English and Turnbull - a new bromance

Bill English is well aware of the so-called bromance between Malcolm Turnbull and his predecessor John Key.

When asked by reporters in Queenstown what he would talk about over Friday dinner with the Australian prime minister, English replied with tongue in cheek.

"We'll probably talk about how John Key could have done a better job of being the prime minister of New Zealand I suppose.

Lucy Turnbull and Dr Mary English on their walk in Queenstown. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Lucy Turnbull and Dr Mary English on their walk in Queenstown. Photo / Mark Mitchell

"Politicians always talk about the other guy, don't they?"

This February's annual trans-Tasman catchup was an opportunity to talk about the big issues - the election of Donald Trump, the US's decision to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

It was also about pressing the flesh, chatting on a stroll along Lake Wakatipu, enjoying a cruise and sharing dinner.

Turnbull headed across the ditch with strong praise and a sense of admiration for the New Zealand economy and the successful stewardship of the Key-English team - and it continued.

Using New Zealand as an example, the Aussie prime minister couldn't help but turn Friday's formal press conference into his own question-and-answer session.

"It is not my job to interview you, but I might try," he said with a smirk, as he asked about the NZ government's company tax cuts - something he wants to emulate back home.

English wasn't so sure it was working in attracting more Australian businesses across the ditch.

"That hasn't quite happened yet," he said in reply.

Once more the diplomatic effort was bolstered Lucy Turnbull, with her husband describing both couples as very strong.

Mrs Turnbull, dubbed the "baby whisperer", met local children during the first stop at the Arrowtown War Memorial.

John Key and Malcolm Turnbull on Sydney Harbour. Photo / via Twitter
John Key and Malcolm Turnbull on Sydney Harbour. Photo / via Twitter

And she even received an offer when meeting a local councillor's four-month-old daughter Ida.

"What are you up to tonight," he asked in the hope of a babysitter.

"A little busy tonight but you're very kind," she replied.

Mr Turnbull extended an invitation of his own to English - a kayak on the "cosmic" Sydney Harbour, just like he enjoyed with Key after their evening of so-called pyjama diplomacy.

But he was a little concerned.

"I'm not excessively competitive when it comes to kayaking but I do notice that if he's good enough to beat a champion shearer I suspect his upper body strength might be pretty awesome," he said.

Not everyone showed warm hospitality to Turnbull.

On the back of a decision to award Jetstar a government contract in NZ, New Zealand First party leader Winston Peters said he hoped English was thinking about the national interest.

"The 'Aussie gold digger' might want another strike," he tweeted.

When asked about the description, Turnbull refused to comment.

- AAP

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