New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, right, arrives with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison before bilateral talks in Melbourne, Australia, Friday, July 19, 2019. (Julian Smith/Pool Photo via AP)
New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, right, arrives with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison before bilateral talks in Melbourne, Australia, Friday, July 19, 2019. (Julian Smith/Pool Photo via AP) Julian Smith

Morrison 'not a role model' for NZ oppn

NEW Zealand opposition leader Simon Bridges has blundered on foreign affairs, describing Australian prime minister Scott Morrison as a friend but "not a role model".

Mr Bridges, who leads the conservative National party, returned to Wellington on Tuesday after a 12-day trip to India and China.

Back at parliament, he wasted no time continuing his attacks on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, taking aim at the Kiwi leader's pursuit of an international agreement to end extremist content online.

Unfortunately for Mr Bridges, that's also a major policy aim of Mr Morrison's government.

Mr Bridges described Ms Ardern's signature foreign affairs achievement - the Christchurch Call, which aims to eliminate violent and terrorist content online - a "big talkfest in Paris that achieved nothing".

The Call was founded in the wake of the mosque shooting that left 51 New Zealanders dead in March.

It aims to bring together nations and companies like Twitter and Facebook to reduce extremist information on the internet.

Australia is a signatory.

Those goals are shared by the Australian government, as shown by Mr Morrison's advocacy during recent summits of the G20 in Japan last June, and last month's G7 meeting in France.

While Mr Bridges was happy to criticise Ms Ardern, he declined to criticise Mr Morrison.

"Less time from Jack from Twitter, less time on Facebook, less time worrying about these international issues," Mr Bridges said of the Labour prime minister.

When questioned on Australia's similar position, he took umbrage at the suggestion Mr Morrison was a role model.

"He's not a role model of mine ... he's a friend of mine, and he is the prime minister of Australia," Mr Bridges said.

"On that basis, just as I do with senior Politburo members in China, I talk to them."

On Mr Morrison's identical policy aims, he said, "I'm not going to make comments on what Scott Morrison's position is. That's ultimately for another government".


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