A/NZ Economic Relations: The States
We talked to Anderson (STR) last week about the briefing session officials had had with the States and with industry on the discussions between the two governments about closer economic relations.
- Anderson said that despite the fact that the communique1 and the annexes had been circulated well before the meeting, not all those who came to the meeting seemed to particularly well briefed. Some of the States' representatives in particular seemed to be thinking aloud rather than from properly considered notes. Predictably the concerns they raised tended to reflect regional issues. Tasmania, for example, expressed concern about the continuing orderly trade in frozen vegetables. Queensland on the other hand had raised the possibility of some of their more specialised exotic fruit industries being subject to competition from New Zealand. (On this latter question we said to Anderson that we thought Queensland would have been more likely to ask about possible increases in opportunities to sell fruit, particularly tropical fruit, in New Zealand. Anderson said that he was a little surprised by Queensland's approach too as, against the background of New Zealand's expressed concern about displacing imports from South Pacific countries, officials had been ready to dampen any expectations Queensland may have foreshadowed, but he did not feel that their representative was in any event particularly well briefed.) Dairy products and intermediate goods did not feature at all.
- However, Anderson said that they had tried out a formula on the states for government purchasing and had got a fairly positive response. Officials had suggested that, whatever loading should be used to give preference to industry in any particular state, New Zealand should be treated for purchasing purpose as 'another state'. The States seemed 'pretty relaxed' about that suggestion.
- Anderson said that one general observation he felt should be made about the meeting was that there was a strong feeling that to the extent States would benefit from the new economic relationship with New Zealand most of the advantages would accrue to Victoria and New South Wales and to a lesser extent, Queensland. Officials had stressed that the pain would be felt to a proportionate degree in those same States.
- We were not surprised that Canberra officials should find that the States' representatives were not well informed. At the Federal Council of the Liberal Party held in Canberra 11-13 April there was no mention at all of the Muldoon/Fraser communique; although this could partly be explained on the basis that there were no specific discussions or resolutions on substantive trade issues, but the comments which the Premier of Victoria, Mr Hamer, made to us were probably fairly typical of views from the States delegates: he said Mr Fraser had so far not informed States of what was going on. He did not really know anything about the issue other than the brief references in the newspapers. He had received no comments from any Victorian constituents. He was conscious of Victoria being the dairy farmers' stronghold but they had not said anything to him. Moreover, he could not see A/NZ economic relations becoming a national issue.
- We were surprised that Hamer was not conscious of the pressure being exerted by the Victorian dairy farmers. But this could change if the farmers broaden their campaign.
[ABHS 950/Boxes1221-1226, 40/411 27 Archives New Zealandffe Whare Tohu Tuhituhinga 0 Aotearoa, Head Office, Wellington]