18 Jul 2019

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern heads to Australia: What to expect

7:40 am on 18 July 2019

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will touch down in Melbourne this afternoon, four months after her planned visit to the city was called off due to the Christchurch terror attack.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison with NZ PM Jacinda Ardern at Government House in Auckland

Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

Ms Ardern is being hosted by the Australia New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG), but will also sit down with her Australian counterpart Scott Morrison for the first time since his re-election.

A technical hitch almost forced a change in plans this week when the Air Force Boeing 757 broke down, but repair efforts were able to get the aircraft fit in time for take off.

Ms Ardern had been invited by ANZSOG to speak on 28 March, but Dame Annette King, NZ High Commissioner to Australia, took her place following the 15 March mosque shootings.

A new event has been scheduled for this evening in which Ms Ardern will deliver a speech to around 2000 invited guests at Melbourne Town Hall.

The speech is entitled 'Why does Good Government Matter?'.

In a written statement, Ms Ardern said the trans-Tasman bond was New Zealand's "closest and most important" relationship.

"I will be taking the opportunity to talk about the progress our Coalition Government is making on our plan for a modern New Zealand we can all be proud of - with an economy that is growing and working for everyone while giving us the ability to improve the well-being of all New Zealanders and their families."

Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the city was proud to host Ms Ardern, describing her as "one of the world's most respected and inspiring leaders".

"Prime Minister Ardern has rightly been praised internationally for her response to the Christchurch terror attack, as well as for her caring and empathetic approach to leadership," the Lord Mayor said.

"Good government is actually about our values, the respect we show each other and how we behave as a society."

ANZSOG chief executive Ken Smith said Ms Ardern would provide insight into how New Zealand was working to change the government's role.

"Ms Ardern is leading an innovative government which has just announced a major restructure of its public service, and major long-term investments in its citizens well-being," he said.

"Her address will deal with many of the issues that modern governments are grappling with, as they deal with an environment of growing uncertainty and declining trust in governments, while still trying to deliver public value for their citizens."

A sit down with Scott Morrison

Ms Ardern will also sit down with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison during her two-day visit, her first chance to congratulate him in person on his re-election victory.

In a surprise result in May, Mr Morrison and his conservative coalition defied the polls, securing a third term government.

National leader Simon Bridges met the Liberal leader in Sydney last week in search of potential lessons for New Zealand's own election next year.

The conversation with Ms Ardern is likely to have fewer strategy tips.

Following their first formal bi-lateral discussion in February, Ms Ardern zeroed in on Australia's strict deportation policy, telling reporters in Auckland the practice had been "corrosive" to the trans-Tasman relationship.

The difference is no closer to being resolved and the government was recently accused of failing to back its strong words with action.

Foreign Minister Winston Peters declined to raise the topic when he met his Australian counterpart Marise Payne in Auckland last week, but insisted New Zealand had not given up.

Ms Ardern will also meet Victoria Governor Linda Dessau and Premier Daniel Andrews during her Melbourne trip, as well as speaking at several New Zealand Trade and Enterprise investor events.

Labour deputy leader Kelvin Davis will be acting Prime Minister during Ms Ardern's absence.