The issue of Australia deporting New Zealanders who have committed crimes across the Tasman has become corrosive in the relationship between the two countries, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said.
Ms Ardern and her Australian counterpart, Scott Morrison held their annual talks in Auckland on Friday, February 22, 2019.
Mr Morrison has forgone the normal overnight stay opted by his predecessors.
Busy time in Australia
It is election year in Australia and polls across the Tasman are indicating it could be a tight race, so Mr Morrison will be keen for the photo opportunity with Ms Ardern, but at the same time wanting to avoid any criticism that he is visiting wineries on Waiheke Island instead of working in Canberra.
Ms Ardern thanked Mr Morrison for making the trip, saying she realised it was a busy time in Australian politics.
Mr Morrison replied thanking Ms Ardern, but also acknowledging that the days of their meeting was the eighth anniversary of the Canterbury earthquake.
He said that Australians grieved and shed tears with their Kiwi cousins on that day.
“For us to be able to meet on that day is a sign of that friendship, and when it comes to these meetings it’s always families first and we are family here in the Pacific, but particularly between Australia and New Zealand,” he said.
While the two leaders discussed areas where they agreed, Ms Ardern said that they also talked about the areas where they disagreed, including deportations of New Zealanders.
Corrosive in relations
“In my view, this issue has become corrosive in our relationship over time, I made it clear that New Zealand has no issue with Australia taking a dim view of newly-arrived non-citizens committing crime, 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,” Ms Ardern said.
Mr Morrison was unrepentant about the issue.
“Our government has taken a very strong line when it comes to those who are in Australia who are on visas, see visas are not citizenship, visas are provided on the basis of people being compliant with those visas and that doesn’t include committing crimes,” he said.
Strained relations with China
News that Australian coal imports were being held up at the Chinese border was also the subject of questioning at the joint media conference, but both leaders batted away any suggestion that their countries’ relationships with China were under any strain.
Mr Morrison said it was not the first time that there had been issues at Chinese ports.
“There is no evidence before me or us that would suggest that it has the connotations that it has anything to do with anything more broadly than that, this happens from time to time and we just work constructively with our partners in China,” he said.
Chris Bramwell is Deputy Political Editor at Radio New Zealand. Indian Newslink has published the above article and pictures under a Special Agreement with www.rnz.co.nz
Scott Morrison and Jacinda Ardern at Government House in Auckland on February 22.
(Photo: Pool/Diego Opatowski/AFP)