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PM Press Conference 08/05/17: Australia and foreign affairs

PM Press Conference 08/05/17:
Myrtle rust, Australia and foreign affairs

Prime Minister Bill English smiled as he opened today’s press conference saying there are only just over two weeks until the government will announce their budget. He quickly outlined some of the budget announcements already made then went on to answer questions.

Mr English was first asked for an update on the myrtle rust issue. He assured that it is a concern but the Ministry for Primary Industries is taking as much action as possible, including “throwing the kitchen sink at it.” He stated, it is very difficult to eradicate and MPI will take efforts to contain it. There is a concern about damages to the fruit and Manuka honey industries.

Discussion about Australia’s changes to immigration dominated most of question time. The Prime Minister confirmed New Zealand’s citizenship deal with Australia. He explained how Australia has their own budget deficit that needs to be dealt with and that it is a concern that many non-Australian citizens are in the welfare system. In response to questions about the change in Kiwi migrations to Australia, Mr English said it is an accumulation of a number of factors, including the economies and job options of both countries. The Prime Minister said that he will look into accusations that New Zealand is a “backdoor entry” for people to gain entry into Australia, but insists that NZ immigration and border control are sound and that Kiwis have been economically good for Australia. He assured that he will not match rollbacks for Australian citizens coming to NZ and will advocate for Kiwis who choose to live in Australia.

Other issues raised included the rise in interest rates for home-buyers, overseas “blasphemy” laws, and comments on France and Israel. Regarding the language Minister Brownlee used to discuss Resolution 2334, the Prime Minister explained that he was fresh on the job and was “learning the language.”

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