New Zealand's Jacinda Ardern meets new Australian PM Anthony Albanese to 'discuss difficult deportation issues'

The newly-elected Labor Prime Minister welcomed Ms Ardern today

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Jacinda Ardern became the first foreign leader to be hosted by the newly-elected Labor Australian Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese.

The New Zealand Prime Minister touched down in Sydney, with pictures shared via Mr Albanese's Twitter showing the two embracing, alongside the caption: "So pleased to welcome my good friend New Zealand PM @jacindaardern to Australia.

"I’m looking forward to catching up over dinner."

Mr Albanese later shared a selfie of the two, adding: "Lovely dinner with @jacindaardern this evening. I’m looking forward to our bilateral meetings tomorrow where we will discuss all that our countries have in common."

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese welcomed Jacinda Ardern earlier today
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese welcomed Jacinda Ardern earlier today
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is expected to question Mr Albanese on the 501 deportation legislation
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is expected to question Mr Albanese on the 501 deportation legislation

In a statement earlier this week, Ms Ardern described the trans-Tasman neighbours as being "like family" with many shared values, but acknowledged how aspects of their relationship had been "difficult" in recent years.

Its speculated that the New Zealand Prime Minister will be keen to discuss Australia's controversial 501 deportation policy and the rights of New Zealanders in the country.

She told a press conference on Tuesday: "This is also an opportunity for new conversations to be had on aspects of the bilateral relationship that have been difficult for a number of years.

"We’re clear with the incoming prime minister that these issues remain for us. Regardless of who’s in office, we want to make progress.”

Under section 501 of the Migration Act, Australians can have their visas cancelled if they hold a substantial criminal record or on character grounds.

The section sparked a controversial debate between the two countries under former Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

In 2020, Ms Ardern retaliated at their annual bilateral summit, stating how the policy was "unfair" and was evidently "testing" the relationship of the two nations.

She accused Australia of deporting “your people and your problems”.

Mr Albanese emphasised how his Labor government would continue the deportations under section 501 in his election campaign.

But it is understood Labor may adjust the ministerial direction to ensure decisions are contemplated, being more lenient with people who have lived in the country for an extensive period.

Speaking while on an official visit to Indonesia, Mr Albanese stated he looked forward to the meeting, adding how Ms Ardern had been the first world leader to call him after Mr Morrison conceded the election.

He added: “I look forward to prime minister Ardern’s visit."

In a written statement from Mr Albanese’s office, the Australian PM spoke warmly of links with New Zealand.

He said: “Prime Minister Ardern’s visit will be an opportunity to build on Trans-Tasman cooperation, including economic recovery after COVID-19, the role of indigenous peoples in the identity of both countries, climate change, support for the Pacific, and global trade and security.”