5 Jul 2022

Watch: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks in Melbourne

2:56 pm on 5 July 2022

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has spoken to media in Melbourne after meeting with Victoria's Premier, Daniel Andrews.

Watch here:

Ardern says she has had quite a bit of contact with Victoria's Premier Dan Andrews over the last few years and he's become a friend, so it was fantastic to catch up in person.

The pair spoke about their experiences with the pandemic over the past two years and plans for the future.

"We also talked about everything from rail infrastructure, some significant projects under way here. We talked about what we're working on back in New Zealand and perhaps the ability to exchange or at least share a bit of the expertise that exists here in Melbourne.

"We talked about aged care, Dan had just gone and visited a Ryman facility, he was very impressed with what he saw there and of course facilities that we know well in New Zealand and have origin there.

"We talked about pressures on the health system, we talked about early childhood education because there's some new policies here that mirror a little bit what we're doing at home - we're ultimately politicians interested in ideas so we shared a number between us."

Immigration settings

Asked about the prospect of loosening New Zealand's immigration settings further, Ardern says borders are open and the government has been encouraging areas with skill shortages to be ready for tourism.

"In other areas we've of course our accredited employer process, now makes it easier for businesses to access the skilled workers that they need and you'll see we marked that milestone this week."

She said there was a balance to be struck between the skills shortage in particular areas.

"Often case is, those individuals are in such high demand that is rarely a barrier," she says.

She said the areas identified where there were skill shortages but where the jobs had traditionally had for example lower wages, some sectors - such as hospitality - had been given a longer lead time to adjust.

"We're trying to maintain the wages and standards we have in New Zealand because otherwise we unfortunately do see wages decrease potentially as a result."

She says it's the government's view that having nurses come who are then not bonded to New Zealand's health system would not help with the shortage.

"We know that what we have to do is make sure that in New Zealand - and we've had work to do on this, we're increasing the wages so since 2017 a 20 percent increase, also making sure tat we're trying to staff to safe standards - that requires us to hire more nurses too."

She said the trip had been busy but that was for good reason.

"I feel very keenly an obligation to make sure that every hour that I'm not in New Zealand I'm making the most of my time away to promote New Zealand's interests."

On the first full day of the prime minister's trip to Australia, Ardern attended a business breakfast before her meeting with Andrews, and will spend the rest of the day in Melbourne before heading to Sydney tomorrow.

After landing yesterday, she told reporters she did not expect material change on the 501 deportees issue this week, but hoped to see some progress.

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