Jacinda Ardern will not follow Australia's hard-line response to extremist content

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she will not follow Australia's hard-line response to cracking down on extremist content online. 

Ardern is in Melbourne to meet with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. She was supposed to visit at the end of March just after the March 15 Christchurch terror attacks. Instead, the Australian PM came to New Zealand to pay his respects.

The Australian government immediately sprung to action after the event, passing the Sharing of Abhorrent Violent Material Bill - its answer to preventing live-streamed terror.

"It's a very strong message and we are not mucking around," the Australian Prime Minister said at the time.

Australia's law targets social media companies. If they don't remove extremist content - that's terrorism, murder, rape, torture - quickly enough, they face massive fines.

Companies could face up to $10 million dollars or 10 percent of their revenue. Executives of those companies could even face jail time.

Ardern said in Melbourne that holding technology companies to account is important, and said New Zealand has "every intention of doing that".

"We've continued to meet with them and we will be meeting with them again in September."

While the Prime Minister co-hosted the Christchurch call in Paris - a pledge for governments and social media companies to eliminate violent extremist content online - New Zealand has not made any progress on laws at home.

"We've taken the approach of doing something no other country had done before: not just look at regulation, fines, imprisonment, but instead to say, what can we do to prevent this kind of content spreading?"

When asked if the Government will introduce any fines, Ardern said: "Look, that's not to say there aren't any gaps in our domestic legislation."

Australia also supported New Zealand in pushing the Christchurch Call further at the G20 summit in Japan recently, securing a joint statement demanding social media companies immediately pull livestreaming of terrorism.

"Morrison has acknowledged that he saw it as being supporting what we were doing with Christchurch Call and actually, in addition," Ardern said.

She says Morrison kept her in the loop with the G20, but Australia also appears to be leaving New Zealand in the dust.

On Friday, Ardern will meet with Morrison in Melbourne where they will be having a strategy session of sorts around the social media crackdown.

They will talk about how they'll tackle social media giants when they both travel to the United Nations for leaders' week in September.

But that's where the camaraderie ends. The Prime Minister says she will also bring up Trans-Tasman gripes with Morrison, including the biggest sticking point: Kiwi deportees.

The Prime Minister doubled down on that Thursday, repeating what she said earlier this year that deporting New Zealanders living in Australia with little connection to our country is “corrosive” to the Anzac relationship.

The Prime Minister said she speaks to Morrison a lot more than his predecessor Malcolm Turnbull. But even though she's talking more to this new PM, the ongoing problems between our countries are far from over.


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