Jacinda Ardern eyes closer ties with Australia after Anthony Albanese's election win

Anthony Albanese's election win has raised hopes in New Zealand it could lead to less deportees being sent across the Tasman.


New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern spoke to Anthony Albanese on Sunday after his election win. Source: AAP / HAGEN HOPKINS/AAPIMAGE

New Zealand is eyeing an improved relationship with Australia after the election of Anthony Albanese.

Jacinda Ardern says she will use soon-to-be-arranged talks with Mr Albanese to progress New Zealand's biggest issue with its key ally: deportations.
Enhanced partnership on climate change and regional security issues - including the Solomon Islands tie-up with China - is also on the agenda.

Ms Ardern says she is also open to discussing the Uluru Statement if New Zealand's experiences with Indigenous affairs can be helpful.

The pair of PMs spoke on Saturday night, and again on Sunday following Mr Albanese's election.

"I had the pleasure of speaking with Anthony Albanese on his way to give his speech to supporters. He dropped me a line which I thought was incredibly generous given his timetable," Ms Ardern said.

"There's obviously a really strong relationship regardless of leader, regardless of party, by the very nature of New Zealand and Australia's relationship ... it's strong and enduring."
Given the pair both have international commitments — Mr Albanese heading to Tokyo for a quad meeting and Ms Ardern to the US — the Kiwi PM says the focus of Sunday's conversation was on regional issues.

The pair are expected to meet as soon as diaries allow - though that may not be until July.

When that meeting occurs, Australia's "501" deportations will be front and centre.

Australia deports hundreds of people to New Zealand annually using a power under section 501 in the Migration Act, which can allow the immigration minister to evict on the basis of character, rather than criminal convictions.
New Zealand sees those deportees — who also may not have familial or community links in Aotearoa — as an abrogation of the trans-Tasman friendship.

"The area where we have had grievance is where individuals are being deported who have little to no connection to New Zealand," Ms Ardern said.

On this front, Ms Ardern senses opportunity.

Two days out from election day, the Guardian reported Labor was likely to be less hard-nosed on character-based deportations in office, though Mr Albanese told reporters on the campaign trail some deportations would continue.

"If people commit serious offences then action should be taken in Australia's national interests," he said, while praising Ms Ardern.

"Jacinda Ardern ... is an outstanding prime minister and I'm sure that we would have a very warm and cordial relationship."

Deportations have grown during the coalition's period in office, when Kiwi appeals, both public and private, fell on deaf ears.

"I'm not going to pre-empt any talks that we have," Ms Ardern said of Mr Albanese, "but even that acknowledgement of that friction, I think is helpful, because it has been problematic".
Labor's rise to power in Australia means the centre-left is in government on both sides of the Tasman.

The alignment is rare, occurring for just one year in the past 32 - in 2008, the first year of Kevin Rudd's government and the last of Helen Clark's.

Asked what she took from the election results, Ms Ardern, said it was the influence of climate policy.

"That was one of the three platforms - gender, integrity and climate ... of the so-called teal candidates," she told Radio NZ.

"You see in Brisbane as well as the Greens picking up seats in those areas that have been flood-stricken."

The Labour leader said she expected to "share ideas" on climate change with Mr Albanese, and Indigenous affairs, should it prove helpful.

"There have been some areas where we have looked closely at one another's policies and we'll look for those opportunities," she said.

4 min read
Published 23 May 2022 at 3:50pm
Source: AAP