‘Furious’: Ardern explodes at Morrison
A "visibly furious" New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has slammed the Morrison government, saying "they did not act in good faith" after an alleged ISIS terrorist who travelled to Syria on an Australian passport was detained in Turkey with her two children.
The woman held dual citizenship for Australia and New Zealand, but lived in Australia since she was six years old, and travelled to Syria on her Australian passport.
While she was gone, the Australian government revoked her citizenship as part of a policy to strip dual-citizenship from terrorists.
She now is considered legally to be only a New Zealand citizen.
"I never believe that the right response was to simply have a race to revoke people's citizenship … We will put our hands up when we need to own the situation, we expected the same of Australia. They did not act in good faith," Ms Ardern said on Tuesday.
Ms Ardern said her government "firmly believe" the woman should return to Australia, and has "repeatedly communicated that view to the Australian government at the highest levels".
"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.
"Any fair minded person would consider this person an Australian and that is my view too," Ms Ardern said.
She said she'd personally made the point directly to Prime Minister Scott Morrison that Australia had "abdicated its responsibilities in relation to this person".
The Australian Institute of International Affairs has argued the policy of cancelling citizenship "offers no solution to global terror threats".
Ms Ardern has said the chief priority is the welfare of the two children.
"These children were born in a conflict zone through no fault of their own," Ms Ardern said.
"Coming to New Zealand, where they have no immediate family, would not be in their best interests. 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."
Asked about it at a press conference on Tuesday, Mr Morrison said it was his job to "put Australia's national security interests first" and that as part of the legislation citizenship is cancelled "automatically … and that has been a known part of Australia's law for some time".
He said he would be speaking with Ms Ardern on the topic later today, as the pair have done before.
"There is still a lot more unknown about this case and where it sits and where it may go next," Mr Morrison added.
AAP's New Zealand correspondent Ben McKay took to Twitter to provide context for Ms Ardern's comments, quoting a NZ press gallery veteran saying it was "the angriest I've ever seen her".
Here's NZ PM Jacinda Ardern's blast at Australia today in Wellington. In the words of one senior gallery journo, 'that's the angriest I've ever seen her'— Ben McKay (@benmackey) February 16, 2021
It stood out to me that she revealed her personal representation, throwing Scott Morrison under the bus pic.twitter.com/CWhkMAJKff
ABC foreign affairs reporter Stephen Dziedzic described Ms Ardern as "visibly furious".
It was a surprising departure from the usual diplomacy of the New Zealand Prime Minister, but that doesn't mean it should come as a shock (especially not to Mr Morrison, who Ms Ardern said she'd "continuously" warned would not receive much diplomacy from her if the woman required support from New Zealand).
"New Zealand, frankly, is tired of having Australia export its problems," Ms Ardern said.
In March 2019, an Australian terrorist who travelled to New Zealand for the purpose of carrying out a terrorist attack killed 51 worshippers at mosques in Christchurch.
Following his sentencing to life without parole, New Zealand's Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters said the terrorist "should be returned to the country that raised him".
"It's normal practice that criminals convicted of these offences serve their sentences in that jurisdiction, and that's my understanding of what the arrangements are and no request has been made to Australia for that to be any different," Mr Morrison said at the time.
New Zealand taxpayers are now facing a bill of tens of millions of dollars for the terrorist to be kept in prison until he dies.
Originally published as 'Furious': Ardern explodes at Morrison