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Tensions between Australia, NZ over 501 deportees coming to head over differing foreign policy approach

Tensions between Australia and New Zealand over the 501 deportations has come to a head over differing approaches to foreign policy, a foreign affairs expert says.

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Melissa Conley Tyler told Q+A the countries have two different policy approaches playing out. Source: Q+A

It comes after Australian Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton this week described the deportation of New Zealand citizens after they had been convicted of crimes in Australia as "taking out the trash".

Dutton’s officials allowed a Nine News reporter to interview the deportees as they were handcuffed and marched onto a plane back to New Zealand.

Melissa Conley Tyler, a research fellow at the University of Melbourne and the former director of the Australian Institute of International Affairs, this morning told Q+A Dutton’s comments “wasn’t a very diplomatic way of putting things”.

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“I think our leaders struggle sometimes to understand that when you say something for a domestic audience, it’s also going to be heard overseas and you have to think about what message that’s sending,” she said.

Conley Tyler believed there was a “genuine difference in the way that Australia and New Zealand are seeing this”.

She explained that since 9/11, Australia has taken the view that living in the country was a "privilege" which can be "revoked and taken away", while New Zealand has a more values-based approach.

“I think New Zealand still has much more of an idea of the responsibility that the country has towards its citizens and to people who have lived most of their life in that country, so I think there’s a different policy approach that we’re seeing play out.”

Conley Tyler adds that Australian citizens “don’t really know” or “haven’t thought much” about the 501 deportations.

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The struggles of 501 deportees like Tangaru Turia are now back under the spotlight. Source: 1 NEWS

“Australians tend to be really surprised when they hear that there are any issues,” she said.

“We assume we like each other and we’re going to get on and it’s always a surprise when we discover, ‘Oh, actually, we have a difference here, something that we’ve got to deal with diplomatically like we do with all countries’.”

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Conley Tyler said issues crop up between the two countries “from time to time” – such as the tension around the future of the New Zealand-born, Australian-raised IS supporter and the trans-Tasman bubble – with the past 20 years or so seeing “more divergence between Australia and New Zealand”.

“I think we get surprised sometimes to realise that actually, we don’t look exactly the same anymore – we have quite different approaches on some issues.

“We would like countries to behave in a certain way and they just don’t and that’s the reality of diplomacy. Sometimes, it takes a very long time ... Sometimes, you just have to keep working away, trying to get your point of view across.”