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NZ-Australia bond 'closer than ever'

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 1/06/2017

Clarrie Grimmett's prowess as a test cricketer was well-known to Sir Peter Cosgrove, but his Kiwi heritage was not.

In a speech at Government House in Wellington on Thursday, Sir Peter, Australia's Governor-General, says there would be few nations around the world whose identity was so linked to the relationship it has with its neighbour.

"Those men who fought alongside one another on those sheer cliffs above Anzac Cove [in WWI] lived and died as one," he said to assembled guests at a state lunch that included his New Zealand counterpart, Dame Patsy Reddy, members of Parliament and NZ Defence Force personnel.

"We are the very closest of friends, as close as any two countries can be - the ties in defence are strong as we serve in places like the Solomon Islands, Afghanistan and Iraq, but the relationship is broader than that too."

Sir Peter said the bilateral economic ties between New Zealand and Australia are "the most comprehensive in existence", and would get stronger, but we share musicians, actors and sportspeople "when it suits".

"I was shocked to discover the great spin bowler Clarrie Grimmett was a Kiwi.

"Two hundred and sixteen test wickets at 24 [runs] apiece makes him an export from you that we are most appreciative of."

Dame Patsy says New Zealand and Australia have two of the most integrated economies in the world, however a formal agenda for a single economic market is on the table.

"Australia is now our second-largest market for goods and our largest market for services.

"We are each other's largest source of tourist arrivals, with 1.4 million Australians visiting here each year.

"It is our people-to-people relationships that matter, and your [Sir Peter's] visit is another thread in the bonds that tie our two countries together."

Sir Peter will also visit Kaikoura, Christchurch and Stewart Island as part of his three-day trip.

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