Tony Abbott has ended a two-day visit to Canada with progress on trade and investment.
Australia and Canada have agreed to step up a push for an Asia-Pacific free trade deal at the end of talks between the two countries’ leaders.
But the prospect of more jobs, trade and investment may come at the cost of a future global deal on climate action.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott moves on to New York for business events and a drop in to see UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon after two days of meetings and chief executive roundtables in the Canadian capital Ottawa.
His conservative counterpart Stephen Harper had the capital put on a show of pomp and ceremony on Monday with Australian flags flying along all of Ottawa’s main thoroughfares, military honours on historic Parliament Hill and a welcome ceremony in Confederation Hall.
Canada and Australia are working with 10 other nations, including the US, towards an Asia-Pacific free trade deal known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.
Mr Harper told journalists at the end of his day of meetings with Mr Abbott and senior Australian officials that boosted trade and investment was the key to both governments getting their budgets back to surplus and creating jobs.
“Today we have discussed ways to boost trade and investment most notably through the TPP negotiations,” he said.
Australian government figures believe the TPP could be delivered by the end of next year, with 80 per cent of it already agreed.
Mr Abbott welcomed the progress on trade and encouraged more Canadian investment – particularly from pension funds – in Australian infrastructure.
“Our economic links are strong and they are growing,” he said.
Canadian pension funds, which hold around $1.1 trillion in assets, are casting their eyes over road and port privatisations.
The two leaders poured cold water on the idea being pushed by US President Barack Obama, who Mr Abbott will meet in Washington DC on Thursday, for greater co-ordinated global action to tackle emissions especially from the most polluting power stations.
“It’s not the only or even the most important problem the world faces but it is a significant problem,” Mr Abbott said of climate change.
“And it’s important every country should take the action that it thinks is best to address emissions.”
Mr Harper said he did not feel any additional pressure from the US policy move.
“No country is going to take actions that are going to deliberately destroy jobs and growth.”
The TPP will be on the agenda for Mr Abbott’s meeting at the White House, which will also cover defence and security.