NZ PM Key Does Not Expect Much From Aussie PM Abbott On Oz-Kiwi Talks
By Athena Yenko | February 7, 2014 12:43 PM EST
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key is setting his expectations low from his talks with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott regarding the seemingly never-ending issue of discrimination against Kiwis and the recent bouts on "Buy Australia Campaign."
Along with his group of ministers and business leaders, Key arrived Sydney for a one-on-one talk with Abbott for joint cabinet meeting and business talks.
In 2001, Australia ruled New Zealanders should be cut off from the government's services, programs and welfare, denying emigrants access to permanent residency or citizenship. With this, Key is not overly hopeful for the Abbott Government to change the plight for the Kiwis living in Australia.
Key also prioritized talks regarding the provision of student loans to the Kiwi students studying in Australia. The previous Labor Government had permitted the loans for the students. But the law was not passed before the September 2013 election. The Coalition, now leading the government, showed no effort to reach a Parliament on this.
The New Zeland prime minister believed that providing loans to Kiwi students is a logical step since they were already Aussies technically.
"In the end it would be about ultimately making sure that young Australians effectively, because that's what we're talking about, even though they are New Zealanders and they are special class visa holders - effectively young Australians - would have access to higher learning. And, I think both countries want that, so it's a logical kind of step," Key said in a statement.
Apparently, the talks would deliver more bad news to New Zealand as Key confirmed he had been advised earlier that Australia plans to end the transtasman travel arrangements with two aspects being considered by Australia restricting free access for New Zealanders and bigger cost burden for the taxpayers.
"The advice I was given (by officials who had been involved) was that that was one of the options on the table. Ultimately if (new arrangements for expatriate Kiwis) came at the cost of closing access to New Zealanders on an unfettered basis we wouldn't like that. We're trying to do a balancing act," Key said.
As for the Buy Australia Campaign which stripped NZ products off the shelves of big Australian supermarkets, Mr Key said while the campaign may be legally correct, Australia is breaching the code of CER which both countries agreed before.
"In the end it is a commercial decision, but that doesn't stop us raising it," he added.
Second to his agenda was the ongoing discussion of leaks by Edward Snowden. Key believed New Zealand would be next to face accusations of its spying in the Pacific.
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