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Australia rejects NZ suggestions over migration policy

19 July, 2019

By SJA Jafri

MELBOURNE: New Zealand (NZ) Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says one policy is driving a wedge between Australia and New Zealand but Peter Dutton says it’s not about to change.

Peter Dutton has rejected suggestions by Jacinda Ardern that Australia’s policy to deport criminals — including New Zealanders — after they have served jail time is “corrosive”.

The NZ PM last night told reporters she will confront Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison when the pair meet today about the visa cancellation issue.

Australia has deported 4000 people, including more than 1500 New Zealanders, since changing laws in 2014. The laws stipulate that any migrant can be deported on “character grounds” if they spend more than 12 months in an Australian jail cell.

Ardern said the blanket rule is too far-reaching and it is hurting relations between the two countries.

“We have seen cases where there is also almost no connection of an individual to New Zealand who have been deported,” she said.

“I consider that to be a corrosive part of that policy. And it’s having a corrosive effect on our relationship.”

But the Home Affairs Minister today said the law is in place for a reason. Speaking on the Today show, Dutton said the law is designed to protect Australians.

“This is an issue that’s been raised by, I think, by every prime minister from New Zealand with our prime minister in bilateral meetings for a long time,” Dutton said.

“Obviously we’ve got a very close relationship with New Zealand … but we’ve been very clear. If you come here as a New Zealand citizen, as a Brit, wherever, you’ve come from. Your country of origin is where you go back to if you’re committed a crime.

“From our perspective, we need to stand up for Australians.

“In certain circumstances where people have sexually offended against children, for example, we’ve had a big push to try and deport those paedophiles … and I believe strongly that the Australian people would support that stance as well.”

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese told the Today show the law was fine the way it is.

“We haven’t argued for change in this area. We think the balance is essentially right,” he said.

The changes came into effect with Morrison was Immigration Minister. Ardern will speak to him about them directly when the pair meet this morning.

It will be the first time the two leaders come face-to-face since Morrison won the election in May. They last met after the Christchurch massacre in March where 51 people died at the hands of an Australian terrorist.

“Last time I saw Jacinda was under the most difficult of circumstances when we were in Christchurch for the memorial service which was a heart-wrenching exercise,” the Australian leader told reporters.

Ardern last night met with Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and Governor Linda Dessau.

She delivered an address titled ‘Why does good government matter’ and spoke about the aftermath of the Christchurch massacre, specifically her “instinctive” response to the mosque shootings.

“It’s instinctive when your mourning with someone, to reach out in that way. It just felt to me like a human response but perhaps I’d add another layer to that, it’s a Kiwi response,” she said.

But she said she was saddened at how surprised some were at her response. “I was saddened by it. It shouldn’t have been noteworthy,” Ardern said.

She also spoke about climate change and poverty, telling audience members those “are the two areas where I’d love to ensure what we do lasts”.

She was asked what it would take to get meaningful global action on climate change.

“I think a visit to the Pacific Islands might do it. I think we actually just do need to humanise this,” she said.

“If you visit Kiribati or Tuvalu, it is real. This is not a hypothetical. The changes they’re seeing in their natural environment is happening now,” she said.

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