Julia Gillard visits New Zealand

The Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard, visited New Zealand for two days, yesterday and today. The reason for her visit was to meet our Prime Minister, John Key, and talk about a closer partnership. In 1983, New Zealand and Australia signed a free trade agreement. This has helped New Zealand companies to do business in Australia and Australian companies to do business in New Zealand because they don’t have to pay import tax. Many of our biggest suppliers of frozen food, canned food and packaged food, are Australian. The major banks – Westpac, ANZ National, ASB and BNZ – are Australian-owned. New Zealand sells washing machines and dishwashers to Australia.

About 1m New Zealanders visit Australia each year and about the same number of Australians visit New Zealand.

Prime Minister Gillard, spoke to our Parliament this morning. She talked about a special relationship with New Zealand and she said that we are “family”. We have helped each other in emergencies.

The two Prime Ministers want to make it easier for people to invest money in both countries without getting special permission. They also want to work together to solve the problem of boat people. Listen to July 22nd 2010 for more about the boat people.

There are some things where the two countries will have more difficulty working together. One is border control. When Australians visit New Zealand, we check very carefully that they do not bring food into our country. They also need a passport and New Zealanders need a passport to enter Australia.

The two countries will probably not be able to have a single currency like the Euro, because the Australian dollar has a much higher value than the New Zealand dollar. At the moment, the A$1 is about the same as US$1, but the NZ$1 will only buy about A75c or US75c. The Australian economy is much stronger than ours.

1. How can New Zealand help with asylum seekers?
2. Why is the economy of Australia much stronger than ours?
3. Julia Gillard supports Australia becoming a republic. Probably John Key does not support this. If Australia decides to become a republic, will we do the same?

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