Trans-Tasman criminal info-sharing deal signed

Jeremy McLaughlin (3 News)
Jeremy McLaughlin (3 News)

A trans-Tasman agreement has been reached on information-sharing on deportations which will give the New Zealand government more details on people sent back to the country.

Justice Minister Amy Adams says the major problem with offenders being deported from Australia was there being limited reliable information about who the person is and their risk to the community.

But that is set to change following the deal reached by Ms Adams and Australian Immigration and Border Protection Minister Peter Dutton which comes into effect two weeks after it is signed.

"This information gap has been one of the barriers to ensuring that New Zealand agencies can effectively manage the risk of offenders deported back to New Zealand.

"By having a fuller picture about the backgrounds of offenders who return to New Zealand, we will be in a stronger position to monitor and supervise those who pose a serious threat to the public," Ms Adams says.

The change comes after a commitment was made in February by Prime Minister John Key and now former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Under the new rules, New Zealand agencies will get up to six months' notice of potential upcoming deportations and information on criminal records, case history, summary of offences, gang connections, fingerprints and photographs.

"It's a significant improvement on what Australia has been able to provide New Zealand and gives police the information they need to make more informed assessments about the risks posed by deported offenders," Police Minister Michael Woodhouse says.

The Australian government has been criticised recently for its indiscriminate policy which sees any foreigner, including Kiwis who have spent much of their lives in the country, sentenced to 12 months' prison or more to be deported.

There are just under 200 Kiwis in detention centres around Australia awaiting deportation.

Prime Minister John Key says he would raise the issue with new Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull while at the United Nations in New York this week.

But Mr Woodhouse says it is critical a system be in place to assess the risk of those deported to New Zealand.

The information sharing also means the Government can push through a legislative supervision scheme for offenders who are returned to New Zealand after recently serving a prison sentence overseas.

"The intention of this new regime will be to provide essentially the same sort of oversight these offenders would have faced had they served their prison sentence in New Zealand," Ms Adams says.

The case of Jeremy McLaughlin, convicted of the murder of Christchurch schoolgirl Jade Bayliss, brought the information-sharing problem to the fore after it was revealed he'd spent time in an Australian prison for murdering another child.

He was deported to New Zealand, but no information about his release was given to New Zealand authorities.

A paper is expected to be taken to Cabinet in the next few weeks.

Ms Adams had previously said she'd been frustrated at how slowly it was taking to get the agreement done.

3 News