20 Jun 2011

Military welcome for Key, ahead of historic speech

8:22 pm on 20 June 2011

Prime Minister John Key has been welcomed to the Australian Federal Parliament with a 19-gun salute and a military guard of honour, ahead of an historic address to the parliament.

As his motorcade arrived on the Parliament's forecourt, a military guard of honour waited at attention.

A 19-gun salute rang out over Canberra to mark the visit of a foreign head of government; 21-gun salutes are reserved for heads of state.

After inspecting the guard of honour, Mr Key and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard headed inside the Parliament for a one-on-one meeting and talks with senior ministers.

Mr Key then made an historic address to the Australian Parliament, with his speech the first by a New Zealand leader to the Parliament in Canberra. He is only the eighth leader of another country to make such an address.

Mr Key took the opportunity as expected to underline the strength of the trans-Tasman relationship and thank Australians for their support through recent disasters.

He told MPs and Senators Australia had shown New Zealand the loyalty and support that only family could in recent times, saying this country was truly grateful for the efforts of Australia in the wake of the Pike River Mine disaster and the Christchurch earthquakes.

Mr Key says following the February quake, Australians came to New Zealand's aid immediately, unreservedly and with open hearts.

He says Australia's acts were living testament to the perpetual ANZAC spirit, and the depth and breadth of its support will never be forgotten.

He also spoke about the solid defence and security relationship between both countries, saying New Zealand has no better friend or closer ally than Australia.

In February, Ms Gillard gave a speech to an unofficial sitting of the New Zealand Parliament.

Abbott's Anzus blue

Opposition party leader Tony Abbott has made an embarrassing error in his speech while welcoming Mr Key, by suggesting the ANZUS Alliance is once again fully functional.

The military alliance between Australia, New Zealand and the United State, lapsed in the 1980s, following New Zealand's nuclear free legislation.

Closer intelligence links have recently been re-established between the US and New Zealand, but the military relationship has not yet been fully normalised.

"Can I congratulate you for formally re-establishing military ties with the United States," Mr Abbott said. This has once more made the ANZUS alliance a fully functioning, working alliance."