NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern Bound For Sydney
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will keep climate change off the agenda, instead pressing Scott Morrison on Australia's "corrosive" deportations policy when she visits Sydney this week.
Ardern will make a flying one-night visit to Australia on Friday for the annual leaders meeting between the trans-Tasman allies.
The Labour leader won't hesitate to confront Morrison over his policy of deporting convicted Kiwis.
"Friends speak frankly to each other," Ardern said.
"We are close friends but in friendships, there will sometimes be issues that can be corrosive. Deportation policy continues to be one of those issues for New Zealand."
New Zealand's political parties are united in opposition to Australia's hard-line deportation policy, which sends Kiwis across the Tasman when they commit serious crimes.
There is evidence suggesting the policy is behind an uptake in gang activity in New Zealand.
"Where there is virtually little to no connection between the person being deported in New Zealand, those are the cases that we find most corrosive," Ardern said.
"They are the ones New Zealand simply can't understand.
"It has that extra added negative effect because families get broken up. And people being placed in New Zealand with no support network whatsoever, and we are paying the cost of that."
New Zealand goes to the polls on September 19, when the white-hot issue of gang violence is sure to be an issue.
Ardern ruled out action against Australia in the hope of securing a policy shift.
"I don't want New Zealand to race to the bottom by saying, 'we're just going to continue to retaliate until we have nothing left'," she said.
"Australia is well within their rights to do what they've been doing.
"What we've been pointing out is that it's not in keeping with the spirit of our friendship."
Before reaching Australia, Ardern will spend three days in Fiji on her first state visit to the Pacific nation.
Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama and Ardern will discuss further collaboration on climate policy, but the issue won't be on the agenda in Sydney.
Ardern said last year's Pacific Islands Forum - when regional minnows vented their anger and frustration at Australia - was fresh enough in the mind.
"It wasn't that long ago that we spent the better part of 12 hours debating it and discussing it," she said.
"My goal is to continue to work alongside those where we have that like-minded position just to further the work that we do together."
While Ardern and Morrison fall on opposite sides of the political divide, they have grown close in the short time they've led their respective countries.
"Of all of the leaders that I work with, Prime Minister Morrison is the one that I speak with the most," Ardern said.
"Officials joke they no longer think they need to do the work themselves because we often just resolve things directly together.
"Having that ability, it's meant we've been able to trouble-shoot things very quickly."
Ardern will also meet with the NSW premier and the governor-general during her brief stay.