Trans Tasman Relations

30 August 2005

Cooperation between Standards New Zealand (SNZ) and Standards Australia (SA) continues to develop and bring benefit to both the New Zealand and Australian economies.

In the last 12 months 42 Joint Standards have been developed by committees with secretariats operated by SNZ and 159 by SA. Joint Standards are recognised under the Memorandum of Understanding (“MoU”) between SNZ and SA as having the status of a New Zealand Standard (NZS) and an Australian Standard (AS). This dual recognition assists trade between the countries as manufacturers, importers, retailers and consumers all benefit from having the same common standard.

An example of significant trade benefits are the joint Electrical Appliance Standards, which are cited by regulators in both Australia and New Zealand. As a result manufacturers such as Fisher & Paykel produce appliances that can be sold straight into either the New Zealand or the Australian market. As products automatically meet all the regulatory requirements, importing and exporting become easier and more efficient. The MoU allows for interaction at the governance and management levels between the two organisations on a regular basis, and for electronic approval of Joint Standards work in a way that minimises bureaucracy while ensuring the need for a Joint standard is clearly established.

The MoU also allows for observer members from New Zealand and Australia to sit in on the other organisation’s key stakeholder advisory groups. These developments have significantly increased the quality and effectiveness of the relationship.

The Joint Standards Development Board (“JSDB”) and Joint Standards Management Group (“JSMG”) are invaluable fora that allow the Chairs of SNZ and SA, the Chairs of the key advisory groups and the Chief Executives and management of the Standards development process to
discuss issues regarding the development of Joint Standards.

SNZ is participating in the review SA is currently undertaking on its stakeholder consultation structure and governance process. This review is being undertaken by an external agency and SNZ’s CEO, Rob Steele, was interviewed to provide input.

SNZ and SA jointly developed and ran a training workshop in Fiji to assist the Fiji Trade Standards and Quality Control Offi ce in their preparations to becoming a full participating member of the International Organisation for Standardization (“ISO”). SA and Fiji Trade Standards already have a MoU to cooperate on Standards issues, and SNZ is working with Fiji Trade Standards to put a similar arrangement in place to assist trade between the three countries.

SNZ and SA also recently joined forces in a consortium to bid for work to assist the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat review and consider the most appropriate Standards and conformance infrastructure for its members. The decision on who will complete the work has not yet been made but the fact that the two organisations can work at this level proves how the relationship has developed and the potential to add the necessary technical expertise to Standards issues in facilitating trade between the two countries and others.

For Rob Steele, CEO of Standards New Zealand, the relationship is both healthy and crucial. “Australia is New Zealand’s largest trading partner, and trans-Tasman trade is significant for both countries. Ensuring there are no barriers to that trade by having the same standard
in each country is good for everyone and the process by which Joint standards are developed and reviewed allows input from both countries to be equally considered.”

Joint Boards

The Joint Standards Development Board (JSDB) and the Joint Standards Management Group (JSMG) exist to facilitate the working relationship with Standards Australia and Standards New Zealand to ensure Joint Standards developments are managed appropriately.

These two mechanisms allow good communication at both stakeholder and management level. The recent review of stakeholder consultation structure may alter the mechanism but the intention to maintain good, productive communication will continue.

Joint Standards Development Board

  • Oversees the strategic direction of the development of Joint Standards.
  • Provides strategic advice to the SA Standards Development Board and the NZ Standards Council on the development and revision of Joint Standards.
  • Mediates on any issues brought by stakeholders in either Australia or New Zealand, or by SA or SNZ, or by the Joint Standards Management Group as to the development and revision of Joint Standards.

Joint Standards Management Group

  • Consists of the senior technical staff of both Standards Australia and Standards New Zealand.
  • Deals with project proposals.
  • Determines whether resources are available to undertake new projects.
  • Considers country-specific requirements.

Memorandum of Understanding

The MoU provides a framework for the development of Joint Standards between Australia and New Zealand and focuses on facilitating trade.

At the time the agreement was being negotiated, Standards New Zealand conducted a survey of stakeholders, including industry, government and consumers, those on joint committees and their nominating organisations. The response was strong support for Joint Standards and encouragement for their continuation. Stakeholders also reported that many of their counterparts in Australia are in favour of continuing with Joint Standards. The commitment to the work together from both Standards Australia and Standards New Zealand is strong.