Prime Minister visits Australia

Yesterday, Sunday, the Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, visited the Prime Minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull. This was her first state visit and an important choice. Australia is our nearest neighbour. Although our Prime Minister is from a left-wing party and Malcolm Turnbull from a more conservative party, it is important that we remain on friendly terms with our neighbour. The two of them discussed the TPP which will be important business at the APEC conference in Vietnam next week. The two Prime Ministers had similar concerns.

Ms Ardern also offered to help solve the problem of the refugees on Manus Island by accepting 150 of them for settlement in New Zealand. However, Mr Turnbull said, “Not at the moment.” He is hoping that the USA’s offer made by President Obama, will take care of the problem. However, it has become an urgent humanitarian problem as Australia is trying to close the centre and settle the refugees elsewhere in Papa New Guinea. They are refusing to go. In the past, several boat loads of refugees or asylum-seekers have tried to land in Australia. Australia has refused to allow them into the country and has instead put them on a number of islands in the Pacific. Mr Turnbull claims that this has stopped people-smuggling by boat to Australia.

The third important matter discussed was fees for ex-pat New Zealanders at Australian universities. Listen to May 6 2017 to hear more about this. Mr Turnbull said this will happen next year and he will not change this policy.

However, it was mostly a friendly meeting. Mr Turnbull asked Ms Ardern if she liked to kayak. She replied that she preferred to paddle-board. In February last year, Malcolm Turnbull and our Prime Minister at that time, John Key, had a kayak trip together on Sydney Harbour. Ms Ardern invited Mr Turnbull for a fishing trip. Her partner, Clarke Gayford, is a keen fisherman and hosts a TV fishing programme called Fish of the Day. Water sports are popular in New Zealand and Australia. This is a little different from sporting meetings between many world leaders. Donald Trump for instance is visiting Japan at the moment and he and the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, plan to play golf together.


• state visit – visit by a head of government, representing their country
• TPP – Trans Pacific Partnership; it’s a trade treaty
• APEC – Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
• refugees – people who are forced to leave their country to escape war, or to escape imprisonment because of their beliefs
• humanitarian problem – an event which is causing suffering to humans
• asylum-seekers – people who arrive in a new country without permission; they hope the new country will say they are refugees
• paddle-boarding – stand up on a board with a long paddle

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