501 Kiwis to be focus for PM's Aussie visit

By James Perry

Video: PM Jacinda Ardern told Te Ao Tapatahi that Australia's controversial 501 deportation policy will be in focus when she meets her Aussie counterpart Anthony Albanese this week. Image / NZME

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will head to Australia this week to meet with Trans-Tasman counterpart Anthony Albanese.

Part of the agenda will be Australia's controversial 501 deportation policy that has seen hundreds of New Zealand-born people sent back here, who in turn have been blamed for the sharp increase in violent crime. 

Ardern has raised the issue before with previous prime ministers, saying in 2020 the policy was 'testing the friendship' between the two countries. Albanese said during the recent election campaign the policy will continue under his government, but Australia media report he could adjust the ministerial direction to ensure decisions give more consideration to the time a person has lived in Australia. 

Ardern told teaomaori.news while the policy is in place Aotearoa will definitely keep raising the issue. She said deportations as such weren't the crux of the issue, particularly as Aotearoa also reports people with questionable character. 

"That's not a problem for us. It's the fact that Australia tends to deport people who have by all accounts essentially become Australians.

"It's those extreme examples, where someone for instance might not have even come to New Zealand, or were only here briefly as a baby and then suddenly they're deported with no family connections. Those are the examples we find very hard to swallow."

Shootings

During her recent trip to the United States, she addressed gun violence in that country in the wake of the mass shooting at a Texas elementary school. Meanwhile back in Aotearoa, police were in the midst of tackling turf wars between gangs including more than 20 drive-by shootings. 

She says the government is working toward creating firearm prevention orders, something the opposition has been calling for. The orders will effectively make it illegal for anyone under the order to possess a weapon, and allow police to search them or their property without a warrant. She says the government is working hard to contain the violence.

"What we're seeing is heightened tensions, particularly between two gangs in Tāmaki Makaurau. Supporting police through extra numbers in organised crime team members is another thing we've invested in."

Indigenous land issues

The New South Wales government has returned Memal, or Goat Island, to the traditional owners and committed $43m to rejuvenate the island in the Sydney harbour. Ardern says the Australian Labor party has a strong agenda to strengthen the relationship between the state and the indigenous communities of Australia, and is more than happy for Aotearoa to offer any support and advice to help achieve that aim.

"If any of our ministers can lend, in terms of experience, then we are here to offer that, but that ultimately it comes down to what we can be of use and sharing and exchanging, because otherwise these are issues that can only be dealt with domestically between government and first nations peoples."