'Con Air' flight to touchdown in NZ

  • 19/11/2015
Justice Minister Amy Adams (Simon Wong/3 News)
Justice Minister Amy Adams (Simon Wong/3 News)

By Peter Wilson and Dave Williams

A reception committee of police, corrections officials and welfare workers will be at Auckland Airport to meet about 12 New Zealand criminals when they arrive from Australia.

The charter flight – dubbed "Con Air" – is due to land today.

Another flight is due to arrive next week.

The passengers on today's flight will be former detainees, most of them from the Christmas Island detention centre where they were being held awaiting deportation.

They are returning voluntarily and most are expected to appeal the cancellation of their Australian visas from New Zealand.

They were detained under Australia's new immigration rules which allow the deportation of any non-citizen who has served a prison sentence of 12 months or more, or has failed a character test.

Justice Minister Amy Adams said on Tuesday she had a rough idea of the type of offences committed by those arriving today.

"They certainly include sexual violence, serious violence, robbery and drug offences," she said.

At that time, it was thought about 20 would be on the flight.

Ms Adams took a bill through parliament under urgency on Wednesday which allows authorities to monitor and supervise returning offenders.

They can be required to provide, on arrival, detailed information about themselves.

Police can take fingerprints and DNA samples.

The regime applies automatically to those who have returned within six months of completing their sentence.

They can be issued with supervision notices or parole orders in the same way they would have been if they had served their sentence in New Zealand.

"While there has been some focus on the group arriving this week, it is important that this is viewed in the context of around 12,000 releases from the New Zealand prison system every year," said Corrections Northern Regional Commissioner Jeanette Burns.

Many more deportees or detainees who are returning voluntarily are expected over coming months.

About 200 New Zealanders are reported to be in detention awaiting deportation.

According to Australian figures, there are 585 Kiwis with criminal records in the deportation pipeline.