‘We want New Zealanders to get the same treatment an Aussie would’

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‘We want New Zealanders to get the same treatment an Aussie would’

Two senior New Zealand ministers have heavily criticised Australia’s handelling of deportation, labelling it “venal” – and strenuous on the relationship between the two countries.

 
 

Justice Minister Andrew Little and foreign minister and acting prime minister Winston Peters effectively echoed each other’s sentiment, on the back of a rise in the deportation of long-term Australian residents who are not citizens. This has taken place since 2014, on the grounds of “character”.

“Many are being sent back here with no real connections, no real networks, no real support,” said Little. “Look, it might suit Aussie politics, and it seems to me that there is a venal, political strain to all this.

“It’s certainly not consistent with any humanitarian ideals that I thought both countries once shared.”

Little was referencing the case of Ko Haapu, who was living in Perth when the laws were passed three years ago.

An ex-New Zealand soldier, Haapu was deemed to be of good enough character to join the personal security detail of then Kiwi prime minister John Key, during 2010’s Afghanistan visit.

Haapu was later arrested, not charged, but deported after his involvement in the Rebels motorcycle gang. The gang, though notorious, is not illegal.

“He was a member of the Rebels outlaw motorcycle gang and we know that they are part of a syndicate which is the biggest distributor of drugs in our country. If you’re a member of that gang, you face deportation,” said Immigration Minister Peter Dutton.

“Families who have had kids die of overdoses, because of drugs given to them, sold to them by outlaw motorcycle gang members — we’re not going to tolerate that.”

Peters added: “The reality is we want New Zealanders to get the same treatment an Aussie would get if they were being charged with an offence. That is a trial, before you’re booted off shore. There has never been a time since 1945 that our two countries have needed each other more.

“And, I really mean it. We’ve got security of all the Pacific to look at. We are senior nations with a chance to shape the Pacific and its security and its wealth. We’d better be mindful of our relationships between ourselves.”

 
 

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