Right to appeal for Kiwi detainees questioned

Right to appeal for Kiwi detainees questioned

Australia's Immigration Minister says contentious parts of a form given to detainees before deportation don't affect Kiwis rights to appeal their visa cancellation.

There had been confusion about an Immigration Service form given to would-be detainees to sign which said appeals to return to Australia could be discontinued if they're sent to New Zealand.

It also said they would be charged the cost of leaving the country – in some cases up to $8000.

However, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Immigration and Border Patrol Minister Peter Dutton had guaranteed Kiwis sent back to New Zealand would still be able to continue their effort to return.

It had created some tension, with Labour leader Andrew Little and Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei criticising the mixed messages.

Justice Minister Amy Adams' office spoke with officials in Mr Dutton's office this afternoon and confirmed that no New Zealanders would be disadvantaged having been returned to their country of origin and that the fee would be forgiven.

"The form predates the obligations that were made and is a generic form used for nationals of all countries and they haven't made those arrangements with all countries," Ms Adams said.

A number of Kiwi criminals have returned to New Zealand under the Australian policy in which anyone convicted and sentenced to a term of 12 months' prison or more are returned to their country of origin.

However, many Kiwis sent to detention centres including Christmas Island have spent much of their lives in Australia and have few connections to New Zealand.

Ms Adams says some of those who have been returned to New Zealand have had their appeals granted and have been allowed to return to Australia.

She believed a legislative change in Australia was needed to change the clause about paying for their own deportation, and the cost would be covered by the Australian government.

Mr Dutton is expected to release a statement clarifying the situation this afternoon.

Earlier today, Ms Adams said at first glance the form was concerning and she'd asked Mr Dutton to explain the situation.

The form was brought to light by the Green Party's lawyer Greg Barns which shows if New Zealanders returned from a detention centre apply for Australian citizenship from New Zealand, they could be barred from re-entering Australia.

Request for removal from Australia form

Mr Barns is also the lawyer who drafted a claim to the Australian Human Rights Commission on behalf of the New Zealand and Australian Green parties about Kiwis in offshore detention centres.

During Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's first visit to New Zealand in October, he said deported Kiwis could apply for an appeal against their visa revocations from New Zealand. 

Mr Key says he's received a "cast-iron" assurance from Mr Turnbull, who he called an "honourable man, that Kiwis would be able to appeal the cancellation of their visas.

"What I absolutely know is that Malcolm Turnbull looked me in the eyes and said 'if [detainees] come back to New Zealand, they'll absolutely be able to apply from New Zealand to go back to Australia without any alteration of their rights."

He said sometimes paper work could be "slightly out of sync" with practice.

Mr Key was quizzed on the issue by Ms Turei in the House this afternoon.

She says he shouldn't be relying on assurances from his counterpart because they don't take precedence over a legal document.

"John Key is asking New Zealanders to rely on the word of a Government that put them in prison, shipped them off to the middle of the Indian Ocean and then deported them. That makes no logical sense."

Ms Turei says Mr Key needs to take responsibility for Kiwis affected by the policy who have been shipped back to New Zealand.

This morning, Mr Little said while Mr Turnbull and Mr Key have offered assurances to those affected, "this form tells a completely different story".

"If they've misled John Key and any of us, then that is a pretty nasty, conniving thing to do and it is wrong," Mr Little says.

"It opens up a pretty big gap now between us."

He believes there is only one way to interpret the form which is if Kiwis return to New Zealand they forgo any right to appeal.

"That's outrageous – from a human rights point of view and a natural justice point of view – that is completely outrageous and if John Key can't see that that reflects poorly on him."

The form also says deportees will be charged for being kicked out of the country, something Mr Key and Mr Little said was contrary to normal practice where the cost would be picked up by the Australian government.

Even though the Kiwis involved have no strong links to New Zealand, their country still has an obligation to advocate for them, Mr Little says.

He spoke to Mr Dutton last month about the situation of Kiwi detainees in Australia and said today he'd also be writing to him to explain what is happening.

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