Julia Gillard is now coming to the end of her first official visit to New Zealand. In speeches to New Zealand business leaders and Parliament yesterday, Gillard sought to “pay tribute to the friendship” demonstrated by New Zealand during the recent Queensland floods: “You brought mateship, you brought friendship and your work won’t be forgotten”. The New Zealand Herald reports that later today she will sign an investment protocol agreement with Prime Minister John Key under the Closer Economic Relationship. This agreement seeks to increase the level of investment between Australia and New Zealand. New Zealand business will now be able to invest up to AU$1 billion without screening, while their Australian counterparts will be able to invest up to $477 million in New Zealand. Gillard sought to allay fears that this move may undermine New Zealand’s efforts to retain control of strategic assets in an interview on Radio New Zealand. “I think a strong economic relationship between our two countries benefits us both,” says Gillard. “We both get stronger together.” Australia already accounts for 23 percent of all New Zealand exports.