Australia has no intention of stopping the deportation of convicted Kiwi criminals to their homeland, despite a personal plea from New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for the practice to end.
Australia in 2014 introduced mandatory deportation for any and all foreign nationals who received jail terms totalling 12 months or more, with Australia’s trans-Tasman neighbour New Zealand most affected.
About 1,500 Kiwis have been caught in the dragnet – almost half the total of 4,000 – and Wellington has raised concerns some of those deported allegedly grew up in Australia and have no ties to New Zealand.
Australia’s Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton denied New Zealanders were being singled out, explaining the policy is universal and would not change.
“If you come as a New Zealand citizen, or a Brit, wherever you come from, your country of origin is where you go back to if you have committed a crime,” he told Channel Nine.
Dutton said his government was determined to “stand up for all Australians”.
“Where we’ve got Australian citizens who are falling victim in certain circumstances where people are sexually offending against children, for example, we’ve had a big push to try to deport those paedophiles,” he said.
Dutton’s remarks came after Ardern aired concerns about the policy ahead of a meeting Friday with Australian counterpart Scott Morrison in Melbourne, ABC News reports.
“It’s having a corrosive effect on our relationship, so I’ll continue to raise it,” Ardern, a former president of the International Union of Socialist Youth, told reporters Thursday.
New Zealand and Australia offer each other automatic residency rights and almost 700,000 Kiwis have made the trip across the Tasman Sea to take advantage of their larger neighbour’s economy.
The left-wing Ardern has served as the leader of the NZ Labour Party since 1 August 2017 and took office as prime minister on 26 October 2017.
Before politics she worked in London as a senior policy adviser in an 80-person unit of then-British prime minister Tony Blair.