Claire Trevett

Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

Key boasts of NZ to London tourism group

John Key and British Labour leader Ed Miliband meet at Portcullis House in London. Photo / Claire Trevett
John Key and British Labour leader Ed Miliband meet at Portcullis House in London. Photo / Claire Trevett

As Prime Minister John Key began to wind up his meetings in London, he indulged in a bit of sledging of Australia while trying to woo the tourism dollar in London.

Speaking to a group of business people working at the luxury end of the tourism industry, Mr Key boasted of the diversity of the scenery in New Zealand.

"Lots of people go to Australia as part of their trip and I'm sure they have a very good time. But one thing with Australia is you can drive for a very long time and not a whole lot changes."

It got him the laugh he wanted from the predominantly British audience, especially when he rubbed it in by referring to the England cricket team's hold on the Ashes.

Earlier in the day, Mr Key had gone on a scenic drive himself to the Cotswolds to speak to National's sister party, the British Conservative Party at its caucus retreat in Chipping Norton.

Although it took up most of his day and prompted some nervous laughter when he was asked what he would tell Opposition leader Ed Miliband about how he had spent his day, he said it was a worthwhile exercise.

He had made the most of his lunch to talk to Ministers, including Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne and Home Secretary Theresa May, who is responsible for the immigration policy Key is trying to change.

Mr Key said he had spoken about how National was tracking, how it won a second term, how it was dealing with the economy and coalition governments.

"I just gave them confidence I thought they were on the right track."

Mr Key is apparently the source of some envy due to his ongoing high polling and securing a second term.

But it is not exactly good manners to go straight from trying to help one party stay in power just before an official visit to the leader of the rival party which hopes to take power. Especially when he could well be the man Key has to deal with post-2015, should both men achieve their election wishes.

Nor did Key hold back from having a wee dig before he went into his first ever meeting with Labour leader Ed Miliband. Key observed that the Conservative Government's austerity package went far deeper than New Zealand's and "that just reflects the economic situation they inherited from the Labour Government."

If Miliband was disturbed, he put on the good British stiff upper lip, saying he hoped to further relations between Britain and New Zealand if he did become Prime Minister.

"We aren't from the same political parties, but I think we can both have many issues where we can work together either in Opposition, or, I hope, in Government. It's about the strength of the relationship between the two countries and that's why it's been such a pleasure to meet the Prime Minister."

Key defended his decision to attend the Conservatives conference, saying as well as the familial links, it was a valuable chance to make face-to-face contact with high powered ministers. In that regard, Mr Key also proved he was a risk-taker - he chose to eat the salmon tagliatelle while there, despite the risk of fish breath.

- NZ Herald

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