Sending detainees to NZ makes no sense – Labour
By Lydia Anderson
Giving Kiwi criminals the option to return to New Zealand while appealing the revocation of their visa by Australia does not make sense, says Labour.
Opposition Leader Andrew Little met new Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull following the latter's bilateral talks yesterday with Prime Minister John Key.
Australian immigration rules that came into effect in December state anyone who is not an Australian citizen and who has served a prison sentence of 12 months or more can be deported, potentially affecting about 1000 New Zealanders.
Concerns have been growing over the plight of about 200 Kiwis held in Australian detention centres - including 40 at the notorious Christmas Island facility - while they wait to be sent back to New Zealand.
Many have lived in Australia most of their lives.
However, Mr Turnbull announced yesterday that those Kiwis stuck in Australian detention centres could fly to New Zealand while appealing their visa revocations.
Speaking to reporters after his meeting with the Australian leader, Mr Little said he could not see the sense of sending Kiwis who had lived their lives in Australia back to New Zealand to undertake the appeals process.
"That sounds fine on paper but it just comes back to the same problem - that they have to leave behind a family, that family is split, they come back to a place here where they have no support," Mr Little said.
"They're in no better position to advance their appeal ... than if they are held in Australia."
Mr Little said he was not seeking a change of law on Kiwi visa revocations, but had asked that Australia exercise its discretion on a case-by-case basis - particularly where an individual has lived in Australia since they were a child.