A delay in Australian authorities giving information on deported criminals to Kiwi counterparts is holding up Government plans to introduce supervision measures.
Justice Minister Amy Adams says work on an information sharing agreement between Australia and New Zealand should wrap up soon, but in the meantime it's impossible to make good assessments about whether former inmates needed to be supervised.
It follows the revelation that convicted murderer Michael Heron, 43, is living unmonitored in a Christchurch house with several children despite being jailed in Australia for stabbing a man to death in a Sydney bar fight.
He was deported late last year and is not subject to parole conditions because the crime happened overseas. Police were unable to tell a father of one of the children about the criminal history due to privacy restrictions, Fairfax Media reported.
Ms Adams said new legislation around criminal information sharing is "absolutely at the top of my priority list".
"I've made it quite clear that I want anyone who's released into New Zealand, whether they've served their time in Australia or New Zealand, to be subject to the same sort of monitoring and oversight," she said.
"My intention is to bring a Bill to the House to make sure we have a legislative regime that allows me to impose supervising conditions on people deported back to New Zealand."
Ms Adams said it was impossible to make good assessments on whether former inmates needed to be supervised without proper information.
"Australia knows we're keen to get it, we've been keen to get it for some 18 months or more.
"We need to know psychological assessments, we need to know health conditions that impact on their vulnerability, we need to know about their prison behaviour, we need to know a number of things which allow us to make appropriate assessments as to their risk profile and the supervising that's required."
Police are currently able to tell people if they think there is a serious threat to life, and Corrections can apply to the court for public protection or extended supervision orders.
"My job is to look at the overarching framework. I've made it clear that I want a clear formalised system where we can impose monitoring conditions, for that we need to conclude the agreement with Australia," Ms Adams says.
In March, Prime Minister John Key and his Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott agreed to work on sharing more information about when Australia is about to deport a New Zealand criminal who's finished their sentence - but that hasn't yet been finalised.
The issue gained attention two years ago when it was revealed Jeremy McLaughlin, who murdered 13-year-old Christchurch schoolgirl Jade Bayliss in 2011, had been convicted of killing Perth 14-year-old Phillip Vidot, years earlier.
3 News / NZN