Despite our many common causes and shared endeavours, the much-vaunted Anzac relationship has been sorely tested, most notedly in recent times by the deportations of New Zealand-born criminals under Australia's notorious Section 501 of its Migration Act.
Behind the oft acclaimed transtasman camaraderie, there is a long history of appalling abuse. Exactly 100 years ago, in 1921, Australia banned New Zealand apples because of claims that fire blight, a disease that attacks apple and pear trees and rose bushes, could spread.
Wellington proved the ban could not be justified on scientific grounds as fire blight couldn't be carried on mature fruit, but Canberra refused to budge - an impasse costing New Zealand tens of millions a year for 90 years.
Finally, the World Trade Organisation ruled Australia's restriction on imports of New Zealand apples illegal in 2011 and the first shipment of about 4000kg of apples landed on Australian soil in August that year.
Australia has been facing similar opprobrium for its outward bound flights for all non-citizens who fail a character test. The practice particularly affects Kiwis who have lived long and often fruitful lives in Australia without the need to become full citizens. The latest expressions of disgust involve the deportation of a 15-year-old boy.
It’s time for the international community - including Aotearoa- to treat Australia as any rogue nation who persistently flouts human rights laws for its racist populist politics.— Golriz Ghahraman (@golrizghahraman) March 15, 2021
Little detail has been disclosed about the teen, other than that he was being held at a quarantine facility and receiving support from Oranga Tamariki. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has asked for more details.
It has been more than a year since Ardern bluntly challenged Scott Morrison over Australia's "corrosive" deportation policies.
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"New Zealand and Australia's relationship is being tested," she said in a joint press conference on February 28 last year."We have a simple request. Send back Kiwis, genuine Kiwis - do not deport your people and your problems."
Ardern's comments seemingly fell on cloth ears. If anything, the country has ramped up the deportations, even as New Zealand has grappled with quarantining arrivals during a pandemic. Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton now calls the practice "taking out the trash".
It has been estimated up to 40 per cent of deportees from Australia re-offend once in New Zealand. Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis predicted such outcomes in 2016 when he was an Opposition MP. "They've got no job, no roof over their head, if they don't have the right type of social support then they may have to resort to crime to get by," he said.
"These people are in a dire situation and if it backfires it's going to be New Zealanders who are going to be the victims of their crime."
It would appear the continued calls from Australia to open up tourism "bubbles" between the two nations are similarly now talking to the hand in Wellington. One suspects the ninth-floor phone at the Beehive may be left to ring when a Canberra number flashes up on the caller ID.
Many of these apples, blighted or otherwise, have not fallen far from the tree. There is no justification for pitching them into our back yard.