Christchurch and Queensland rising above disaster

Media release

Canberra

25 March 2011

Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd will travel to Christchurch today for biannual talks with his New Zealand counterpart, Foreign Minister Murray McCully, and to visit areas of Christchurch affected by the February earthquake.

"Coming from Queensland, I know all too well the terrible toll that nature can exact," Mr Rudd said.

"Canterbury and Queensland are working hard to recover from the earthquake and floods and show the rest of the world that they are open for business.

"Australian High Commission staff in New Zealand did their country proud during the aftermath of the earthquake, and I also want to recognise their performance under sustained pressure."

The Foreign Ministers will discuss the close cooperation between Australia and New Zealand responding to the disaster in Japan.

"The fact that Australians and New Zealanders have been working side by side in Japan demonstrates the closeness of our partnership in good times and bad," Mr Rudd said.

The Ministerial talks will also examine ongoing efforts to make travel between the two countries as seamless as possible, work to make it easier for investment and business in each other's country, and plans to reduce roaming mobile phone costs between Australian and New Zealand.

The Ministers will also discuss key international issues, including the evolving situation in the Middle East and its impacts on the region.

"These talks, which occur twice a year, show that the relationship across the Tasman is front and centre to Australia's economic and foreign policy interests," Mr Rudd said.

The last Foreign Minister talks were held in Australia in November 2010.

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