Australian PM denied chance to address New Zealand parliament

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

SYDNEY - Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has been denied an invitation to address New Zealand’s parliament during a formal sitting, as such a move would force the house to be addressed by “unpleasant people”, a politician said.

But the visiting leader will address the MPs in the debating chamber of parliament in Wellington.

New Zealand’s Green Party co-leader Russel Norman said it would “create a slippery slope” which would force parliament to be addressed by “all sorts of unpleasant people, like (former US president) George Bush”.

“In New Zealand, no head of government or head of state has addressed a session of parliament and that’s a principle that we’re quite keen to keep,” The Australian quoted him as saying.

The Australian leader, who arrived in Auckland Tuesday at the start of a two-day visit to New Zealand, said she was looking forward to the address and was “absolutely honoured”.

“I’m very much looking forward to the opportunity of addressing New Zealand’s members of parliament,” she said.

“I’m absolutely honoured to speak to New Zealand MPs in their parliamentary chamber. The details of these arrangements are a matter for New Zealand.”

The New Zealand Herald, however, said in an editorial that visits by Australian prime ministers were too rare, and the address would have helped bring the nations closer.

“It should set a precedent for Australian prime ministers, symbolising the familiarity of close neighbours. New Zealand would hope it would be reciprocated,” it said.

Filed under: Politics

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