Sir John Key receives Australia's highest honour
Former Prime Minister John Key will be receiving Australia's highest honour at a ceremony in Canberra on Tuesday.
Sir John - who was knighted in the 2017 Queen's Birthday honours - has been appointed an Honorary Companion in the Order of Australia, and will be invested with the insignia by Australia's Governor General.
"I was shocked and stunned when I got the phone call from PM Turnbull," Sir John said on Monday evening.
"In my mind it's a recognition of the closeness of our bi-lateral relationship. This honour should be viewed far more as a recognition of the bond between our two countries more than a personal award.
"I had always viewed Australia as our most important relationship and worked to ensure my actions reflected that."
Sir John was celebrating ahead of the ceremony by having drinks with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Monday night.
Turnbull said in a statement that Sir John was an "outstanding leader of his country" who was respected around the world.
"As Prime Minister of New Zealand from November 2008 to December 2016, he was also deeply committed to advancing the Australia-New Zealand bilateral relationship and pursuing our common interests in the region and internationally.
"Australia and New Zealand share a unique and close partnership, underpinned by shared history and values."
Turnbull said Key helped drive economic growth in both countries by "reinvigorating the agenda of the Single Economic Market, which further liberalised the trans-Tasman economy and delivered benefits for Australian and New Zealand businesses and consumers".
"He was also committed to ensuring that New Zealand played its part in tackling the major security challenges the international community faces," Turnbull said.
"My instant, dismayed, reaction on his retirement last year was "Say it ain't so Bro" - he has been a great friend of Australia and has represented his nation, and our shared values, magnificently.
"Lucy and I look forward to seeing more of John and Bronagh this side of the ditch and perhaps John and I can venture out for another paddle before too long."
- Audio courtesy of Radio NZ.