Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese believes strong but honest conversations with our neighbours “across the ditch” can strengthen an at-times strenuous alliance.
Mr Albanese had his first meeting with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern this week, where Australia reaffirmed the need for a strong Trans-Tasman relationship, but also informed the Kiwi leader than his government intended to keep the “501” rule from the Migration Act which deports visa holders who commit crimes in Australia.
The rule has been a slight thorn in the side for the NZ government, as it does not consider the person’s history for deportation (e.g. they could have lived in Australia for their entire life).
“We have listened to those views,” Mr Albanese said.
“We will work through some of those issues between now, and we’ll have a ministerial meeting, a leaders’ meeting, coming next month.
“And we’ll work through with our department, work through the implementation of the way that Section 501 has been dealt with, but we’ve listened to the [New Zealand government’s] and there’s more work to do.”
Under the Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement, free movement between the two countries has been allowed since 1973, which allows New Zealanders to visit, live and work in Australia as citizens.
New Zealand and Australia share a uniquely close bond. It was great to meet with 🇳🇿 Prime Minister @JacindaArdern to discuss shared perspectives on our region, how to broaden our collaboration and deepen the ties between our nations. pic.twitter.com/xzSUAuTwpL— Anthony Albanese (@AlboMP) June 10, 2022
Ms Ardern has publicly condemned the deportation laws, calling them “corrosive in our relationship”, whilst Oz Kiwi secretary Natasha Maynard said the laws were passed to “divert attention from real problems facing Australua, such as unemployment, healthcare and education rather than any real problems with criminal offending by non-citizens”.
“There are those who are being deported from Australia who, for all intents and purposes, are Australia,” Ms Ardern said.
“Often zero connection to New Zealand, sometimes not even having stepped foot there.
“That’s the place that we’re asking for that consideration to be given.
“So anyone who claims that is somehow going to make Australia less safe, that is not true, and it is not fair.”
Ms Ardern’s comments were interpreted by some political commentators as a jab at Scott Morrison’s government, where the former PM was accused of “testing” the friendship between the two countries when in power.
Morrison responded to Ms Ardern’s statements by saying they had “no plans” to abandon the policy.
“This policy is applied not specific to one country, but to any country whose citizens are here,” he said in February 2020.
“You commit a crime here, if convicted, once you have done your time, we send you home.”
Former home affairs minister and now Opposition Leader Peter Dutton was the public face of the deportations at the peak of its powers, openly criticising offenders in the media and reiterating Australia’s strong stance on letting “criminals” into the country.
Mr Dutton was highly critical of Armstrong Renata, a New Zealander who killed 18-year-old Cole Miller in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley with an unprovoked “coward” punch in January 2016, before proceeding to “crack down” on deporting Kiwis who were involved in similar incidents.