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Thursday, 8 September 1983
Page: 568


Mr ANTHONY —Does the Minister for Trade agree that progress towards greater trade liberalisation between Australia and New Zealand is vital for both our primary and secondary industries and the people of both countries? Is it true that high level talks scheduled in New Zealand this week on the rationalisation of the motor vehicle industry under the closer economic relations agreement have not gone ahead? Is the reason for this New Zealand's concern at the Australian Government's restrictive attitude to New Zealand's investment in Australia? What is the Government doing to ensure the continuation of the trade liberalisation process between the two countries begun by the Liberal-National Party Government last year?


Mr LIONEL BOWEN —It is true that the Government entered into the closer economic relationship with New Zealand which was formalised in March this year. It followed negotiations carried on by the previous Government, and the honourable member was the instigator of the arrangement. The relationship is proving to be very fruitful and very beneficial, but there are areas of disagreement, not the least of which is the liberalisation of motor vehicle trade. An alteration in tariffs in respect of New Zealand imports could affect sales by and to Australia and, thereby, employment in Australia, and particularly in South Australia. These matters have been the subject of discussions between officials but also, I might add, between Mr Muldoon and me. I found him to be very receptive, very co- operative and very anxious to come to a satisfactory solution. I understand that there are problems in respect of what one would call investment in Australia. I understand that that matter of course has been the subject of discussion between the Prime Minister and the Treasurer.

I am aware that meetings between officials on motor vehicles are programmed for next week. I am aware also that New Zealand has asked that those talks be postponed until such time as there is further opportunity to consider New Zealand's representations concerning what it calls harmonisation of policies in respect of trans-Tasman investment. I am very hopeful that those policies can be ironed out because it is of importance to the furtherance of trade that trade liberalisation proceed. I think that can be done. Of course, it is a matter of the rules being abided by. In respect of trade there are no problems. In respect of foreign investment policies there are one or two hiccups.