Home / World News / Anthony Albanese and Jacinda Ardern hold trans-Tasman talks amid Pacific tensions

Anthony Albanese and Jacinda Ardern hold trans-Tasman talks amid Pacific tensions

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says China’s attempt to change pre-existing relationships with Pacific nations represents a significant concern.

Ahead of talks with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in Sydney on Friday, Ms Ardern said it was critical for Pacific nations to work together on security issues.

“The relationship that (China has) with the Pacific islands is not new, it’s whether or not they are seeking to change those relationships to dip into spaces like, for instance, the potential militarisation of our region,” she told the Nine Network.

“The Pacific has itself already said, when it comes to our own security we come together and talk about it as a region, and that’s what we’ve been asking for.”

Tensions in the Pacific are set to be a key talking point when the two prime ministers meet on Friday, along with US President Joe Biden’s new Indo Pacific Economic Framework initiative.

While China has told New Zealand to stop interfering in the Pacific, Ms Ardern said the relationship with the region was always close.

“The relationship for us is not a bilateral relationship, it’s a family relationship,” she said.

“I don’t see our relationship as ever being able to be described as interference. We have a closeness to one another, that will always be the case.”

Ahead of the formal talks on Friday, Mr Albanese hosted Ms Ardern in Sydney at Kirribilli House, taking in the views of the city’s Vivid festival and swapping gifts of vinyl records.

The New Zealand prime minister is the first world leader to meet with Mr Albanese on Australian soil since he was sworn in last month.

During the meetings, Ms Ardern is set to raise the issue of deporting criminals from Australia to New Zealand who do not have familial or community ties to the country.

Ms Ardern’s government believes many of those deportees arrive untethered, without support networks, and can be destitute or join gangs.

She told the Nine Network she wanted to give the Australian prime minister time to consider the issue.

“It’s been a bugbear for us for a long time, so I would like to see movement on it,” she said.

“When someone comes here and, essentially, hasn’t even really had any connection with New Zealand at all … and are essentially Australian – sending them back to New Zealand, that’s where we’ve had the grievance.”

Nationals leader David Littleproud said Australia should still be able to determine how it handles people who commit crimes in the country.

“If you do the wrong thing in this country, you should pay the penalty,” he told reporters in Canberra.

“If it’s a deterrent that you might go back to New Zealand, then it keeps our society safe, then why wouldn’t we?”

Ms Ardern is also set to discuss an improved pathway to citizenship for Kiwis who live in Australia, which would grant them more security across the Tasman.

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