Page 1763 - Week 06 - Thursday, 14 May 2015

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Thursday, 14 May 2015

MADAM SPEAKER (Mrs Dunne) took the chair at 10 am and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.

Visit to New Zealand

Ministerial statement

MR BARR (Molonglo—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Minister for Urban Renewal and Minister for Tourism and Events) (10.02), by leave: In February of this year I undertook a short ministerial visit to New Zealand. During the three days I visited Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland and I held meetings with the Chair of the Christchurch City Council Economic Development Committee; Re:START, Christchurch’s pop-up mall; Housing New Zealand; the Christchurch Earthquake Recovery Authority; the New Zealand parliamentary secretary for tourism; Wellington City Council; Auckland Airport; Hobsonville Land Co; the Auckland Waterfront Development Agency; Air New Zealand; and New Zealand’s Deputy Prime Minister, the Hon Bill English MP.

I also attended the Australia New Zealand Leadership Forum. The forum brought together business and government leaders to forge a stronger bilateral relationship between our two nations. This range of meetings covered a wide range of issues, from direct flights between New Zealand cities and Canberra to urban renewal and affordable housing. My colleagues in New Zealand are committed to working with the ACT government and our business and community sectors to build stronger economic and cultural relationships. There is strong agreement at all levels that direct flights between New Zealand cities and Canberra will be a key step in strengthening ties across the Tasman.

This issue came up time and again in my meetings with Wellington City Council, Christchurch City Council, Air New Zealand, Deputy Prime Minister Bill English, parliamentary private secretary for tourism Ms Jacqui Dean, and the CEO of Auckland Airport, Mr Adrian Littlewood. Both the Deputy Prime Minister and the parliamentary private secretary for tourism agreed that direct international flights between New Zealand and Canberra must be a priority.

I was also able to discuss the compelling case for direct flights with Air New Zealand’s chief sales and commercial officer. We will be presenting a business case to Air New Zealand in coming months for their consideration. New Zealand is the number one inbound market for Australia but is the number five market for Canberra; so we need to do better here. The ACT government will continue to work with the New Zealand government, various city councils within New Zealand, airports and the airlines to pursue direct flights between New Zealand and Canberra. Whilst this will prove challenging in the current environment, we believe in our city and we believe in the importance of supporting and diversifying our economy.

I will be meeting with Virgin Australia in Sydney tomorrow to further these discussions. This complements the meetings being held at officials’ level with

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