Australia and New Zealand have become embroiled in an extraordinary diplomatic spat over claims the New Zealand opposition colluded with the Australian Labor party (ALP) in an attempt “to try and bring down the government”. During a febrile day of politics in both countries, Australia’s foreign affairs minister, Julie Bishop, said New Zealand’s opposition party was threatening the stability of a usually robust partnership between the two nations. She said she would find it “very hard to build trust” if New Zealand’s opposition Labour party were to win the general election in September. Her comments came only 24 hours after it was revealed that Australia’s deputy prime minister, Barnaby Joyce, held New Zealand citizenship and may be ineligible to sit in parliament under the Australian constitution, which disqualifies dual nationals. Malcolm Turnbull’s government currently commands a majority of one seat in the House of Representatives.
But Australia’s ruling coalition has now accused the opposition Labor party of planting a question in the New Zealand parliament in order to extract the information about Joyce’s nationality.
Australian government minister Christopher Pyne accused the ALP of being part of a conspiracy to bring down the 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.