Why more Kiwis are deported from Australia than any other group
Tuesday - 17/07/2018 06:44
NEW Zealanders being deported from Australia is a problem between the two countries as hundreds of Kiwis are sent packing each year.
“WE DON’T want you here, the broader community doesn’t want you here.”
That was the message from an Australian Federal Police superintendent to motorcycle club members when a notorious New Zealand-born bikie was arrested for his bikie links in 2015.
The visa of Aaron Joe Thomas Graham was cancelled and he was set to be deported back to New Zealand.
The situation has become a familiar one in recent years.
More than 1300 Kiwis have been deported from Australia in the past three years, with another 15,000 set to be sent back over the next decade.
In tonight’s episode of Foreign Correspondent, journalist and former Wallaby Peter FitzSimons goes to New Zealand to see how deportation has affected the relations between the two countries.
“I wasn’t on criminal charges … but I was still treated as a prisoner who has committed a crime,” Ko Haapu, a former New Zealand soldier turned motorcycle gang member and deportee, told FitzSimons.
In the program titled “Don’t call Australia home!” FitzSimons found that under the changes to the Migrant Act, “just being a member of a bike gang, an organisation suspected of criminal behaviour, was enough to get Haapu deported on “bad character” grounds even though it’s not illegal in Western Australia to belong to one.”
Since the Migration Act was amended in December 2014, it gave powers to Australia’s Department of Home Affairs to together with Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton the ability to cancel the visas of people who could pose a risk to the community or that they’ve deemed are not of “good character”.
It gives coward punchers, drug dealers and violent offenders a one-way ticket to their home country — anyone with a criminal record who isn’t an Australian citizen can now be deported.
However in Haapu’s case, he told FitzSimons he wasn’t there on criminal charges.
“I was there on immigration which are two different things,” he said.
In the program which airs tonight at 8pm, FitzSimons finds that Australia’s detaining, cuffing and deportation of New Zealanders is riling Kiwis and straining relations across the ditch.
He says there’s real resentment in New Zealand — and that even he’s taken aback by the anger of New Zealanders — from ordinary citizens to political heavyweights — at what they see as a lopsided relationship.
The general consensus is that New Zealanders don’t think they have been treated fairly as a country, with the New Zealand Justice Minister even labelling the policy as a breach of human rights.
“Well we just need to see the evidence instead of the emotions,” Mr Dutton told FitzSimons.
“They’re New Zealand citizens, they’re not Australian citizens. And it’s no breach of human rights, in fact it’s a breach of, ah, civil rights of Australians who fall victims to these criminals and Australia won’t tolerate it.
“It doesn’t matter who we’re talking about. The criteria for us is whether you’ve committed an offence against Australian citizens and that’s the test that we apply.”
Last year, more than 600 Kiwis were deported on grounds of “bad character”.
When confronting Mr Dutton about Haapu’s case, FitzSimons put it straight to the Home Affairs minister.
“He was held with no charge, no crime committed,” he said.
“Peter, he was a member of the Rebels outlaw motorcycle gang, and we know that they are part of a syndicate which is the biggest distributor of drugs in our country,” Mr Dutton told FitzSimons.
“In fact, this passed through the parliament with bipartisan support. If you’re a member of that gang, you face deportation.”
FitzSimons hit back saying, “You imply a raft of strong allegations, accusations against the fellow that we can’t see.”
“Well, Peter, that happens every day. I mean, there’s intelligence that’s gathered that’s not released for a variety of reasons,” Mr Dutton said.
New Zealand’s Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters recently asked Australia for “a fair suck of the sav, so to speak, where international protocols are observed.”
His offences had not been disclosed, but his lawyer argued they were “stock standard” and not enough to spark deportation.
When he was about to be released, the boy was instead taken more than 12 hours away to an immigration holding centre in Melbourne and was awaiting deportation since March.
Mr Peters made a direct appeal to Australia to release the teenager saying it was a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and called on the country to live up to its obligations.
“This person is regarded as a child or a minor, and I’m just reminding the Australians — you’re a signatory, live up to it,” Mr Peters told reporters earlier this month. .
“They are clearly in breach of it. There’s no complication. They know that, we know that.
While career crooks are among the deportees, Mr FitzSimons says lesser players have been hit by tougher immigration rules allowing deportation for anyone sentenced to more than a year’s jail — even if it’s suspended.
In the program, FitzSimons discovers change can bring opportunities for some of the deportees.
He tells of how Australia, once the receptacle for Britain’s unwanted convicts, has itself become a player in the exile business.
Don’t Call Australia Home! airs on Foreign Correspondent at 8pm Tuesday, July 17 and 1.30pm Friday, July 20 on ABC TV, and at 7.30pm AEST on Saturday, July 21 on the ABC News Channel; also on iview.