8 Dec 2015

Detainees' appeals won't be dismissed - Adams

8:22 pm on 8 December 2015

Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has confirmed New Zealanders will not have their appeals waived or dismissed by returning to this country, Justice Minister Amy Adams says.

Amy Adams and Peter Dutton

Ms Adams had asked Mr Dutton to explain a form waiving New Zealand detainees' rights to a guaranteed appeal. Photo: RNZ

Ms Adams had asked for a "please explain" after seeing a form given to New Zealand detainees that appeared to waive their right to an appeal when they chose to return home.

Both governments had promised anyone wanting to appeal from New Zealand against having their visa revoked would not be disadvantaged.

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The "request for removal from Australia" form had been leaked to RNZ News.

It said: "If I have outstanding visa applications, requests or legal proceedings, I understand that if I choose not to withdraw them, consideration of my claims by the department or relevant review bodies (including the courts) may be discontinued once I am removed from Australia." Read the full form here

Australian lawyer Greg Barns said the form appeared to sign away detainees' guaranteed right to an appeal once they chose to return home.

"What it seems to indicate is that you take a risk. If you continue with your visa application and go back to New Zealand, you take a risk that the immigration department in Australia will discontinue your case because you won't be able to attend the proceedings," he told Morning Report.

The form also required those returning home to pay their own costs, which Ms Adams said went against another promise made by Australian ministers.

She said her office had just heard from Mr Dutton's office.

"The situation, as was described to us, is absolutely the case that no New Zealander is prejudiced or has their appeals waived, in any way dismissed, by returning," she said.

"[Also] that no New Zealander is required to pay any charge. The form predates the obligations that were made and is a generic form that they use for nationals of all countries, and obviously they haven't made those arrangements with every country."

Ms Adams said Mr Dutton's office confirmed that, since the commitments had been in place, New Zealanders had come back to this country and continued with their appeals - and some had been upheld, with those people successfully returning to Australia.

She had raised with Mr Dutton's office that the form was confusing, and would be concerned New Zealanders might not understand what they were signing up to and might make different decisions on the basis of the form.

Villawood Detention Centre in Sydney

Villawood Detention Centre in Sydney Photo: AAP / Dean Lewins

In October, Mr Key and Mr Turnbull discussed the policy, in place since December, under which non-citizens of Australia could be deported if they had served more than a cumulative year in prison.

"The simple message would be, I don't want New Zealanders on Christmas Island. I think they should come home to New Zealand and we'll deal with the application and the processing of their appeals from New Zealand," Mr Key said at the time.

The latest charter flight of deportees who have had their visas cancelled arrived in Auckland International Airport earlier today.

There have been at least three such flights in recent weeks.

Today's flight had 15 deportees on board, who were met by police and Department of Corrections staff, and processed under the monitoring regime that began last month.

Need to honour commitments - Labour and Greens

Labour Party leader Andrew Little said earlier today it would be an act of bad faith if the Australian government asked New Zealand detainees to sign away their right to an appeal if they returned.

Mr Little said the form contained provisions that appeared to counter specific promises made by Australian ministers. "Well, if they've misled Mr Key and misled any of us - and when I met with Peter Dutton, he repeated the same assurance - then that is a pretty nasty, conniving thing to go and do, and it is wrong.

"Amy Adams is right to ask for a please explain but it had better be a bloody good one."

Labour party leader Andrew Little during caucus run.

Labour Party leader Andrew Little - pictured today in Parliament Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Greens co-leader Metiria Turei had said Mr Key needed to take responsibility for any people who left Australia based on his public assurances about their ability to return and not be disadvantaged.

"John Key is not telling New Zealanders the truth," she said. "He encouraged detainees to come to New Zealand to continue their appeals and never once mentioned that, in doing so, they could not only jeopardise their appeal but could be prevented from being able to return to Australia to live with their families."

Ms Turei said Mr Key had made a number of false assurances to detainees.

"Including that they were 'quite free to come home to New Zealand to have their applications processed', that the detainees [were] likely to be in a better position if they came back to New Zealand, and that he had an assurance from the Australian government that deportees can be sent to New Zealand and have their assessment done for their appeal in New Zealand.

"Yet this immigration form shows exactly why people are staying in detention centres. If they leave, they could lose the chance to stay in the country they call home and with their families."

Ms Turei said it looked like Mr Key was doing Australia another favour by taking the detainees off their hands and allowing appeals, potentially, to be revoked.

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