Lisa Owen: Good morning, Mrs Fox. You heard there the senator, who is clearly disbelieving that Kiwis are in detention centres for anything other than the worst of crimes. What did you make of his comments?
Marama Fox: I just can't believe that the senator who was responsible for crafting this piece of legislation does not understand the actual real implications of what he has done. There are people who are being held in detention centres for minor crimes. And in the case of Ko Rutene, he's being held in the detention centre having committed no crime in Australia, no crime in New Zealand, and, in fact, has been recognised for his service in Afghanistan protecting the life of our Prime Minister. It just defies belief the things that this man was saying. He is absolutely ignorant of what is being done and the real effects on the lives of these people.
Well, you have been looking at the cases, and from your point of view, are there others like Ko Haapu, Ko Rutene? Are there others in the same situation?
Absolutely. Now, here is one man, Arthur Toia. Arthur Toia is 60 years old. He came back to NZ having lived the last 36 years in Australia to arrange an unveiling ceremony. On his way back to Australia, he was held up at Immigration, and they went back 40 years into his 20s when he had a theft conviction, and they denied him access back into Australia. Now, in the Immigration where he was being held without legal counsel, without family, he then signed the paperwork which now says he is not able to appeal his deportation back to New Zealand. So he's not even going to have the right to question it.
In the case Ko Haapu that you raised this week, clearly the senator believes there is more to it there and other cases where we're seeing seemingly minor convictions are leading to deportations. He thinks there's more to these cases. Is there?
Listen, this is the problem with the law that they have crafted. They have given the minister absolute power above the law to determine whether somebody has their citizenship revoked, even if they apply to be an Australian citizen. The minister has the power to revoke that citizenship - permanent resident or not - and take that away and send you home. And he does not have to tell you why. He can seal that information, and the only way that you can get your citizenship back is through a federal court of law. You cannot just write to the minister and ask him to change his mind. By their law, he can take it away, but he can't give it back again. So he also does not have to reveal to the court under that law or your lawyers or the prosecution why he has made that decision. So you can't even defend yourself in a court of law. So in the case of Ko Rutene, his record has been sealed - and this is not his conviction; this is the decision of why he is now being deported - has been sealed. And that might be something, or it might be nothing, and you can't defend it because you just don't know.
Well, how many of these Kiwis or people who have been deported do you think are hardened criminals? What are the numbers?
Well, listen, I was going by the numbers I heard on media of the 586, I think, Kiwis who have been deported since May or are awaiting deportation decisions. Only 86 of those- 82, sorry, of those were murderers, child molesters or rapists. 82 of the 586. Now, that was the numbers I heard across media. But there are other serious criminal convictions involved here. But that's the point. If you are saying those things, prove it. Put the list out there. Show us, of the 200 currently sitting in the detention centres, how many of those are in there because of aggravated robbery or theft or those sorts of convictions. Tell us what they're in there for and release the whole list to everybody so we can all see.
Well, briefly, then, the senator there, you heard him making the offer that if there are cases where people are being deported for minor convictions, he's prepared to take up their cases. Are you going to take him up on that offer?
Oh, absolutely. But this is the thing - we've been made offers and given hope from detainees and their families from our Prime Minister, who says go to MFAT; from our Justice Minister who says you can go to the consulate; from their minister now who says, 'Come to me, and I'll help you.' And those have proven not to be very helpful. People are struggling to find a direction here and know what to do, and they're worried. They say, 'Look, sign the papers and come back to New Zealand and get out of those detention centres.' But you can't see your family, because they can't afford to come home because they're still working to pay for the mortgages. You know, you can't get your legal counsel on this side of the Tasman very easily. People are staying there because they're worried if they sign those papers, they'll sign away their right of appeal.
All right. Thank you so much for joining us. Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox, thank you.
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