New Zealand Government accused of abandoning Kiwi detainees

  • 09/01/2018

A pressure group is slamming the New Zealand Government, saying it has abandoned Kiwi-born detainees who face being deported from Australia.

Pressure group Iwi N Aus co-ordinator Filipa Payne spoke to RadioLIVE on Tuesday about the heartbreak and despair as they face being separated from their Australian families.

She demands to know where the New Zealand voice is for our citizens - and calls out the lack of action from Labour's deputy leader Kelvin Davis.

Ms Payne says there are approximately 175 people currently being detained in "horrific" conditions, which has included Kiwis being "put in cages". Many of them, she says, haven't done anything to deserve it.

"I've personally spoken to people who've been in detention centres for graffiti. This person I spoke to had an intellectual handicap," she says.

"I've spoken to people who've been in detention centres for various amount of crimes. I've also spoken to people and visited people who've been in detention centres in Australia for no crimes."

Ms Payne says that when Labour's Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis was in Opposition he was vocal in criticising the situation. However since he's gained power he's gone quiet.

"What he's doing now, on the other hand, I myself have been disappointed," she says.

"I've lived and hoped that he would stand up and back what he's said in front of people - but at the moment he's actually absent. He's quiet, he's in the shadows."

Once deported back here, away from their jobs, families and support networks the deportees are reduced to "living in cars". It's their children that suffer the most, Ms Payne says, separated from their fathers.

However a Government spokesperson says it is providing "intensive support" to help deportees on Returned Offenders Orders.

"Anyone on a Returning Offender Order receives intensive support," they told Newshub.

"This includes being met by a Probation Officer at the airport, who in addition to making sure they are complying with any special conditions on their order, work with the Prisoner Aid and Rehabilitation Society (PARS), or other support agencies, to help them get registered at a healthcare provider, get their IRD number, get enough ID to open a bank account, and the like.

"People on the Orders can also have the cost of accommodation covered for up to 12 weeks, if needed, get help finding long term accommodation, jobs, and may be referred to alcohol, drug and anti-violence programmes, as required.

"Other deportees are referred to PARS on arrival back in New Zealand. The Government is looking into what is working and whether these deportees are getting enough support."

Ms Payne is calling for urgent action to protect the rights of New Zealand citizens.

"The current situation at the moment is we have people sitting in detention centres who are New Zealand citizens who are not being represented in any political statement by our Government," she argues.

"So I'd like to ask the New Zealand Government to stand by what they stood up for, for the last two years in Opposition and actually back and support the hope and the promises that they gave to people."

But the Government spokesperson says it is continuing to advocate for New Zealanders in Australia.

"We want to see people well supported when they return home, which can be a particular challenge if they don't have firm roots here," they say.