Judith Collins defends Australia's move to dump terrorist problem on New Zealand

Judith Collins has thrown her support behind Australia's move to strip an accused terrorist of citizenship, leaving the former dual citizen New Zealand's sole responsibility.

A 26-year-old woman arrested by Turkish authorities near the border with Syria this week is allegedly a wanted Islamic State terrorist. Australian media has named her as Suhayra Aden, from Melbourne.

She hasn't lived in New Zealand since she was six years old, and held dual Australian-New Zealand citizenship. At least she did until Australia realised if it revoked her Australian citizenship, they could wash their hands of the problem, dumping it on New Zealand.

Collins told The AM Show on Wednesday it was a "tough call", but New Zealand should have done it first.

"Obviously New Zealand has to look after New Zealand's position, and unfortunately the Australians have moved faster by revoking the citizenship of this jihadi woman. The main thing to understand is that the Australians are going to play for keeps, and perhaps New Zealand should too."

Article 15 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights outlaws people being "arbitrarily deprived" of their nationality, meaning New Zealand's hands are now tied.

"New Zealand has to also look at our interests as a country and it is important to think whether or not the steps that Australia's been able to take are something that we should think about when we have situations like this," said Collins. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Tuesday she was "tired of having Australia export its problems", likely referring to Australia's deportation of criminals with tenuous links to New Zealand. 

Judith Collins.
Judith Collins. Photo credit: The AM Show

Australian law allows the Home Affairs Minister to strip anyone suspected of terrorism of their citizenship, as long as that wouldn't leave them stateless. 

"We do not want to see terrorists who fought with terrorism organisations enjoying privileges of citizenship, which I think they forfeit the second they engage as an enemy of our country," Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told media. 

Collins said Australia was just "putting their own interests first".

"They don't want any more jihadis, they looked for a way out, they found it and unfortunately sent the problem to New Zealand."

Ardern said she is talking to the Australians about the woman, particularly because she has two young children, who will be "top of mind" in any arrangements made. 

Collins didn't mention the children, and told Ardern to stop "shouting at the Australians and telling them off and lecturing them".

"My experience... when I was a minister dealing with them is normally that if you don't lecture them... they tend to be pretty helpful."

Collins did agree with the Prime Minister's comments that any "fair-minded person" would consider the woman Australian, not a Kiwi.

"This woman has no connection apparently to New Zealand, other than that she was here until she was six years old. She's not someone who's been radicalised in New Zealand. She's not one of us. I think she's going to be kept in a Turkish jail for quite some time. So hopefully this is a situation that resolves itself."

Islamic Women's Council of New Zealand says the woman is Australia's responsibility.

"It's very unlikely she was radicalised at the age of six," spokesperson Anjum Rahman told RNZ.

The accused was only about 19 when she left Australia for the Middle East.

"She was not old enough to be making very competent decisions and likely to be easily swayed... her thinking was probably not of the best." 

Rahman said while it would be preferable for the woman to end up back in Australia, New Zealand would be a good place for her children to grow up. 

"Australia has a huge problem, because we know that the Christchurch terrorist grew up in Australia, we know that Mark Taylor has been in Australia... they need to get their house in order." 

Taylor, known as the 'bumbling Jihadi', is New Zealand's highest-profile member of Islamic State, and is currently believed to be in a Kurdish prison in Syria.