Trade dominates English, Turnbull talks

Publish Date
Friday, 17 February 2017, 8:30PM
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The Anzac spirit is still alive and well between prime ministers Bill English and Malcolm Turnbull.

Their relationship is that of "very best friends" according to Mr Turnbull, who met with Mr English for their first official trans-Tasman leadership meetings on Friday.

SEE ALSO: Turnbull pays tribute to pilot who died fighting Port Hills fires

Pulling in alongside Oprah Winfrey's plane at Queenstown airport, Mr Turnbull and his wife Lucy were greeted by Mr English and his wife Mary at the start of a busy 23-hour trip, jam packed with formal meetings, events and a little social time.

Their joint discussions touched on trade, including an agreement to work together on a Trans Pacific Partnership alternative following the US withdrawal.

"Our trans-Tasman relationship leads the way in openness and free trade," Mr English said.

"We recognise today that both our countries can do better still by selling to more than 800 million people who live in the 11 TPP countries."
On global security they discussed working together to defend shared values.

SEE ALSO: English, Turnbull sit down for a day of talks in Queenstown

Mr English reiterated that New Zealand's four-year-old offer to take 150 refugees from Australian detention centre on Nauru and Manus Island still stands.

He also praised the Australian government for its significant shift in policy to allow a pathway for up as many as 60,000 New Zealanders living in Australia to become citizens.

SEE ALSO: The Soap Box: A history of Aus NZ Prime Minister meetings

Finance Minister Steven Joyce and Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges joined in meetings with Australia's Treasurer Scott Morrison and Industries Minister Arthur Sinodinos.

Mr Bridges announced New Zealand would join Australia in a two-year Satellite Based Augmentation Systems trial, while an agreement for collaboration to better integrate science, research and innovation was also signed.

Mr English thanked Australia for its assistance battling the Port Hills fire and in the aftermath of the Kaikoura earthquake, saying the friendship between the two nations was never stronger than in times of need.

Earlier the PMs and their wives travelled to Arrowtown to lay wreaths on the stone cenotaph at the hilltop war memorial.

While Mrs Turnbull asked Defence Force members how the Port Hills fire battle was progressing, Mr Turnbull paid tribute to Steven Askin, the helicopter pilot killed fighting the blaze.

"Obviously we are very very sad, as you are, from the death of the helicopter pilot who had served in Afghanistan. He was doing what he was doing in Afghanistan: selflessly serving, courageously serving his country," he said.

"Both of our countries know the cruelty of nature, the cruelty of fire."

Mr Turnbull also acknowledged the loss many small communities like Arrowtown had suffered during World War I and the importance of the Australia-New Zealand relationship.

"The Anzac tradition of mateship, solidarity, selflessness are part of our DNA," he said.

The leaders and their wives ended the day taking a water taxi across Lake Wakatipu to a private dinner.

They'll take a walk along the lakefront on Saturday morning before the Turnbulls return to Australia.

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