New Zealand described as 'more helpful than others' at Pacific Islands Forum

New Zealand has been described as "more helpful than others" after discussions at the Pacific Islands Forum, as tensions boiled between Australia and small island states. 

Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison has come under fire from Tuvalu's leader Enele Sopaga, who described a "huge amount of frustration" during talks between leaders. 

He was fighting hard alongside small island states to get a strong statement on climate change, but it was watered down by Australia. 

"You're concerned about saving your economies, I'm concerned about saving my people," Sopaga, whose nation hosted this year's event, said in a media stand-up. 

New Zealand had been caught in the middle. 

Sopaga described New Zealand as "more helpful than others" after talks took place. 

Meanwhile Australian media has stirred up a firestorm, saying Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had blasted Morrison over the country's climate change action. 

"Some of the commentary I've seen around New Zealand's position probably hasn't quite been accurate," Ardern told media in Tuvalu. 

Controversial Australian radio host Alan Jones called Ardern a "clown" and suggested Morrison "shove a sock down her throat" over comment she made. 

She had said Australia "has to answer to the Pacific", with the futures of thousands of inhabitants of low-lying islands at risk thanks to rising sea levels and more powerful and frequent storms.  

Ardern said she wouldn't dignify Jones' comments with a response.

Pacific leaders have jumped to Ardern's defence, with Fijian leader Frank Bainimarama tweeting: "Easy to tell someone to shove a sock down a throat when you're sitting in the comfort of a studio. 

"Try saying it to a Tuvaluan child pleading for help."

Morrison himself said Jones' comments were "very disappointing" and agreed with Ardern's view that her comments had been mischaracterised in the Australian media.

Following the leaders' negotiations, which took around 12 hours, Ardern said: "I think it's fair to say that there's been compromise by probably all parties." 

She added: "We're doing our bit and we just have an expectation that the rest of the international community does too."

Since Ardern took office, New Zealand's relationship with Australia has taken a number of knocks. 

There have been rebukes over refugees, Kiwis being deported from Australia, and now this: a battle brewing over climate change, one of Ardern's core values.


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