Australian election: The shock waves will be felt here

By Greg Ansley

An Australian Government led by Liberal Tony Abbott will not shake New Zealand's world, although some shock waves will cross the Tasman.

Australia's preoccupation with Asia and the great powers will, if anything, increase under Abbott, heavily focused on concerns such as asylum seekers, trade, and rivalry between China and the United States.

New Zealand will have to work harder to keep on the radar screen. For New Zealand, this has been largely a wasted year as Australian politics became paralysed by Labor's agonies.

A new majority Government will reintroduce certainty and, after the dust has settled, a return to a more normal run of business.

The economy is less certain. Battered by the same global fortunes, Abbott can really hope to do as well as Labor, although some policies - especially big infrastructure spends - could boost Kiwi business. So would gains for sectors such as housing, retail and manufacturing, if they can be achieved.

There will be losses, notably the end of a planned linkage between transtasman carbon emissions trading schemes. Abbott has promised to axe Australia's present plans. Large cuts to the foreign aid budget could also affect New Zealand's programmes.

The two countries co-operate in such areas as the Cook Islands, where New Zealand distributes Australian aid. And there will be nothing for expats excluded from Australian welfare, education and other programmes.

The Coalition appears unlikely to resurrect Labor's plan to open student loans to young Kiwis - which vanished into legislative limbo before the election - and has excluded New Zealanders from its planned apprenticeship loans. Both major parties have refused further concessions.

- NZ Herald

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