14 Nov 2018

Former MP Annette King becomes High Commissioner to Australia

1:19 pm on 14 November 2018

Former Labour MP and Cabinet minister Annette King has been confirmed as New Zealand's new High Commissioner to Australia.

Annette King

Annette King Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Foreign Minister Winston Peters said Dame Annette needs no introduction given her long career as a parliamentarian, where she held a number of senior Cabinet portfolios.

She left Parliament in 2017 after 33 years, and was made a dame in this year's New Year's Honours.

She has long been tipped for the job, and is expected to start in her new role at the end of the year.

Mr Peters, who had been critical of political appointments to diplomatic roles, said this one was notable as of the 25 Head of Mission appointments Dame Annette was the only former MP.

He said Australia was one of New Zealand's most significant relationships, but not one this country took for granted, and Dame Annette's task was to keep the connection strong.

The National Party congratulated Dame Annette on her appointment .

Foreign affairs and trade spokesperson Todd McClay said New Zealand's relationship with Australia had "floundered" after a number of "unnecessary disagreements and mishandlings" by the government.

"And Dame Annette certainly has the experience to build on our relationship with Australia and provide the care and maintenance that is needed," he said.

"It will be important for our new high commissioner to repair any damage that has been done over the last year."

He welcomed a change in approach to diplomatic appointments from Mr Peters.

"I am pleased that the strong objections to political appointments previously held by Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters have been dropped," he said.

"Given the importance of our membership of the Five Eyes, Mr Peters should in future not rule out similar appointments of effective and appropriate people to maximise the influence that membership of the Five Eyes offers New Zealand."

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