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English, Turnbull hold trans-Tasman talks

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 16/02/2017

Bill English © Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images Bill English Prime Minister Bill English and his Australian counterpart will keep things short but sweet when they meet in Queenstown.

Malcolm Turnbull is in the country for just 23 hours on Friday to meet with Mr English for the annual trans-Tasman catch-up.

Mr English is particularly keen to talk about the pathway to citizenship for Kiwis living in Australia, which is due to be implemented on July 1.

It's expected to create a streamlined approach for up to 70,000 people who have lived in and contributed to Australia for more than five years.

Global issues will almost certainly be high on the agenda, including Asia-Pacific trade, the future potential of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the new US administration, including the two leaders' vastly different interactions with US President Donald Trump.

Mr English also intends to again raise New Zealand's offer to take 150 asylum seekers from Australia's offshore detention centres at Nauru and Manus Island, first offered by former prime minister John Key to his then counterpart Julia Gillard in Queenstown four years ago.

While the offer has not been taken up yet, Mr English says it remains on the table.

Labour leader Andrew Little has suggested the leaders should also commit to standing together to call out human rights abuses.

"It might require a few internal changes in Australia on some of their (asylum seeker) issues but they are otherwise a decent country and they stand with New Zealand on those things that actually are about good strong communities domestically and internationally and we need more of that," he said.

Invitations to the leaders' meeting this year have also been extended to Finance Minister Steven Joyce and Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges.

Mr Turnbull will be accompanied by Treasurer Scott Morrison and Industries Minister Arthur Sinodinos.

The brief visit won't be all about work.

Mr English and Mr Turnbull lay wreaths at the Arrowtown War Memorial, and will be accompanied by their wives Mary and Lucy on a boat cruise on Lake Wakatipu on their way to a private dinner on Friday night.

They'll also enjoy a nice walk on Saturday morning before Mr Turnbull returns to Australia.

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