Government seeks urgent law changes for deportees

  • 17/11/2015
Justice Minister Amy Adams (Simon Wong)
Justice Minister Amy Adams (Simon Wong)

By Peter Wilson

About 20 New Zealanders with criminal records are due to arrive from Australia within days and the Government is going to pass urgent legislation so they can be monitored.

Justice Minister Amy Adams says they're expected to return on a charter flight as early as Thursday, and there are serious offenders among them.

She wants her Bill passed by Parliament tonight, or Wednesday morning at the latest.

It will allow authorities to impose supervision and monitoring conditions on the returning Kiwis in the same way as if they had served their sentences in New Zealand.

"We have a rough idea of the type of offences, they certainly include sexual violence, serious violence, robbery and drug offences," she told reporters.

"When they arrive they will be met by police, corrections staff and social agencies ... then served with notices making them aware of their supervision conditions."

Ms Adams says if they refuse to co-operate they can be locked up.

"They've served their time and punishment, offenders are released like that every day," she said.

"But they should have the same oversight that we have over New Zealanders who have served their sentences here."

She understands most of them will be coming from the Christmas Island detention centre, where there was a riot last week.

They're in detention awaiting deportation, and have chosen to return to New Zealand and appeal against their visa cancellations from here.

Labour will reluctantly support the Bill.

"The Government has handled this so badly - a situation they knew about a year ago is now upon us ... and they've now introduced legislation to deal with it," Labour leader Andrew Little said.

"For the sake of New Zealanders' safety and security we won't have much choice but to support it."

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

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

Under new immigration laws, Australia can deport any non-citizen who has served a sentence of 12.