Page 919 - Week 03 - Thursday, 30 March 2023

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In the brief time we were in Wellington I also had the opportunity to meet with New Zealand’s transport minister, the Hon Michael Wood, and the Acting Prime Minister on the day and former Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand, the Hon Grant Robertson MP. Those ministerial meetings focused on the key issue of direct flights, as well as other transport issues. Former Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson was also the Treasurer, or the finance minister in New Zealand, so we discussed our wellbeing budget proposals and our objectives there.

In Auckland I met with the new Australian Consul-General, Brad Williams, and we discussed our activities in New Zealand and the Pacific. Those discussions included aviation, flights, air freight and tourism, skills shortages, the Pacific Labour Scheme and opportunities for further Pacific engagement, using New Zealand as a springboard.

We have also sought to further our existing relationships with Auckland Airport and Air New Zealand. We met with the executive team at Auckland Airport. This provided an opportunity to understand their post-COVID approach to cooperative partnerships with other airports and governments to support new group development. Those discussions continued with Air New Zealand, particularly looking at their post-COVID network rebuilding.

Ongoing and genuine commitment with New Zealand is essential as we work towards re-establishing trans-Tasman services. I note recent announcements from Qantas about their new fleet acquisition strategy that will provide the sort of aircraft that will enable Canberra to New Zealand flights.

As members would be aware, the future of Telstra Tower in our city is being scoped by Telstra. Some recent announcements have come to the fore. We are working closely with them to support a renewal of the tower as a tourist attraction. In Auckland we took the opportunity to meet with the team that runs Sky Tower, a major tourism attraction in Auckland. We were looking at the key elements of that tower operation that make it commercially successful. This visit provided some great insights that we will feed back to Telstra as we assist in the next phase of the renewal of that tower.

A very brief visit to Fiji provided the opportunity to follow up on the preliminary work that has been undertaken by Canberra Airport and VisitCanberra to grow our aviation sector. I was fortunate enough to meet with the CEO and executive team of Fiji Airways. We are working towards a Canberra-Nadi direct flight. Fiji Airways are the logical partner there. The business case that we put forward is supported by our diverse and strong outbound market and the onward connections to North America, to various US cities and Canada.

Understanding that any aviation route needs to be sustainable both ways, we also met with the CEO of Fiji Tourism. We acknowledge the opportunity to partner with them as we develop the business case for this new service. Finally, we met with Rowan Chalmers of Nadi Airport, which clearly will need to be a partner with Canberra Airport to ensure that these new services can be established.

To ensure that we realise our potential as a global destination, it is critical that we attract new direct services to Canberra Airport. Our tourism 2030 strategy, aligning


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