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New Zealand's New Prime Minister Is Very Awkward For Julie Bishop

"Should there be a change of government, I would find it very hard to build trust..." Well this is awkward.

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New Zealand political kingmaker Winston Peters announced on Thursday evening that his NZ First party would form a coalition government with Labour, making Jacinda Ardern the next prime minister.

Jacinda Ardern.
Kai Schwoerer / Getty Images

Jacinda Ardern.

The decision came after an agonising 26 day wait, during which Winston Peters literally went fishing and Jacinda Ardern brought a ginger cake to negotiations to, er, sweeten the deal. How good is New Zealand.

Anyway, you might recall Australia's near-diplomatic crisis with New Zealand over our (now renounced) Kiwi deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce.

Barnaby Joyce.
Stefan Postles / Getty Images

Barnaby Joyce.

In the heady days of the citizenship crisis when MPs were dropping like flies (well, referring themselves to the High Court) bloggers and journalists started looking into Joyce, whose dad was born in NZ.

At the same time, Labour NZ MP Chris Hipkins asked two questions about citizenship in the parliament. It emerged that Hipkins had discussed the issue with the chief of staff to Labor senate leader Penny Wong.

The Australian government claimed that it was these questions, based on collusion between NZ Labour and Australian Labor, that led to Joyce's citizenship being examined and clarified by the NZ government.

For what it's worth, then NZ internal affairs minister Peter Dunne said the allegations were "so much nonsense" and that media inquiries were to blame.

Enter Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop. When this all emerged, the usually unshakeable Bishop gave a press conference slamming the "treacherous" behaviour of Labor leader Bill Shorten — and having a pretty big dig at NZ Labour.

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"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 said.

So now that Ardern will actually be prime minister...everyone is looking at you Julie Bishop.

Sad to hear Julie Bishop has resigned after hearing the news from New Zealand, but I admire her commitment to protocol. #auspol

Meanwhile, @JulieBishopMP learns of @jacindaardern's election victory

Well this aged well... 'Conspiracy': Julie Bishop says she could not trust a New Zealand Labour government via @smh

I wonder what @JulieBishopMP will have to say to the new NZ PM @jacindaardern?

Treacherous eh Julie Bishop? #auspol

Even Labor MPs joined in the roasting.

How would it feel to be Julie Bishop right now? #conspiracytheory #nzvotes #labourwins

I wonder how @JulieBishopMP is feeling right now #NZpol

But it wasn't all memes — shadow foreign affairs minister Penny Wong called on the government to urgently repair relations with Ardern and NZ Labour now that she's been elected.

"In an attempt to divert attention from the citizenship crisis surrounding Barnaby Joyce, the foreign minister publicly declared she would not trust a future New Zealand Labour government," Wong said.

"It is now incumbent on the foreign minister to undo the damage caused by her irresponsible remarks during the election campaign."


Bishop congratulated Ardern and stressed Australia's "strong and deep" relationship with New Zealand when doorstopped by a Channel 9 reporter on Thursday evening.

Asked "Do you feel like you can trust her?" Bishop said:

"The fact is Ms Ardern gave an explanation months ago about the behaviour of a New Zealand member of the Labour party. She said at the time that his conduct was wrong, it was unacceptable, it should never have happened and he shouldn't have become involved. I accepted her explanation and I agree with her absolutely."

Lane Sainty is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney, Australia.

Contact Lane Sainty at

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