Jacinda Ardern says Australia and NZ can be examples to world on encouraging trade

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has tonight told a Melbourne audience Australia and New Zealand can be examples to the world on encouraging trade and not retreating behind protectionist barriers. 

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She said NZ is open for business but faced a grilling from Australian financial leaders. Source: 1 NEWS

Ms Ardern addressed the Australia and New Zealand School of Government at the Melbourne Town Hall on the subject of good government.

She said good government matters because government affects everything, and said leaders globally are facing a rising tide of public suspicion towards government.

"But if we begin at home, if we broaden our idea of good government and act with a sense of fairness of guardianship – and even kindness - of what we in New Zealand call manaakitanga and kaihakitanga – then I absolutely believe we will make headway on these challenges," Ms Ardern said. 

"But we won’t succeed unless we apply these same values globally," she added.

For countries like New Zealand and Australia, that meant prioritising international rules and norms that work for all countries.

"It means encouraging trade, not retreating behind protectionist barriers – trade that means jobs and livelihoods, but also trade shaped by an open, honest dialogue with our communities," Ms Ardern said.

"Here, I do think, Australia and New Zealand can be examples to the world. 

"We share a strong commitment to the rules-based international trading system that is currently under such strain. I welcome and endorse Prime Minister Morrison’s call for countries to mend, not end, this system and to reject the idea that trade is a zero-sum game," she said.

New Zealand is open for business - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

Ms Ardern's long-planned trip to Australia was postponed because of the Christchurch terrorist attack.

Among the Prime Minister's stops earlier today was an address Australian investors, telling them New Zealand is open for business.

"We are encouraging investment that will contribute to New Zealand's economy, the growth of jobs and overall the kind of investment that will grow our wellbeing," she said.

Trouble with Australian bank ANZ hit headlines recently. And a stalled $3.5 billion sale of Australian-owned New Zealand life insurance company AMP is also raising eyebrows.

The PM said she didn't notice any chill factor, though. 

"All I heard was huge enthusiasm for the opportunities, the entrepreneurship, the innovation in New Zealand. So I see no sign of that," Ms Ardern told reporters.

But it's the second wave of changes to New Zealand's Overseas Investment Act that's got Australian businesses worried. 

The changes include a "national interest test" where overseas investors will need to prove how their projects will benefit New Zealand in particular areas such as employment and the environment.

"New Zealand is unusual in that fact that we don't have such a test. Australia does, other counterparts - Canada, for instance, does. And we think it's high time that we do as well," Ms Ardern said.

Away from business, the glitz of the trip so far was provided by a visit to the state governor's mansion.

Trade with Victoria tops $5.5 billion, but the Prime Minister got a message from the state's business leaders. 

"One of the challenges they identified for us is actually that we have great ideas, we are not always good at selling them, that there's a confidence gap," Ms Ardern said. 

Nick Crocker of Bluebird Ventures said: "Tall poppy syndrome is really New Zealand. But we're coming in to fertilise tall poppies to grow as tall as they can."

It's expected the economy, plus issues of deportation of New Zealanders from Australia and citizenship for Kiwis living there, will be on the agenda when Jacinda Ardern meets with her Australian counterpart Scott Morrison tomorrow.