There's a word missing in our chummy transtasman relationship: it's responsibility, writes Barry Soper.

Be prepared, we're going to hear it again today. We are more than friends, we're family. The two closest nations on Earth, we are borderless, we can come and go at will. Our economies are virtually one.

Yep that's the rhetoric that's always presented when the leaders of New Zealand and Australia get together, it's a lovefest, regardless of the ideological differences they may have. They have got a bond, or have they?

There's a word missing here, it's responsibility and usually in family and friendships that's important, you look out for each other.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's in Sydney today to catch up with counterpart Scott Morrison for their annual get together and she'll no doubt leave with a headache, having again bashed her head against the brick deportation wall.


There's little point in going into too much depth about what is an appalling Australian policy, getting rid of troublesome Kiwis who in some cases came to the country as infants but unfortunately are still covered by a New Zealand passport.

And that's where responsibility comes in to play. Is it responsible to deport someone who's never lived in New Zealand and who has no support network in this country? For most responsible people, the answer to that is a resounding no.

Jacinda Ardern and Scott Morrison met again at the Pacific Island Forum in Tuvalu last year. Photo / Jason Walls
Jacinda Ardern and Scott Morrison met again at the Pacific Island Forum in Tuvalu last year. Photo / Jason Walls

Take the case of the woman Ardern met recently at a support service establishment. She'd lived in Australia for 28 years and was convicted of a crime there that carried a sentence of four years in prison and was deported when she'd done her time.

She lives in the centre for the desperately needy because New Zealand is a foreign country to her and she has nowhere else to go. Where's the responsibility for what were clearly the bad habits she had learnt in Australia?

For the Australian Government, it's out of sight out of mind and that's an abdication of responsibility.

Still Ardern will raise what she says is a corrosive aspect of their relationship. She may as well not waste her breath.

We treat Aussies living in New Zealand as friends and family. If they have lived here for 10 years or more and commit a crime, we take responsibility. They're seen as Kiwis and generally, if they have done the time for the crime, they can stay.

That's responsibility.


Before the Aussies started their draconian deportation dictum we had never heard of the Comancheros, the heinous bike gang that had wreaked havoc on the other side of the Tasman. Now they're well established here and we're suffering the consequences of the network they have built up in Australia thanks to their deportation policy which looks set to become even tougher.

Morrison's been credited with the 100 per cent pure New Zealand logo when he was working in Wellington. Well he most certainly isn't living up to that.

He was also credited with the Aussie tourism catch-phrase "Where the bloody hell are ya?"
For his Government when it comes to responsibility, he's most certainly living up to that one.