Ardern’s ‘catch-up’ with Andrews brings vow to tap Victorian infrastructure expertise

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says her country could draw on Victoria’s infrastructure project expertise following a meeting with Premier Daniel Andrews.

The pair met in Melbourne on Tuesday as part of the New Zealand leader’s five-day visit to Australia.

Jacinda Ardern and Daniel Andrews meet in Melbourne on Tuesday.Credit:AAP

“He’s become a friend, so it was fantastic to catch up in person,” Ardern said after the meeting.

She said the pair also discussed early childhood education reforms, COVID-19 management, aged care, pressures on their respective healthcare systems and rail infrastructure.

“[There are] some significant [infrastructure] projects under way here,” Ardern said.

“We talked about what we’re working on back in New Zealand and perhaps the ability to exchange, or at least share, a little bit of the expertise that exists here in Melbourne.

“We’re ultimately politicians interested in ideas, so we shared a number between us.”

Before the meeting, Andrews said he was looking forward to speaking with Ardern in person after being forced to chat over the phone as the pandemic gripped both jurisdictions.

“She’ll get a very warm welcome in Melbourne I’m sure,” Andrews said. “We’ve also got a very significant number of New Zealanders who call Melbourne and Victoria home. So it makes sense at the end of an important international trip that she would stop by.”

Earlier, Ardern called on businesses to do more to increase sustainable practices, while reaffirming her country’s climate change commitments.

Ardern, who recently signed a free trade deal with the European Union, said climate change remains an important issue in Australia and New Zealand.

The pair also discussed early childhood education reforms, COVID-19 management, aged care, pressures on healthcare systems and rail infrastructure.Credit:AAP

“The war [in Ukraine] and supply chain constraints are hitting all of us,” she said at an ANZ Banking Group-hosted breakfast in Melbourne.

“So too is the biggest pre-COVID challenge that we face. Climate change remains one of the most pressing issues for both of our countries and indeed the world.”

New Zealand’s EU free trade deal allows for the implementation of sanctions if climate change requirements are not met.

Australia’s southern neighbour is on track to become the first nation in the world to put a price on agricultural emissions in 2025.

Ardern said Australia and New Zealand must partner with businesses to succeed in the fight against climate change, and she applauded the federal Labor government’s zero emissions target.

“Both our countries are setting very ambitious goals,” she said. “Your new government has reaffirmed its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 43 per cent from 2005 to 2030 … and to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

“Our NDC [nationally determined contribution] is set at 50 per cent and sits alongside our targets of 100 per cent renewable electricity generation rates and a carbon-neutral public service by 2025.”

Ardern received a traditional Welcome to Country as she met business delegates from New Zealand and Australia to discuss the importance of sustainable practices. Other attendees included independent Kooyong MP Monique Ryan and Indigenous leaders.

Later on Tuesday afternoon, Ardern was to visit the Monash Innovation Centre to witness the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Monash and New Zealand.


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