Australia

Jacinda Ardern tells Scott Morrison to stop deporting 'your people and your problems'

Jacinda Ardern and Scott Morrison in Sydney on Friday. Source: AAP

Jacinda Ardern has taken aim at Australia's blanket policy to deport non-citizens who have committed crimes.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has urged Scott Morrison to rethink Australia's controversial criminal deportation policy.

Ms Ardern used a media conference in Sydney alongside her Australian counterpart to deliver a blunt message on the policy, which has seen 2,633 people sent back to New Zealand between December 2014 and January 2020.

"Australia is well within its rights to deport individuals who break your laws. New Zealand does the same. But we have a simple request - send back Kiwis, genuine Kiwis," she said.

The two leaders in Sydney on Friday.
The two leaders in Sydney on Friday.
AAP

"Do not deport your people and your problems ... I have been absolutely clear - this is corrosive to our relationship," she said.

"What we're asking for is a reciprocal arrangement. New Zealand does not deport those that we consider for all intents and purposes to have established themselves as New Zealanders. We only ask that Australia does the same."

0:00

Under existing laws, visa holders who are sentenced to at least 12 months' jail time face mandatory deportation.

But Ms Ardern said many of the deportees "on any common sense test" identified as being Australian.

"Just a few weeks ago I met a woman who moved to Australia, not much older than one year old," she said.

"She told me she had no connection to our country but had three children in Australia.

"She was in a crisis centre, having returned to a country she did not feel was her own."

Scott Morrison during the press conference on Friday.
Scott Morrison during the press conference on Friday.
AAP

Mr Morrison said Australia's deportation policy was clear.

"We deport non-citizens who have committed crimes in Australia against our community," he said.

"This policy is applied not specific to one country, but to any country whose citizens are here."

The NZ leader also pleaded with the Morrison government to provide more rights to New Zealanders working in Australia, such as the ability to work as a public servant or access the national disability insurance scheme.

"Evidence shows that the vast majority are providing a net benefit to Australia. They earn more, they are more likely to be employed, and they pay more tax than their Aussie-born counterparts," she said.

"But rather than them being given security to keep contributing and return, their rights are being eroded."

The two leaders also discussed the coronavirus, greater cooperation on Indigenous issues, trade and security. 

Labor MP Mark Dreyfus said his party supported the law. 

"Labor supports the appropriate use of the powers that are there in the Migration Act to cancel visas [and] the appropriate use of the powers that are there in the Migration Act to deport criminals," he told the ABC on Friday.

"I'm hoping that something can be resolved here in discussions that have occurred today and discussions that no doubt will be ongoing."

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch