John Key’s blunt message to Julie Bishop over detention and deportation of New Zealanders

September 30, 2015 2:42pm

Anna CaldwellIn New York

  • John Key says detention and deportation of New Zealanders strains the special relationship with Australia
  • 200 New Zealanders in Australian detention centres face deportation
  • Non-citizens serving 12 months jail can be sent home under new laws
  • Upcoming talks between Key and Malcolm Tunrbull will focus on the issue

NZ Prime Minister John Key says he feels like Australia is “picking and choosing” which Kiwis to keep in the country and sending back the ones it doesn’t like.

In a sign of the tension over the issue of deportation of New Zealanders, Foreign Minister Bishop said it would be “timely” for new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to discuss the matter with Mr Key.

The remarks from Ms Bishop came after Mr Key described his meeting on the sidelines of the UN in New York with the Australian Foreign Minister as “pretty blunt”.

“There is no closer relationship than Australia and NZ so I think it’s appropriate we consider this matter as PM Key has asked us to,” Ms Bishop said.

She added that she’d discussed with Mr Key “whether there are other arrangements that 

Australia and NZ could reach in relation to the deportation of New Zealanders”.

Mr Key told NZ radio he’d been blunt about his concerns regarding deportation of New Zealanders to the Australian Foreign Minister.

“There’s people that have often spent their entire lives now in Australia, they went over there when they were very very young,” he told Radio NZ.

“It’s a bit like the Australians are saying ‘well, we’re going to pick and choose, we’re going to keep the ones we like but we’re going to send back the ones we don’t like.”

The issue has come under the spotlight after the death of NZ born Junior Togatuki who was being held in Goulburn prison, awaiting deportation.

Ms Bishop said that matter had been raised with her, but she discussed detention more generally as well with the NZ counterpart.

“There was a specific instance where a New Zealander, who had been living in Australia for some time, died in detention and that specific case has been raised with me,” Ms Bishop said.



He said the ANZAC bond meant NZ “might get some treatment that’s different from other countries” and urged Australia to take the “rough with the smooth” on kiwis who have committed offences living in Australia.


NZ concern on Kiwis detained in Australia

25 SEP 2015 - 9:27 AM

New Zealand's opposition parties are becoming increasingly concerned about the way New Zealanders living in Australia are being treated under new immigration laws.

Since December, anyone who isn't an Australian citizen and who has served a 12-month jail sentence can be deported.

It was reported on Friday that up to 75 New Zealanders and Pacific islanders are being detained on Christmas Island - Radio New Zealand says it has been told 20 arrived in the past few days.

A TV report 10 days ago said that since December, 406 Kiwis have had their visas cancelled, 95 had been deported and 184 were in detention centres.

On the same day, Prime Minister John Key said the policy was "too harsh" and he intended talking to Australia's new prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, about it.

Two days earlier, Mr Key said the government wanted more information about the deportees.

"My real point is that ... some people may well be deported to New Zealand who are not serious criminals, and who have no family, no connections, no framework in New Zealand," he said.

"That wouldn't be great for them."

Justice ministers in both governments are working on a memorandum of understanding to improve information sharing, but it's made slow progress.

Labour, the Greens and United Future don't think the government's stance is strong enough.

Labour's foreign affairs spokesman, David Shearer, says the situation is "simply unacceptable".

"Australia is dumping on New Zealand some of the laws that they've put in for other reasons to satisfy their domestic constituency and we are, in a sense, carrying the brunt of it," he said.

Kennedy Graham, the Green Party's foreign affairs spokesman, also wants the government to act.

"I'm not sure exactly what they have said privately to Australia, (but) publicly all the prime minister seems to have done is scratch his head and say he has no idea," he said.

United Future leader Peter Dunne, a government ally, says the Australian government's actions have struck at the heart of the relationship.

"We're supposed to be family, kith and kin - all that sort of thing - and yet we're seeing our people treated the same way as other overstayers or other people about to be deported, and at the same time both governments go out of their way to talk about our special relationship."

Raised in Australia, he's among a wave of Kiwis held on Christmas Island as visas revoked