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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is travelling to Australia this week and will become the first head of government to meet with new PM Anthony Albanese on Australian soil.

The leaders will meet informally in Sydney on Thursday night and hold bilateral talks on Friday.

“The relationship between New Zealand and Australia is like family,” Ardern said. “I am very much looking forward to meeting Prime Minister Albanese in person following our recent phone conversations.

NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.Credit:Getty Images

“I know it will be the first of many as New Zealand and Australia continue to co-operate closely in a world of increasing challenges.”

The meeting brings the leaders together with centre-left governments in power on both sides of the Tasman Sea for just the second year in the past 32.

Showing the warmth of the relationship, Albanese called Ardern from his car on the way to give his election-night victory speech.

The two nations’ relationship soured in 2020 when Ardern, on her last visit to Sydney, confronted Morrison over Australia’s policy of deporting Kiwis who do not have family or community ties in NZ.

“Do not deport your people and your problems,” Ardern memorably told Morrison, in an arresting moment of forcefulness from a New Zealand leader.

That issue remains a major bugbear in New Zealand, where authorities believe untethered deportees contribute to gang-related crime. New Zealand is hopeful of a breakthrough, or at least a softening.

“Obviously that issue is one that we are looking forward to conversations on,” NZ Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said. “We don’t think the policy is fair or just and we are going to be seeking for the new government to make changes.

AAP

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