New Zealand Prime Minister (PM), Jacinda Ardern on Friday, February 28, 2020, condemned the recent move of Australia’s deportation policy as it is likely to have an impact of hundreds of New Zealand citizens living in Australia.
Claiming the deportation policy as “corrosive,” Ardern warned that such aggressive policy would spoil the long-maintained cordial relationship between Wellington and Canberra. The bilateral relationship between the two countries, which has rare conflicts, has turned soured recently over some political issues.
Australia’s Deportation Policy
Australia’s conservative government has recently decided to implement a deportation policy against those thousands of foreigners who are convicted of crimes in the country. The policy was a part of an immigration crackdown that focus to strip the dual-national status of their Australian citizenship. This move even posed a threat to deport those hundreds of Kiwis who have been living in Australia since their childhood.
Citing this imminent threat of deportation, Ardern told reporters in Sydney during a media conference alongside Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, “We have countless who have no home in New Zealand, they have no network as they have grown up in Australia. That is their home. And that is where they should stay,”
Condemning the policy, the New Zealand PM insisted, “Do not deport your people and your problems.” At present, there are nearly 650,000 New Zealand citizens living in Australia which makes more than a tenth of the total population of the smaller country.
Australian PM, Morrison, however, declared that the policy would not be withdrawn and claimed, “If you have committed a crime and you’re not a citizen of Australia, then you have no right to stay,” Morrison told the same media conference.
Impact on Ardern’s National Politics
Recently, the two countries have stormed into several disputes with each other which was a rare occasion in the relationship between the neighboring Oceania countries. The latest conflict between the two countries is likely to have a severe impact on Ardern’s domestic politics since she is facing a tight race for her another term of re-election which was set to be held on September 19, 2020.
Ardern, despite her huge popularity among liberal voters, was constantly attacked by the opposition leaders as her administration has failed to take a decisive response to certain issues including a mass shooting, climate change problems, excessive focus on multilateralism, and her inability to combine motherhood and leadership.
The Ardern administration in New Zealand has been criticized for the slowing domestic economic growth and low business confidence, a failed policy of state housing project, and also several scandals because of which her party is considered to be trailing the conservative National Party in domestic politics.
Peter Chen, a political science professor at the University of Sydney, insisted, “The election is on the knife edge. The issue is extremely sensitive back home, so giving Australia a kick in the ribs can’t hurt at all.”
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