John Key, Malcolm Turnbull to talk Kiwi detainees

  • 12/10/2015
John Key (L) and Malcolm Turnbull (AAP)
John Key (L) and Malcolm Turnbull (AAP)

The issue of New Zealanders being held in Australian detention centres will dominate upcoming bilateral talks, Prime Minister John Key says.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull arrives for his first official visit to New Zealand on Friday.

Forty New Zealanders facing deportation are being held in the Christmas Island immigration detention centre and 200 in Australian detention centres overall.

Opposition MPs want the deportations to stop and Mr Key says he doesn't think New Zealanders should be held in detention centres.

He had pushed the issue with former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, whose government set the policy, and Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, he told the Paul Henry programme today.

It would dominate his talks with Mr Turnbull at the weekend, Mr Key said.

There's a special relationship between the countries and there should be a "carve out for New Zealand in some form", he said.

"We need to negotiate with these guys - not try and put them in an arm-lock."

Mr Turnbull was a moderate "thoroughly reasonable guy" with a "big brain on him", Mr Key said.

"We will have good conversations with him."

Australian immigration laws mean anyone who isn't a citizen and who has served a sentence of 12 months or more can be sent back to the country of their birth.