Australia – New Zealand Relations: Expect Closer Ties, says Australian Finance Minster-elect Joe Hockey

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By Sunny Peter | September 9, 2013 5:40 PM EST

New Zealand can expect to have a closer relationship with Australia following the election of a new government and prime minister, said Australian Finance Minister-elect Joe Hockey.

"Tony and I have a very close relationship with John Key [New Zealand Prime Minister], we are brothers in soul and spirit, and I think you'll see the closest relationship between Australia and New Zealand we've had in generations." Hockey was reported as saying.

Although New Zealanders have easier access to Australia than any other migrants, there are a range of sticking points in relations between the two nations, sometimes referred to as sibling rivalry. Although both nations provide each other's citizens with unlimited access, those New Zealanders seeking permanent residence in Australia and want all the rights of citizenship, are required to apply for it on the same criteria as all other migrants.

New Zealand says this is not in accordance with the spirit of Closer Economic Relations (CER) free trade agreement between both countries, under which Australian permanent residents in New Zealand are accorded all the rights of citizenship. Meanwhile, Hockey said, Australia has a lot of work to do to catch up. He noted that, the country could learn lessons from New Zealand's "stable" government.

"The approach [New Zealand] had to free trade agreements in the Asian region, the government's determination to undertake structural reform, and take the New Zealand people with them in that process has been hugely impressive." Hockey said.

Meanwhile, in related news, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key wished Abbott on his victory. "I look forward to working with Australia's new Prime Minister to build on the close unique relationship that exists between New Zealand and Australia." Key was reported as saying.

He said he will have several opportunities to meet with his Australian counterpart over the next few months to discuss how New Zealand and Australia can continue to work together. "Australia is our most important relationship. Our common interests span trade, economic, defence and security matters and we cooperate closely in our region and on the international stage. Key also thanked, former Labor prime ministers Kevin Rudd and his predecessor Julia Gillard, who he said, he enjoyed working with over the past few years.

"They have both been instrumental in ensuring the relationship between our two countries continues to grow from strength to strength. I look forward to this continuing during Tony Abbott's prime minister-ship." Key said. 

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