Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has rejected criticism her comments that the Labour party is "undermining" the Australian government, after questions revealed their deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce is a New Zealand citizen.
Her comments follow revelations Labour MP Chris Hipkins put two Parliamentary questions to Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne about the citizenship of children born in Australia to a New Zealand father.Australian Deputy PM confirmed NZ citizen, resignation could be forced
Ms Bishop told reporters on Tuesday Mr Hipkins' question line "puts at risk the relationship between the Australian government and the New Zealand Government."
"I would find it very difficult to build trust with members of a political party that had been used by the Australian Labor Party to seek to undermine the Australian government."
But despite widespread criticism, Ms Bishop has doubled down on her comments, denying what she said "overstepped the mark".
"I take [Labour leader Jacinda Ardern] at her word," she told Sky News, referring to Ms Ardern's comments on Tuesday which berated Mr Hipkins' actions as "totally unacceptable".
"After I said that, the New Zealand Labour leader came out and conceded that the conduct was wrong, that it was unacceptable, that it should never have happened."
Ms Bishop's comments have brought about widespread criticism, with right-wing Australian political commentator Andrew Bolt telling Sky News the Foreign Minister has turned the situation into an "international incident".
"Today went from the stupid to the idiotic... it is absolute nonsense. Here's the government trashing our most trusted neighbour just to distract attention from its own stupid mistakes."
Today's Sean Kelly says "a sensible government does not needlessly jeopardise foreign relations in the manner we observed [on Tuesday].
"Our foreign minister attacked both the government and the Opposition of our close neighbour, all because Joyce hadn't got his own citizenship in order."
Australian Political commentator Laurie Oakes says the Turnbull government targeted Mr Hipkins' questions as a "smokescreen" for their threatened legitimacy.
"He's caught out primarily because Australian Fairfax journalists did their job and asked questions of the New Zealand High Commission.
"For her to blow this issue up into a question of trust with our closest ally is ridiculous."
However on Wednesday morning Ms Bishop doubled down on her comments, telling Sky News even the Labour Party knows it's in the wrong.
"These are the words of the NZ Labour Party: It was wrong, it was unacceptable and it should never have happened."
Australian senator Penny Wong, whose chief of staff first raised the questions with Mr Hipkins, says Ms Bishop is simply fear-mongering.
"The central political strategy of this government at the moment is the 'Kiwis under the bed' scare campaign."