Australia 'could deport about 1000 Kiwis'

  • 13/10/2015
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (R) (AAP)
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (R) (AAP)

Prime Minister John Key has told Parliament about 1000 New Zealanders living in Australia could be "in the pipeline" for deportation.

Questioned by opposition MPs today, Mr Key denied he had been slow to raise the issue with the Australian government.

He said he first raised Australia's new immigration laws with former prime minister Tony Abbott in February and again in April.

"I also raised it with the Australian foreign minister in New York, and it was raised by the New Zealand foreign minister on numerous occasions," he said.

Mr Key said he expected there would be "a wide ranging discussion" about it when he meets Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in Auckland on Saturday.

About 200 Kiwis are being held in Australian detention centres - including about 40 in the notorious Christmas Island facility - as they wait to be sent back to New Zealand.

"Advice provided to me by officials suggests there are currently about 1000 New Zealanders in the pipeline for deportation from Australia, but this number will move around," Mr Key said.

The new immigration laws were introduced in December, and they mean anyone who isn't an Australian citizen and who has served a sentence of 12 months or more can be deported.

Mr Key has previously said he can't "badger" Australia over its policy, but hopes he can convince Mr Turnbull of the need to tweak it.

"When politicians on both sides of the Tasman talk about the fact that Australia and New Zealand are family, I think they actually mean that," he told reporters yesterday.

"But one of the ways of demonstrating that would be a bit more flexibility about where the threshold is set for this particular policy."

The Government is particularly concerned about Kiwis who went to Australia when they were very young and grew up there, no longer having family or other connections with New Zealand.