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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has congratulated Anthony Albanese and the Labor Party on winning the Australian election, saying she is looking forward to working with him on a range of issues.
Albanese emerged victorious over Liberal Scott Morrison after an epic, six-week election campaign, ending the conservative coalition's almost decade-long reign.
Ardern said she spoke to Albanese this morning.
"It was a warm conversation and I'm really looking forward to formally meeting with him soon. Anthony and I have had the chance to meet before and I have no doubt we'll have a strong working relationship that will serve both countries well."
The implications of Albanese's victory for New Zealand remain to be seen, but throughout the campaign he has taken a softer stance on key issues including immigration and opposed the Morrison government's bid to increase 501 deportations - a sore point between the countries.
The 501 policy was introduced by Australia in 2015 and provides for the deportation on character grounds of anyone who has been sentenced to more than 12 months in prison or convicted of child sex offences. A small number are also deported solely on "character" grounds - most often due to gang links or if they are considered a risk to national security.
A total of 2572 people were deported from Australia to New Zealand between January 1, 2015 and February 28, 2022 - more than double the number expected when Australia began the policy in 2015. Over the same period, New Zealand has deported 32 Australians.
Ardern said Australia was New Zealand's "most important partner".
"Our only official ally and single economic market relationship, and I believe our countries will work even more closely together in these tumultuous times."
Ardern also acknowledged "the strong working relationship" with Morrison.
"I am confident that the close and unique relationship between New Zealand and Australia will continue under Mr Albanese's leadership.
"I hope to meet Prime Minister Albanese in the near future, and look forward to working with him on a range of issues including supporting New Zealanders living in Australia, making transtasman business even easier, deepening our partnership with our close friends in the Pacific, and advancing our interests on the world stage.
"Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand are at our best when we work together; when we acknowledge our mutual interests, our shared values and the uniqueness of our perspectives; when we stand united as allies and whānau, recognising the strength in our diversity."
Luxon congratulates Albanese
“Australia is New Zealand’s closest friend. Our deep ties cross historical, cultural and sporting connections, beyond what we share with any other country. It is vital for our shared interests that we continue to work to strengthen the relationship," he said.
“I have met Anthony Albanese several times and I always found him to be friendly, open and engaged. He will make a good partner for New Zealand and we look forward to working with him in the future.
“The National Party would also like to acknowledge Scott Morrison for his hard work and leadership since becoming Australia’s Prime Minister in 2018. I wish him and his family the best of luck in their future endeavours.”
Albanese has pledged to bring Australians together after defeating the nine-year-old Liberal-National coalition government.
Labor is projected to hold 77 seats in the 151-seat parliament. The coalition is projected to hold 59 seats, with as many as 15 crossbenchers including four Greens MPs, according to election analyst William Bowe.
Addressing media last night, Albanese said the win was an "incredible honour".
"I want to unite people. People want to come together, look for common interest, look towards the sense of common purpose. I think people have had enough of division. What they want is to come together as a nation, and I intend to lead that."
Morrison fronted his supporters last night to concede defeat, acknowledging it was a "difficult night for Liberals and Nationals around the country".
"Tonight, I have spoken to the Leader of the Opposition, and the incoming Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, and I've congratulated on his election victory."
Albanese is expected to be sworn in on Monday, along with senior members of his cabinet, before heading to Tokyo for the Quad meeting with the leaders of Japan, the United States and India.
Morrison is set to remain in parliament, having retained his Sydney seat of Cook, but will step down as leader at the next Liberal partyroom meeting. He is expected to be replaced by outgoing defence minister Peter Dutton.
- NZ Herald, AAP and ODT Online