Davis: NZ should refuse to back Australian UN bid

  • 27/10/2015
Around 40 Kiwis are currently being held on Christmas Island
Around 40 Kiwis are currently being held on Christmas Island

Labour corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis says New Zealand has a moral duty to stand up for our citizens being held in Australian detention centres.

Mr Davis has just returned from visiting Kiwi detainees at Australia's Christmas Island detention centre. After a week of waiting, he was finally granted permission to spend five hours with eight detainees and says conditions are terrible.

"These guys are angry, they're hungry, they're traumatised and they're ready to riot if it comes down to it because quite frankly the conditions are horrible – there's lockdowns, there's beatings, the diet is terrible. These guys are emotionally pretty fragile," Mr Davis told the Paul Henry programme this morning.

Around 40 Kiwis are currently being held on Christmas Island waiting to be sent back to New Zealand after Australia changed its immigration policy in December.

The new law states that anyone who isn't an Australian citizen and who has served 12 months or more in prison can be deported. Around 1000 Kiwis are affected by the legislation.

Mr Davis says until things improve, the New Zealand Government should refuse to back Australia's bid to get on the United Nations Human Rights Council.

"That would send a very strong message to Malcolm Turnbull that we're not prepared to put up with this treatment towards our New Zealand citizens over there.

"If our Government's got any moral fibre in their bodies they would say 'look, we'd love to support you but until you sort out this detention centre mess we're not going to back you'."

He says Australia is "absolutely" breaching human rights at the detention centre.

"They're trying to push through a law now that allows anybody in a detention centre to use force to maintain order. Now, just image how that law if it is enacted will be abused – they can just bash now and ask questions later, and say 'I had to keep law and order' or something in the detention centre.

"These laws are draconian and they're totally unnecessary. These guys could actually be at home with their families, earning a living, paying tax while their visa implications are being sorted out.

"We have a duty as a country, a civilised country, to protest laws in any country that are abusing human rights."

Watch the video for the full interview with Kelvin Davis.