Kiwis in Australian detention centres face being moved from families - lawyer

  • 03/01/2019

Two Australian immigration detention facilities that housed New Zealand detainees are shutting down.

Melbourne's Maribyrnong centre will close immediately, and Villawood in Sydney later this year.

But Australian Lawyers Alliance spokesperson Greg Barns says Kiwis held in the facilities may be sent far away from their families.

"Assurances [haven't been] given by the Australian government that New Zealanders who have their visas revoked will not be removed from their families and loved ones and support," he told Newshub.

"New Zealanders in Melbourne and Sydney should be rightly quite fearful that if their visas are revoked, they are going to be removed from families and loved ones, and moved to other parts of Australia."

Mr Barns says the decision, an economic one, could see detainees could be taken to Western Australia or Queensland.

He says Immigration Minister David Coleman has a terrible record of ripping people away from their families:

"He's removed a number of young people - including very young people - away from their families in Melbourne and Sydney and put them into Western Australia and Queensland."

Mr Barns says assurances have to be given that there are adequate alternative facilities.

The Scott Morrison-led government is hailing the closures as a win for its tough border policies, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Mr Coleman said cutting down asylum seekers arriving by boat has allowed the closures, which will save more than AU$500 million. There are presently about 1250 in detention centres, down from more than 10,000 five years ago.