An Australian reporter who hounded a group of deportees as they boarded a chartered flight to New Zealand should never have been allowed on the tarmac, according to the Border Force.
Two weeks ago, 9News journalist Jordan Fabris was granted access to the runway at Brisbane Airport to interview a group of New Zealand-born deportees as they were expelled from Australia.
In the widely-panned report, Fabris bombarded the deportees with questions as they were escorted to the plane, including: "Our country doesn't want you, are you excited to go home?"
He also asked one woman: "How does it feel to be kicked out of Australia?"
The story prompted widespread backlash, with viewers branding Fabris' line of questioning as "humiliating", "disgusting" and "disgraceful" on social media.
Australia's Home Affairs Minister, Peter Dutton, was also heavily criticised for referring to the deportation as "taking the trash out", a comment that was included in the report.
"It's taking the trash out, then we can make Australia a safer place," Dutton said.
Now, Australia's Border Force has admitted it was wrong to allow 9News access to the tarmac to interview the deportees.
On Monday, Australian Border Force Commissioner Michael Outram told a Senate hearing in Canberra that a "fairly inexperienced" junior media officer was responsible for the incident.
"In this case I think a decision was made that I would prefer wasn't made," Outram said, as reported by AAP.
"It was an error at the time but I wouldn't characterise it any differently than that."
The media officer and Border Force staffer who were present at the time of the report would be reminded not to repeat the "error", Outram added.
Convicted murderer Grant David Mitchell - who strangled his girlfriend to death in New South Wales in 1987 and spent more than 20 years on the run - was one deportee on-board the Auckland-bound flight.
A 15-year-old boy was also deported.
Under Australia's hardline 501 policy, "foreigners" can be deported from the country if they are considered a risk to the "health, safety or good order of the Australian community", deemed to be "not of good character", or have certain criminal convictions. However, 501 deportees often have no personal ties to New Zealand, with many growing up in Australia.
Several New Zealand leaders have argued it unfairly expels Australian criminals to a country they largely have no connection to, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern reiterating the Government "strongly disagrees" with the controversial policy in response to this latest deportation.
Ardern has previously stated the policy is "corrosive" to the trans-Tasman relationship, saying in February 2020: "Do not deport your people and your problems."
Taryn O'Dowd, one of the deportees on-board the flight, told Newshub the experience was "horrible". The 41-year-old, who lived in Australia for 32 years, was convicted of drug possession and sentenced to 18 months in prison before her deportation.
"I left behind two children so I was boarding that plane knowing that I was never, ever coming back. And then to have those things yelled at you as you're boarding a plane in handcuffs..." O'Dowd told Newshub.
"I am not a product of New Zealand. New Zealand has nothing to do with my crimes."
A few days after the story aired, Fabris told 9News he was aware that his report had sparked outrage among New Zealanders.
"It doesn't seem like many people in New Zealand are happy that this story ran on Monday," he said.
"It's had half-a-million views on our Facebook alone, and today it hit the media in New Zealand that I gained access to this border force flight and highlighted some of these criminals that Australia is kicking out.
"Let's remember here, these people are convicted criminals. The New Zealand Government responded with venom at Australia's deportation process, but their main target was Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton."