40 Kiwis held in Christmas Island immigration detention centre

  • 09/10/2015
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (left) and Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton. (AAP)
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (left) and Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton. (AAP)

Forty New Zealanders are being held in the Christmas Island immigration detention centre and facing deportation, the Australian government has confirmed.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton revealed today Kiwis with criminal convictions made up 14 percent of the centre's population of 285 detainees.

Mr Dutton has met New Zealand's high commissioner and justice minister to discuss the deportation cases.

They could return to New Zealand at any time, but some were appealing their visa cancellations and could expect to be there for a prolonged period, he said.

Overall there are nearly 200 New Zealanders in immigration detention in Australia.

Mr Dutton said Australia took back its own citizens deported from other countries for offences, including armed robbery and child sex crimes.

"The Australian public would expect us to do the same to citizens from other countries," he said.

Earlier today, former Australian foreign minister Bob Carr said New Zealanders shouldn't be detained and deported under his country's new immigration laws.

He told Radio New Zealand the legislation was introduced to counter the terrorist threat posed by Australians who had made a commitment to a jihadist cause.

"If New Zealanders are being collected in that, who have been in jail for offences entirely unrelated to the terrorist threat, then the legislation ought to be immediately tweaked," he said.

Under the legislation, anyone who isn't an Australian citizen and who has served a sentence of 12 months or more can be deported.

About 200 New Zealanders are in detention facing deportation, and about 100 are reported to have already been sent back.

Some of them lived in Australia for most of their lives.

There have been no reports of any of the Kiwis serving sentences for terrorist offences.

Prime Minister John Key intends raising the issue with new Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.