New Zealand lashes at Australia in citizenship row over terror suspect

Andrew Cummings
February 16, 2021

The New Zealand prime minister spoke on Tuesday of her frustrations with her Australian counterpart, saying "New Zealand frankly is exhausted of having Australia export its problems".

The 26-year-old woman - who Turkish officials are calling a terrorist - held New Zealand and Australian citizenship but Australia has revoked theirs.

Australia's decision to revoke the citizenship of a dual citizen, who has lived in Australia since the age of six, has prompted a furious response from the New Zealand prime minister.

'New Zealand, frankly, is exhausted of having Australia export its problems, ' she said.

The leader said she had personally told Prime Minister Scott Morrison that Australia had "abdicated its responsibilities in relation to this person". "I ask of Australia that they do the same".

"Someone has identified themselves as a citizen of New Zealand accompanied by two small children has been detained at the Turkish border", Jacinda Ardern told media today.


"Our very strong view on behalf of New Zealand and New Zealanders, was that this individual was clearly most appropriately dealt with by Australia", she said in Wellington Tuesday.

"Exactly what their status would be is something that should be clarified for a start".

Ardern said she first raised the issue with Morrison early on in her time as Prime Minister.

Ms Ardern said she raised the issue with Mr Morrison past year, but that New Zealand's concerns had been brushed aside. And that has been a known part of Australia's law for some time.

All New Zealanders have a right to come back to the country but that did not mean the country had to facilitate their return or pay for them to come home, he said.

He said he was scheduled to speak with Ardern today but added that legislation passed in parliament automatically cancels the citizenship of a dual citizen accused of being engaged in terrorist activities.


A dual New Zealand and Australian citizen has been arrested at the Syria-Turkey border.

"Any fair-minded person would consider this person an Australian and that is my view too", Ardern said in a statement. "She was a child (when she left New Zealand) and doesn't have the support networks, as far as I know". They were a resident in Australia "from that time, became an Australian citizen, left from Australia to Syria and travelled on an Australian passport".

"We will put our hands up when we need to own a situation - we would expect the same from Australia".

"Australia's interest here is that we do not want to see a terrorist who fought with terrorist organisations enjoying privileges of citizenship, which I think they forfeit the second they gauge as an enemy of our country". She was also an Australian citizen - until recently.

"We will be engaging with the Turkish authorities, and given there are children involved, their welfare will be top of mind in our response".

Islamic Women's Council's Danzeisen linked Australia's action over the 26-year-old with its 501 programme that has seen it strip its passports from New Zealand-born criminals and send them back over the Tasman.


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