ZB

501 deportations to continue, despite Ardern's 'forceful' feedback

Author
Thomas Coughlan, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Fri, 10 Jun 2022, 1:28pm
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern met in Sydney. Photo / Thomas Coughlan
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern met in Sydney. Photo / Thomas Coughlan

501 deportations to continue, despite Ardern's 'forceful' feedback

Author
Thomas Coughlan, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Fri, 10 Jun 2022, 1:28pm

Australia will continue with its controversial 501 deportation system, despite "forceful" feedback from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told a joint news conference that he had listened to Ardern - but the practise of deporting criminals to their country of birth would continue.

"We'll be maintaining section 501 but we've heard the very clear message from the Prime Minister, as we've heard before," the new Australian PM said.

Albanese said Ardern had argued "forcefully" for New Zealand's interests and raised concerns about the 501s.

He expressed some empathy for New Zealand's position on 501s, saying if he were in Ardern's position, he would make similar arguments.

But the pair say they are determined to work together to create more jobs and new opportunities.

Albanese today described New Zealand and Australia's relationship as "family".

The pair were determined to take trans-Tasman relations to a new level.

"What that means is new jobs, new growth, new opportunities to co-operate," he said.

Albanese struck an upbeat tone, suggesting his country was popular again in the international community after nine years of malaise under his Liberal Party predecessors.

"It's like Australia has gone out of the naughty corner."

Albanese said shared bilateral concerns included climate change and regional geopolitical competition.

"Our approach is based upon respect, transparency and engagement with Pacific institutions."

Ardern told reporters she was grateful for Albanese's hospitality.

"There are no two countries that I can think of that have a closer relationship than ours," she said.

Ardern also referred to the meeting with Albanese as a chance to "reset" relations, perhaps indicating some tensions that existed with Albanese's predecessor Scott Morrison.

Albanese voiced enthusiasm for renewable energy targets and addressing the challenges of global warming.

Apart from the issues Ardern already raised with Australian media this morning, she mentioned the Christchurch Call - which encouraged social media companies to clamp down on violent extremist content.

Earlier today, Ardern raised concerns about 501 deportations in an interview on Australian breakfast TV.

Ahead of today's meeting both sides alluded to possible movement on the issue of 501 deportations, with Albanese saying Ardern made strong representations for New Zealand over dinner last night.

Albanese described Ardern as a "very good friend" heading into the meeting and said they enjoyed a "wonderful" dinner last night.

"We are great friends and I want to build on that, it is probably more important than it has ever been," he said, adding New Zealand and Australia stand "side by side" in the Pacific.

"Our people-to-people relations are so strong," Albanese said.

"And I'm sure we can work through those issues much more cooperatively and with win-win outcomes."

"You made strong representations last night, and we hear the message," Albanese said - a possible reference to the 501 issue.

He said Australia and New Zealand will "work through" those issues heading into a leadership dialogue next month where they would be discussed in more detail.

The pair will discuss their first official meeting together as leaders, including whether Ardern has managed to secure any concessions on the vexed issue of 501 deportees.

Australia's 501 deportation policy means people convicted of prison terms of more than twelve months are deported, as well as people who fail or are suspected to fail a good character test.

Ardern has taken issue with the fact that many of the deportations involve people who have little or no connection with New Zealand.

During the election campaign, Albanese committed to continuing Australia's deportation policy, however Australian media have reported his Government might relax ministerial directions around 501 deportees, which would mean any deportation would take into account the length of time that person had spent in Australia.

The fact both parties see deportees with long ties to Australia as an area of potential movement is positive for those hoping for change. The Australian Financial Review reported Albanese could use a change in 501 policy as a way to reset the relationship with New Zealand, which had soured over the issue.

Earlier in the week, Ardern foreshadowed a busy agenda for that meeting, which included areas on which the two Governments are in alignment like climate change, Pacific foreign policy, and the China's growing presence in the region.