Australians keen to share policies - but not welfare - with Kiwis

TRACY WATKINS
Last updated 05:00 08/02/2014

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OPINION: ‘ ‘Don't know about you lot getting welfare off us," offers up the Australian receptionist. "We're broke."

Welcome to Australia, which seems to have come back down to earth with a bump after sailing through the global financial crisis relatively unscathed while New Zealand, like many other countries, felt its pain and tightened its belt.

Now Australia is casting an envious eye at its neighbour across the Tasman and looking to emulate its success.

As 600 movers and shakers from both sides of the Tasman crowded a Sydney ballroom yesterday to hear from John Key and his Australian counterpart Tony Abbott, the story of the New Zealand economy was high on their minds.

Mr Abbott told the audience that when he said on election night last year that Australia was under new management and open for business, " I have to say that I did have New Zealand in my mind and I did have in mind many of the policies and programmes which have been pursued by the Key Government."

Mr Abbott cited measures including fiscal discipline, the Government being on track to post a surplus, low inflation, rising wages and low mortgage rates as things to emulate.

"Not for nothing has Forbes Magazine recently described New Zealand as the world's No 1 place to do business."

But even as Mr Abbott spoke, there were signs the Australian economy might be doing better than previously forecast, potentially averting some of the pain tipped for his finance minister's first budget.

The Reserve Bank of Australia upped its economic forecasts suggesting the reality may fall well short of the gloomy perceptions held by many Australians.

That is good news for the Abbott Government. But it would take a very big recovery indeed to convince the average Australian they can afford to dip into their pockets and pick up the welfare bill for Kiwis across the Tasman.

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- The Dominion Post

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