New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern publicly scolded her Australian counterpart at an extraordinarily vitriolic joint news conference Friday for his country’s rigid policy of deporting all foreign criminals to their homelands at the conclusion of their prison term.
Left-wing Labour minority leader Ardern called the policy unfair and corrosive to the near-neighbors’ ties as she shared a podium in Sydney alongside her host , but Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison publicly held firm.
“We deport non-citizens who have committed crimes in Australia against our community,” Morrison said in rebuttal of his guest’s attack.
He then outlined his argument further by pointing out all foreign nationals are treated in exactly the same way and New Zealander’s are no exception:
This policy is applied not specific to one country, but to any country whose citizens are here. You commit a crime here, if convicted, once you have done your time, we send you home.
And we would have no objection to any country – anywhere – who would apply the same rule in terms of Australian citizens who commit crimes in other places. We would think that was totally understandable and we wouldn’t take any offence.
As Breitbart News reported, Australia in 2014 introduced mandatory deportation for foreign nationals who received jail terms totalling 12 months or more, with New Zealand most affected.
Drug offences, assault and child sex offences are the most common charges that result in deportation for New Zealand citizens in Australia.
About 1,500 Kiwis have been caught in the dragnet – almost half the total of 4,000 – and Wellington has raised concerns previously that some of those deported allegedly grew up in Australia and have no ties to New Zealand.
Ardern returned to that argument when she claimed many of the 2,600 New Zealand citizens Australia had deported in recently years had no home in New Zealand because they had left years ago.
She told Australia to adopt New Zealand’s approach to foreign criminals by stop deporting New Zealand citizens, “who on any common sense test identify as Australians.”
“We have a simple request: Send back Kiwis — genuine Kiwis,” Arden said. “Do not deport your people and your problems.”
New Zealand and Australia offer each other automatic residency rights and almost 700,000 Kiwis have made the trip across the Tasman Sea to take advantage of their larger neighbour’s economy.
Ardern is in Australia for two days as part of an annual exchange between the two countries.
She made time to meet the left-wing Australian Labor leader Anthony Albanese who took to social media Friday to express his delight:
— Anthony Albanese (@AlboMP) February 28, 2020
Ardern has served as the leader of the NZ Labour Party since 1 August 2017 and took office as prime minister on 26 October 2017. She is seeking re-election in September.
Before domestic New Zealand politics, Ardern worked in London as a senior policy adviser in an 80-person unit of then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
AP contributed to this story