Prime Ministerial Meeting, Sydney, 10 June:
CER: Ongoing Timing
- Thanks your 2002. We understand that AHC has since been asked to brief you on the latest developments on the ongoing timing aspects of the CER. At the possible risk of some duplication we repeat here our understanding of the new situation.
- Further discussions with Prime Minister's Department here have shown that contrary to the expectation in our 1548, which was based on Trade and Resources thinking, it is not now expected that Australian Cabinet will consider the outcome of the consultative period on CER until about 24 August. This target date was, we are told, conveyed by Mr Anthony to Mr Templeton after they had earlier considered whether initialling might be able to take place at the time of the Rotorua Forum meeting.1 We understand that since then Mr Fraser, without consulting Mr Anthony (who is anyway overseas), has indicated that Cabinet's consideration of CER may have to be delayed. He is believed to be sensitive to the need to provide for a full two months for consultations. Thereafter the time-consuming procedures for the preparation of papers for Australian Cabinet combine with the budget on 17 August to bring about the possible further delay.
- It is clear that the Australian Prime Minister wishes the consultative process to be meaningful. He has apparently instructed that Ministers be made fully aware of all the public and commercial community reaction to the CER package, and that they give them due consideration. Also he wrote to the States last Friday asking them to inform him of their views on the proposed CER. An inter-departmental group is to meet to ensure appropriate machinery is in place for the monitoring, reporting, and analysis of views expressed.
- The above perspective obviously puts paid to the possibility of initialling the HOA at the Rotorua meeting early in August. Furthermore Australian officials are unable at this stage to be specific as to when (or if) in September the Cabinet will be able to consider the final summing-up on CER. Mr Fraser may be able to be more specific as to what he has in mind when he meets Mr Muldoon tomorrow.
- It is not yet clear what impact these delays will have on any Australian requirements for legislative changes, etc. We will report further on this, but preliminary sounds indicate that Australian officials foresee few technical/legal problems in still starting CER off on 1 January 1983 if the relevant political decisions have been made. They may even be prepared to legislate retrospectively. (We have just received your 2003, and will use it to explore Australian position more thoroughly.)
- For the meeting in Sydney the Australian delegation is now likely to include only Yeend, plus Duncan Anderson (International Division, PM & C) as formal note-taker, and possibly Mr Webster (we gather he would like to attend if possible). Also Frank Anderson will be at Kirribilli, on call to answer any queries of detail which may crop up.
- Since the above was typed the High Commissioner has spoken personally to Anderson and Scully and it is quite clear that despite any inferences which may be drawn from the foregoing, the Australian Prime Minister is still fully committed to implementation of the agreement by 111/83.
[ABHS 950/Box 1228, 40/4/2 Part 4 Archives New Zealandffe Whare Tohu Tuhituhinga 0 Aotearoa, Head Office, Wellington]