NZ may lobby Aust on nuclear weapons ban

Ardern will visiit Australia this week
Nuclear disarmament could come up when NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern visits Australia this week. (AAP)

27 February 2018 – SBS

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is headed across the ditch for talks with Malcolm Turnbull at the end of the week.

Australia could be in for a lecture from New Zealand on nuclear weapons disarmament.

NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will visit Australia for talks with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at the end of the week.

She’ll be accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters, seven cabinet ministers and a business delegation.

Ms Ardern delivered a major foreign policy speech to the New Zealand Institute of Public Affairs on Tuesday and announced her government will reinstate the cabinet position of disarmament and arms control minister.

Last July, 122 countries voted in the United Nations to ban nuclear weapons.

Ms Ardern flagged in the speech her government was looking at an early ratification of the treaty.

“In a modern context, the greatest challenge comes from North Korea, situated right here in our region,” she said.

“At a time when risks to global peace and security are growing and the rules-based system is under such pressure, we must recommit ourselves to the cause of non-proliferation and disarmament.”

Australia has refused to sign up to the treaty ban and did not take part in the negotiations.

The country relies on the deterrent protection from the US’s nuclear weapons arsenal.

New Zealand has long adopted a firm line in opposing development of nuclear capabilities, which at times puts the small Pacific nation at odds with some allies.

In the mid-1980s, the NZ Labour government banned ships that were either nuclear-powered or nuclear-armed, prompting the United States to suspend security treaty obligations to New Zealand.

Relations warmed a little in 2016 when New Zealand’s centre-right National government approved the first visit by a US warship in 30 years.

Asked if she’ll raise the issue with Mr Turnbull, Ms Ardern told reporters in Wellington: “I have no qualms having conversations about it.”

The leaders are likely to find more common ground on trade and economic integration issues.

“Australia is our only ally and closest friend. As in any relationship, we will have our differences,” Ms Ardern said in the speech.

Ms Ardern is expected to take Mr Turnbull to task over the plight of Kiwi convicted criminals in immigration detention.

NZ also has an ongoing offer to resettle 150 refugees from Nauru and Manus Island, which has previously been rejected.

Mr Turnbull said he and wife Lucy were looking forward to welcoming Ms Ardern and her partner fishing show host Clarke Gayford.

[Read the SBS article].

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