News release

28 February 2015
Joint Statement by Prime Ministers Hon Tony Abbott and Rt Hon John Key

Prime Minister the Hon Tony Abbott MP and Prime Minister the Rt Hon John Key met in Auckland on 28 February 2015 for the annual Australia-New Zealand Leaders’ Meeting.

Prime Minister Key warmly welcomed Prime Minister Abbott and Mrs Abbott to New Zealand. The visit has enabled wide-ranging and substantive discussion that has underlined the strength, value, diversity and warmth of our trans-Tasman relationship.

Prime Minister Key also acknowledged the visits of Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb, Health and Sports Minister Sussan Ley and Parliamentary Secretary Paul Fletcher, as well as a senior Australian trade delegation. This diverse range of Australian Government and business representation underlines the depth and breadth of links between the two nations.

This year marks 100 years since the first official visit by an Australian Prime Minister to New Zealand. On 23 December 1914 Prime Minister Andrew Fisher left Australia on the liner Makura to Auckland, New Zealand. He stayed in New Zealand for almost two months. Prime Minister Fisher met with the New Zealand Prime Minister, William F. Massey, to discuss trade and wartime cooperation between the two countries, including the arrangement that would later become known as ANZAC.

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News release

28 February 2015
PMs Key and Abbott meet in Auckland

Prime Minister John Key met with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott in Auckland today for their annual Leaders’ Talks. 

“Prime Minister Abbott and I had an opportunity to discuss a wide range of issues and to reflect on the areas where we might be able to do more,” says Mr Key.

“Australia remains New Zealand’s closest bilateral partner. We enjoy close ties in all areas of our relationship, including in the trade, economic, defence, people-to-people and sporting areas.

“This year is a significant one for both countries with the co-hosting of the Cricket World Cup, and the Centenary of the First World War and the formation of the ANZACs.
“Our cooperation and sense of shared purpose is even stronger today than it was one hundred years ago and is considerably more diverse.”

Mr Abbott and Mr Key acknowledged an arrangement between the two countries for the recovery of student loans to assist New Zealand to recoup unpaid student loans in Australia.

They also acknowledged the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding which will allow for Criminal History Information Sharing for Employment vetting purposes.

Mr Key welcomed Prime Minister Abbott’s agreement to progress an arrangement covering deportations.  The Prime Ministers agreed that the relevant agencies from the two countries would develop a Memorandum of Understanding to share more information about Trans-Tasman deportations, so that appropriate due diligence and risk management procedures can be put in place.

“It is in both countries best interest to manage deportations in such a way that minimises the risk posed to both countries and ensures appropriate steps are taken to flag any high-risk individuals,” says Mr Key.

Mr Key and Mr Abbott also discussed the progress of the trans-Tasman Single Economic Market agenda and their joint engagement in regional and global trade initiatives.

“One hundred years on from the Gallipoli landings, my meeting with Prime Minister Abbott has once more underlined that the relationship between New Zealand and Australia is as strong as ever, and our commitment to ensuring that it continues to flourish.”

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News release

26 February 2015
PM disappointed with Remuneration Authority decision

Prime Minister John Key has expressed his disappointment at the Remuneration Authority’s decision to increase MP remuneration.

“I wrote to the Authority expressing my view that there should be no increase,” says Mr Key.

“My view was that, given New Zealand is set to enjoy a low inflation environment for some time into the future, an increase in remuneration was neither appropriate nor necessary.”

Mr Key says he saw no justification for the increase given inflation of 0.8 per cent in the year to December and with average wages growing at around 2.5 per cent.

Mr Key also rejects the assertion that ministerial wages should reflect those paid in the private sector for equivalent roles, saying MPs were already well-paid and not in politics for financial reward.

“The Authority needs to justify to New Zealanders why MPs need a pay increase of this size,” says Mr Key.

“If it believes that the criteria set out in the legislation leads them to these kinds of annual increases then they should advise the government and we will consult with other parties and may change the law.”

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25 February 2015
PM saddened at passing of Dame Thea Muldoon

Prime Minister John Key today expressed his sadness at the passing of Dame Thea Muldoon.

Mr Key says he met Dame Thea on a number of occasions.

“She made a significant contribution to her community and the country – something she was recognised for when she was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire and awarded the Queen’s Service Order for Community Service.

“She was also a huge supporter of her husband, the late former Prime Minister Sir Robert Muldoon, and as Prime Minister today I recognise how important that is,” says Mr Key.

“I thank her for her contribution to New Zealand. My thoughts are with her family and friends.”

News release

24 February 2015
PM announces contribution to coalition against ISIL

Prime Minister John Key today announced a Government decision to deploy a military training mission to Iraq as part of New Zealand’s overall contribution to the international coalition against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

New Zealand’s military personnel will fulfil a non-combat, behind the wire mission to train Iraqi Security Forces so they are better prepared to fight ISIL.

“ISIL’s ability to motivate Islamist radicals make it a threat not only to stability in the Middle East, but regionally and locally too,” Mr Key says.

“New Zealanders are prolific travellers and we are not immune from the threat ISIL poses.

“ISIL’s brutality has only worsened and its outrageous actions have united an international coalition of around 62 countries to fight and degrade the group.

“We have carefully considered options to expand our contribution to the coalition beyond the humanitarian assistance we have already provided.

“We have an obligation to support stability and the rule of law internationally.

“The Iraqi government has requested support and Cabinet has agreed this week to deploy personnel to Taji Military Complex north of Baghdad to train units within the Iraqi Security Forces.

“This is likely to be a joint training mission with Australia although it will not be an ANZAC-badged deployment.

“The two year mission, likely to start from May, will be reviewed by Cabinet after nine months.

“The number of personnel deploying to Taji is up to 106 and there will be others such as staff officers deploying in coalition headquarters and support facilities in the region.

“The total number altogether will be up to 143.

“A training mission like this is not without danger and this is not a decision we have taken lightly.

“I have required assurances that our men and women will be as safe as they can practicably be in Taji.

“Our force protection needs have been assessed by NZDF and determined as being able to be met by the well-trained soldiers of our regular Army.

“So we will be sending our own force protection to support the training activities.

“The New Zealand Government will retain ultimate decision-making authority over the nature and scope of the activities of our personnel.

“We will be taking steps in coming weeks with our Iraqi counterparts to secure the best legal protections we realistically can for our personnel.

“We recognise that military training on its own will not solve the problems ISIL poses in Iraq.

“That’s why we are also stepping up our diplomatic efforts and are currently examining options to provide more humanitarian aid.

“In return we expect to see genuine effort in Iraq to move towards a law-abiding democratic country that treats all of its citizens with respect.”