Australia and New Zealand, two neighbouring nations, have entered into a strange diplomatic dispute. The Australian Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, has accused New Zealand’s opposition Labor Party of conspiring against the Australian government.
The debate centres around the leaking of information. It appears that Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce, holds a dual citizenship of both Australia and New Zealand. This is a problem for the Joyce, as Australian law bans members of parliament from holding dual citizenship.
Currently, the centre-right Liberal Party holds a single seat majority in the Australian Parliament. If the parliament were to expel Joyce, then the government would most likely lose their grip on power. This is turn could force an election.
Barnaby Joyce told the Australian parliament that he has requested that his New Zealand citizenship be revoked, and he is awaiting written confirmation that this will be done. There is currently an ongoing court investigation into his eligibility to sit as a member of parliament. However, any renunciation of his New Zealand citizenship will not have an effect on the court’s decision. This is because the time of the last election determines his eligibility.
Australian Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, has accused the Australian Labor Party of conspiring with the New Zealand Labor Party to raise the issue. New Zealand has scheduled an election for next month. Bishop said “Should there be a change of government, I would find it very hard to build trust with those involved in allegations designed to undermine the government of Australia.”
Australian government minister, Christopher Pyne, has accused the Australian Labor Party of conspiring with a foreign power. In doing so, to bring down a national government. “Clearly the Labor party are involved in a conspiracy using a foreign government, in this case, New Zealand, to try and bring down the Australian government,” he said. “How many other foreign governments, or foreign political parties in other countries, has the Labor party been colluding with to try to undermine the Australian government? Has he been talking to the people in Indonesia, or China, or the Labour party in the UK?”
Some have seen a more humorous side the debacle. “If the Foreign Minister won’t be able to work with the New Zealanders, how will the Foreign Minister be able to work with the Deputy Prime Minister [Barnaby Joyce],” asked Labor MP, Tony Burke.
Australia – New Zealand Relations
Others have used the debate around dual citizenship to call for New Zealand to become part of Australia. Under the Australian Constitution, there is a provision to allow New Zealand to become a state. It could become another part of Australia just like Victoria, Queensland, and New South Wales. Some have now called for New Zealand to avail of the opportunity to become part of their neighbouring country.
Relations between Australia and New Zealand are, in general, very friendly. Both countries have enjoyed unbroken friendly diplomatic relations since their respective foundations. While sporting rivalries exist between the two nations, there are very close in diplomatic, cultural and political ties. A recent poll found that Australians consider New Zealand to be their closest ally.
Furthermore, it remains to be seen whether or not this current political spat will have an impact on the relationship between the two states. Australia will closely watch the election results in New Zealand. If Labor emerges victorious, it could resemble a cooling of relations.
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