Government warned of 'high-risk' deportees 9 months ago

Government warned of 'high-risk' deportees 9 months ago

The Government is rushing through an urgent law change to put protections in place before convicted Kiwi criminals arrive here from Australia later this week.

They’re arriving on a charter flight because the the Australian government says they are too dangerous to fly commercially.

Today, a last-minute law to protect New Zealanders was introduced, but 3 News can reveal the Government was warned of "high risk" to the public nine months ago.

"We've got Con Air arriving on Thursday and here we are ramming this legislation through so we can have some sort of protection for New Zealanders," says Labour MP David Shearer.

Australia's law deporting New Zealand-born criminals came into force in December last year, and on February 12 Justice Minister Amy Adams was told:

"Some deported offenders who have been convicted of very serious offences may pose a significant risk to the New Zealand community."

The Government was also warned:

"The number of offenders being deported to New Zealand from Australia is likely to increase significantly," and;

"Offenders who have lived most of their lives overseas are likely to face additional challenges reintegrating into the community and avoiding re-offending."

Mr Shearer says the Government should have already acted.

"And yet here we are today with nothing having been done."

For the past 11 months, deported criminals have faced:

But that will all be fixed by today's law – and just in time, because the rap sheet of Thursday's plane-load has some serious crimes on it.

There's usually 60 to100 criminals deported a year, but this year there’s expected to be 250 to 300 – up to five times as many.

Justice Minister Amy Adams has defended the time the legislation has taken.

"I think actually it's moved pretty quickly given the complexity and the difficulties."

And despite the Prime Minister's claims that the Government was intent on protecting Kiwis against criminals who had serious convictions, Ms Adams has admitted that murderers, rapists and child sex offenders were among the 167 criminals already deported without checks this year.

"If John Key was on the side of New Zealanders, this legislation would have been put through months ago," says Mr Shearer.

So now it's a last-ditch law change before Con Air touches down.

3 News