Anthony Albanese offers New Zealanders a fresh take on Australian voting rights and deportation policy

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New Zealanders in Australia may soon benefit from voting rights, a faster path to citizenship and stronger protections against deportation, the countries’ prime ministers have revealed.

At a news conference in Sydney, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese pledged to take a “common sense” approach in applying the power to cancel visas for New Zealand citizens, indicating his government will limit its use in long-term residents in Australia.

While the comments signal a change in implementation rather than a complete renewal or repeal, it is a foreign policy victory for Ardern, who has been pushing for years to end deportations of those with tenuous ties to New Zealand.

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“[Section] 501 [visa cancellations] it will continue to exist,” Albanese said. “We will continue to deport people when appropriate.

“But we will apply some common sense here, and where there is a circumstance where someone has effectively lived their entire life in Australia with no connection to New Zealand, then common sense should apply.”

Ardern said that was “exactly what we have asked of Australia.”

“We recognize that Australia will continue to deport, as New Zealand currently does … deporting those who do not have a long-term connection to New Zealand,” he said. “What we have been looking for is common sense and the spirit of friendship.”

The issue was raised in a joint appearance by the two leaders, which Ardern said was about “further cementing the renewed close relationship” between the two countries. The meeting continued with a warm tone of the sometimes tense relationship seen under Scott Morrison.

Albanese announced that he would consider granting voting rights to New Zealanders based in Australia and would seek ways for more New Zealand residents to become citizens.

He said the Australian government did not “want people to be temporary residents forever”, and promised to announce better pathways to citizenship by Anzac Day 2023. Once a person obtains dual Australian citizenship, they cannot be deported.

Albanese said he would seek to bring voting policy in Australia in line with New Zealand’s rules: Australians residing in New Zealand for more than a year can vote in local elections.

“We will be asking the joint standing committee on electoral affairs to consider if there is a way to go back to the systems that have existed in the past of giving New Zealanders who are here in Australia, contribute to society, pay taxes, work, vote rights. here in Australia as well,” Albanese said.

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The moves were announced after formal talks Friday morning in Sydney, the second series of bilateral discussions between the two leaders since Albanese was elected.

Ardern said on Friday that they had agreed that “no New Zealander or Australian should be temporary permanently. That is a sea change in how we have previously seen New Zealanders treated here.” In another sign of closer relations, the two leaders agreed to annual bilateral talks between their foreign, defense, finance and climate change ministers.

On Wednesday, Ardern said New Zealand was seeing a “reset” in the relationship with Australia that it had hoped for, and that the Albanian administration “fundamentally represents a government that has a different view of Kiwis in Australia and the contribution they make.”

A change in the 501 will be particularly celebrated in New Zealand, where there has been growing concern about recidivism and gang activity by deportees. Provision 501 allows Australia to cancel visas for long-term residents on character grounds, including years of criminal convictions or association with gang members. Since the policy began in 2015, more than 2,570 people have been deported from Australia to New Zealand, and according to police data published by the New Zealand Herald, about half have reoffended. New Zealand deported 32 Australians during the same period.

The large-scale deportation of New Zealand citizens under the policy, some of whom have lived in Australia all their lives and had little or no ties to New Zealand, has been a long-standing sore point in the relationship between the two countries. . In 2020, Ardern criticized then Prime Minister Scott Morrison for “testing” the friendship between the two nations and accused Australia of deporting “its people and their problems” using “unfair” policies.

“He has deported more than 2,000 people, and among them will be genuine Kiwis who need to learn the consequences of their actions,” he said at the time.

“But among those 2,000 there are people who are too young to become criminals in our care… We will own our people. We ask that Australia stop exporting theirs.”

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