New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says Australia’s strict deportation laws are having a “corrosive effect” on relations between the two countries.
Since 2014, changes to Australian law have seen the automatic cancellation of a visa for anyone sentenced to 12 months or more in jail. In the past five years, more than 4,000 people have been stripped of their Australian visas and deported. 1500 of these deportations have been New Zealanders.
Speaking in Melbourne on Thursday night, Ardern said she would raise the issue with Scott Morrison on Friday, in the first meeting between the two leaders since the Coalition government was re-elected in May.
Ardern said many of those deported on character grounds have spent most or all of their lives in Australia and often have no real ties to New Zealand.
“We have seen cases where there is almost no connection of an individual to New Zealand who have been deported,” Ardern said. “I consider that to be a corrosive part of that policy and it’s having a corrosive effect on our relationship.”
“I made it clear New Zealand has no issue with Australia taking a dim view of newly arrived non-citizens committing crimes, but equally the New Zealand people have a dim view of the deportation of people who moved to Australia as children and have grown up there.”
Scott Morrison was Immigration Minster when the law came into effect in 2014 and successive New Zealand governments have raised the issue with Australia, to no avail.
On Friday morning, Australia’s Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said he understands Ardern’s concerns but saw no reason to reconsider the deportation laws.
“We need to stand up for Australians and the New Zealand Prime Minister is rightly doing that for her people,” Dutton told Today.
“But where we have Australian citizens who are falling victim in certain circumstances where people are sexually offending against children for example, we have had a big push to try to deport those paedophiles and people who have committed those crimes and I believe strongly that the Australian people would support that stance as well.”
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese also expressed his support for the deportation laws.
“We think that the balance is essentially right but it is legitimate if there are issues for Jacinda Ardern to raise those with Scott Morrison,” he told Today.