86 Cabinet Economic Committee Minute

Wellington, 4 March 1980

No E (80) M 8 PART V. SECRET

AUS/NZ Economic Relations Consultations with Industry

Among the points made in the discussion(1) were:

  • that the Prime Ministers at their meeting would not be seeking to make specific decisions on the implementation of Australia/New Zealand economic cooperation but rather would be directing their attention to establishing the basis on which progress could be made and to making a joint statement that there was common ground for such progress;
  • that the timing of the Australian General Election for later this year was a cause for some concern in that it seemed possible that the Australian Prime Minister would seek to defer any decision on how the agricultural sectors would be incorporated into the cooperation exercise until after their Election. This would mean that New Zealand would be faced with making decisions in its election year and it was considered that this should be avoided f possible;
  • that Australian officials now had a better understanding of the nature and extent of Government assistance to the New Zealand farming industry. However, it appeared as though Australian farmers themselves still considered that New Zealand farmers would have an unfair advantage, should Trans-Tasman agricultural trade be liberalised. The Committee was informed that the President of New Zealand Federated Farmers had recently visited Australia to discuss this issue and was about to do so again. It was then suggested that it might be useful if Australian farming representatives were invited to visit New Zealand to view our industry first-hand;
  • that consultations with New Zealand trade interests, e.g. the Manufacturing Federation, should continue but that this should be restricted to the official representatives of the various organisations and should be on a confidential basis.

The Committee:

  1. noted the report,(2) attached to E (80) 31,(3) of Australia/New Zealand Permanent Heads on their meeting in Canberra on 25-26 February 1980;
  2. agreed in principle that a general declaration would provide an appropriate framework in which to proceed with the more detailed work and negotiations mentioned in the memorandum attached to E (80) 31;
  3. noted the draft texts of the declaration and communique attached to E (80) 31;
  4. agreed that the meeting of Australian and New Zealand Prime Ministers scheduled to take place on 21 March 1980 should proceed as planned;
  5. agreed that officials should proceed with preparations for the Prime Ministers' meeting.

[ABHS 950/Boxes1221-1226, 40/4/1 Part 25 Archives New Zealand/Te Whare Tohu Tuhituhinga 0 Aotearoa, Head Office, Wellington]