ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr is in Wellington for two days to participate in the annual Australia New Zealand Leadership Forum.
Trade and climate change will be on the agenda but Mr Barr will also take the opportunity to advance tourism between the two capitals, including his long-running campaign for direct flights.
Mr Barr flew out on Tuesday night (18 July).
The chief minister will meet with Wellington City Council to progress the Canberra-Wellington Sister City Agreement and future opportunities for collaboration on aviation, tourism and creative industries.
He will also meet with Wellington Airport in the next step to re-establish direct aviation connections between Canberra and Wellington.
This is Mr Barr’s third trip to New Zealand in as many years. Last year he visited Wellington and Auckland, as well as going on to Fiji, which bore fruit in the form of Fiji Airways announcing a Canberra-Nadi service earlier in the year.
The first flight out of Canberra Airport for Nadi takes off on Friday (21 July), marking the restart of international flights out of the national capital. Fiji Airways also announced last week that an additional flight day will be added from October in response to strong demand.
Mr Barr has said government, diplomatic and defence traffic would underpin the viability of direct flights to Wellington.
He remains hopeful that Singapore Airlines and Qatar Airways will return to Canberra, as well as Qantas flying to Singapore out of the national capital with its new aircraft.
A government statement said the 2023 forum would celebrate 40 years of closer economic relations and progress work towards net-zero emissions, free movement of goods and people across the Tasman, advancing the digital economy and innovation ecosystem, and enhancing engagement between Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific.
The forum would also include a dinner reception with New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins and Finance Minister Grant Robertson.
The trip is expected to cost about $9000, to be met from the 2023-24 ACT Executive budget. The final cost will be reported as part of the regular travel reports.