OPINION: With every 501 deportation, Australia is making a mockery of our brothers-in-arms Anzac tradition.

OPINION: The so-called trans-Tasman relationship which we will commemorate on Sunday, Anzac Day, has never been more abused than it is now.
While the somewhat idealistic brothers-in-arms tradition was established by a previous generation on the bloody slopes of Gallipoli more than a century ago, there is now a new conflict festering beneath the surface which is raising temperatures and tempers on both sides of the Tasman.
When we closed our borders to international visitors a year ago, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, we included our nearest neighbours, Australia, in that essential exclusion. There were significant differences in the initial responses of both countries to the Covid threat so closing the border to Australia was crucial to keeping the virus out of New Zealand.
Deportees gather their gear and walk past a heavy police presence on their way to their enforced stay at the Ramada Hotel in Auckland in July last year.
There were, however, logical exceptions for New Zealanders returning home but they were, and are, required to go into managed quarantine before entering the community. There were also eventually exceptions for seasonal workers and others considered to be essential to the economy and that gave rise to endless arguments as each sector demanded that the people they wanted or needed should be allowed in to the country.
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For the past few months, as we seem to be getting the virus under control on both sides of the Tasman, Australian government officials, and the tourist industry have been falling over themselves to persuade New Zealand to relax the trans-Tasman travel ban. Last week prime ministers Scott Morrison and Jacinda Ardern finally agreed to open both borders for quarantine-free trans-Tasman travel. In a joint statement they said it was a world-leading arrangement that opened up travel while aiming to keep Covid-19 out of the community. The Anzac tradition seemed alive and well.
In that same week the Australia Government made another world-leading decision, this time of high-handed arrogance, to deport to New Zealand yet another criminal who has lived in Australia since he was 9 years old. He has no family support or other ties here. To make the situation worse, his mother and sister are unable to travel overseas as they have serious health issues. That means he is unlikely to ever see them again. So much for Anzac.
There were emotional scenes at Christchurch Airport as families separated by the ditch were finally reunited following the opening of the trans-Tasman bubble.
The latest deportee is one of hundreds of people who have been returned to New Zealand during the pandemic who do not want to be here. They were deported under the infamous section 501 of the Australian Immigration Act. Many of these people went to Australia as infants or very young children, grew up there and became anti-social criminals there. They were deported at the conclusion of prison sentences to their supposed home country, a country in which they have no connections, no relatives, no job and nowhere to live.
This latest deportation follows the recent sad saga of a young woman with two young children with dual Australian and New Zealand citizenship who was arrested on the Turkish border while trying to escape from Isis in Syria. She was born in New Zealand but moved to Australia as a 6-year-old and then travelled to Syria on an Australian passport to join Isis in 2014.
The Australia Government revoked her Australian citizenship without any warning or discussion with New Zealand. Given that there wereyoung children involved that was a harsh and cruel move as the woman has family in Australia but none here where she will most likely be sent.
While most countries have similar laws, none is applied with more inhumane callousness or blind stupidity than in Australia. In spite of international condemnation of the Australian hard-line policy and polite objections from New Zealand, there appears little likelihood of change any time soon.
It came as no surprise that many of these deportees returned to the criminal lives they lived in Australia, including gang activities, drug dealing and worse. For some it is all they know and, without connections or a support base of any kind here, what else did anyone reasonably expect? These people are, for all intents and purposes, Australians.
New Zealand has, so far, resisted many suggestions that we could, and perhaps should, apply a reciprocal policy and send law-breaking Australians home but that would make us as bad as they are or would it?
Most New Zealanders are reasonably tolerant and generous people but it would be unwise to test that tolerance much further.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison either wants Australia to be part of a responsible, humane international community and part of the once almost sacred Anzac tradition or he doesnt. Time is fast running out for him to make that call before it is made for him. We dont need friends who treat us with such contempt.