In December last year, Australia’s immigration laws were amended, meaning that non-citizens who had been sentenced to more than 12 months in jail would have their visas automatically revoked.
At the end of September, there were 195 New Zealanders in Australian Detention Centres. They are now the second-highest nationality in jail.
A hundred and seventy New Zealanders have already been deported this year, compared to 52 in all of 2014, many of whom have spent a significant proportion of their lives in Australia and have families here.
“It’s not based or prejudiced against any particular nationality,” Minister for Immigration Peter Dutton told The Feed. “It applies to people who commit crimes.”
"His family is all over here. They’re all citizens"
Andrew Little, Leader of the New Zealand Labour Party, says that the relationship between the two countries should render special consideration.
“The idea that you take somebody who has had nothing to do with their country of birth for 15, 20, or 30 years and now we're going to send them back there as part of an ongoing punishment...That is wrong,” he said.
“When you look at things like this, it doesn't look like the New Zealand - Australia relationship is anything special.”
“He has every grounds to stay in this country,” Belinda Palmer, the wife of a detainee, told The Feed. “His family is all over here. They’re all citizens. He’s got nobody in New Zealand.”
Andrew Palmer moved to Australia at the age of two. Between 2011 and 2015 he served 22 months in jail for fraud and drug offences.
The Palmers have made an appeal, sending character references, a job guarantee, and her children’s medical records to the Immigration Minister, but have received no response.
"A visa is not a right, it is a privilege granted to a visitor"
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull recently met with NZ Prime Minister John Key and while he has since said the appeals process has been sped up, there would be no change to the law.
"A visa is not a right, it is a privilege granted to a visitor," he said at the press conference.
"We're not arguing that these are good people," said Mr Kerry at the same conference. "If they've been to prison for 12 months or more, there's a very good chance they are a serious criminal."
“If you’re committing crimes, of course there are going to be all sorts of negative consequences for your family,” confirmed Mr Dutton.
“He’s not a serial killer or anything,” said Ms Palmer. “He’s just a simple human who made some mistakes. Now he has paid for his mistakes and now it’s like he’s doing another jail sentence.”
Tune in to The Feed to see Andrew and Belinda’s story, along with others like them to face deportation to a country that is no longer home. Thursday 29 October 7.30pm, on SBS2.