Ardern to have first overseas visit as PM

Malcolm Turnbull and Jacinda Ardern (Photo: RNZ)

Craig McCulloch, Political Reporter

Jacinda Ardern is making a flying visit to Australia this weekend in her first official overseas engagement as prime minister.

Ms Ardern will travel to Sydney on Sunday to meet her Australian counterpart Malcolm Turnbull for the first time, returning that afternoon.

The pair will meet over brunch to reaffirm the two countries’ relationship, she said.

“It will be a useful chance for her to touch base with Prime Minister Turnbull and talk about our shared interests, particularly as they relate to trade relations.”

Ms Ardern said the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP-11) deal would be high on the agenda, as would the upcoming Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Vietnam.

While in Opposition, Labour criticised the National-led government for failing to advocate for the rights of New Zealand expats living in Australia.

Ms Ardern said she would raise the matter with Mr Turnbull.

“It is obviously difficult, but there are ongoing issues particularly as they relate to things like tertiary education – so it’s important we keep having that dialogue.”

The Labour Party became embroiled in a trans-Tasman spat in the lead up to the election over the Barnaby Joyce citizenship controversy.

At the time, the Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said she would find it very difficult to build trust with a Labour-led government in New Zealand.

Ms Ardern said a meeting with Ms Bishop during the visit was not planned due to the tight schedule, but she was open to meeting when they were able.

“I have no concerns about that, and it is likely to happen soon I’m sure.”

Foreign Minister Winston Peters spoke to Ms Bishop last week, after earlier saying the trans-Tasman relationship was “not as it should be”.

Ms Bishop later tweeted that they had reaffirmed the strong trans-Tasman friendship.

In a statement, Mr Turnbull said he looked forward to welcoming Ms Ardern to Australia.

“Australia and New Zealand are not just mates – we are family.

“I look forward to congratulating Prime Minister Ardern on her recent election and discussing how we can further strengthen the already close friendship between our nations.”

The two leaders would discuss how to improve trade and economic opportunities, he said.

“Our economic integration over the past 30 years is a remarkable success story. In 2016, our two-way trade reached $24.8 billion and two-way investment totalled $153 billion.”

He said they would also discuss the two countries’ security and defence partnership.

“Australian and New Zealander soldiers have fought, and died together, as ANZACs on far flung battlefields across the globe.”

Former Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee last week said National had left the relationship in good shape and wished the new government “good luck” trying to get a better deal for Kiwis in Australia.

Meanwhile, the president of Germany is to make an official trip to New Zealand next week.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier will meet Ms Arden and attend a state dinner at Government House in Wellington.

He and his wife will arrive next Sunday and leave on Tuesday on a visit that reciprocates one to Berlin earlier this year by former prime minister Bill English.

[Read the Radio NZ article].

Comments are closed.