Jacinda Ardern has been in Australia at a time when the country is being rocked by devastating bushfires, writes Alex Braae for The Spinoff. So what did the Aussies have to say about her visit?
It couldn’t have been timed any better. Jacinda Ardern announced she was going on holiday to Australia last year, but when she touched down, the situation had changed quite a bit.
Bushfires had swept through huge swathes of the country, in particular the very populous New South Wales and Victoria. And Australia’s PM Scott Morrison had just had his own holiday plans curtailed, having to leave an absolutely lovely looking resort in Hawaii, and come back home to do his job.
Meanwhile Ardern’s domestic problems have caused barely a ripple in Australian political discourse, while her international star continues to shine. So the contrast between the two leaders looked striking to many. Here are some of the most scorching takes that have been released over the ditch about her visit.
Celeste Barber: Make Australia New Zealand’s westernmost province
Celeste Barber might not have been a name familiar to many New Zealanders before the bushfires, but then she put out a fundraising appeal that went hugely viral, ending up pulling in more than $50 million worth of donation pledges. Now she’s launched a new cause – make Australia part of New Zealand so that Ardern becomes their PM too.
According to Newshub, the comedian may have been making a joke here. But taking it extremely seriously, it’s worth pointing out that Australia does actually have a provision in their constitution that would allow New Zealand to become their newest state – could that in fact be reversed? There would be significant advantages to both countries of such an approach. For the Australians, they’d be able to abandon the cultural hellhole of Canberra forever, and relocate their political class to Wellington. And for New Zealanders, they’d never again have to endure another cricket tour to Australia.
Steve Price: Ardern is a ‘virtue-signaller’ who should have gone on holiday in NZ
Continuing the long White Australian tradition of telling anyone and everyone that they should go back to their own country, Steve Price (not the footy player) told the audience of The Project that he was bloody well fed up with foreigners coming over there and boosting the tourism industry. “Stay in your own country and spend money in your own place…. Why is she not in Hamilton or Canterbury or somewhere like that? Typical virtue-signalling from Jacinda Ardern. I get sick and tired of that woman,” he said. It’s not clear what exactly the virtue Ardern was meant to be signalling, but perhaps he was pointing out how strange it was for someone to voluntarily go to Queensland.
Tourism experts: Actually, this visit could be great for Australia
The ABC spoke to a couple of locals and tourism experts, who said that a visit from Ardern could do great things for Queensland’s tourism industry. After all, the bushfires are expected to put a lot of visitors off coming, so having a high profile visitor would show the world that it’s open for business. “Obviously she has got a huge following in New Zealand, and is a very popular Prime Minister, so I think it will get out there and people will think about the region as a place to visit,” said Griffith Institute for Tourism director Sarah Gardiner. If that’s the case, maybe Ardern really should have followed Steve Price’s advice and boosted the tourism industry of Hamilton.
Sam Clench: Real PMs lead in times of crisis
In a widely syndicated column, Australian commentator Sam Clench unleashed a massive serve at ScoMo, contrasting his handling of the bushfires with Ardern’s handling of disasters to hit New Zealand. One argument he made was that the PM simply doesn’t go overseas during a time of crisis. But it might interest him to know that right now, the PM of New Zealand is swanning around overseas while the price of limes hits an all-time high, destroying the cocktail potential for millions of Kiwis. Does that sound like leadership to you?
Award winning chef: It’s an honour to cook for Jacinda and Clarke
“Politicians with environmental awareness are as rare as kiwis,” said award winning chef Steven Snow.
A nice sentiment, but quite possibly incorrect. There are currently around 68,000 Kiwi birds, but possibly as few as zero good politicians.
Daily Mail readers: Ardern has handled the bushfires better than Scott Morrison
An incredibly weird poll with a small sample size, but the numbers don’t lie: The readers of the Daily Mail Australia have overwhelmingly declared Ardern is doing a better job with the bushfires than ScoMo.