The following points relating to timing and outstanding issues could be noted as appropriate in discussions with New Zealand contacts.1
New Zealand has stated that it is in a position to sign an agreement on CER. On the Australian side, however, we do not consider that, to date, a common basis for such an agreement has been identified. There remains a small number of very important issues to be resolved before agreement is reached on a CER package which could be put forward to Governments for final decision.
Some of the outstanding issues are quite fundamental to what we in Australia would regard as a appropriately structured CER. These issues have been well publicised in New Zealand, particularly since the meeting between Prime Minister Muldoon and the Minister for Trade and Resources in May 1981. The fixing of a firm date for the ultimate elimination of import restrictions in trans-Tasman trade and the future of performance-based export incentives figure prominently in this regard. As well, there is the need to establish the conditions surrounding trade in dairy products under a CER.
Considerable progress has been made in bringing together the positions on outstanding issues. The two dairy industries are currently engaged in discussions which, hopefully, will result in agreement on arrangements, consistent with the spirit and principles of a CER, which can then be endorsed by the two Governments. Discussions are also taking place on items such as whitegoods, steel, carpet and aspects of horticulture which will also have an important bearing on the final package.
It should be noted that the timetable also provides for detailed consultations with industry organisations and State Government, and for public release of the package before final decisions are taken by the Australian Government.
Again referring to remarks reported in O.WL11721,2 it is a fact that the process of consultation is somewhat more complex in Australia. The broader-based economy referred to by Mr Muldoon means that we have a larger community to consult. Moreover, there is the need, (not found in New Zealand) to consult with State Governments. The need for consultation is a continuing one. However, before we get to the stage of being ready to sign any agreement, we must have a final package on which to consult. That stage has not been reached.
[NAA: A1838, 370/1119/18, xxvi]