The two Prime Ministers greet one another on Friday. Picture: Mark Tantrum/AP
The two Prime Ministers greet one another on Friday. Picture: Mark Tantrum/AP

Morrison’s awkward meeting with Ardern

An awkward moment kicked off Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison's visit to New Zealand, but it came from the right place.

Mr Morrison was in Christchurch to pay his respects to the victims of the March 15 massacre and to meet with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

But as he approached his counterpart with open arms she threw out her right hand to shake his.

"Give me a hug," he told her as the pair embraced.

… or hug. Picture: Mark Baker/Getty Images
… or hug. Picture: Mark Baker/Getty Images


It was not quite the welcome she gave to The Project's Waleed Aly when he visited in the days after 50 people were murdered at two mosques on the county's South Island.

On that occasion, Ms Ardern asked Aly if she could give him a hug. "Of course," he told her.

Mr Morrison said the memorial to survivors and victims was "beautiful" and "powerful".

"Today, New Zealand has responded to hate with love," he told reporters.

"They've responded to violence with peace. And I think that is a very, very powerful message.

"And for Australia, while this didn't happen on our own shores, it certainly felt like it did, because of the closeness of our two countries."

Mr Morrison has disowned the Australian-born white supremacist accused of the mass murder.

"Extremist terrorists have no nationality. Their only nationality is hate and violence," he said.

During a bilateral meeting with Ms Ardern, the pair discussed the pursuit of tough gun laws and a crackdown on live-streaming violent content on social media.

Mr Morrison said the two nations shared a joint resolve to ensure social media platforms were not "weaponised", after the alleged Christchurch terrorist broadcast his killing spree.

"We'll continue to form a strong team - a strong Anzac team - when it comes to pursuing these issues globally as well as domestically," he said. "So, a very sombre day, but amongst the darkness there was a bright stream of light today."

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten also attended the memorial at Hagley Park in Christchurch.

He said it was particularly galling that an Australian was charged with murdering the 50 innocent worshippers.

"That has been a common comment I've heard from a lot of Australians. Australians are ashamed this person was an Australian," he said.

- with AAP