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PM should encourage Anzac relationship

18 May 2004

Dr Hon Lockwood Smith - National Foreign Affairs spokesman

PM should encourage Anzac relationship

The Prime Minister should be working to bring Australia and New Zealand closer together, not claiming they are drifting further apart, National's Foreign Affairs spokesman, Lockwood Smith, said today.

He is commenting on Helen Clark's dismissal of all the key suggestions from the weekend's Australia-New Zealand Leadership Forum, and saying that the two countries are 'moving further apart'.

Dr Smith says no country is more important to New Zealand's future than Australia.

"Though National has no interest in political union, and would be very cautious about a common currency, it is wrong to dismiss the forum's work out of hand, and even worse to dismiss Australia's importance to New Zealand by saying we are moving apart.

"More New Zealanders live in Australia than in any other foreign country and our security relies on their security.

"Helen Clark is right in only one respect -- Australia is moving further ahead of us in terms of average incomes. Thirty years ago we shared a similar wealth. Today, the average Australian is almost $200 a week better off than us, and the Clark Government's policies will only widen that gap," Dr Smith says.

"It is Helen Clark's job to promote our partnership, not to highlight the differences.

"This reveals again her objective to see us move away from Australia and be more of a South Pacific island, taking over Fiji's leadership role in the Pacific.

"Kiwis gain enormously from being able to live, work and study in Australia on the same terms as Australians. We would not gain those benefits from the small Pacific states.

"The relationship with Australia will be a high priority for the next National Government, as it should be for Labour.

"On the plus side, it is pleasing that Helen Clark has now done a U-turn on the issue of a common border, which could improve tourism flows and make it easier for Kiwis and Australians to do business. She should think before she speaks."

ENDS

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