When friends disagree: New Zealand and Australia

31 Jul 2018

One of Jacinda Ardern’s early prime ministerial tasks was to head off some potentially bad optics in New Zealand’s most important bilateral relationship. After all, she was leading just the sort of government that Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop had said would be difficult to work with.

With the help of Bishop’s New Zealand counterpart Winston Peters, an early photo opportunity was soon arranged. Both Ardern and Peters then travelled across the ditch to emphasise just how important the relationship with Australia was to New Zealand. Migration policy differences, which Ardern had highlighted while she was in opposition, were being put into a wider perspective where cooperation was the priority. This included Peters’s desire for closer Australia–New Zealand collaboration in the South Pacific.

A problem averted, you might say. But that would be too fast. For while New Zealand’s Prime Minister has been on maternity leave, a new chapter in these trans-Tasman rumbles has been written.

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