LATEST FROM THE BEEHIVE
Surprise, surprise. The Aussies – the Aussie leadership, anyway – are cool about incorporating kindliness in their rule book on good governance. As a consequence we were treated yesterday to news of an angry Kiwi Prime Minister showing the flinty side of her character.
At issue is whether New Zealand should be responsible for a woman – allegedly an Isis terrorist – with New Zealand citizenship arrested in Turkey.
But (a) the woman hasn’t lived in this country since she was six, and (b) she travelled to Syria on an Australian passport.
As RNZ tells it:
Ardern publicly lambasted the Australian prime minister on Tuesday, revealing his government unilaterally stripped the 26-year-old woman’s Australian citizenship due to her travelling to Syria to join Isis – effectively dumping the issue on New Zealand’s doorstep.
The woman, who had lived in Australia for two decades and travelled to Syria on an Australian passport, was arrested with her two young children in Turkey on Monday evening.
By stripping the woman of her Aussie citizenship (apparently without letting NZ authorities know about it), the Morrison government made her this country’s problem if the Turks deport her.
The New Zealand Herald reported our PM had delivered “a fiery blast”.
A more measured account of the government’s position was posted on the Beehive website later in the day, along with announcements which told us:
- Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Defence Minister Peeni Henare have announced that New Zealand will conclude its deployment of the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) to Afghanistan by May 2021.
- Rino Tirikatane, Associate Minister of Trade and Export Growth, delivered a speech headed Supporting Māori to Succeed in Trade – International Inter-Tribal Trade and Investment Organization (IITIO) (Virtual) Event. It’s his job (he explained) to help position Māori to lead international efforts to expand the participation of indigenous people in global trade, “including through the expansion of inclusive trade policies, rules and co-operation with our trade partners”.
- Figures released by Stats NZ show there was strong growth in median household incomes in 2020, before surveying was halted due to COVID-19.
In her Beehive statement about the ISIS suspect, the PM spoke of the government being in contact with relevant authorities in Turkey following the arrest of a former Australian and New Zealand dual citizen there.
Contingency planning for the potential return of any New Zealander who may have been in the conflict zone has been underway for some time, she said. The New Zealand Police and “other agencies” are involved.
“The woman in this case has held New Zealand and Australian citizenships and has been known to Australian and New Zealand authorities for some time.
“The fair question to ask is whether she should return to New Zealand or Australia. We firmly believe the answer is Australia – and have repeatedly communicated that view to the Australian Government at the highest levels.
“Unfortunately the Australian Government unilaterally cancelled her citizenship.”
The PM brought morality into considerations.
“It is wrong that New Zealand should shoulder the responsibility for a situation involving a woman who has not lived in New Zealand since she was six, has resided in Australia since that time, has her family in Australia and left for Syria from Australia on her Australian passport.”
Wrong? But this is the nation still remembered for underarm bowling.
The PM went on:
“We believe Australia has abdicated its responsibilities in relation to this person and I have personally made that point to Prime Minister Morrison.
“Our international obligations are important to New Zealand. Where dual citizenship is involved, our view has been that it’s for New Zealand and Australia to resolve the most appropriate response and ensure that we do not strip citizenship and render someone stateless, especially when children are involved.
“We continue to urge Australia to cooperate in the management of these cases.
“The welfare of the children also needs to be at the forefront in this situation. These children were born in a conflict zone through no fault of their own.”
Coming to New Zealand, where they have no immediate family, would not be in their best interests, Ardern insisted.
“We know that young children thrive best when surrounded by people who love them. We will be raising these points with the Australian Government.
“We will be engaging with the Turkish authorities, and given there are children involved, their welfare will be top of mind in our response,” Jacinda Ardern said.
It seems Ardern had learned of the woman’s loss of dual citizenship earlier in the day.
The New Zealand Herald reported Ardern as saying she had raised the issue with Australian prime minister Scott Morrison and asked they work together.
“I was then informed that Australia has unilaterally revoked the citizenship of the individual involved.
“I think New Zealand, frankly, is tired of having Australia export its problems. This is clearly an individual whose links sit most closely with Australia.”
Morrison defended Australia’s actions (as we would expect).
“My job is Australia’s interests. And it’s my job as Australia’s prime minister to put Australia’s national security interests first…”
There is no official record on the Beehive website (at least, not that we found this morning) of a trans-tasman phone call on the issue.
But according to RNZ:
The office of New Zealand’s Prime Minister has described a phone call last night with Australia’s Scott Morrison as “constructive”.
Today a spokesperson said, “regardless of the steps taken in this case to date, both NZ and Australia acknowledge that this case now has a number of complexities”.
We don’t imagine Ardern will admit to seeing any merit in the position articulated by National’s Gerry Brownlee.
He said the woman being held in Turkey should be responsible for herself.
National’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson Gerry Brownlee told Heather du Plessis-Allan it was well publicised years ago if you were going off to join ISIS, there would be consequences.
“Why there is suddenly a sort of political stoush about who is responsible here is I think a bit of a mute point.”
He says we should just leave it to Turkish justice system to deal with her.
Brownlee pointed out that New Zealand has washed its hands of Mark Taylor, described in the Herald as New Zealand’s most notorious ISIS fighter.
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