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Tuesday, 23 October 1973
Page: 2560

Mr HURFORD (Adelaide) - I cannot help contrasting the remarks of the honourable member for Wentworth (Mr Bury) with what I have read of the views of his colleague, the honourable member for Hotham (Mr Chipp), when it comes to attitudes to Indonesia. However, let me allow them to fight their own battles on that subject and let me say that, as far as I am concerned and I am sure my colleagues in the Australian Government are concerned, relationships with Indonesia have never been better. They are splendid. I am glad of the activities of Amnesty and other organisations in ensuring that as few people as possible will be behind prison bars anywhere in the world. If people are behind prison bars in Indonesia - I have no personal evidence of that - I trust that through Amnesty and other proper avenues we will see that tensions are broken down and as many people as possible are released to freedom. I want to make these points about Australia's relationship with Indonesia: There have been harmonious conclusions to the negotiations on the border between Papua New Guinea and Indonesia since the Australian Labor Government took office on 2 December. Furthermore, the Indonesian Foreign Minister, Dr Malik, will visit Australia in November. We welcome his visit and we welcome every possible negotiation we have with his country. There are very close contacts, and these will be maintained through frequent visits of high level officials between our 2 countries.

However, in addressing myself to the estimates for the Department of Foreign Affairs I want to say something about Australia-New Zealand relations. In short, although there have been wonderful improvements in relaionships between the Australian Labor Government and the new New Zealand Labor Government, my message is that the 2 countries take each other far too much for granted. In other words, we must make much more effort than we have in the past to take note of each other's point of view. In mentioning the improvements in relations I pay tribute to the Ministers of our own Government and the Ministers of the New Zealand Labor Government who have visited each other's country and built up relationships since December last.

I had the pleasure of visiting New Zealand for 10 days early in September as a guest of the New Zealand Government. I had visited the country as a long-in-the-tooth student about 15 years ago but then for only 3 days and only part of the North Island of New Zealand. My trip in September was rather different. I want publicly to express my thanks to all those responsible for this most enlightening journey for me, and I hope for honourable members when I tell them about it. Before setting out to be an expert or pundit on this subject, let me state my credentials. I took part in a seminar on the subject of New Zealand-Australian Co-operation at the Victoria University in Wellington on the first week-end of my visit. The New Zealand Prime Minister, the Honourable Norman Kirk and the Leader of the New Zealand Opposition, the Honourable John Marshall, also were participants in this splendidly organised seminar which was sponsored jointly by the Victoria University Department of Extension and the Centre for Continuing Education at our own Australian National University in Canberra.

I then spent 3 days in Wellington conferring with Cabinet Ministers and senior public servants - mainly heads of departments. I express my thanks to all who gave their time to me and also to a senior journalist who was travelling with me. As an example of the cooperation that was shown, Mr Norman Kirk gave us an hour of his time, and that was much appreciated. The next day I was in Invercargill in the South Island, or more accurately at the relatively new aluminium smelter at The Bluff, near Invercargill - a good example of AustraliaNew Zealand co-operation. A number of Australians work at that aluminium smelter, where Australian resources, in the form of bauxite, are processed by the use of New Zealand power. The next day I spent as a guest of the City Council of Christchurch, the third city of New Zealand and the sister city of my own city of Adelaide, which I am proud to represent in this Parliament.

Mr Birrell - Laid out by the same fellow.

Mr HURFORD - It was laid out by the same fellow, as the honourable member for Port Adelaide so well knows. The next day and a half before I returned home I spent in Auckland, the premier commercial city of New Zealand and the largest city of that nation. Those are my credentials. Now for my views based not only on this experience but also on living and working with many New Zealanders and reading and listening to much on this subject.

In essence, Australians and New Zealanders, it must be said, are basically the same people. It is incredible how similar we are and how our aspirations are so much the same. To focus on the ridiculous, our national dishes are even the same - the good old meat pie for the main course and the pavlova for the sweet. As far as I am concerned, the only problem with New Zealanders is that they play rugby football instead of good old Australian rules. Yet, despite these similarities we take each other far too much for granted. Australians ignore New Zealanders. We are tpo preoccupied with areas to our north, to the neglect of those to our south and east. New Zealanders are far too apprehensive of Australians. They find us too brash. They worry about us swamping them with our uncouthness. At the expense of incurring the wrath of my friends in the United Kingdom, I am bound to say that New Zealanders have been far too ready to listen to the propaganda of the Brits. Honourable members of this House will be familiar with that propaganda or, if they have not heard it, will understand it readily. The old Anglo-Saxon smoothies of the northern hemisphere have been too fond of whispering in the ears of New Zealanders just how uncouth and brash we are and how we should be left alone. This has left its mark on those strong Anglophiles of that other part of Australasia.

I am getting away from my point. The point is that Australia-New Zealand relations have to be worked at - not neglected as they have been until recently. The fact is that to date far too much emphasis has been put on trade. Here, we in Australia have nothing of which to be ashamed. In March of this year when the New Zealand Minister for Trade- and Industry, Mr Freer, and the Australian Minister for Overseas Trade (Dr J. F. Cairns) reviewed the progress of the New ZealandAustralia Free Trade Agreement at a meeting in Wellington they reached agreement on retaining tariff preference by each country to the other. The need for this review arose out of the dismantling of the British preferential tariff system by both countries. The main basis of the Agreement was that Australia would preserve for New Zealand a margin of preference of 15 per cent in the Australian tariff while New Zealand accorded Australia a similar reciprocal benefit but only to the extent of a 10 per cent preference. This arrangement is one that should give a boost to New Zealand's trade with Australia.

The trade relationships in themselves are not enough. The long and short of it are that there are over 2,000 items on the customs schedules which permit New Zealand goods to come into Australia free. In all, there are over 2,600 items on which a rate of 10 per cent or less applies to New Zealand goods and only about 540 which incur a rate of more than 10 per cent. I repeat that this trade relationship in itself is not enough. The NAFTA relationship has been in the doldrums. It has been somewhat short of real progress. There was a real opportunity at the talks at Wairakei in September between businessmen and government officials from both countries. That opportunity was grabbed by the New Zealanders who have opened their borders to a marked extent, as long as Australian traders have been given the time to take advantage of these opportunities. But more than that is needed. I was delighted to learn from New Zealand's Prime Minister, Mr Kirk, while I was in New Zealand, that he is reviving his ideas of a few years ago of Australian and New Zealand parliamentarians and perhaps other parliamentarians, Ministers and backbenchers, getting together regularly. Bolder political decisions for our mutual benefit will certainly have to be made when we learn more about each other. The Prime Minister's idea was that the Nordic Council in Europe should be used as a model. One necessary addition is that we ought to commission now a joint economic study by our Public Service and economic research institutes as a background paper for this meeting of parliamentarians. They will then be able to make the important decisions for a significant leap forward iri cooperation in our region, to our mutual benefit. Australia-New Zealand relations need a big leap forward. This will come only from political decisions of courage. Such political decisions will be made if we know each other better.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Martin)Order! The honourable member's time has expired.

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