Our relationship with the Australian government

This week, the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop, appeared to be very angry with the New Zealand Labour Party. Ms Bishop said that if the Labour Party won the election and became the government, it would be very difficult for Australia to work with this government.

The reason for her anger was that a New Zealand Labour MP (Member of Parliament) asked a question about whether Australian MPs could hold dual citizenship. He did not name any Australian MP, but it seemed the question concerned the Australian Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce. Although Mr Joyce did not know, he was actually both a New Zealander and an Australian. His father was a New Zealander who moved to Australia as a young man to study at the University of Sydney. He stayed in Australia, married and had a family. Barnaby was born in Australia but at that time, children with a New Zealand parent were automatically New Zealand citizens, so he had dual citizenship. However, he did not know it until this week when someone in the media found out the information.

The Australian government was very worried about this as they have a majority in Parliament of just one MP. If Mr Joyce has to resign, the government could not continue. This week, he renounced – i.e. gave up – his New Zealand citizenship and has asked the High Court to consider his case.

Meanwhile Ms Bishop is blaming the New Zealand Labour Party but Jacinda Ardern very quickly said that our close relationship with the Australian government was too important to be destroyed by politics. She said if her party became the government after the election, she hoped to be able to work with the Australian government.


• dual (adj) – two
• majority (n)- more than half

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