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Gillard likely to embrace trans-Tasman relationship

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Julia Gillard
Julia Gillard

Wellington, June 27 NZPA - New Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard is likely to make an official visit to New Zealand sooner rather than later, an Australian Labor Party strategist says.

Former prime minister Kevin Rudd was scheduled to come to New Zealand for his first official visit next week but that was scrapped when he was toppled by his own party last week.

There had been questions over his commitment to trans-Tasman relations, but Labor strategist Bruce Hawker said on TVNZ's Q&A programme today the fact Mr Rudd had not managed to get over here in his two-and-a-half years in the top job was largely because of his commitment to leading his country through the financial crisis.

"...I think most of his focus was on the northern hemisphere rather than on the southern hemisphere."

Mr Hawker said he expected Ms Gillard would recognise that New Zealand's importance as partner for Australia "and she will, I would expect, to be making a trip to New Zealand at some stage in the not so distant future in her prime ministership because she recognises the importance of that relationship".

A more local focus on the new prime minister's agenda was likely now the financial crisis had calmed down, he said.

Prime Minister John Key and Labour leader Phil Goff have both offered congratulations to Ms Gillard on her new role, and Mr Key said the there would not be any change in the relationship between the two countries.

He did not know when Ms Gillard would to get to New Zealand, but it was likely to be after the Australian election due later in the year -- providing her party remains in power.

Mr Hawker said the rolling of Mr Rudd shows how fragile leadership roles could be -- especially when times were volatile.

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