Australia's Trade Minister told to apologise for saying New Zealand is most trusted ally

  • 19/03/2024

Australia's Trade Minister has been told to apologise for saying New Zealand is the nation's most trusted ally. 

Don Farrell, one of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese's most senior cabinet ministers, shocked MPs on the Opposition benches when he declared the US was not Australia's most trusted security partner – sparking demands for an apology to the global superpower.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the statement came in response to a question from Liberal senator Claire Chandler.

"I take issue with your first statement there. I’m not sure the United States is our most trusted ally … I would have said our closest international ally is New Zealand," Farrell said.

"We are very close to the United States. I freely admit that," he added after drawing guffaws from the opposition.

Opposition foreign affairs spokesman Simon Birmingham said it wasn't a statement he would expect from a senior government minister, but rather a smaller party.

"It beggars belief that a cabinet minister in the foreign affairs and trade portfolio would be so eager to talk down Australia's partnership with the US," he said.

"As much as we love our Kiwi cousins, it is the US who we are asking to share with us their most sensitive defence technologies. Senator Farrell should correct the record and apologise to the US for his errant and disturbing remarks."

The comments come after Albanese had described the US as Australia's "closest ally" and "principal strategic partner".

New Zealand Prime Minister Christopher Luxon met with Albanese in December. 

At the time, the pair discussed interest in attaching New Zealand to the AUKUS security alliance with Australia, the UK and the US, as well as the ongoing issues over 501s