Turnbull to touch down in New Zealand

  • 16/10/2015
Malcolm Turnbull (Reuters)
Malcolm Turnbull (Reuters)

New Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is about to touch down in New Zealand.

It's Mr Turnbull's first official overseas visit as Prime Minister -

He and his wife Lucy land in Auckland this afternoon and will head to a private dinner with Prime Minister John Key and his wife Bronagh.

Mr Key and Mr Turnbull will hold their formal bilateral tomorrow.

Mr Key says the fact Mr Turnbull has decided to come to New Zealand is testament to how much he values the trans-Tasman relationship.

"It would have been pretty easy for Malcolm Turnbull to avoid coming to New Zealand, Kevin Rudd in the entire time he was Prime Minister never came to New Zealand," Mr Key told reporters.

"I think the fact he's deliberately coming and he's coming at a time when he knows there are some issues of concern to New Zealand shows that he takes the relationship very seriously."

The issue of New Zealanders facing deportation under Australia's tough new immigration laws is likely to dominate talks.

Around 200 Kiwis are being held in detention centres - including 40 in the notorious Christmas Island facility - as they wait to be sent back to New Zealand.

The new immigration laws were introduced in December, and they mean anyone who isn't an Australian citizen and who has served a sentence of 12 months or more can be deported.

The government is particularly concerned about Kiwis who went to Australia when they were very young and grew up there, no longer having family or other connections with New Zealand.

Mr Key is giving assurances that he will do everything he can to try and get a better deal for Kiwis living across the ditch.

Trade, the economy and New Zealand and Australia's respective contributions to the fight against Islamic State in the Middle East will also be up for discussion.

NZN