Last night, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese welcomed New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to Australia, catching up for dinner before more formal bilateral talks today.
On social media, Albanese described Ardern as his “good friend” and posted photos of the pair looking decidedly chummy, watching the light display for the VIVID festival in Sydney.
Ardern is the first foreign leader to be hosted by the new Australian government since the election in May, and by all accounts, it looks like it’s getting off to a great start.
The images Albanese posted last night got us thinking about what they would have talked about over dinner. So, we’ve put together some ideas of what might have gone down in conversation between the two leaders last night.
After a long nine years of a hardline right wing federal government in Australia, Ardern must be feeling pretty relieved for Australia to now be on a similar playing field to New Zealand policy-wise.
In fact, new Australian treasurer Jim Chalmers has already paved the way for Australia to approach policy more like New Zealand, promising a “wellbeing budget”, à la Jacinda Ardern.
A wellbeing budget looks at matters of public wellbeing, alongside economic figures and can help prioritise funding for issues like mental health and social inclusion.
That Australia now has a credible approach to climate change action would be a big relief for New Zealand, too.
Midnight Oil, Spiderbait and Powderfinger
Posting to Instagram last night, Jacinda Ardern said that Albanese had gifted her Midnight Oil, Spiderbait and Powderfinger records on vinyl.
It’s no secret that Albanese is a long-time fan of Australian music, and he clearly wasted no time in getting Ardern up to speed on some Aussie classics.
Scomo’s unrelenting stubbornness over NZ’s refugee settlement
Ardern has probably long wondered why the previous Australian government took nearly a decade to accept New Zealand’s offer to resettle 450 refugees who had been in detention on Nauru or in regional processing arrangements.
Ardern repeatedly made clear that the offer was always on the table, if only Australia would take it up. Sadly, the Morrison government only decided to take Ardern up on the offer in March 2022, just months out from the May election.
That awkward Ardern/Morrison joint press conference
Back in 2020, Ardern held a joint press conference with Scott Morrison in Sydney and brought up the contentious Australian deportation policy that she has been critical of for a number of years.
“Do not deport your people and your problems,” Ardern told Morrison in a strained moment during the press conference. She was referring to the policy that sees criminals without Australian citizenships deported to their countries of origin. The policy includes people from New Zealand, even if they have lived in Australia most of their lives.
“Australia is well within its rights to deport individuals who break your laws. New Zealand does the same. But we have a simple request – send back Kiwis. Genuine Kiwis,” Ardern continued. “I have heard countless cases of individuals who on any common sense test identify as Australians.”
“We will own our people. We ask that Australia stops exporting theirs.”
Who claims the win over pavlova, Russell Crowe and Crowded House…
Come on now, we all know the answer to those ones.