Key: NZ 'very different' to UK

  • 25/06/2016
John Key says the NZ economy is in a much stronger position than the UK's (File)
John Key says the NZ economy is in a much stronger position than the UK's (File)

Prime Minister John Key is not buying the line from NZ First leader Winston Peters that the UK vote to leave the European Union is a wake-up call for democracies everywhere, including New Zealand.

"I don't think you can really compare and contrast something that's happening half a world away with very different circumstances," Mr Key told reporters on Saturday.

If anything, New Zealanders may appreciate the stability they have.

On Friday (NZT) the UK voted in a referendum to leave the European Union, causing turmoil in world financial markets and triggering the exit of UK Prime Minister David Cameron by October.

New Zealand is in a vastly different position to the UK, Mr Key says.

"We can control our migration, they can't," he says.

The New Zealand economy is also in a much stronger position than the UK's, he says.

Mr Peters again raised the issue of immigration and its impact on the New Zealand economy in a speech in his old stomping ground of Tauranga on Friday night.

The 71-year-old, who supported the leave campaign in the UK, said the trigger point was the effect of mass immigration.

Ahead of the vote and after it, Mr Key has said the implications for New Zealand are not significant.

New Zealand will have to renegotiate both trade and migration access.

"We've had assurances from both the EU and from the UK officials that there'll be no change in the status of access of both our goods and people until new conditions can be negotiated," he said.

"I don't think New Zealand companies have anything to worry about," Mr Key says.

The former foreign exchange dealer said financial markets would eventually settle.

"We've been living with turmoil in Europe for quite some time," he said.

He was not convinced by the argument that the UK vote may provide opportunities for New Zealand, saying only "at the margins it might help".

Mr Key said he would always count on Mr Cameron as a friend whom he had great respect for.

New Zealand will look to form a relationship with the new prime minister.

Labour's Foreign Affairs spokesman David Shearer said the move would usher in a massive period of uncertainty in Europe, in the financial markets and in the UK itself.

The process of exiting is likely to take at least two years.

Federated Farmers is urging New Zealand to be first in seeking a new trade relationship with the UK.

Mr Peters said the situation of New Zealanders living in the UK may improve.

"I think the British will reach towards New Zealand, Australia and Canada. And the second thing is our young people will get a fair go in the UK in the future," he said.

Mr Key doesn't see any implications for the Commonwealth.