The Australia New Zealand Leadership Forum was first proposed by a New Zealand Parliamentary Committee Enquiry in 2002 as a private sector led forum which brings together business and government leaders to contribute to the development of the bilateral relationship. The concept was endorsed by the Australian and New Zealand Foreign Ministers in June 2002 and the inaugural ANZLF was held in Wellington in May 2004. It has been held alternately in Australia and New Zealand subsequently, except in 2012 and 2013 when it was held in Australia for two consecutive years.
The ANZLF is co-chaired by Mr Rod McGeoch AM, Chairman of Sky City Entertainment Group Ltd, from Australia and Andrew Thorburn, Managing Director and CEO, Bank of New Zealand, from New Zealand. The panel session format is designed to allow open discussion by decision-makers who represent the diverse strands of the bilateral relationship, including leaders of business, government, and community sectors with an interest in the bilateral relationship. The meeting examines and debates economic, defence, political and social ties between Australia and New Zealand as well as broader strategic issues of domestic and international significance.
The 9th and latest ANZLF was held in Sydney on 27 November 2013. The theme for the 2013 Forum was “CER to Asia: Australia and New Zealand – The Next Thirty Years”. This theme recognised the 30th anniversary of the Australia New Zealand Closer Economic Relations (CER) Trade Agreement in 2013 built on the discussion at the 2012 Forum that Australia and New Zealand’s future is increasingly together offshore.
The 2013 ANZLF included a panel session led by representatives of the Australian and New Zealand Productivity Commissions on the recommendations of their 2012 report Strengthening Trans-Tasman Economic Relations.
The Australian Government was represented at the ANZLF by the Foreign Minister, the Hon Julie Bishop MP, the Treasurer, the Hon Joe Hockey MP, the Trade Minister, the Hon Andrew Robb AO MP, and the Communications Minister, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP.
New Zealand Ministerial delegation comprised Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Hon Bill English, Foreign Minister Hon Murray McCully, Trade Minister Hon Tim Groser, Economic Development Minister Hon Stephen Joyce and Commerce Minister Hon Craig Foss.
The New Zealand Opposition Leader, David Cunliffe, and the Hon Matt Thistlethwaite MP, on behalf of the Australian Opposition Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Tanya Plibersek MP, addressed the Forum.
The next forum will be held in 2014.