1 Oct 2015

Deportee risks targeted by new Australian deal

8:56 am on 1 October 2015

A newly-signed agreement with Australia will give New Zealand information on any risks posed to the public by deportees, says Justice Minister Amy Adams.

National MP

Amy Adams (file) Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

The two countries yesterday signed an agreement, that has been in the works since February, to provide New Zealand agencies with up to six months' notice of any planned deportations and a rundown of the criminal history of those being sent back.

Ms Adams said it would give New Zealand good timely information on likely deportees, such as their risk profile and any gang affiliations.

"So that we can at least act sensibly when they're arriving, as they have been, to make sure they're both supported in New Zealand and that New Zealanders are, as far as possible, kept free from risk."

Ms Adams will take a paper to cabinet suggesting a new legislative regime that allows parole and oversight conditions that the person would have been under had they served their sentence in New Zealand.

About 200 New Zealand citizens are being held in Australian detention centres, waiting to be deported under a new Australian law targeting anyone who has served more than a year in prison.

Labour Party leader Andrew Little said the deal should have been delayed until New Zealand received a guarantee those people were being treated properly in detention.

Labour Party Leader, Andrew Little.

Andrew Little Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

"Say, 'hold on, we want to get some undertakings from you about the way Kiwis are treated in Australia, because what's happening right now isn't good enough, and then we'll sign off this agreement so that there's mutual information sharing between both countries'."

However Ms Adams said the issue of New Zealanders being held in detention centres before being sent back was an Australian policy decision.

The deal would have no impact on how long New Zealanders spent in Australian detention centres.

"There's nothing in this particular process that will change whether or not they're put straight on a plane - which is obviously the preference if that is going to happen - or whether they're moved to a detention centre while appeals and the like are worked through," she told Morning Report.

"I was very careful to ensure there was nothing we would do that any way made the situation worse."

Yesterday, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said that Australia would consider how it dealt with New Zealanders being held in detention.

Prime Minister John Key said he had had a long and "pretty blunt" conversation about the issue with Ms Bishop at this week's UN summit in New York.

He said Australia had to think about the way it treated New Zealanders, including those who had committed crimes but who had no ties to this country.

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs