Australian senator firm on detainee issue

  • 14/11/2015
Australian senator firm on detainee issue

An Australian senator is reiterating that New Zealand criminals detained in Australia fighting deportation can leave and they will not get an exception from law.

Ian Macdonald told The Nation today he didn't have details of individual cases but he was prepared to look at them.

The Nation asked if New Zealanders should be deported from Australia for 30-year-old cannabis convictions and raised the case of Ko Haapu, 34, who is reported to be in maximum security Casuarina Prison near Perth because of his links to the Rebels motorcycle gang.

The former lance corporal, who is also known as Ko Rutene, served in Afghanistan and earned three medals of honour.

Mr Macdonald said he did not know the details and Haapu would only be deported if he had been convicted of a serious crime with the bikie gang or had associations with them that were not conducive with him remaining in Australia.

"The minister just doesn't willy-nilly deport people because he doesn't like the colour of their hair," he said.

He says "I don't think you'll find too many" cases of New Zealanders deported for cannabis convictions or for shoplifting.

"If you give me the details I will follow them through".

Mr Macdonald says New Zealand is Australia's best friend and "the nation we love above all others".

Under a law change last December anyone who isn't an Australian citizen and who has served a jail sentence of 12 months or more can be deported.

There were riots on Christmas Island last week and some New Zealand detainees have been moved from there.

"If they don't like the Christmas Island centre they can easily go back to New Zealand but they choose to stay there because they've taken action in the Australian courts to resist their deportation," Mr Macdonald said.

He said those people were not Australians and they hadn't applied for permanent residence or citizenship.

They had rejected hospitality they had been given in Australia by committing very serious crimes and "all bets are off".