. And obviously that’s something we’ve been doing a fair bit of in the last few months as well – with my Cabinet colleagues in the lead up to our second Budget in May.
There’s no getting around the reality of a challenging year for the global economy – and we’ll feel the impact of that in our part of the world.
Like New Zealand and like a lot of other countries, the defining feature of the Australian economy in 2023 is inflation – and that’s why it’s our government’s major focus.
We’ve got a three-point plan for addressing the inflation challenge: relief, repair and restraint.
We are providing responsible cost-of-living relief where it delivers an economic dividend and doesn’t add excess demand.
We have started the work to repair damaged supply chains which have only exacerbated this inflation challenge – including widespread skills and labour shortages.
And we’re showing spending restraint in the Budget – so that the government isn’t adding further to the inflation in the economy.
We know that migration is one part but not the only part of addressing the labour shortages that we’re experiencing on both sides of the ditch.
That’s why we’ve delivered a responsible increase to the migration cap, at the same time as we’re funding more vocational training places as well.
As I think you’d be aware, my colleague Clare O’Neil is also leading a comprehensive review of our migration system – including looking at how it can better meet our future workforce needs.
But migration is about much more than building the right labour force – it’s crucial for that – it’s all about people building a life as well.
And I know a local level, the area I grew up in, live in and represent around Logan city in the southern suburbs of Brisbane, has among the largest numbers of New Zealand-born residents of any part of Australia – including a big and proud Maori contingent, who I joined for Waitangi Day this month.
I couldn’t imagine our community without them – it wouldn’t be as diverse, or as welcoming, or as strong.
And they aren’t just New Zealanders to us – they are part of our community and our country, we consider them Aussies.
But the law doesn’t.
This has been a big issue for a long time, and I wanted to acknowledge it in this forum – the difficulty that so many New Zealanders have getting on a pathway to citizenship in Australia.
Prime Minister Albanese was working closely with Prime Minister Ardern through some of the different citizenship issues for New Zealanders living in Australia – and he’s now continuing that really important work with Prime Minister Hipkins.
The intention is for those issues to be resolved, and for a new way forward to be settled, by Anzac Day – so in a few months’ time.
These issues aren’t simple – but the general principle is simple: New Zealanders who have settled in Australia, are building their life in Australia, and are contributing to a better future for Australia, shouldn’t have to be considered as temporary residents in Australia, forever.
There’s a lot of good work and good will from both sides – and I’m confident we’ll have some good news on that pretty soon.
And even in a tricky and trying year, because of all of the good work and all the good will across a heap of areas, I am really optimistic about the future of our economies and the future of this Trans-Tasman partnership.
I know that we can align our values and strengthen our economies and our communities at the same time.
And I know that if we keep working together and learning together, we’ll keep growing together – another 40 years of partnership even more productive and even more prosperous than the last.
Thanks very much.