Justice Minister Andrew Little's tough words for Australia

  • Updated
  • 18/07/2018
Justice Minister Andrew Little's tough words for Australia
Photo credit: ABC's Foreign Correspondent

Justice Minister Andrew Little has slammed Australia's deportation laws, saying they lack "humanitarian ideals ". 

More than 600 Kiwis have had their visas cancelled by Australia since tougher laws came into place in 2014, and many of those have spent their whole life in Australia and have few, if any, ties to New Zealand.

Appearing on ABC's Foreign Correspondent show in a story about Australia's deportation laws, Mr Little made his feelings clear, saying detention for a length of time without charge in any liberal democratic country would not be tolerated.

The latest case is that of a 17-year old boy who was released from a Victorian adult detention centre instead of being deported back. The Australian government is now seeking legal advice on the matter.

"The decision [to grant him a visa] had been handed down and the minister is taking legal advice as to options," a spokesman for Australian Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton told news.com.au.

Mr Little told ABC Australia's deportation laws are making New Zealanders who live in the country feel insecure. He said many Kiwis are feeling like Australia "doesn't look like our best friend, our nearest neighbour".

Mr Little said it's "improper" for New Zealanders who identify as Australian residents - because "that's where they've done their living" - to be deported from the country they identify as home. He said it is "a breach of human rights".

But Mr Dutton says Australia needs to "see the evidence instead of the emotions".

"They're New Zealand citizens, they're not Australian citizens, and it's no breach of human rights," he told ABC. "In fact, it's a breach of civil rights of Australians who fall victims to these criminals and Australia won't tolerate it."

"It doesn't matter who we're talking about - the criteria for us is whether or not you've committed an offence against Australian citizens."

Acting Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Winston Peters was asked if he feels let down by Australia. He said he wants Australia to get the message that there has "never been a time since 1945" that Australia and New Zealand haven't needed each other more.

"We've got the security of all the Pacific to look at. We are senior nations with a chance to shape the Pacific and its security and its wealth. We better be mindful of our relationships between ourselves," Mr Peters told ABC.

"The reality is we want New Zealanders to get the same treatment an Aussie would get if they were being charged with an offence. We just want more fairness and we want the Aussies to behave the way Aussies ordinarily do behave."