Smiles but little substance as Brownlee and Bishop meet

New foreign minister Gerry Brownlee. Photo Lynn Grieveson

Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee and his Australian counterpart Julie Bishop have stressed the close relationship between the two countries after a meeting to discuss contentious policy changes affecting Kiwis across the ditch.

As reported by Newsroom Pro in recent weeks, Australia's changes to citizenship rules and its higher education system have created uncertainty for expats, with Prime Minister Bill English himself speaking about an "unravelling" of the close relationship.

English dispatched Brownlee to discuss the changes in his first overseas visit.

A press conference after Brownlee and Bishop's meeting appeared light on substance but warm in tone, with the pair keen to talk up bilateral relations.

"This is one of the closest relationships that could exist between two countries," said Bishop.

However, she added that officials from both countries would work more closely to consider the impact of their domestic policies on citizens of each country.

For his part, Brownlee spoke of the warmth of discussions and praised the countries' close relationship on trade and security issues.

He said the pair had "made a lot of progress" on improving engagement between the countries, while acknowledging the fact Australia's preparations for its Budget was an added complication for any advance discussions.