Jacinda Ardern has downplayed China being a point of contention with Australia, but says she’ll continue to “take issue” with Scott Morrison over deportees during today’s Australia-NZ Leaders Forum.
The PM appeared on Breakfast and says she wouldn’t consider China “to be a contentious issue” on the agenda of today’s meeting with Morrison.
“We’re much more closely aligned on this issue as some others would portray and so it’s not the contentious issue others would make out,” she said of the differences in approach to China from either side of the Tasman.
Ardern said she agreed with Otago University’s international relations specialist professor Robert Patman’s view that overseas media portrayals of NZ as the Five Eyes intelligence alliance’s weak link when it comes to China was a “gross oversimplification”.
“I just heard a little clip from one of your previous interviews. I would agree that they’re right when they say that some of that has been overplayed,” she said.
“I’ll give you an example: We’re supporting Australia and joining in on one of the cases they’re taking through the World Trade Organisation on Bali, and that’s because we support a rules-based order.
“We know that there have been trade tensions that Australia have experienced. We see it in our interest in being a party to that. That’s something Australia have acknowledged us for.
“I do see those issues as being overplayed.”
Conversely, there was no attempt to downplay the contentiousness of issues in the ”people space” with Australia, including deportations.
“Where our tension exists actually, deportations, the pathway to citizenship for New Zealanders in Australia. Those are the areas that there are different positions on,’ she said.
Ardern has raised the issue of deportations before with Morrison, and Malcolm Turnbull before him, including a public rebuke for the current Australian PM in 2020.
“I’ve consistently raised this through the entire time I’ve been in this role,” she said.
“Not necessarily with an expectation that we will see a dramatic change in policy because Australia has been consistent in the fact they don’t intend to change their policy on things like deportation.
“I will continue to raise it because, despite their right and ability to do what they do, we do take issue with those who have very little to no connection with New Zealand being deported here.”