Ardern meets Australian Prime Minister

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has met with Malcolm Turnbull. The meeting, which took place in Canberra was the first between the new New Zealand Prime Minister and her Australian counterpart.

The meeting involved Ms Ardern raising the prospect that New Zealand will exclude Australian students from accessing free education as a result of Australian moves to hike fees against New Zealanders studying in Australia.

This would be a break with tradition according to Tracy Watkins. Normally New Zealand has moved to accommodate Australia’s wishes because it does not want to upset the arrangements to allow Australians to live, study and work in New Zealand

However, I consider after years of New Zealanders watching their rights in Australia slowly being eroded while other nations progress, this to be a welcome attempt to balance the ledger. It is not an attempt to attack Australians or Australia at large, because for that to happen the probable actions would have to be on a much broader scale and more radical than what is being proposed.

There appears to be mutual respect from Australia for the likely New Zealand decision. Whereas commentator Tracy Watkins asserted that this might be risky in that it could cause Australia to further cut into New Zealands special arrangements, Mr Turnbull has indicated he understands New Zealand’s right to manage its own affairs as we do theirs. This should come as a relief, because it means the relationship can survive any ructions that result from this.

Ms Ardern also pressed the case for New Zealand taking up to 150 refugees from the Manus Island Detention Centre. Mr Turnbull declined, but Ms Ardern has said that the offer remains on the table.

Apparently Mr Turnbull is keen for Australia to give some of the refugees to the United States. This is an attempt to foist a monumental mess created by an equally monumental failure of a Government on a friendly Government and nation that has no idea about the stink this is raising – and quite possibly (probably?)do not care.

Ms Ardern should keep the offer on the table. Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters should talk behind the scenes about the negative impact the treatment of the detainees on Manus and Nauru Islands is having on the perceptions of Australia on the world stage. As a New Zealand citizen and as an Amnesty International volunteer, I believe we will become complicit in the abomination that is this sad situation if we meekly accept what the Australian Government wishes to do.

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