NZ parties unite in letter to Australian PM

  • 30/10/2015
Malcolm Turnbull has been urged to move Kiwis off Christmas Island while they wait to hear if they will be deported (AAP file)
Malcolm Turnbull has been urged to move Kiwis off Christmas Island while they wait to hear if they will be deported (AAP file)

An open letter to Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull condemning the treatment of Kiwis detained on Christmas Island is being handed over in Sydney.

The letter - signed by Maori Party, ACT and Green Party leaders - calls on the Australian government to move New Zealanders from the notorious Christmas Island detention centre while they wait to hear whether they will be deported.

"It isn't good enough that ex-pat New Zealanders are being isolated on an offshore island and being deprived of adequate legal services or the company of their whanau while awaiting life-altering news," Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox said.

"Most politicians this side of the ditch are appalled by this practice."

ACT leader David Seymour says while Australia may be within their sovereign rights, "they don't appear to be acknowledging our countries' special bond, or the enormous taxes paid by New Zealanders working in Australia".

Mrs Fox, who is in Sydney meeting with the families of detainees, will present the letter to Australian Green Party senator Lee Rhiannon today.

It will then be tabled in the Australian parliament.

The cross-party push follows Justice Minister Amy Adams and Police Minister Michael Woodhouse's meeting with Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton in Sydney on Thursday.

The ministers were working through "ongoing concerns" about the deportation of New Zealanders who've served prison terms in Australia.

Prime Minister John Key met with Mr Turnbull last month, but he wasn't able to get an exemption for Kiwis caught out by tough new immigration rules across the Tasman.

Australia has already sent 167 New Zealanders home and another 585 were waiting to be processed under the rules, which mean any non-citizen who has served 12 months in prison can be deported.

Many Kiwis are being held in detention centres while they wait to be deported, with about 40 being held at the Christmas Island facility.

NZN