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Deportation issue a sticking point

Opinion Piece

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern seems to have drawn a blank in last week’s meeting with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on the key issue of the deportment of “New Zealand” criminals back to this country.

She has described the policy as having a corrosive effect on the relationship between the two countries. Bringing people back to a country they barely know and, in some cases, were not even born in is unjust and unfair, she says.

Unfortunately, despite her high negotiating skills and winning personality, she was not able to move “ScoMo”, who, as she admitted, has the right to send these people back here.

Even more obdurate was Australian immigration minister Peter Dutton, who says he is sticking up for Australians.

Ardern says she will not give up. If something is unfair and unjust, you do not let it go, she says. But it is difficult to see any wriggle room for her on this issue.

Since the rules were changed by Australia in 2014, more than 1500 people have been deported, a high proportion of them Maori and Pasifika. It is no surprise many of the deportees have turned to crime, especially those with ties to outlaw motorcycle gangs. There are reports of them recruiting impressionable young people, both in the cities and even in smaller rural towns.

Ardern was more successful in pitching New Zealand’s economic possibilities to Aussie investors, although there is an issue over the Reserve Bank’s proposed capital requirements for Australian-owned banks.

She might have also been tempted to ask ScoMo how he managed to win an election he was widely expected to lose. However, looking at the polls, that does not seem likely to be a problem for her next year.

Then to wrap everything up, the Air Force Boeing 757 which took her to Australia broke down and she had to hastily arrange a commercial flight to get home. At least she got back in time for the netball.