This week’s Blog is written by the Chief Minister of the Australian Capital Territory, Mr Andrew Barr MLA.
Kia ora City of Wellington and New Zealand,
As Chief Minister of the Australian Capital Territory, I am looking forward to leading a Canberra delegation to Wellington this week, reciprocating the visit of Mayor Celia Wade-Brown in April this year, where we discussed the opportunity to establish a Sister City relationship between our two cities.
The visit by the Mayor was highly successful as it opened up opportunities for economic and cultural exchange between the two cities, following the announcement of direct flight services between Canberra, Wellington and Singapore.
Wellington and Canberra share much in common and there are great opportunities to work together and seek ways to continue to grow our respective economies, support our respective business communities and continue to enhance the cultural and social fabric of Wellington and Canberra.
Canberra and Wellington offer the lifestyles and opportunities that people want. The cities are two of the most liveable cities in the OECD and are knowledge‑based economies that attract smart people.
Both Wellington City Council and the ACT Government have strong ambitions to drive change and opportunity – to grow in a way that reflects our contemporary community, and to improve our productivity, liveability and economic competitiveness.
The long awaited Singapore Airlines ‘Capital Express’ route, flying direct international services from Singapore to Canberra and Canberra to Wellington, arrives in our cities for the first time in September.
Research commissioned to support the business case for direct flights suggests that there are clear economic and social benefits for both Canberra and Wellington as a result of direct international air services; there will also be significant time savings and convenience benefits for both inbound and outbound travel.
In addition to direct international services, several programs and initiatives are already in place providing the foundation for engagement and to underpin a Sister City agreement.
Canberra is set to host an A-League match between the Wellington Phoenix and the Central Coast Mariners on 12 November 2016. Having Wellington Phoenix play here in Canberra will forge another link between Wellington and Canberra – promoting direct flights between the two cities, brand exposure and increasing visitation to Canberra. We also hope Wellingtonians will jump on the plane to enjoy the one day international cricket match between Australia and New Zealand in Canberra in December.
Cultural Canberra is scoping the opportunity to leverage successful key events for cultural and artistic exchange and cross promotion.
The CBR Innovation Network has connected with its equivalent tech and start‑up ecosystem in Wellington.
The Canberra International Riesling Challenge is exploring the opportunity to stage events in Wellington and has a strong New Zealand connection through John Belsham, the Chair of Judges.
Earlier this year, ACT Minister for Planning and Land Management Mick Gentleman signed a Memorandum of Understanding between the ACT’s Woodlands and Wetlands Trust and the Karori Sanctuary Trust based in New Zealand.
The Canberra-Wellington Sister City relationship will be built on a foundation that seeks to leverage our cultural, economic, and educational advantages as well as our transport, urban design and lifestyle advantages.
I look forward to my visit to the City of Wellington to commence this relationship. See you soon.