Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop
Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop talks during a meeting with her Sri Lankan counterpart Ravi Karunanayake at the bilateral meeting in Colombo, Sri Lanka July 19, 2017. Reuters/Dinuka Liyanawatte

The New Zealand Labour Party has fired back at Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop for making “false claims” about the party. It all started with Australian Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby’s Joyce’s Kiwi citizenship, which he renounced Tuesday.

Following Monday’s revelation that Joyce was also a New Zealand citizen by descent, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has accused Opposition Leader Bill Shorten of “conspiring with foreign power,” claiming someone from the Australian Labor Party had schemed with an NZ Labour MP to question Joyce’s citizenship. NZ Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern has confirmed that fellow member Chris Hipkins asked about the legality an Australian-born NZ citizen to NZ Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne.

Dunne, on the other hand, dismissed the issue as “utter nonsense.” He said that although Hipkins’ questions were inappropriate, it were the Australian media inquiries that instigated it, referring to questions from Fairfax Media. Nevertheless, the revelation apparently showed that Shorten was willing to interfere in the political system of another country just to steal Australia’s government.

Bishop then told the press that Shorten has serious questions to answer for with his alleged scheme to undermine the Australian government. She also had a few choice words for the other Labour party.

“New Zealand is facing an election. 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 Canberra. “I’m referring to Bill Shorten using a foreign political party to raise questions in a foreign parliament deliberately designed to undermine confidence in the Australian government.”

Ardern has since fired back, saying Bishop made false claims about the party. She reiterated that she knew nothing about Joyce’s case until it broke in the media. She said she would formally register her disappointment to the High Commission.

“I greatly value New Zealand’s relationship with the Australian Government. I will not let false claims stand in the way of that relationship,” her statement reads. “I would happily take a call from Julie Bishop to clarify matters. I have also contacted the Australian High Commission to register my disappointment and will be meeting with the High Commissioner later today.”

Meanwhile, Joyce said New Zealand has accepted his request to renounce his citizenship. He lodged the papers a few days ago and only received verbal confirmation Tuesday.