Ardern: Aust 'open door' to NZ concerns

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Jacinda Ardern is claiming a breakthrough - though not a win, yet - as she attempts to convince Australia to change its policy on sending deportees to New Zealand.

The New Zealand prime minister said Anthony Albanese has offered "more of an open door than we've had for years" on longstanding Kiwi concerns.

The pair met in Sydney this week, when Ms Ardern became the first guest at Kirribilli House of Mr Albanese's tenure.

The Labor and Labour PMs ran through the diplomatic motions: the grip-and-grin handshakes, the big smiles, the gift exchange and the formalities.

Ms Ardern had not described Mr Albanese as her friend before arriving in Australia, but she said she was comfortable to be referred to as a "great friend" by the new PM shortly after arriving.

"I'm happy to go for the fast elevation to friend status," she said.

"It wasn't a standing start. The prime minister and I have met before and talked before."

Beyond the niceties - which included a swap of vinyl records - Ms Ardern wanted to progress the thorny issue of deportations.

New Zealand protests Australia's practice of deporting criminals with no connection to Aotearoa, which leaves arrivals untethered to society and without community.

"We are not expecting Australia to stop deportations," she told Kiwi journalists after their dual press conference, "what we are asking for is actually, to stop deporting Australians."

After Ms Ardern's "forceful" representation, Mr Albanese pledged a review of the policy, without guarantees.

"We will work through some of those issues between now, and we'll have a ministerial meeting, a leaders meeting, coming next month," he said.

"And we'll work through with our department, work through the implementation of the way that section 501 has been dealt with. We've listened to the concerns and there's more work to do."

The comments have been widely interpreted as laying the groundwork for a softening of its policy, and Ms Ardern was hailing it a "significant step".

"That is a significant shift in the language that we have had from previous Australian governments," she said.

"Never have I have seen anyone even willing to take a look before."

Ms Ardern was also pleased to hear Australia's new government is open to talking about removing barriers to citizenship for Kiwis living in Australia.

Those barriers prevent Kiwis from accessing benefits, concession rates or disability support, or from filling public service or defence jobs.

"This has been a consistent issue for NZ ever since (changes in 2001)," Ms Ardern said,

"We've maintained the same levels and access for Australians all the way through ... and sought for Australia to come back.

"There was an acknowledgement of that issue.

"You heard a view that there was some work to be done ... that was more of an open door than we've had for years."

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