New Zealand will continue to push the conversation on Australia’s “problematic” deportation policy with the incoming government under Labor leader Anthony Albanese, prime minister Jacinda Ardern has said.
“There is obviously a really strong relationship, regardless of leader, regardless of party,” Ardern said at a post-cabinet briefing on Monday. “The very nature of New Zealand and Australia’s relationship is strong and enduring.”
Ma, her position on the “501” deportation policy had not changed, and Ardern was of the view it is “problematic”.
The policy of deporting residents with New Zealand citizenship on the grounds of bad character or a criminal record, even if they have lived their entire lives in Australia, caused friction between the two countries under Scott Morrison.
Nel 2020, Ardern lashed out at the then prime minister at their annual bilateral summit, saying the policy was “testing” the friendship between the two nations, and that Australia was deporting “your people and your problems” using “unfair” policies.
The New Zealand government has pushed repeatedly for a reconsideration of the policy.
“What we can see already is an acknowledgment from the new prime minister of some of the things that had been causing friction in our relationship,” Ardern said.
While she would not be pre-empting any talks with Australia, she said it was helpful Albanese had recognised the policy was causing problems.
The government accepts there are circumstances where deportation is required, adding that New Zealand also reserves that right. Ma, Ardern added: “the area where we have a grievance is where individuals are being deported where they have little, to no, connection to New Zealand.”
Albanese has indicated that the 501 policy will stay but the settings may be tweaked would to ensure the length of time a person has been in Australia is taken into account.
Ardern’s last in-person encounter with Albanese was in February, lei disse, but they had had some exchanges over the weekend, including a lengthy phone call on Sunday morning.
She said on Saturday she had also had “the pleasure of speaking with Anthony Albanese on his way to give his speech to supporters – he dropped me a line, which I think was incredibly generous given his timeframe that evening.”
When Ardern was asked whether she had been briefed about the New Zealand woman who died while detained at Villawood detention centre in Sydney, she said she had been made aware of it but had no further details and therefore could not comment.