Jacinda Ardern says the world is 'bloody messy' in Sydney speech

The Prime Minister has described the world as "bloody messy", but remains optimistic about the future.

Jacinda Ardern is in Sydney as part of a four-day trade mission to Australia. Her foreign policy speech focused on New Zealand’s role in the condemnation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and concerns around China’s growing influence in the Pacific.

The Prime Minister's comments come amid criticisms over New Zealand's sizeable trade relationship with China.

Nicholas Khoo, an associate professor at the University of Otago, wrote in The Diplomat on Thursday that "New Zealand’s tradition of foreign policy independence and robust economic ties to China create a strong imperative against joining a US coalition to balance China anytime soon".

"Wellington’s deeply ingrained tradition of foreign policy independence and robust economic ties to China serve as a considerable constraint on major policy change," Khoo wrote.

Ardern said during her speech that New Zealand has put "on record" its concerns around China's actions in the South China Sea, Hong Kong and Xinjiang.

She also said that it is wrong to class China's involvement in the Pacific as new.

"It would also be wrong to position the Pacific in such a way that they have to 'pick sides'. Priorities should be set by the Pacific.

"They should be free from coercion. Investment should be of high quality."

The Prime Minister also said instead of increasing competition in the region, countries should look for areas they can cooperate in.

Australia and New Zealand

Underpinning the Prime Minister's speech was the message that Australia and New Zealand benefit from a close relationship.

"We share our people, our problems and our solutions," she said.

A recent poll from the Lowy Institute supports that claim.

When thinking about Australia’s best friend in the world, the majority of Australians (57%) agree that it is New Zealand.

It's a view that's been held for several years, but has significantly increased since a similar poll in 2014.

Russia

Ardern also reiterated the Government's perspective that the war in Ukraine is illegal, and unjustifiable.

"Russia must be held to account, and we all have a role to play in ensuring that that happens," she said.

The Prime Minister also said that counties like Belarus that have openly supported Vladimir Putin should also see consequences for their role.