McCully raises deportations with Australian minister

  • 29/09/2015
Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully (3 News)
Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully (3 News)

The detention and deportation of Kiwis living in Australia has been raised with Australia's Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.

Both Prime Minister John Key and Foreign Minister Murray McCully met with Ms Bishop in New York, where they're all attending the United Nations General Assembly.

The meeting comes amid growing calls for the New Zealand government to take action, following the death two weeks ago of Kiwi-born Junior Togatuki in a high-security detention centre while he was awaiting deportation.

The 23-year-old, who left New Zealand at age four, had served his sentence for robbery and assault, and authorities say he took his own life.

Ms Bishop has provided assurances to the New Zealand government that a full inquiry is under way into Togatuki's death.

The broader issue of detentions and deportations was also raised and there will be further discussions between New Zealand and Australia's immigration ministers.

Mr Key has also said he wants to raise it personally with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, but it's uncertain when the two might meet.

Kiwis living in Australia are being detained and deported under new immigration laws which mean anyone who isn't a citizen who has served a sentence of 12 months or more can be sent home.

There's increasing concern in New Zealand about the way it's being applied to Kiwis, who are affected more than any other nationality because so many live in Australia.

Nearly 200 New Zealanders are being held in detention centres facing deportation, and hundreds more have had their visas cancelled.

It's been reported that nearly 100 have already been sent back to New Zealand.

Greg Barns, president of the Australian Lawyers Alliance, says about 1500 New Zealanders are currently in jail and around 5000 have been imprisoned over the last 10 years.

"Certainly, you're looking at the low thousands in terms of the number of people born in New Zealand, who are not citizens, and under this law could be deported back to New Zealand," he told Radio New Zealand on Tuesday.

"Many of those people have moved on with their lives and become good members of the community, with strong ties to Australia and none to New Zealand."

An Australian senator says Kiwis can't expect special treatment.

"We love our cousins across the ditch but they must be subject to the same laws as everyone else," Senator Ian Macdonald said.