Jacinda Ardern promises to push Australia's Anthony Albanese as strongly on 501 deportations as she did with Scott Morrison

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is promising to push for changes to Australia's 501 deportation policy just as strongly with new Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese as she did with Scott Morrison.

"Absolutely. This is an issue for New Zealand that reaches beyond political parties, that reaches beyond how long, of course, either side has known one another," Ardern told reporters on Tuesday afternoon. 

"We've got to make sure that, particularly when it's those we consider family, that they understand the strength of feeling that we have on these issues."

Section 501 of Australia's Migration Act has long been a significant point of contention between Canberra and Wellington. It allows Australia to send some people back to their home country if they don't pass a character test - such as going to prison for more than 12 months - regardless of whether they still have ties to that nation. 

That means a number of deportees brought up in Australia are being sent to New Zealand with little to no support when they arrive. Newshub revealed earlier this year that so-called '501 deportees' have been convicted of more than 8000 offences in New Zealand since 2015. 

Ardern famously called the policy corrosive in 2019, and in 2020, while standing alongside then-Australian Prime Minister Morrison in Sydney, she called on the Aussies to "not deport your people and your problems". 

Ardern said on Tuesday that she repeatedly raised the issue with Morrison and saw no progress. 

The Guardian reported ahead of the Australian election in May that Albanese's Labor may tweak the country's immigration rules, meaning 501 deportations continue but decisions take into account the length of time someone has been in Australia. 

Now that Albanese is in power - and Ardern is scheduled to meet him in Sydney this week - the Prime Minister was asked whether Kiwis should expect changes to be made.

"Look, I am very clear with any Australian administration that this is a significant issue for New Zealand," Ardern said at her weekly post-Cabinet press conference. 

"We accept that Australia has a deportation policy, because New Zealand has a deportation policy. Our concern has been, we have seen some of the really extreme examples, those who have little to no connection to New Zealand, who are being deported into New Zealand, and then we see the consequences of their anti-social behaviour and their lack of connection here at home."

Regardless of who is in office in Australia, Ardern said New Zealand wants to make progress.

"This is the first engagement with the Prime Minister. It will be a positive one. I will raise these issues, but let's see where we can take them."

She said it was the Government's job to be "really clear about the frustration New Zealanders" feel about the issue. But that doesn't stop the two countries from working together on issues like COVID-19 and disaster relief, Ardern said. 

Ardern will become the first foreign head of government to meet with Albanese in Australia when she travels to Sydney on Thursday. Top of the agenda will be issues in the Pacific, including climate change.