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Monday, 19 October 2015
Page: 11551

New Zealand


Dr GILLESPIE (Lyne) (14:03): My question is to the Prime Minister. Will the Prime Minister update the House on what measures are being taken to build on Australia's relationship with New Zealand to make sure we are best placed to take advantage of the growth and dynamism of the major Asia-Pacific economies?


Mr TURNBULL (WentworthPrime Minister) (14:03): I thank the honourable member for his question. Over the weekend, accompanied by my wife, Lucy, I was thrilled to make my first overseas visit as Prime Minister to New Zealand and especially pleased to spend some time with the New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key, and his wife, Bronagh, and to really see how we can make this very close relationship that much closer.

New Zealand is a great ally of ours. It is our closest friend in our history. The two nations are as close as two nations can ever be. We approach similar problems but often in different ways. I have to say that we have all been admirers, at least on our side of politics, of the leadership John Key has shown as the Prime Minister of New Zealand. He has taken a pragmatic and businesslike approach to reforming the New Zealand economy. He has constrained spending, he has driven strong economic growth and he has brought their budget into balance. He is a real role model, I think, for centre-right governments such as our own in Australia, and of course right around the world. He has absolutely projected the optimism that New Zealanders were seeking. New Zealand is taking on the world, and it is taking on particularly the Asia-Pacific world.

New Zealand has had the benefits of a free trade agreement with China for seven years. They had the goal of doubling their goods trade with China by 2015; they are on track to meet that target. They have met key targets for all of their metrics in terms of their trade with China. John Key and I discussed the Trans-Pacific Partnership. He said, as we discussed this, that it would bring more jobs, higher incomes and a better standard of living for New Zealanders. Of course, the same applies to our country as well. We are absolutely of the same mind in that area.

There is a lot we can learn from the way they approach innovation and investment as well. We will be having meetings shortly with their economics minister, Steven Joyce, and the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Christopher Pyne. They have taken a much more practical and effective approach on broadband, I have to say, than we did—or the previous Labor government did. They got into crowdfunding before us. They really are a role model.

All of us—and I say this very seriously—in Australia should pay a lot more attention to what the New Zealanders do. Yes, it is a smaller economy. Yes, it is more complex because it does not have a federal system; it does not have an upper house. But very often their efforts lead the way in showing how we can tackle economic problems efficiently and capably.