New Zealand furious as Australia resumes controversial criminal deportation policy

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison have clashed over the policy. Source: Getty Images

On Monday, the NZ government confirmed it was expecting around 30 deportees to arrive within days via a charter flight.

New Zealand has criticised the Morrison government's decision to resume deporting Kiwi criminals amid the coronavirus pandemic.

On Monday, the NZ government confirmed it was expecting around 30 deportees to arrive within days via a charter flight.

"We're receiving them because we're obliged to receive them, but it would be wrong to say we're happy about it," Health Minister Chris Hipkins told Radio New Zealand.

"We don't agree with Australia deporting their problems to NZ ... However, Australia is within its legal right to do what they're doing."

New Zealand Health Minister Chris Hipkins.
New Zealand Health Minister Chris Hipkins.

He said the deportees will be taken to a hotel with enhanced security for 14 days and then will be released into the community.

"In the eyes of the law, they've done their time, they have been released, and we have to treat them accordingly."

Advocates have called the system unfair, as some deportees have called Australia home for decades.

Under existing laws, visa holders who are sentenced to at least 12 months' jail time face mandatory deportation.

Deportations were paused during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The policy has seen more than 2,600 people sent back to New Zealand between December 2014 and January 2020.

News Bulletin 2802
Jacinda Ardern and Scott Morrison in Sydney on Friday.

But NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said many of the deportees "on any common sense test" identified as being Australian.

Earlier this year, Ms Ardern cited one person affected by the laws "who moved to Australia, not much older than one year old".

"Australia is well within its rights to deport individuals who break your laws. New Zealand does the same. But we have a simple request - send back Kiwis, genuine Kiwis," she said.

The Australian government has defended its policy on numerous occasions.

"We deport non-citizens who have committed crimes in Australia against our community," Prime Minister Scott Morrison said earlier this year.

"This policy is applied not specific to one country, but to any country whose citizens are here."

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