UPDATED 6pm: Labour leader Jacinda Ardern has extended an olive branch to Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop after a turbulent couple of hours of transtasman political strife.
Earlier today, Ms Bishop said she would find it hard to work with the New Zealand Labour Party, accusing it of attempting to undermine the Australian government.
Ms Ardern says she would be happy to talk to Ms Bishop and has extended the offer for her to give her a call to smooth things over.
The Labour leader says she would have been happy to call Ms Bishop herself but she didn’t have her number.
Ms Ardern also reiterated the relationship between the NZ Labour Party and the Australian government is too “important for politics to get in the way.”
She made the comments after speaking to the Australian High Commissioner Peter Woolcott this evening.
She told him her Labour MP Chris Hipkins had “no idea” that the questions he was asking in Parliament about eligibility for citizenship had anything to do with Australian Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and his citizenship.
“I also reiterated the statement from [Internal Affairs Minister] Peter Dunne, clarifying that any suggestion that we had any involvement in Mr Joyce being in the predicament he is in now, is incorrect.”
She did not formally apologise for the incident, she says, although she did tell media "Mr Hipkins should never have asked those questions."
Ms Ardern also confirmed that it was an Australian Labor Party staffer who made contact with Mr Hipkins to ask the question, not an MP and not Australian Labor leader Bill Shorten.
ABOVE: Ardern's Tuesday evening standup press conference at Parliament (from 25 minutes).
UPDATED 3pm: Relations between New Zealand and Australia are deteriorating, with Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop casting doubt on her coalition government's ability to work with New Zealand under a Labour-led government.
Speaking to media in Canberra this morning, Ms Bishop says she would "find it very hard to build trust with those involved in allegations designed to undermine the government of Australia.
"I’m referring to [Labor leader] Bill Shorten using a foreign political party to raise questions in a foreign parliament, deliberately designed to undermine confidence in the Australian government."
Ms Bishop has accused Mr Shorten of putting the transtasman relationship at risk over the Barnaby Joyce citizenship row.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has also put the boot into his opposition over the saga.
"The Australian people elected this government, Bill Shorten wants to steal government by entering into a conspiracy with a foreign power," Mr Turnbull told the Coalition party room, the AFR reports.
NZ Labour leader Jacinda Ardern replied to Ms Biship via social media, tweeting:
I value our relationship with the Australian Govt highly. I won't let disappointing & false claims stand in the way of that relationship
— Jacinda Ardern (@jacindaardern) August 15, 2017
Ms Ardern also posted:
I stand by my statements made this morning that I knew absolutely nothing about the Barnaby Joyce case until it broke in the media yesterday
— Jacinda Ardern (@jacindaardern) August 15, 2017
Foreign Affairs Minister Gerry Brownlee says he does not think he has seen anything like this before in New Zealand’s parliament.
“It’s an inexplicable act and frankly, I think there are all sorts of issues with Mr Hipkins allowing himself to be used by someone outside the parliament for what are very odd political reasons.”
Mr Brownlee says this sort of thing does not help with the transtasman relationship.
Although he would not comment on what Ms Bishop was saying, he did say her reaction was “perfectly reasonable.”
He says he has had no communication with Ms Bishop on the issue.
Meanwhile, NZ leader Winston Peters has also put in the boot, saying if someone in his caucus had done what Mr Hipkins had, he would be “at the bottom of the list.”
“It’s seriously bad that we would have the people with the lack of presence of mind to think that such an attack on Australian political institutions and its people was a good idea.”
Just in: Jacinda Ardern’s statement on Julie Bishop's comments. pic.twitter.com/aP5pcco4h6
— NBR (@TheNBR) August 15, 2017
EARLIER: Labour leader Jacinda Ardern says shadow leader of the House Chris Hipkins showed a lack of judgment in becoming a part of a citizenship scandal that is now engulfing Australian politics.
Ms Ardern said that today when asked about the written questions Mr Hipkins submitted last week to Parliament on Australian and New Zealand citizenship laws.
Days after Mr Hipkins submitted the questions, Australian Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce confirmed he may be facing dismissal from the Australian Parliament as he could be a New Zealand citizen. Australia does not allow dual citizenship for elected officials.
Mr Joyce said that on the advice from New Zealand's Department of Internal Affairs, which had received inquiries from the NZ Labour Party, they considered that he may be a "citizen by descent" of New Zealand.
Yesterday, the Labour Party would not confirm whether it had any involvement.
But Mr Hipkins had asked Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne two reasonably specific questions in the House.
Ms Ardern this morning attempted to quash any speculation that it was Mr Hipkins's questions that led to Mr Joyce's announcement.
She says the revelations came after a Fairfax Australia investigation into the issue.
But, she was at pains to point out that “these are not questions we should have been asking.”
“He was asked a question by an acquaintance in the Australian Labor party which he couldn’t answer, so he asked [the] question[s] to clarify.”
But both Mr Hipkins and Ms Ardern say Mr Hipkins had no idea who was involved when he submitted the questions last week.
NBR tried numerous times to contact Mr Hipkins yesterday but he did not respond.
But, speaking to Sky News this morning, the education spokesman said he was not directed to ask the question on behalf of the Australian Labor Party and the question came out of a conversation with a political acquaintance in Australia.
He said the questions he asked were done out of “sheer curiosity.”
“If I had known what the outcome would be, I probably wouldn't have done it.”
Ms Ardern agrees.
“Regardless of the amount of information that was known, these are not questions we should have been asking.”
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