How Australia snookered New Zealand and angered Jacinda Ardern

The Prime Minister has unleashed a remarkable tirade at Australia over a dual citizen arrested on the Syrian border with links to the Islamic State.

Jacinda Ardern is absolutely livid over Australia's underhand tactics - revoking the woman's citizenship and forcing New Zealand to deal with her and her young children.

And that's despite the fact the woman hasn't lived in New Zealand since she was six.

Holding her youngest child and with the other trailing just behind her, the young Kiwi mother was recently arrested on the Turkish-Syrian border.

A tweet from Turkey's Defence Ministry says the 26-year-old is a Daesh - or Islamic State - terrorist wanted by Interpol.

"What will be guiding a lot of what we do from here is the fact two very small children, who did not make the choice to be born into a warzone, are involved," Ardern said on Tuesday.

The mother held dual Australian-New Zealand citizenship.

Chief-to-chief, Ardern raised the case with the Australian Prime Minister, saying it should be a shared problem. Scott Morrison responded by stabbing her in the back.

"I was informed in the following year that Australia had unilaterally revoked the citizenship of the individual involved," Ardern said. "You can imagine my response."

It's hard to remember a time the Prime Minister has been so angry.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo credit: Getty

"I need only describe this situation to you to get a sense of how wrong their decision was," Ardern said, when asked how abhorrent Australia's behaviour was.

The move snookered New Zealand because legally we cannot make someone stateless - and we wouldn't undercut Australia the way it did us.

"I never believed that the right response was to simply have a race to revoke people's citizenship. That is just not the right thing to do," Ardern said.

The woman has closer ties with Australia than New Zealand. She left New Zealand for Australia when she was six; she lived in Australia, has family there and then flew from Australia to Syria on an Australian passport.

"If the shoe were on the other foot, we would take responsibility," Ardern said. "That would be the right thing to do and I ask of Australia that they do the same."

The last Kiwi to be arrested for travelling to Syria to join the Islamic State was Mark Taylor, the so-called bumbling jihadi.

The Government can't revoke his citizenship but the Prime Minister has made it clear she has no interest in helping him home.

National believes the same should apply with this family.

"I would say that most New Zealanders, like me, would consider such a person not someone that we could go out of our way to assist back to New Zealand," said National leader Judith Collins.

The difference with this case is the children.

"I think New Zealand, frankly, is tired of having Australia export its problems," said Ardern. "But now, there are two children involved. We have to resolve this issue with the interests of those children in mind."

One potential silver lining could be information held by the woman about Louisa Akavi, the New Zealand Red Cross nurse kidnapped in Syria and held hostage by Islamic State.

It's a longshot but that's better than nothing.

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