Jacinda Ardern doesn't expect Australia to ease up on deportations

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she's under "no illusion" her Australian counterpart has no plans to stop deporting criminals to New Zealand, even if they have no real links to this country.

Australia's hardline policy, introduced in 2014, has seen more than 1000 people booted across the Tasman - many for minor breaches of the law - even though some haven't lived here for decades, or were taken there as babies. Ardern has previously called the policy "corrosive" to relations between our two countries.

National has promised to implement a reciprocal policy against Australians, but the Labour-NZ First Government has so far chosen to play nice.

Ardern met with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison last week, telling him not to "deport your people and your problems" in a tense joint press conference.

Speaking to The AM Show on Monday, Ardern said Morrison's unwillingness to budge "is not going to stop me from raising it".

"I've been raising this consistently from the moment I had the role of Prime Minister. I raised this with Malcolm Turnbull, now I'm raising it with Scott Morrison. So everything that I said publicly, I've been saying privately for quite some time. The alternative is for me to say nothing - I don't think anyone would encourage that either."

She said New Zealand is fine with taking back Kiwis who've just moved to Australia and cause trouble - but we don't deport crime-committing Australians who have been here for more than 10 years.

"We start accepting that you've made your home here and that we take some responsibility. We're asking Australia to do the same."

Jacinda Ardern.
Jacinda Ardern. Photo credit: The AM Show

As for National's reciprocal hardline position, Ardern said her Government would not "race to the bottom".

"We believe on principle the position we have is the right one so we're not going to follow [Australia]. We're going to do what's right, and we're going to keep asking that you do what's right, too." 

At the press conference Morrison said New Zealanders weren't being picked on - Australia has been deporting people back to the UK "particularly", admitting some were only "one or two years old" when they settled.

Australian lawmakers are currently mulling further changes, which experts have warned could see deportations increase five-fold.