Jacinda Ardern, Julie Bishop waiting for each other’s phone call

By @chelean on
  • New Zealand Labour leader Jacinda Ardern
    New Zealand Labour leader Jacinda Ardern speaks to the press after leader of New Zealand First party Winston Peters announced his support for her party in Wellington, New Zealand, October 19, 2017. Reuters/Charlotte Greenfield
  • Julie Bishop
    Australia's Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop meets with the Secretary General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres at the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York City, U.S. September 22, 2017. Reuters/Stephanie Keith
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New Zealand Prime Minister-elect Jacinda Ardern would love to receive a call from Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, but she may have to make the first call. Bishop made it clear on Friday that she would not call the NZ Labour leader.

Bishop has been on the spotlight since Ardern’s win because the Australian minister released strong words against Ardern in the wake of Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce’s Kiwi citizenship fiasco. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten was accused of conspiring with an NZ Labour MP to question Joyce’s citizenship, which Ardern had then confirmed that her fellow member had inquired about it.

Bishop was not too pleased about the NZ Labour’s involvement, saying if the neighbouring country elected the party, she would not be comfortable in trusting them. “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,” she told reporters in August.

Following Ardern’s win on Thursday, Bishop appeared to have backpedalled on her previous statement. She insisted that she agreed with Ardern when the latter called and admitted that her colleague was in the wrong.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Bishop delivered a more diplomatic statement, congratulating Ardern on becoming the new prime minister of New Zealand. She then said repeatedly throughout the conference that Ardern called her months ago to admit that her fellow member’s conduct was wrong.

“I have accepted her explanation and we moved on,” she said. “I thank her for it and I am looking forward to working with the Ardern government.”

When asked if she had called Ardern to congratulate her, she said she would contact her counterpart when the foreign minister of New Zealand has been appointed. She said that the NZ Labour leader was welcome to call her instead. “My phone number is available on every press release that I put out.”

Ardern said that Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull already called her to reaffirm the relationship of both countries. She did not receive one from Bishop. “If a phone call is made, I will happily receive it,” Ardern said.

Turnbull, on the other hand, did not seem perturbed by the alleged aloofness between his minister and his Kiwi counterpart. “The enduring friendship, the alliance, the bonds between Australia and New Zealand are so close. We are family,” he told 3AW radio. 

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