Turnbull, Ardern disagree on NZ criminals

Lula Sharp
March 2, 2018

Australia has forcibly deported 1,023 people to New Zealand in the last two years, and 44% of them have reoffended in that country, according to New Zealand's police commissioner, Mike Bush.

The prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has defended as "fair and just" and "moral" the policy of deporting New Zealanders who have committed crimes - even those who have never set foot in New Zealand or have Australian families.

Some of those who have been deported have had extensive criminal histories in Australia but no link to New Zealand beyond citizenship.

"It might be a boat load of Kiwis perhaps", Mr Turnbull said.

Ms Ardern said the "status quo remains, the offer remains".

Sitting down for an hour of talks after Ardern was welcomed to Admiralty House, Turnbull said the pair had already discussed a number of issues over dinner at his Piper Point mansion, quipped they had left enough to fill out the rest of the day.

His Government's changes to laws on foreign interference and donations were about ensuring political decisions were "taken by Australians for Australians", he said.

Since then, relations warmed a little with New Zealand's previous centre-right National government in 2016 approving the first US warship to visit the country in 30 years.

'But ultimately, it is in the Australian Government's hands to determine how they manage that element of the policy'.

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The NZ prime minister will head off on a four-country Pacific Island tour next week after her government declares a "reset" on relations.

The two leaders sought to emphasise the close relationship between the countries although significant policy differences remain.

New Zealand has long held a firm line opposing development of nuclear capabilities.

Ardern did not give a specific timeframe but said she did support the initiative.

But she said she would keep arguing that people born in Australia should not be subject to deportation.

"In terms of the treaty that you [the media] referred to, the prohibition treaty, the weakness of it from our perspective is that the nuclear powers are not a party to it..."

"We are keen to make sure the Australian government is aware of our perspective on that and our strength of feeling around it", Ms Ardern said.

"Our focus right now ... is in doing everything we can to prevent and arrest nuclear proliferation".

Australia has a policy of not allowing any refugees who try to arrive by boat to settle in the country.

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