Australian opposition leader won't change controversial 501 laws

Australian Labor leader Anthony Albanese has brushed away a question around whether he’d overturn Australia’s controversial 501 laws.

Anthony Albanese.

Currently visas can be revoked on character grounds if someone is sentenced to 12 months or more imprisonment or convicted of sexual crimes involving a child.

However, the policy disproportionately affects New Zealanders, many of which have lived in Australia for most of their lives and haven’t applied for formal citizenship because of the visa arrangement.

According to Australia's Department of Home Affairs, 402 New Zealanders had their visa cancelled in the 2020-21 year on character grounds.

On Thursday, Labor leader Anthony Albanese refused to commit to overturning the legislation.

“Well, section 501 applies for breaches of people who are on visas, and if people commit serious offences, then action should be taken in Australia's national interest.”

Albanese also had positive things to say about Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

“Jacinda Ardern is someone who I've met with here in Australia and also in Wellington and in Auckland,” he said.

“I think she is an outstanding Prime Minister and I'm sure that we would have a very warm and cordial relationship.”

1News has confirmed that another term with Scott Morrison as Prime Minister would see legislation re-introduced to the Australian Parliament, that would make the 501 policy more strict.

A spokesperson for Alex Hawke, who has served as Immigration Minister, said the Coalition’s priority “is keeping Australian’s safe”.

“A re-elected Morrison Government will return this Bill to Parliament – because the Coalition believes non-citizens who are convicted of violent and sexual offences should face removal from Australia – just as the Australian people expect.”