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Bilateral meeting with New Zealand Finance Minister Dr Michael Cullen.



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NO.083

BILATERAL MEETING WITH NEW ZEALAND FINANCE MINISTER DR MICHAEL CULLEN, 17 JULY 2008

Tomorrow I will meet with my New Zealand counterpart, Finance Minister, the Hon Dr Michael Cullen, in Wellington, to discuss key challenges facing the global economy including climate change, and how we can strengthen the bilateral economic relationship.

Dr Cullen and I will discuss recent developments in the global economy and how they are impacting on both our economies.

We confront difficult global economic conditions, with the greatest global oil price shock in more than thirty years and rising global borrowing costs putting pressure on family budgets around the world, including in Australia and New Zealand.

We will discuss the global challenge of climate change and how important early action is in minimising the costs of dealing with it. The meeting will be a timely opportunity to outline to Dr Cullen Australia's plans to tackle climate change, following today's release of the Rudd Government's Green Paper on climate change.

During the meetings we will also underscore our commitment to continue the work of building a seamless business environment between our two countries.

We will explore new possibilities for reinforcing our economic ties including reviewing the Closer Economic Relations agreement and its tax provisions, examining options for retirement savings portability, enhancing bilateral investment and reducing the regulatory burden on businesses which operate on both sides of the Tasman.

It is twenty-five years since the Closer Economic Agreement was signed by the then Hawke Australian Labor Government. This agreement has strengthened economic relations between Australia and New Zealand, eliminated barriers to trade and benefited businesses and consumers.

This meeting will build on our first meeting in Sydney in January this year. I look forward to productive discussions on these issues which will lead to tangible benefits for Australians and New Zealanders for decades to come.

On Friday, Dr Cullen and I will address representatives of the Australian and New Zealand business community at a breakfast hosted by the Trans-Tasman business circle.

16 July 2008