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'We will have our disagreements' - Ardern and Morrison questioned on contentious issues between NZ and Australia

"We are much bigger than our differences," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said today, while standing alongside Australian PM Scott Morrison after their first in-person bilateral meeting since Covid-19 hit last year.

Scott Morrison and Jacinda Ardern. Source: Getty

"Neither of us take that for granted," Ardern said. "We are family and the pandemic has underscored that in many ways."

The pair swapped football jerseys, with "Ardern" written on the Australian jersey and "Morrison" on the New Zealand one, to acknowledge the 2023 successful bid to co-host the women's FIFA World Cup. 

During the bilateral meeting, they spoke about climate change, trade and security issues, the roll out of Covid-19 vaccines in the Pacific, managing borders, reconnecting with the world, digital trade, and APEC. 

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Australia deporting criminals to New Zealand was one of the topics of discussion. Source: 1 NEWS

The topic of deportations was also bought up during the meeting in Queenstown. 

"As with any family, we will have our disagreements from time to time but those disagreements are still undertaken in the spirit of openness and ultimately friendship. We are much bigger than our differences," Ardern said. 

Later in the press conference, Ardern said that it was "our view sometimes Australia deports Australian criminals", with Morrison being under "no doubt" of her view on that. 

Today's press conference was significantly softer than that of the last face-to-face meeting in February 2020, where Ardern publicly told Morrison to stop deporting "your people and your problems", and that the "the New Zealand and Australia relationship is being tested". 

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The Australian PM said he stood by revoking the Australian citizenship of Suhayra Aden - who now only holds NZ citizenship. Source: 1 NEWS

Today Morrison was questioned by 1 NEWS around Australia revoking the Australian citizenship of Suhayra Aden.

In February Australian broadcaster ABC reported Aden travelled to Syria "several years ago to live under Islamic State".

Aden had dual Australian and New Zealand citizenship before it was revoked by Australia in February.

New Zealand had attempted to work together on the issue prior to Australia cancelling her citizenship.

"Ms Aden is not an Australian citizen, but we have spoken today about her children and the pathway they have eligibility for and stand ready to address those issues," Morrison said, pointing to Australian laws. 

"It is a universal position of Australian law."

On if it were appropriate to revoke her citizenship, Morrison said he believed it was. 

"We've reiterate our ongoing view," Ardern said. "He's very clear on New Zealand's view."

The meeting saw the pair confirm a change to the number of years to citizenship for New Zealanders in Australia. The skilled independent permanent resident visa in Australia reduced the number of years which Kiwis needed to reach the minimum income threshold, from four years to three. 

"Prime Ministers also welcomed Australia’s flexibility for applicants whose income or time offshore was impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, and looked forward to a further review of the pathway visa in 2022," a statement read. 

Australian media outlets questioned New Zealand's relationship with China, asking if New Zealand was selling its sovereignty for trade relations. 

Morrison denied this - saying, "Australia and New Zealand are trading nations, but neither of us would trade our sovereignty or our values."

In their joint statement, the pair "expressed deep concern over developments that limit the rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong". 

"The Prime Ministers also expressed grave concerns about the human rights situation in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and called upon China to respect the human rights of the Uyghur people and other Muslim minorities and to grant the United Nations and other independent observers meaningful and unfettered access to the region."