Andrew Little stands by criticism of Australia despite hostile backlash

  • 20/07/2018
Andrew Little stands by criticism of Australia despite hostile backlash
Photo credit: The Hui

Justice Minister Andrew Little is standing firm in his criticism of Australia's deportation laws, despite top Aussie Ministers responding to his comments with hostility.

Earlier this week Mr Little said Australian's tough deportation laws lack "humanitarian ideals" and many Kiwis feel that the country "doesn't look like our best friend, our nearest neighbour".

Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton attacked Mr Little, saying Australia did most of the heavy lifting in the trans-Tasman relationship.

"New Zealand don't contribute really anything to the defence effort that we've got where we're trying to surveil boats that might be on their way to New Zealand," he said, adding that he hoped Mr Little wouldn't repeat the comments.

But the Minister has doubled down, saying he especially took issue with Australia deporting people on character grounds even if they had no convictions.

He said the policy allows people to be deported back to their countries of origin even if they have very little connection left with them.

"It is very nebulous, very airy fairy and could be used for all sorts of things and on a human rights basis that's not right," he told RNZ on Friday morning.

"I've done my job as Minister of Justice and advocated for the human right of New Zealand citizens.

"We have a very strong trans-Tasman relationship but its not one-way, it's got to be a mutual relationship."

Mr Little told Stuff on Thursday evening he disagreed with the claim New Zealand doesn't pull its weight, saying he's "totally confident" in the value the country contributes to regional and internationally security.

"When it comes to human rights issues, there has got to be people prepared to speak up about it," he said.