Jacinda Ardern dodges call from ScoMo
Jacinda Ardern has been caught in a slightly awkward moment when she had to reject a call from Scott Morrison after he rang in the middle of a press conference.
The New Zealand Prime Minister was holding a post-Cabinet press conference to announce the country's election date and to give an update on the coronavirus and how it was impacting citizens.
Ms Ardern was in the middle of answering a question about whether New Zealand and Australia would collaborate to evacuate their citizens of Wuhan when her phone started buzzing on the lectern.
"Again without giving … ah … that's the PM Morrison just dialling in as we speak," Ms Ardern said, laughing off the interruption.
She then added: "We are in close contact over the situation. Just the work we are doing on the ground, the situation of our citizens and residents and making sure we keep up those conversations and work together.
"That's what you would expect and that's exactly what we are doing."
PMO have confirmed that Scott Morrison tried to ring Jacinda Ardern right when she was discussing him in post-cab— henry cooke (@henrycooke) January 28, 2020
Jacinda Ardern just missed a call from PM Scott Morrison - his ears must have been flapping - she was busy answering a question on whether we’d potentially tag on to a hypothetical Australian evacuation of Wuhan.— Anna B-W (@Anna_bw) January 28, 2020
Did not take the call on camera.
In his own press conference a short time later in Blayney, NSW, Mr Morrison revealed he had just spoken to the New Zealand PM about the coronavirus situation.
"I have just spoken just a few minutes ago to Prime Minister Ardern, and seeking to work closely with the New Zealand Government in supporting both their and our nationals who have been caught up in this event," he said.
"Right now, the Australian Government, through our embassy, is looking to deploy, working with the Chinese Government consular officials into Hubei Province, into Wuhan."
About 400 Australian citizens have registered for evacuation from Wuhan, China, the epicentre of the deadly virus.
Five people are being treated in Australian hospitals for the virus after returning from visiting the region, but they are understood to all be in a stable condition.
There are currently 53 New Zealanders in Wuhan, China, where the coronavirus originated.
Ms Ardern said that multiple people had contacted the Government for consular assistance.
Ms Ardern revealed the advice she was receiving from Beijing was that it would be "very difficult to get foreign nationals out of the province even if they are healthy".
Before addressing the topic of the coronavirus, the Prime Minister announced Kiwis would have a chance to vote for their new leader on September 19, following the tradition of naming the election date early in the year.
"I will be asking New Zealanders to continue to support my leadership and the current direction of the government which is grounded in stability, a strong economy and progress on the long term challenges facing New Zealand," Ms Ardern said.
Alternate prime minister Simon Bridges, the Opposition Leader from the Nationals, will be looking to make Ms Ardern's coalition the first one-term New Zealand government in over 40 years.
He faces a tough ask given Ms Ardern's favourability as preferred prime minister, New Zealand's relatively strong economy and the electorate's preference for stability - in stark contrast to the last 15 years in Australian politics.
Ms Ardern dismissed the notion that the 235-day election campaign would fatigue Kiwis, saying it was best practice to have a date set long in advance.
"It's fair and it allows our electoral commission to prepare … we're all constantly in campaign mode anyway," she said.