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New NZ PM to visit Albanese in Sydney

Chris Luxon says he's eager to talk economic ties with his Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese.

Chris Luxon says he's eager to talk economic ties with his Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese. Photo: Getty

Chris Luxon has announced his first official overseas visit as New Zealand Prime Minister will be to Australia to meet counterpart Anthony Albanese.

The 53-year-old will visit Sydney on Wednesday on a day trip expected to include talks, a private lunch and a joint press conference.

“Prime Minister Albanese was one of the first international leaders I spoke with after the election, and I’m looking forward to ongoing discussions throughout my term as prime minister,” Luxon said on Monday.

The trans-Tasman relationship is often discussed as one of the closest between two countries in the world.

That partnership was on display this year when Australia and New Zealand co-hosted the FIFA Women’s World Cup, during which Albanese visited Wellington to meet then-prime minister Chris Hipkins.

The relationship is assessed broadly as in good health, with recent tensions over deportations from Australia cooling down.

The new Kiwi government has given an indication it may be interested in joining the second tier of military alliance AUKUS, with Defence Minister Judith Collins describing New Zealand not having done so already as an “opportunity lost”.

Luxon said he was eager to talk economic ties with Albanese.

“Our two economies are deeply interlinked, and we need greater focus on improving the business environment on both sides of the Tasman,” he said.

The trip across the Tasman Sea is a well-travelled journey for New Zealand leaders in the early phases of their tenures.

Jacinda Ardern, Hipkins and now Luxon all began their prime ministerships with quick dashes to Australia to grow working relationships with their opposition number.

The relationship between Luxon and Albanese dates back to the Rudd and Gillard governments, when Albanese was infrastructure minister and Luxon was Air New Zealand chief executive.

“He had a very good understanding of aviation. He was a very, very successful transport infrastructure minister, recognised globally as such,” Luxon said earlier this year.

“Over the next four or five years, I maintained that [relationship].

“He seemed to understand New Zealand well and has a huge affinity for New Zealand.

“I think, ‘there’s someone who’s very constructive and helping deepen the Australia-New Zealand relationship’.”

The pair worked together recently on a joint statement with Canada, calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

In a pre-election interview, Luxon pledged to make his first trip – if elected – to Australia, to reflect the closeness of the relationship.

However, the 53-year-old’s foreign ambitions have been delayed by coalition negotiations.

The New Zealand election on October 14 produced a clear win for the right-leaning parties, but it was not until November 24 that Luxon’s National party confirmed a coalition with ACT and NZ First.

The coalition talks meant missing out on travel to the APEC summit in San Francisco and last month’s Pacific Islands Forum leaders meeting, in which New Zealand is a significant player.

-AAP

Topics: New Zealand
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