New Zealand Labour Party leader Jacinda Ardern, center, and deputy leader Kelvin Davis, left, answer questions from reporters on Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2017, in Wellington, New Zealand. Former leader Andrew Little announced he was quitting earlier in the day, as the party tries to overcome recent dismal polling seven weeks before the general election. Some believe Ardern will bring more charisma to the
New Zealand Labour Party leader Jacinda Ardern, center, and deputy leader Kelvin Davis, left, answer questions from reporters on Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2017, in Wellington, New Zealand. Former leader Andrew Little announced he was quitting earlier in the day, as the party tries to overcome recent dismal polling seven weeks before the general election. Some believe Ardern will bring more charisma to the

NZ hits back as citizenship row escalates

NEW Zealand Labour leader Jacinda Ardern has hit back at Julie Bishop for making "false claims" about the NZ Labour Party.

In a strongly-worded statement, Ms Ardern said she will meet with the Australian High Commissioner later today to "register my disappointment".

"It is highly regrettable that the Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has chosen to make false claims about the New Zealand Labour Party," she wrote.

"I have been utterly transparent about the situation. I stand by my statements that I knew absolutely nothing about the Barnaby Joyce case until it broke in the media yesterday afternoon.

"I had no knowledge about the Parliamentary Questions lodged by Chris Hipkins MP.

"I greatly value New Zealand's relationship with the Australian government. I will not let false claims stand in the way of that relationship."

Ms Ardern said she would "happily" take a call from Ms Bishop to discuss these matters.

Her comments come after Foreign Minister Julie Bishop slammed Labor for "compromising" relations between Australia and New Zealand.

Ms Bishop accused Opposition leader Bill Shorten of "treachery" today in a spirited press conference after the revelations a Labor MP prompted a New Zealand Labor MP to probe Barnaby Joyce's citizenship status.

"Bill Shorten has sought to use a foreign political party to raise serious allegations in a foreign Parliament designed to undermine confidence in the Australian Government," Ms Bishop told reporters in Canberra.

"Bill Shorten has serious questions to answer.

"This is highly unethical, at least.

"But, more importantly, puts at risk the relationship between the Australian Government and the New Zealand Government."

She called on Mr Shorten to reveal the name of the MP who spoke to New Zealand Labor.

"We're used to the dodgy backroom deals from Bill Shorten when he was leader of the union movement - he's now brought that not only into Australian politics but now into the international politics."

Meanwhile, Malcolm Turnbull is facing the real possibility that he will be forced to seek an alliance with a crossbench MP to hold onto government.

Queensland MP Bob Katter has already outlined what he wants if the Prime Minister seeks his support if the High Court rules Barnaby Joyce is ineligible to sit in Parliament over his New Zealand citizenship.

"You're one by-election away from needing mine or Rebekha Sharkie's vote," Mr Katter warned on Sky News today.

News Corp Australia


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