PM's visit low key in Australia

By Paul Harper

Australian PM Julia Gillard has welcomed Prime Minister John Key to the Australian Parliament with confirmation that the two countries will work more closely on emissions trading schemes. Photo / Getty Images
Australian PM Julia Gillard has welcomed Prime Minister John Key to the Australian Parliament with confirmation that the two countries will work more closely on emissions trading schemes. Photo / Getty Images

While John Key will today become the first New Zealand leader to address the Australian Parliament, the Australian media are more interested in the ailing state of the Labor Government.

Julia Gillard's Government continues to plummet in the polls - a recent Newspoll has the Labor Party at 31 per cent, behind the opposition Coalition on 46 per cent.

It's been one year since Gillard rolled Kevin Rudd and assumed leadership of the party, however her Government is now polling worse than just prior to the leadership coup.

A joint media conference with the two leaders is widely expected to focus on the polls, rather than the Anzac relationship.

While Julia Gillard's visit and address to Parliament in February dominated the news here, with many newspapers carrying editorials on the state of the trans-Tasman relations, John Key's visit is receiving scant mentions in the Australian media.

Mr Key will today become the eighth world leader to address the Federal Parliament.

He'll also meet with Ms Gillard and senior ministers, likely to include Treasurer Wayne Swan, Defence Minister Stephen Smith, Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd, Attorney-General Robert McClelland and the ministers for trade, climate change, immigration, and innovation and science.

He will also meet opposition leader Tony Abbott.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports Ms Gillard will hoping Mr Key's visit will provide a boost for her Government, which is struggling to gain popular support for a carbon emission scheme.

The Australian reports Mr Key will be pressuring the Australia Government to ensure Kiwis living across the ditch receive the same benefits Australians living in New Zealand receive.

Political reporter for The Australian James Massola believes Mr Key's speech in Parliament will be more about flag waving than substance.

He told Newstalk ZB this morning Julia Gillard has made a good relationship with Mr Key one of the priorities of her leadership.

"There's about $15 billion worth of trade between our two countries each year and obviously we work closely in the region so that's what this is all about," he said.

Mr Massola said the nitty gritty of these trips is always worked out behind the scenes beforehand.

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