New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has robustly defended his backing of trans-Tasman neighbour Australia’s deportation of Kiwi nationals for crimes they have committed abroad, saying his parliamentary critics instead support rapists over the rule of law.
He says he does not need to apologise to female MPs who staged a protest in Parliament after he accused the opposition of “backing the rapists”when they demanded he act to help New Zealanders being held in detention in Australia.
A number of New Zealanders are being detained on Christmas Island after the Australian government introduced a retroactive law requiring the deportation of overseas citizens convicted of crimes carrying a custodial sentence of more than a year.
Some New Zealanders affected by the change have lived in Australia for several years and are appealing the decision to deport them to the land of their birth.
Mr. Key hit straight back at those he said supported “rapists, child molesters, murderers” as this video shows:
On Wednesday, Green party co-leader Metiria Turei claimed that as a survivor of sexual violence she was deeply offended by Mr. Key’s remarks: “As the victim of a sexual assault, I take personal offence at the prime minister’s comments, and ask that you require him to withdraw and apologise.”
Mr. Key said he did not understand why he would need to apologise to MPs who had taken offence, saying his concern for the victims of the detainees meant he was a better advocate than them.
“What would they be asking me to apologise for? For saying that I’m on the side of victims?
“Well, the Opposition MPs have not come to Parliament a single time advocating for anyone other than the people who have committed these very serious crimes.”
New Zealand-born detainees at the Christmas Island centre were caught up recent riots at the facility, with suggestions that Kiwis may have led the unrest.
Australia uses Christmas Island, a far-flung speck in the Indian Ocean a bare 300-miles from the Indonesian capital Jakarta but 1,600-miles from the Australian coast, as an offshore detention centre for asylum seekers and criminals awaiting deportation.