Page 84 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 13 February 2018

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connection with Wellington to remain and the direct services to Wellington will cease on 30 April this year.

I note that Singapore Airlines had been clear that the performance of the Wellington route was not the issue, and the ACT government has been in active communication with the Wellington mayor’s office since the Singapore Airlines announcement. We pledge our firm commitment to work with Wellington to pursue opportunities for alternative airlines to pick up this route, perhaps in a slightly smaller aircraft that might be better suited to going across the ditch. I will keep members posted on the latest developments in our negotiations with alternative airlines.

I will also continue to advocate for opportunities around other aviation links between Canberra and New Zealand. For example, a Canberra-Auckland direct service with onward connections to international flights from Auckland would be very strongly supported by both leisure and business commuters. Accordingly in this context, the delegation, with the support of Mr Stephen Byron, the managing director of the Canberra Airport Group, we met with senior executives from Air New Zealand and the Auckland Airport corporation to raise the prospect of direct flights between Canberra and Auckland. Back in Wellington on the same evening I also had the opportunity to meet the Chairman and CEO of Air New Zealand at the chairman’s function.

In the area of First Peoples and Indigenous cultural engagement, as part of the Wellington-Canberra sister city agreement both governments have agreed to work together on issues concerning the Indigenous citizens of both cities. During a recent visit to Canberra the deputy mayor of Wellington discussed the establishment of close ties between Indigenous communities of both cities, and the New Zealand mission provided the opportunity to commence a dialogue with Wellington officials to explore options for connecting both communities.

The visit offered an opportunity to connect at a cultural level between the government and the Wellington City Council, particularly to explore an Indigenous people’s program focusing on arts, communities, major events and meaningful exchanges. Some specific matters being considered included everything from a penpal program for high school students, attendance at leadership programs and the World Indigenous Business Forum, exchanges to attend NAIDOC and, of course, Maori new year, arts exchanges, shared storytelling and a visit to Canberra. Such collaboration fosters and enhances the key focus area of cultural identity articulated in the ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander agreement, which aims to better the quality of life for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people here in the ACT.

This developing partnership is also a practical example of reconciliation in action. Given that the ACT is the first Australian jurisdiction to gazette a Reconciliation Day public holiday, it is also a great opportunity to showcase this major event beyond the boundaries of our country and to give reconciliation a worldwide context.

The primary objective of this mission was to grow and enrich the sister city relationship with Wellington, and the annual Canberra Week in Wellington provides a platform to fulfil this commitment. It commits both cities to a series of activities to

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