Talked tough going in, talked tough coming out, but achieved nothing

Jacinda Ardern is fast gaining a reputation of being all conversation and no action.

Expat rights across the Tasman have been an ongoing issue between both government’s since Australia’s landmark agreement in 2001 to clamp down on the free right of travel and work across the Tasman.

Australia was acting on a domestic backlash to the image of the Kiwi “bludger” and the burgeoning welfare bill as a result of New Zealand’s population drift across the Tasman.

But it also has ongoing concern about New Zealand immigration settings allowing back door entry into the country of people it considers undesirables.   

Especially ratbags from Manus Island.

Ardern has arrived in Australia with one of the biggest business delegations ever – a flag flying exercise to show that is business as usual in trans-Tasman relations since the change of Government.

Both leaders sought to accentuate the positives at their joint press conference after a morning of meetings – talking up their joint cooperation in areas including the Pacific, Iraq, and elsewhere.

They also talked up a joint initiative to boost trans-Tasman exports, focused on small and medium sized businesses.

But Ardern was forced to admit after their meeting that she had failed to win any concessions from Turnbull on the more fraught issues surrounding the rights of Kiwi expats.

Like her predecessors, Ardern is discovering that no matter how warm the rhetoric on Anzac ties, Australian domestic interests are always going to trump trans-Tasman relations with our bigger counterparts.

It has turned into the rock in the road in trans-Tasman relations that the nuclear-free issue once represented in US-New Zealand relations.

It was only after National and Labour reached a level of bipartisanship on the issue that New Zealand and the US were able to find a way to move around the rock in the road.

Whether National is willing to cut Labour that amount of slack after years of being kicked by Labour on its handling of the issue remains to be seen.

Labour harped on for years that John Key wasn’t firm enough, hadn’t negotiated hard enough, completely ignoring that it was Helen Clark who sold out Kiwis.

They can have all the same words and tactics right back at them now. See how they get on.

My prediction is they will get nowhere. The Aussies aren’t going to budge.

Ardern likes to talk the big game but she isn’t even on the same playing field as the Aussies.



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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.