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Suggestions that the Prime Minister’s ill-advised interference in Australia’s handling of illegal asylum seekers has led to a spike in such activity is further proof she should take more care with her remarks, National’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson Gerry Brownlee says.

“The Prime Minister has repeatedly criticised the Australian Government for the way it handles people trying to reach Australia illegally, and advocated for those asylum seekers to be resettled in New Zealand.

“While this is a long-standing offer, the Prime Minister’s grandstanding not only affected our relationship with our closest ally, but has also reportedly led to more attempts by asylum seekers to reach Australia, and also to target New Zealand.

“This is a dangerous journey which has cost lives, and one the Australian Government, supported by New Zealand has worked hard to discourage – and been effective in doing.

“It is also a very difficult issue for Australia to manage, which is why the Australian Government has so clearly, and fairly, resented Ms Ardern’s comments.

“Her insistence that Australia allow New Zealand to handpick 150 asylum seekers who meet UN refugee status, while Australia handles the rest, on top of the message this sends to human traffickers and those desperate to attempt to reach Australia, shows a disregard to the complexity of the problem.

“New Zealand should be supporting efforts to help curb such dangerous attempts, not helping to promote them and the Prime Minister needs to be more aware of that.”

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