Kiwi detainees consider group legal action

9:05 am on 21 October 2015

New Zealanders detained on Christmas Island are pooling resources to launch legal action against the Australian government, Labour MP Kelvin Davis says.

A file photo of the jetty on Christmas Island (August 2013)

Photo: AAP

Mr Davis, who has been in the Australian territory since Sunday, is planning to meet New Zealand detainees face-to-face.

About 40 New Zealanders are being held there.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said at the weekend that no special exemptions would be given to New Zealand detainees.

Caucus run 21/07/15

Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Mr Davis said the detainees had now asked for his help to find a lawyer.

"They've had a bit of a talk amongst themselves. They do have cellphones, so I think they're trying to get in touch with other detainees in other detention centres to try and get more resources together - now I'm not sure what those resources look like, and how they actually will get any money together."

He has been cleared to see detainees on Friday.

Speaking to Morning Report, Mr Davis said the detainees were pleased that they would be able to talk over their issues with him face-to-face.

"All I can say is that they were really ecstatic that we've been granted access to them - they're saying that it seems like New Zealand is listening to their plight. They sent us a text the night before we were due to leave and said 'it feels like you're the nearest thing to family that we've got'."

But he said that, given how late Australia had granted them access, they couldn't be sure they would see the detainees until they were on the ground.

"We've still got our fingers crossed that the Australian government don't for some reason pull the plug and deny us access. That would just be a massive let-down to those guys, but also to us as well. It would be a cruel blow."

Mr Davis said that the detainees were anxious about their visa status and did not want to risk anything by returning to New Zealand.

"They don't want to go back to New Zealand. Our Prime Minister has been saying that if they decide to go back to New Zealand now, that Australia will look at their visa applications [while they're there, but] they simply do not trust the Australians at their word or even our Prime Minister at his.

"They believe that once they get off the ground from Australia and into New Zealand, that Australia will say, 'Well, you're over there now, you might as well stay there, and deny them their Australian visas'."