New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was one of the first world leaders to congratulate Scott Morrison when he stumbled to power at the end of a dramatic week in 2018.
But the difference between the two leaders — one a progressive darling, the other a conservative Pentacostal daggy dad — is stark and it’s led to a relationship where Ardern has been unafraid to often call out Australia and the Morrison government — the most recent being yesterday when she blasted Australia’s decision to cancel the passport of a dual citizen who had joined Islamic State (IS).
Here’s a list of all the times Morrison pissed off Ardern.
At a joint press conference in front of the Sydney Opera House last year, Ardern made Morrison visibly squirm when she accused Australia of “testing” the trans-Tasman relationship. She was referring to Australia’s practice of deporting New Zealanders convicted of crimes, even if they had lived for years –sometimes almost their whole lives — in Australia.
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Ardern said she’d told Morrison the same thing in private, and had spoken in the past of the “corrosive” effect it was having on the relationship. But the theatrics of the public presser made the depth of New Zealand’s annoyance clear.
“Send back genuine Kiwis. Do not deport your people and your problems,” Ardern said.
Climate change has also been an obvious source of difference. In 2019 New Zealand committed to net zero emissions by 2050. Morrison, well-known for brandishing a lump of coal in parliament, continues to fudge it.
At a 2019 meeting of Pacific leaders in Tuvalu, Ardern had her sternest words for Morrison: Pacific island nations were desperate for Australia to take a more proactive approach to a climate crisis which will see their nations submerged.
“Australia has to answer to the Pacific,” she said.
The comments didn’t go down well, and led reactionary shock jock Alan Jones to demand Morrison “shove a sock down her throat”.
Morrison has sniped back on climate, pointing out last year that New Zealand’s net zero pledge had exemptions for methane produced by agriculture.
The IS affair
Suhayra Aden, a 25-year-old Melbourne woman, moved to Australia from New Zealand when she was six but left to live under IS in 2014.
Aden was a dual citizen until Australia cancelled her passport last year. That meant that when she was detained crossing into Turkey she became New Zealand’s problem.
Ardern was visibly furious at a press conference yesterday.
“Our very strong view on behalf of New Zealanders was that this individual was clearly most appropriately dealt with in Australia,” she said.
She accused Australia of “abdicating its responsibility” to Aden, and “exporting its problems” to New Zealand.
In the trans-Tasman relationship there’s a tendency in Australia to see the Kiwis as a something of a pushover, and a mate whose mateship can be easily taken for granted.
Ardern has again made it clear Morrison won’t have it easy.